Concert review: Charisma, fun action and a bit of Hokkien from Korean pop-rock quartet CNBlue

Lead vocalist Jung Yong Hwa of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016.
Lead vocalist Jung Yong Hwa of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016. PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/MARCUS LIN
Vocalist and guitarist Lee Jong Hyun of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016.
Vocalist and guitarist Lee Jong Hyun of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016. PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/MARCUS LIN
Bassist Lee Jung Shin of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016.
Bassist Lee Jung Shin of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016. PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/MARCUS LIN
Drummer Kang Min Hyuk of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016.
Drummer Kang Min Hyuk of Korean band CNBlue at their Come Together in Singapore concert on Feb 13, 2016. PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/MARCUS LIN

REVIEW/CONCERT

2016 CNBLUE LIVE - COME TOGETHER IN SINGAPORE

Singapore Indoor Stadium

Last Saturday

Watching Korean rock band CNBlue live for the third time on Saturday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, I wonder if I will be bored by repetition - or enthralled like I was at their concerts in 2014 and 2013.

The pop-rock quartet may be doling out the same formula - a no-frills show relying on raw talent - but I am nonetheless as entertained as before .

Much of that entertainment, as always, flows from the charismatic frontman Jung Yong Hwa, 26.

The stage is his musical playground. The busy vocalist switches from strumming the guitar, plonking on the keyboard to tinkering with his new toy - a synthesiser.

While he wants to be perceived as a serious musician, the songwriter is just as adept in delivering a fun performance for the 5,000-strong audience.

Jung's palpable enjoyment is infectious. There is a spring in his step as the energiser bunny bounds all over the stage. He skips over steps to get to his electric keyboard, and in another moment he jumps over a speaker.

He tries a bit of contortionism by strumming the guitar with his arm under a raised leg.

He also runs through a rain of confetti with raised arms like a triumphant athlete and twirls around till he is entangled in the stringy confetti.

Having gone solo with his first individual album and concert tour last year (2015), Jung's confidence as a seasoned performer shows in the way he improvises.

In one instance, he opens the mid-tempo tune Can't Stop with declarations of love for Singapore in a mix of English and Hokkien - "Singapore, Wa Ga Le Gong (I tell you in Hokkien), I Love You Baby".

The rocker Jung powers through 20 of the 21 songs in the setlist. The atmosphere is electrifying as he croons and at times lets out ear-shattering howls.

With addictive hooks in catchy hits Loner and I'm Sorry, the audience cannot help bopping along.

However, the lads lost me at one point, as it is harder to get into the groove listening to their slower, unfamiliar numbers Stay Sober and Hero.

Lead singer Jung has a brief moment of reprieve when guitarist Lee Jong Hyun, 25, sings the mellow English ballad Irony.

The most reserved of the lot, putting him in the spotlight finally diverts the audience's attention to him. Sadly, the floppy-haired good-looker fades into the background the rest the show.

While it is natural that the audience's main focus is on the band's lead vocalist, bassist Lee Jung Shin and drummer Kang Min Hyuk also share an easy rapport with audiences.

The pair, both 24, amuse us with their earnest attempts at English - a staple of Korean music concerts.

They up their foreign language quotient when they go beyond the typical banter about chilli crab and the hot weather.

The chatty Lee Jung Shin shares that he went shopping in Orchard Road the day before the concert.

He throws in a cheeky festive greeting: "Xin Nian Kuai Le, Hong Bao Na Lai" (Mandarin for Happy New Year, give me a red packet).

Not forgetting Valentine's Day the next day, Kang dishes out advice to singles.

"Anyone single here? You can spend the day with your parents, okay?" says the boyish Kang, who dons a sleeveless top that shows off his manly ripped arms.

I'm quite sure fans would have loved to spend Valentine's Day with CNBlue.

nggwen@sph.com.sg