It has been a year since South Korean supergroup BigBang was last in Malaysia, and fortunately for their adoring fans, K-pop goodbyes are not forever.
And boy does absence make the heart grow fonder!
Malaysian VIPs (as BigBang fans are nicknamed) screamed wildly as soon as the K-pop royalties appeared at its 2016 BigBang Made (VIP) Tour in Kuala Lumpur recently, and that was only their video flashing on the giant screens.
When the four band members actually walked on stage at Stadium Merdeka, it was rapturous. Who can blame them though? This is a bittersweet love reunion for BigBang and the VIPs as the boyband marks their 10th anniversary (a decade is eternity in K-pop) with its two-year military service conscription and nuclear-arm crazy North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looming.
And the VIPs were already feeling the sweet sorrow parting with the absence of the oldest and fifth BigBang member, T.O.P, who is reportedly scheduled to serve his country at the end of the year.
But as one VIP tearfully whispered, they will take it Haru Haru (day by day).
That seminal hit of the group was sadly not on the playlist that night as BigBang rocked out the chart toppers from its Made and Alive albums. You would have thought with it being an anniversary celebration, all the boys would have rolled out a goldie oldie or two…
Not that the fans cared as they lapped up the newer goodies, from Loser, Bad Boy, Bang Bang Bang, Sober, Bae Bae to We Like 2 Party and Fantastic Baby.
The boys sure knew how to put on a fantastic party, so much so that you can’t help but feel sorry for our historical arena as the group’s explosive rhythms kept it banging like a loose cannonball throughout the show.
The electric vibe did not ease even as the band started belting its rare ballad, If You, which supposedly is a love letter from G-Dragon to his secret ex-girlfriend.
This set the stage for the solo performances of the individual BigBang members: Strong Baby by Seungri; Look At Me, Gwisoon! by Daesung; Eyes Nose Lips by Taeyang and Crooked by GD, which was capped with Good Boy, Taeyang’s electro-dance duet with GD.
By this time, the VIPs were giddily shrieking along as they energetically brandished their bright yellow VIP crown lightsticks in the sizzling night air.
The solo performances perhaps show why the eclectically inventive boyband is as hot as ever after 10 years in an exceedingly manufactured music industry where uniformity is highly regarded.
For one, Daesung was one of the first Korean idols, if not the pioneer, to record a Trot song (a Dangdut-like classic pop genre in Korea), and he hilariously proved his versatility with his cool ahjussi (uncle) moves to his latest Trot number Gwisoon!
As a bon voyage party of sorts, the 2016 BigBang Made (VIP) Tour – supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, Tourism and Culture Ministry – ended way too soon, at least on the music side for me.
With it being a concert-cum-fanmeet, the show was stripped of the flamboyant personas that BigBang had embraced in the last few years to give fans a peek of the “real” side of the K-pop powerhouse.
The boys even put on a “live variety show” where they invited fans to “play” with them in a series of games before their performance.
But due to our strict non-fraternisation rules under PUSPAL (Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes), one assumes, BigBang had refrained from inviting fans to join them in the games onstage as they do in other countries.
Luckily, our K-pop fans are a good-natured lot and had refused to let the blight spoil their fun.
They were resolved to relish whatever fan service they got – despite being made voyeurs at their own party – and return the love and more.
Bring on the next BigBang decade!