EXO dazzle with fun, elaborate show



Singapore Indoor Stadium/Sunday

Eight K-pop "gods" appeared before their mortal followers at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday evening.

The adoration session opened with a video showcase of the idols' heroic abilities, ranging from summoning rain to blasting meteoroids out of the sky.

Alas, the extraordinary powers were make-believe and they were not the Avengers of Korea.

Nonetheless, they are idols in every sense of the word and make up the behemoth boyband EXO, created by successful star factory SM Entertainment.

The nine-man band (only eight were in Singapore) have the power to captivate legions of fans, who pledge their loyalty by buying music CDs, merchandise and concert tickets.

They drew a sizeable crowd of 8,000 at the three- hour gig as part of EXO's third concert tour. This despite the deluge of upcoming K-entertainment events and the growing fatigue towards K-pop exports.

What keeps EXO going strong five years on? They have strength in numbers.

Originally a 12-man group, three members - Kris, Luhan and Tao - left between 2014 and 2015, claiming they suffered exhausting schedules and unfair treatment from their agency.

Group member Lay was absent at Sunday's show due to conflicting work schedules, but the rest could still perform.

The backing of the mega agency is also key to the group's success.

SM's deep pockets are evident in the elaborate special effects at EXO's concert, such as artificial rain falling from the massive shower installed above the hexagonal extension stage.

Behind the cascading water curtain, they popped, body-rolled and moved to the sensuous song White Noise. The singers later got drenched dancing in the rain during synth-pop tune Lightsaber.

An amusing sight was the crew appearing onstage after each wet segment, frantically mopping the floor in the dim light - a reminder of the massive team behind the K-stars in the spotlight.

Credit should also go to the K-popsters' improved showmanship and interaction with fans.

Synchronised dance moves executed with precision are a staple at EXO's concerts. But this time, the dance machines also took turns to showcase their vocals during an acoustic medley of songs such as Call Me Baby and Lady Luck.

A sign of their growing confidence was when one member, D.O., was able to laugh it off when his velvety vocals cracked for a brief moment.

The show ended with a routine typical of K-pop concerts - fans hurling plushies, toys and knick-knacks onto the stage.

Vocalist Baekhyun, who kept playing with a water gun during the show, said: "To be honest, you are not allowed to throw things onstage because of safety reasons. But I also look forward to the encore stage because of the gifts."

This shows that the cookie-cutter stars are breaking out of the mould and willing to bend the rules just a little.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'EXO dazzle with fun, elaborate show'. Print Edition | Subscribe