ELIZABETH SOH: REPORTING FROM SEOUL
Injury, grueling training and being short of two members put Super Junior to the test at their Super Show 5 in Seoul on Sunday night, but their sincerity and love for their fans (as well as their hot bods) more than made it up for the 10,000 of ELF (fan club) members in the audience.
The initial promise was big – during the Super Show 5 press conference at the Olympic Stadium, member Shin Dong told reporters that “Super Show 5 is the combination of 5 years of our dreams, everything put together plus something special.”
He added that the show was the most independent project he and his nine group mates had ever embarked on.
“Each member participated in choosing clothes, songs and stage sets,” enthused the joker of Super Junior, with an absolutely serious expression.
With this in mind, as well as information from fan sites that the previous night’s performance had been charged and absolutely entertaining, this reporter was a little disappointed by the slow start to the Super Show.
Opening numbers “Mr Simple” and “Bonamana”, both fast songs with the group’s signature super-synchronized dance moves and catchy electronic beat, while executed perfectly technically, lacked the energy and dynamism usually seen on stage by consummate performers Super Junior.
It could have been due to the fact that member Ye Sung had been injured on the opening night of the Super Show 5 when he tried to jump onto a stage during one of the songs, injuring his hand and ribs.
Luckily, Super Junior was soon back on form for another one of their dance hits, “Sexy Free and Single”, bursting onto stage in flaming red and black outfits – audience members saw some sexy hip grinding from best dancer Eunhyuk and strong falsettos which really got the party started.
The flames fanned hotter with “Club No.1”, which drew many bursts of emotionally wrought screams from the thousands of young female fans present as SuJu boys like Siwon, Donghae, Eunhyuk and Kangin took turns to do the bump and grind with three dancers with hourglass figures enhanced by black bodycon dresses. A hand sliding up a thigh here, a passionate near-kiss – the fan pheromones were on full blast after the song.
Welcome Kangin, goodbye Ye Sung
And then, as if to cool off all that overheated passion, a series of emotional ballads followed to mark the welcoming and farewell of two of Super Junior’s most popular members.
A poignant solo from Kangin, who recently returned to Super Junior after being plucked out to serve National Service at the peak of his fame, was particularly touching.
The visibly more mature Kangin picked to sing “Age of 30” to mark his own coming of age, performing a stripped down solo while sitting alone in a simulated café setting – his husky vocals displaying new depth from his experience.
Earlier in the day during the press conference, Kangin had talked about how nervous he was returning to Super Junior after serving in the army.
“After these years, I feel a little nervous. Super Junior had become like heroes here in Seoul and the old members are very professional. I felt a lot of stress learning the special parts and stuff I had missed,” said Kangin in an unusual show of emotion.
“Four years ago, many of us were individually motivated, but now, we all work as a team. I had a lot of help from the other members fitting back in.”
Aptly, the same segment saw another solo from Yesung, who performed “Mok Ji”, an OST song and was seen tearing up at the towards the end. This followed a series of crying jags he went through after an injury on Saturday night which resulted in him having to sit out many segments and getting upset with himself over “disappointing the ELF fans”.
It was especially demoralising as the Super Show 5 performance will be Ye Sung’s last show, as he is expected to be called to the army within the next month.
Hilarious “Fan Service” and “Skin Ship”
What followed was round after round of wacky “fan service” and “skin-ship”, K-pop slang for wacky, lovable antics and a little more than platonic hugging or flying kisses between members (for show only).
First, there was the hilarious cross dressing girl band with outfits specially picked by girl group veteran Bada of S.E.S. The usually suave and chiseled Siwon sashayed on stage in a sparkly and too-tight blue glitter dress with his very own mop of Afro hair and Ryeowook was wedding-cake pretty in a white tutu ballerina outfit complete with two ponytails topped with a white bow.
But the star of the cross-dressing segment had to be Sungmin – who came as the super sexy Hyun-A, licking a popsicle suggestively and shaking his hips to her single “Ice Cream”. The slim figured Sungmin got his Hyun-A impersonation perfect to every detail – from the come-hither expression and straight, silky hair to the leopard print bra and high heels. He even had his own scantily dressed back up dancers.
This segment left everyone in stitches and was almost worth the ticket to attend – it’s not every day, month, or even year you get to see the too-cool-for-school, suit-and-tie members of Super Junior hamming it up in female clothing.
For those fans who prefer Super Junior funny, but not female, there was the very elaborate “Avengers” segment – an impossble-not-to-laugh slapstick performance of “Hero” by Super Junior members decked out in phony Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, Dragon Ball, Wolverine, Captain America and Loki costumes. Cheesy, but fun.
Finally, some very lucky members of the audience were able to come within touching distance of their idols – as they stood on moving platforms rotating around the stadium, giving high fives and flying kisses as they zoomed past star struck fans.
After all that fan service, Super Junior members next segment appealed to a more primal part of their fans.
The highlight of the night had to been when the “bodies” of SuJu, Eunhyuk and Donghae stripped off their shirts during “Rock Star” to reveal ripped arms and seriously defined six packs. It was a much appreciated move, going by the crazy head shaking and screaming it evoked from the crowd, who were by this time all on their feet shouting their support.
Donghae, in particular, seemed completely lost in the moment as he gyrated and danced his way into performing oblivion.
The night’s first “ending song” was Marry You, a cute dance-along number with instructions for the audience members – make the shape of a heart, now flap your hands in front of your face, and then cheer. Anyone else telling you to do this would be dismissed as mad, but for Super Junior, 10,000 people acted cute with no hint of reservation at all – an indication of the fanatic following the boys have inspired all around the world.
Of course, the loudest screams and cheers were reserved for Super Junior’s encore of their first ever break-out hit, Sorry Sorry. Even this reporter knew all the words.
Seoul’s Super Junior Super Show 5 performance marks the kick-off point for Super Junior’s third world tour which will see them, for the first time ever, performing in exotic locations like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Lima. A Japanese stop in July has been confirmed at the Tokyo Dome and we’ve heard (quite reliably) in the grapevine that they will be stopping by Singapore too!
[PHOTOS] Slideshow: Super Junior Super Show 5 in Seoul 2013