It took only five months after I became a fan of CNBLUE for me to see them live in concert. I guess I was just lucky that the city of angels was included in their ongoing Can’t Stop tour and I didn’t have to wait for years to finally watch them perform live. Quite a record actually considering I have been waiting for years in my other fandom but let’s not go there.
So, yes, I went to the Can’t Stop Bangkok leg last May, not as a fangirl though, but as a reporter covering the concert. And while it may sound like the perfect assignment, it can be quite schizophrenic. I had journalist responsibilities as much as fangirl expectations… and trepidation.
Of course I did my homework before concert day itself. I watched previous CNBLUE concerts, 392 being my favorite bar none, and listened to their songs especially from the new album. I am guilty of saying that I preferred their old sound after listening to the Can’t Stop mini album, but forgive me, what do I know. I was, and still am just a new fan.
And while I may have watched their concert DVDs and countless of clips, indeed, CNBLUE is better appreciated live. A wide flatscreen could not even begin to approximate it. One fan previously said that Jung Yonghwa likely composes the songs as they are meant to be performed live and indeed, I found myself liking those songs that I was not keen on to begin with, such as Like A Child or Cold Love.
Onstage, Yonghwa is a livewire I couldn’t help wondering at some point where he gets his energy. But I suppose when you enjoy what you are doing, it just shows. He’s clearly Mr Showman although that does not mean that the other members didn’t get their moments to shine too. Lee Jungshin played it cool but I have to say Kang Minhyuk was such an adorable boy.
One of the highlights of the Bangkok concert was Teardrops in the Rain, one of my favorite CNBLUE songs. It felt so surreal singing it together with the packed Impact Arena when I thought I’d probably just end up singing it in a noraebang. Nothing beats singing it with Lee Jonghyun
and thousands of other fans.
I’ve been warned of course about the flying frogs and the disruptive banners. And this account won’t be complete without putting on record that yes, Yonghwa accepted a frog from them–a group of fans on the left side corner were waving it to his face so how could he not? It was yellow, he must have thought it was a Simpson, but I saw him on the big screen take a look at it after waving to the section and on his way back to the centerstage and realized his mistake. He turned the poor frog’s face away from view before going to the right side of the stage, picking up another thing (a cap) thrown onstage before returning to the main stage where a staff was waiting to take that frog very far away from him.
I’d be lying if I say that didn’t ruin my first CNBLUE concert experience. But thankfully, the band’s music and their performance made up for what could have been toad-filled nightmares. Though it did make me doubt if I’d go to another concert wanting to enjoy the music only to be confronted with irrelevant lightboards, banners and frogs. Ship and let ship, why not, but there’s a place for it and not in a concert where it’s obvious that these people just want to desperately create moments to make things “real” instead of being there to celebrate the music. It’s such a great disservice to the talent of CNBLUE.
So I honestly did think that it was going to be my last CNBLUE concert in a while. I’m better off watching their concert DVDs where I can just filter or skip things that I don’t want to see.
But then Busan happened.
Busan isn’t even a place that I’d likely go back to after my first visit there seven years ago. But it had all the ingredients for a memorable concert: Yonghwa’s hometown and the eve of his birthday too.
But it still took me some time to decide. I didn’t want to spend money on a concert ticket, airfare and hotel just to witness some frog-throwing ritual. But I was told that the frog people don’t dare do dumb things in South Korea and Japan.
So one night when I temporarily lost my rationality, I found myself booking the concert ticket.
You know you have committed yourself to a fandom when you start spending hard-earned money on it. Let’s just call it “investment”, shall we: the fangirl investment kind.
Besides, it was time for a short break from work.
I went to Busan trying to keep my expectations low and consider it a vacation, meet up with some friends and with a concert thrown in as a bonus. And I found myself liking Busan after all. It could have been the JYH effect, which also showed on the weather. Isn’t it supposed to be summer already? But what do you expect when rainman himself comes home.
KBS Hall though was cramped for a band concert; it was suited more for an orchestra or a stage play but the venue is just secondary when you’re watching CNBLUE doing what they do best and that is to perform live. Not even the rain could dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.
It must have been such a proud moment for Yonghwa and Jonghyun to have their families and friends watch them return to Busan for a concert, in the process gathering an international mixture of fans too. They have come a long way indeed from the indie band that used to perform on the streets of Harajuku.
And though they have come a long way, a frog still followed them all the way to Busan and found itself onstage and thrown to Yonghwa’s chest. Perfect aim by that person who missed the memo and I hope she saw how the staff tossed it like a discarded baseball all the way to the backstage afterwards. And I thought Korean concerts are free from such shenanigans.
While the set list for this tour is already fixed more or less, it was nice to watch them perform Greedy Man, Let Me Know and Friday. But what made it even more special was the double encore, a first on this tour–and maybe the only time they will do it considering it was Busan and the eve of Yonghwa’s birthday. I wasn’t expecting it either but when I heard the guitar intro to You’ve Fallen For Me, I screamed and if it wasn’t for the cramped seats, would have jumped and probably would have found myself somewhere on the first floor. It’s cute though how he has forgotten the lyrics–he hasn’t sung it for some time–and requested that they redo the song again, something that he doesn’t usually do when things like this happens. And it’s not even a CNBLUE song.
It was a happy birthday indeed for the birthday boy. And ain’t his hometown proud of him.
Someone asked after the concert if I have now become a full-fledged fan of CNBLUE. Well, I wouldn’t have gone all the way to Busan if I haven’t turned into one, right?
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