It was a wet Saturday night for Korean superstar Rain. Barely 15 minutes into the two-hour concert, the dancer, singer and actor, was already drenched in sweat.
Performing the Malaysian leg of his worldwide Rain: The Squall Tour 2016 at the Arena Of Stars, Genting Highlands last weekend, the buff 33-year-old stormed the stage with a vengeance. Happy to be back, he showed why “Rain’s reign” is far from over despite the K-pop scene being flooded with younger heartthrobs, hungry for global domination.
The Squall Tour was Rain’s first concert tour since completing his compulsory military service in 2013. With seven albums under his belt, he made up for lost time, performing 23 of his biggest hits including Hip Song, Running Away From The Sun, Love Song, Bad Guy, It’s Raining, and of course, Rainism!
Hot on the heels of the tour which kicked off last November in China, his latest Korean drama series, Please Come Back, Mister, began airing in February. Before stopping by here, Rain showered fans in Changsha, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Hong Kong, with some hip-thrusting, crotch-grabbing, love.
His energetic moves, while not as fluid as the King of Pop’s, were a less-than-subtle ode to his idol, Michael Jackson. The MJ influence – think knee pads, white jacket and hat – was also noted in the costumes.
Appearing initially in an anatomy-inspired white and silver suit, Rain looked more comfortable dancing in his white tank top for most of the show. Five costume changes through the night saw him taking on different roles, including a dapper-looking gentleman in a black tailored suit, a bad boy in a leather jacket and aviator shades, and a cool cat clad in matching gold-sequinned sleeveless, cap and boots. He needn’t have bothered because judging from the screams and squeals, the tank top was the obvious fan favourite.
Sadly, unlike their counterparts, his Malaysian fans were deprived of a shirtless show. The much-anticipated water effect of Rain, singing in the rain – was also missing but I suspect the crowd was more upset at having to settle for the modest view of him in a singlet.
Crowned one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world in 2006, Rain sure knows how to milk his assets. Wagging his finger and apologising for raining on their parade, he told the packed arena that going shirtless was a “no-no”. But, that didn’t stop him from teasing them throughout the night. After close to an hour of him toying with his jacket and their eagerness, the wait finally paid off – well, almost.
The big moment came at 9.45pm, when clad in a simple black tee, he ripped the collar mid-song, revealing perfect pecs and a chiselled chest. The only sight of him shirtless was in the videos flashing on screen. But that was enough to invite thunderous claps and adoring whistles from an audience that represented every generation.
The man is a consummate performer. With the show starting only 20 minutes later than scheduled, Rain is among the more punctual and hardworking acts to have landed here. A global star no doubt, but the man had no qualms walking down from the stage to high-five the lucky ones up front.
While the costumes were glam and the backdrop jaw-dropping with its flashing images of everything from cutesy childhood photos to stormy skies and angry seas, it was his performance that stood out the most. Like a squall sweeping through, Rain’s energy, charisma and powerful vocals are why he’s Asia’s most recognisable name. Heck, even his dancers had trouble keeping up!