Its been long awaited and much hyped, but Big Bang finally made their appearance in the UK at London’s Wembley Arena on 14th and 15th December. Despite ticket prices between £66 and £99 the two shows were sell outs and the Saturday was my turn to find out if it was all worth the hype.
My first stop that day was, unusually, the Garden Park Hotel on Kensington High Street where the band were reputedly staying. One of my friends is a keen autograph hunter and fan of Korean Cinema and had worked out the location from a tweet the band had sent of the view from their room. She was eager to get TOP to sign a cover of ’79 into the fire’ but there had been no joy the day before and only Taeyang had been friendly enough to sign a photo. We missed them by about five minutes so onto the gig I went after a quick pint.
The queues at Wembley for entry as well as merchandise were very long and the outside one only accepting cash I ended up with just a tote bag. I seem to get these at concerts. Inside the hoodies were already sold out along with light sticks and other things so they must have made a mint!
Perched up to the left of the extended stage, we had a very good view of the arena as it filled up and crown lights went on. There was various singing and shouting, Big Bang MV’s being played and with an increased volume on ‘Fantastic Baby’ the lights went down and the screaming began.
The intro talked about them being revived from cryogenically frozen capsules and then the curtain finally dropped and I lost the upper ranges of my hearing with the frenzied noise from the crowd.
‘How Gee’ introduced gold glittery segueways which they spun about the stage in a very nifty manner and favourites such as ‘Monster’, ‘Love Song’ , ‘Bad Boy’, and a whole host of tracks I didn’t know thanks to albums not arriving in the post in time.
The conversational interludes and dance tutorials were fun, especially for the pretty good cockney accent produced by Seungri whose persistent ‘you awwight?’ interjections kept us laughing. Their English is good and they know how to work an audience!
GDragon was the first to have a solo stage with ‘get your freak on’ and other tracks i can’t identify as i don’t have his solo work and performed with a lot of energy and fancy footwork. Taeyang’s solo stage kicked off with ‘Only look at me’ which then segued into a medley of other tracks and the removal of his shirt which had more than a few of the audience members in a bit of hysterical state.
Even high electro-pop needs a break though and that was provided by ‘Haru Haru’ a balled from a rather fogged up stage. There were a lot of stage effects from fake snow to fire jets, glitter tape and ticker tape, elevated platforms and sinking stages.
I was very uncomfortable with the kick off one particular stage which was lacked sensitivity in light of recent events in Conneticut, but that was the only real negative point of the concert for me and indicative of how closeted their world must be and how far removed from every day news and events. At least i hope its that anyway.
The encore consisted of some more ‘Fantastic Baby’ where TaeYang, still shirtless went off in his own world, dancing off th tage and leaning into the audience where security was quick to extract him before he continued on his way.
There was some more ‘you awwright’ from Seungri and the thanks yous and goodbyes. Even TOP was persuaded to speak, his voice a deep throaty rumble that was a little hard to understand and he finished his speech in Korean with which he was obviously more comfortable.
It was definitely three hours worth of excellent stage show, dance music and one of the first big Korean pop concerts I’d been to. I am sure with a welcome like that they will be back and more groups will follow in their wake.
Big Bang now head off to Tokyo and then to Seoul to finish up the tour which can only be classed as a total success for them.
NB: Pics will go up tomorrow as I’m tired – my journey home on Saturday ended up via Watford and a one lane motorway crawl that had me in bed well after 1am.