SINGAPORE – It happens to every K-pop boyband. When the boys come of age to serve the army, the remaining members are left to perform on their own. Boyband EXO is at that stage of their career. Members Xiumin and D.O were the first to enlist earlier this year.
At the Singapore stop of the ‘EXO PLANET #5 – EXplOration’ tour, only six members(Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Chen, Kai, Sehun and Suho) performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Chinese member Lay was absent as he is currently promoting in China.
Despite missing three members, 8,000 regional fans — from Japan to India — turned up in full force to support the K-pop idols.
To fill the void left by the absent members,adjustments were made to theband size, stage formation and vocal arrangement.The remaining members put on a captivating three-hour show infused with EXO’s signature narrative concept, endearing live renditions, and energy-filled choreography.
Clad in quilted racer jackets, EXO opened with“Tempo”, the lead dance track of their 5th studio album, “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo”. Temperatures rose as the members continued to serve up high-energy tracks,“Transformer” and “Gravity”.
A wave of quietness swept through the stadium when Baekhyun took to the stage for his solo segment. Performing the ballad“UN Village”, he exuded a cool vibe while displaying his powerful vocals.
The boybanders returned to the stage, strutting out like models in sleek shirts of varying designs. Next up, they performed the soothing R&B tune“24/7”, followed by“Love Shot”, a unique blend of R&B meets dubstep and reggae, and the Latin-infused ear candy“Ooh La La La”.
SM Entertainment’s concerts are always a visual spectacle. This EXO tour did not disappoint.
While performing “24/7”, kinetic balls descended from above and revolved around the boys. The dazzling, fairy-tale-like illumination complemented the dreamy track.
All traces of the dream were washed away when“Love Shot” came on. Instead, the mood turned sensual with the track’s eye-catching choreography consisting of sexy waves and body rolls. EXO continued the fast-paced setlist with explosive hit“Monster” and the urban pop number “Oasis”.
Then it was time for the special stages, each featuring a different EXO member or sub-unit.
Suho took the stage with silky R&B track, “Been Through”.Towards the outro, Suho showed off his sculpted physique by ripping off his shirt and that drove audiences absolutely wild.
Chen flaunted his vocal range in the piano-driven ballad “Lights Out”, performing vocal acrobatics by hitting the high and low notes.
Afterwhich, Chen confessed that he was pressured to perform after Suho’s sensational performance.
The playful members came up with a suggestion to make Chen’s solo stage sexier. The idea: show off his thighs. That led to EXO members doing squat and lunges on stage.
Sub-unit EXO-SC (Sehun & Chanyeol) brought a drastic change to the mood in the house. The dynamic duo performed“What A Life”, a swaggy hip-hop sound combined insistent trap beat, followed by mid-tempo R&B groove, “Closer to You”.
The six boys then reassembled on stage. They performed the upbeat and funky “Falling For You”, before the stage was transformed into a cosy living room for the acoustic ballad “Wait”.
Moving on from the acoustic lull, EXO switched things up with the highly infectious “Power”. The song was lifted with the new arrangement, giving it an extra shot of anthemic heft. While performing, the boys made an effort to interact with their fans up close by covering every corner of the stage. They also threw colourful balls, which were they signed on the spot, into the crowd.
Flaming the excitement, dance machine Kai performed the unreleased track, “Confession” and that eliciting screams when he showed off his groovy moves.
Slower jams like “Bad Dream” worked wonders in highlighting those amazing vocal prowess. The song opened with a wistful guitar riff and progressed into a rhythmic, synth-heavy ballad.The boys then flaunted their vocal ranges effortless together with shiver-inducing harmonies.
The atmosphere hit a feverish pitch during the thumping trilogy of “Growl”, “Overdose” and “Call Me Baby”. The throwback moment was a testament as to how far the performers have come since their rookie days. The only setback for this set is those classics were condensed into a medley instead of the full-length versions.
My personal favorite moment of the evening was “Damage”, a hip hop and dance number with synthesizer intro and thumping bass beats. With the accompaniment of red laser beams, pyrotechnics, and lighting effects, EXO had fans waving their light sticks enthusiastically to the intense track. The choreography featured powerful and flashy movements, in which Sehun serving up an impressive solo dance performance towards the outro.
Another downside to the concert was some iconic numbers and fan favourites were left out from the setlist including “MAMA”, “Wolf”, “Miracle In December”, “Love Me Right”, “Ko Ko Bop” as it consisted mostly of tracks off “Don’t Mess Up My Tempo” album, alongside with the repackaged “Love Shot”.
Wrapping up the evening with “Smile On My Face”, the boys bid the fans farewell with a promise to return soon.
With the boys set to enlist in the army soon, Suho related a reassuring message — they’ll be returning with a new album and new concert. He said: “Please wait for us, Singapore!”
Listen to the EXO PLANET #5 – EXplOration – in SINGAPORE playlist on KKBOX here: https://kkbox.fm/QF4WWk.
All photos courtesy of ONE Production and SM Entertainment.