Singapore Indoor Stadium/Last Saturday
One year ago, the five members of Korean boyband Shinee told this paper that they hope to keep performing long enough to be called a "man band".
It seems an achievable dream, given the non-stop applause last Saturday from 6,000 fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, even when the five young adult performers spat water at one another for 15 minutes.
Forget the $1.7-million budget for Shinee World, clearly spent on slick anime background videos, flame throwers, fireworks and harnesses holding the singers in mid-air as they shot green laser beams from X-Men-style claws.
The most memorable part of the group's first solo concert here was the boundless energy and relentless cheer of performers Lee Tae Min, 18, Lee "O New" Jin Ki, 21, Kim "Key" Kibum, 19 and 20-year-olds Kim Jong Hyun and Choi Min Ho. They leapt around the stage for almost three hours, singing their hearts out, when they could probably have phoned their performance in with little punishment.
The predominantly female audience was mostly of the age or stage of infatuation to applaud anything the lads did or said. Viewers even loudly cheered the short video films of the five that signalled the end of a set and came with words such as "A boy sends off a heartache".
Lesser bands might have taken advantage of this fan fever, at the very least getting cover acts to give them a break. But SHINee owned the stage from start to finish, executing synchronised dance moves worthy of Bollywood while belting out 29 songs such as peppy hits Replay, Ring Ding Dong and Love Like Oxygen, as well as the dark and stylish Lucifer.
Occasionally, one singer would give the others a rest by coming forward to show off solo. Key wowed the crowd with a cheeky number, My First Kiss, but I could have done without Jong Hyun's uncomfortably falsetto lament, Lost Love. It was almost as embarrassing as the schmaltzy Korean song, Lullaby, which involved band members in angel wings cuddling seven-year-old Baptist Lim, a Singaporean child actor.
Still, the rest of the audience lapped it up, cheering and waving around $30,000 worth of limited-edition SHINee lightsticks. At least two-thirds of viewers had queued up before the show for the $9 green wands.
The performers returned the love by prancing up and down the Y-shaped stage extension, throwing colourful balls into the crowd. They also cheerfully donned the gifts thrown at them in return, appearing honestly happy over headgear shaped like cows or reindeer.
Clearly accustomed to much colder weather, they ended the concert upending bottles of mineral water on one another and taking gulps of the beverage, only to spit it out on the nearest band member.
While the Merlion imitations were funny in context, it is hard to imagine how these five might continue in the future without youthful charm to make such antics palatable. Ah well, for now, it is still a bright Shinee world.