No Joy, but Red Velvet still thrill

After Joy (far right) was injured, the rest of Red Velvet (from left, Yeri, Seulgi, Irene and Wendy) still managed to pull off a high-energy performance.
After Joy (far right) was injured, the rest of Red Velvet (from left, Yeri, Seulgi, Irene and Wendy) still managed to pull off a high-energy performance.PHOTO: ONE PRODUCTION

A member of the quintet dropped out of the show halfway, but the South Korean girl group continued to dance their hearts out

Last Saturday, five members in colour-coordinated stagewear dancing in unison was how K-pop girl group Red Velvet opened their first solo concert at The Star Theatre here.

Unfortunately, that was not how they ended it. One of the members, Joy - whose real name is Park Soo-young - had to drop out of the concert about an hour into the show, after injuring her right arm.

After heading backstage, she emerged with her arm in a sling to apologise to the crowd. The nature of the injury was not immediately clear.

That left the other members - Irene, Yeri, Seulgi and Wendy - to continue the show without her. And to give credit where it is due, the sudden absence of a member was handled well.

Although there were, understandably, clear holes in the choreography meant for five people throughout the rest of the show, the group still managed to pull off a high-energy performance.

I was impressed that the members were not completely floored with exhaustion by the end of the 21/2-hour concert.

Almost every song in the setlist was a dance number packed to the brim with choreography.

But the group did not show signs of being worn out or flustered after Joy's exit, maintaining their bright smiles and demeanour throughout.

If anything, my main gripe with the show was that it was almost too high-energy.

I have nothing against dance numbers. In fact, it is a well-loved K-pop signature. It is just that almost every song was a dance number.

A mix of ballads and softer hits with the dance numbers would have balanced out the show more and made it less repetitive.

As the show drew to a close, I realised that the members would not be performing solo or in smaller combinations and felt a little disappointed.

Performing in a group, while powerful, can often bury the talents of individuals.

Wendy, in particular, has a strong singing voice and that would have been better showcased alone.

I have also heard several of Seulgi's collaborations with other artists before and thought she shone in a way that a group setting did not always allow her to.

Despite that, I enjoyed most of the show, especially the portion which incorporated horror elements. There was a clip of the girls in a haunted house, followed by songs with darker and edgier aesthetics. It was refreshing to see a girl group embrace that image.

Overall, I respected what the group did. Concerts are extensively rehearsed and planned down to the last detail for every person, so the sudden absence of a member is a major setback.

K-pop stars, in general, are often dismissed as having little talent or depth. But there is no doubt that they are well-trained professionals who will pick themselves up and do their job, like Red Velvet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'No Joy, but Red Velvet still thrill'. Print Edition | Subscribe