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Wembley review: Cheers to BTS taking over starry stadium with festivity, charm

By Ahn Sung-mi

  • Published : Jun 4, 2019 - 10:24
  • Updated : Jun 4, 2019 - 10:24

BTS performs at Wembley Stadium. (Big Hit Entertainment)
LONDON -- BTS’ two-day run at Wembley Stadium has proven yet again the worldwide popularity of the Korean septet, with what appears to be the most loyal fandom across the globe.

The air of excitement was not confined to the UK’s largest stadium, where legendary acts like Queen, Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones have performed. The exhilaration was felt across London in the days leading up to the band’s concerts at the stadium -- the “dream (come) true moment,” according to the members.

The festive atmosphere was not just felt by BTS fans. The concert pop-up store saw long lines with a wait of more than two hours to enter. Crowds of thousands of people sang along to BTS’ tunes at Piccadilly Circus. Fans also staged random flash mob-dances on the street.

And this was what the band was aiming for during this leg of the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” stadium tour. Ahead of the concerts, Suga and Jin told reporters that the band had tailored the set list to make it more like a festival than a concert.

The 150-minute, jam-packed, 24-track gig was a testament to the reason why millions of fans are in love with BTS.

It’s their passion, powerful songs, sleek dance moves, charm, positive messages, mutual love and trust for fans, and humbleness -- portrayed throughout the show when bandmates kept saying, “I can’t believe it,” appearing to be in utter disbelief at performing inside Wembley.

The festival vibe began hours before BTS graced the stage on the first night of the concert on Saturday, as the 60,000-seater full house sang along and screamed to songs as music videos were played on large screens.

With the venue still bright with sunlight, the seven bandmates made a grand entrance, greeted by super-sized inflatable metallic-silver jaguars on the side and to the thunderous screams and applause of fans chanting “BTS.”

The party anthem “Dionysus,” from the latest chart-topping EP “Map of the Soul: Persona,” was a smart choice to kick off and set the tone for the evening.

The powerful choreography -- backed by more than 30 male dancers -- lyrics that sing “drink it up,” against the set pieces of giant Greek pedestals, let the crowd know this is where the party was.

(Big Hit Entertainment)
The energy progressed to the second song, “Not Today,” when RM declared “All the underdogs in the world, a day might come when we lose. But it’s not today.”

With Suga’s powerful rap, the hip-hop track gave a nod to their hip-hop roots and the band’s underdog days, though this was hard to believe at a stadium-scale show.

The opening remarks started out with the signature greeting, “We are BTS,” followed by hellos from each member. The band made sure to thank fans, known as Army, and viewers across the globe who were watching the show live on Naver’s V Live.

“Let’s spread your wings and let’s go,” said J-Hope, and the band continued on with “Outro: Wings.”

The gig ebbed and flowed with electrifying and sentimental performances that included hit tracks, such as “Boy With Luv,” “Idol,” “Fake Love,” “MIC Drop,” and the thumping medley of “Dope,” “Baepsae,” and “Fire.”

Concertgoers -- heralding from across Europe and around the world -- made the concert even more special by singing along in Korean and English throughout the evening.

The performance of “Idol” -- an electronic dance music tune inspired by Korean traditional pansori -- was an exhilarating moment.

Each member also had a chance to flaunt their unique charm, showing what they do best.

J-Hope was the first to go, heating up the stage with “Trivia: Just Dance.” Wearing brown shades, he carried out sizzling dance moves with a well-known smirk on his face.

The youngest member, Jungkook, followed with the beautiful track “Euphoria.” He flaunted his silky voice while flying around the stadium on a zip-wire, clad in pink-denim.

Jimin made a fairytale-like entrance for “Serendipity,” rising to the stage inside a bubble, which later popped. Singing verses like “Let me love you,” he showed off balletic, sensual dance moves.

Band leader RM became a “lover boy” during “Trivia: Love,” singing “I live for love.”

(Big Hit Entertainment)
Audience members sang along to “sarang” (love in Korean) as holograms of hearts and glitter surrounded him and the stadium.

A video of V wearing a mask built up anticipation before the vocalist appeared on a bed and woke up to sing “Singularity.” The breathy jam highlighted V’s husky and soulful voice.

As Suga sang the melancholic synth-pop “Trivia: Seesaw,” the night started to get darker with the sun setting, highlighting his red suit and deep, raspy rap style that he is known for.

Purple-haired Jin appeared playing the piano for “Epiphany,” delivering a sincere cry to fans against a rain-like hologram background. The highlight was when the eldest member sang, “I want to love,” hitting the high notes with sweet falsetto.

A fun part of BTS’ concerts in London was how the members attempted to speak with a British accent, with RM saying “cheers” and “lovely, while Jungkook said phrases like “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

The highlight, however, was when Jin led the crowd in the “Ay-oh” chant, recreating Queen’s iconic moment at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

(Big Hit Entertainment)
As the night came to an end, the members shared their feelings and thanked fans, who held up the glowing “Army Bomb” -- the band’s official light sticks connected via Bluetooth, which turned the crowd into an ever-changing sea of color.

“We are finally here at Wembley, where I only watched it on TV,” said Suga. “London always gives me great memory. Please don’t forget today.”

“You are light to our night,” said Jungkook.

“So the UK was like the big, big wall to me. But tonight, we and you guys broke the wall. You guys are the true evidence that we are worthy to keep on.”

Calling the fans the “true stars of the night,” the band concluded the evening with the star-inspired song “Mikrokosmos,” in front of a crowd glittering with light sticks and cell-phone lights -- a beautiful starry night.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)