(words by Mavy Yupangco; photos by PKCI)

The enormous impact of KPOP in the Philippines takes most of its credit from veteran groups like TVXQ, Wonder Girls, Big Bang and one of the country’s favorites, Super Junior. No surprise then that the SM MOA Arena glowed in sapphire blue light from top to bottom on the 24th of October, 2013 with fans rushing to the venue to witness 2013’s grandest KPOP concert yet.

Super Junior, SM Entertainment’s biggest boy group, performed in front of a jam-packed venue with a full-blown concert spanning more than 3 hours long and featuring over 30 songs from their wide discography. Aptly titled SUPER SHOW 5, the concert was nothing less than spectacular, with well-choreographed numbers and high-tech VCRs all executed on a majestic stage enveloping the entire floor of the arena. While KPOP is known for their dramatic stage setups, Super Show takes the concept a step higher by incorporating outstanding light choreography and massive HD screens to capture the concert’s tiniest details to a stan’s heart’s delight.

The show kicked off with a high-tech VCR intro ala-James Bond meets Ocean’s Eleven, parading the boys in tight leather jackets, white button-down shirts and black pants, brandishing their sassy and debonair looks. And as if that glorious intro was not enough, the boys were introduced in a variety of action sequences igniting fan squeals from all over the arena. The boys soon came on stage with their hit song Mr. Simple, followed by Bonamana and Simple Girl.

What sets Super Junior apart from many boy groups in the Kpop scene is their endearing ability to communicate well with their fans, topped with loads of cheese and a chunk of heart. This is evident in the way they address them as their girlfriends and future mommies to their kids as visual member Siwon would say in jest, “I want to make a baby with you too.” These random remarks do not only combust their fans in feels but permanently stick moments into their memories.

After the member introductions, the boys continued to perform a string of their hit songs, including Neorago, Sexy, Free and Single, Boom Boom and Club No.1 as the members went around the stage, singing and dancing in front of squealing ELF. Henry, one of the group’s Chinese members from their sub-unit SJ-M, also took on his solo stage with his latest single, Trap. The addictive dance track, infused with a haunting piano melody, also features one of Super Junior’s vocalists, Cho Kyuhyun, who joined Henry on stage as he wrapped up his solo number. Aside from Henry, the group was also joined by Chinese member Zhoumi from SJ-M, in most of their group stages.

What also makes this Super Show extra special is the return of Kim Heechul, one of Super Junior’s oldest members, after being on hiatus for two straight years to serve the Korean army. Heechul wowed fans with his own rock number, Shut Your Mouth, strutting along the catwalk with a group of sexy girl dancers. The returning member was teary-eyed when he saw the huge crowd awaiting his return and was all smiles throughout the night.

Of course, a Super Show is not complete without throwing in a bit of comedy and fun. Four members of the veteran boy group also showcased their more “feminine” side by covering some of Kpop’s most popular girl group songs. Kangin, Ryeowook, Siwon and Sungmin came on stage in skimpy outfits, complete with short skirts, painful heels, flashy wigs and thick makeup as they danced and rolled around the stage, mimicking some of Kpop’s most famous female icons. Kangin took on his own version of Gain’s Bloom, and Ryeowook danced to S.E.S’ Bada’s I’m Your Girl. Siwon donned a glittery blue minidress as he sang Son Dambi’s Saturday Night in high heels, and Sungmin brought the entire house down with his sultry version of HyunA’s Ice Cream, complete with all the booty-popping and come-hither moves. At the end of Sungmin’s number, all four boys came together and danced to Sistar’s Alone, filling the arena in deafening screams.

The laughs did not stop there, as the boys also dressed up as superheroes in Wonderboy. What makes Super Junior concerts most fun is the way they present things with such wit and casualness that even a non-fan would find enjoyable to watch. There’s so much heart in the way they interact with their fans that you forget all about the lipsyncing or even the minor flaws in their dancing. Add to that, the great distribution of lines in songs, allowing power vocalists like Ryeowook and Kyuhyun to move people’s hearts along with the belted lines.

Although most of Super Junior’s title tracks are composed of fast to mid-tempo numbers, they also have great ballads, like Daydream, which the boys performed in sleek white suits, quickly stirring the emotions of the crowd at the venue. The song was followed by another ballad medley of Bittersweet, Someday and Memories, which showed the more serious side of the members as they conveyed the heartfelt lyrics of the songs. In the earlier part of the concert, Ryeowook, Kyuhyun, Sungmin and Zhoumi also took on their own version of famous ballad, How Am I Supposed to Live Without You by Michael Bolton. But what really stood out as the best ballad performance of the night was Kyuhyun and Ryeowook’s take on Yesung’s Grey Paper, which proved to be a moving tribute to their beloved member who’s in the army. The number was charged with so much truth and emotion, executed with a moving video of Yesung in their past years together as a group as they wait for his return. Fans could be seen crying around the arena during the touching performance.

The concert ended with a series of fun songs to lighten the mood, with tracks like Sunny and Marry U pre-wrap-up and songs like Show Me Your Love and Sapphire Blue for the encore. The boys ended the concert with So I, as a warm and heartfelt gift to their fans who have stayed by their side for more than seven years. As the boys near their 8th year mark in the Kpop industry, they promise to return to the Philippines next year for Super Show 6, with hopefully more dates for their concert tour. Everlasting Friends waved their sapphire blue lighsticks in the air as the members sang their last song and went around the stage, grabbing cameras and catching gifts from fans to conclude a memorable night of tears and laughter.

With its grand-scale production and high-quality stages, Super Show 5 is arguably one of the best concerts Kpop fans have seen this year. Fans can look forward to an even bigger and brighter Super Show in the coming years as the boys continue to take over the world of music.

(to view more SS5 in Manila photos, click here.)

Lisa Claustro

Lisa Claustro

October 28th, 2013

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