He's an energiser bunny

CNBlue frontman Jung Yong Hwa reaches out to the audience with confidence.
CNBlue frontman Jung Yong Hwa reaches out to the audience with confidence.PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION/MARCUS LIN

Korean band CNBlue's lead vocalist Jung Yong Hwa bounds, contorts and enjoys himself on stage

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

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 vocalist switches from strumming the guitar to 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.

His 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.



    Singapore Indoor Stadium

    Last Saturday

He tries a bit of contortion 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, 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".

Jung the rocker 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 boys 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 respite when guitarist Lee Jong Hyun, 25, sings the mellow English ballad Irony.

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

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

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

They raise 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'He's an energiser bunny'. Print Edition | Subscribe