On April 6th 2012 the popular Korean Kpop boy group Super Junior came in Paris for their first ever solo concert in France. This Paris show was their 16th show, in their 7th town and their first unique show in Europe in their Super Show 4 (SS4) worldwidetour.
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The band in Paris
Super Junior was formed in 2005 by the SM Entertainment agency and is considered as the “King of Kpop”. It’s one of the most popular Korean bands overseas. More about them on Wikipedia. Only 9 main active members out of 13 came to Paris : Leeteuk, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun. They’re between 24 and 28 years old now. Unfortunately, the two foreign members of the sub-unit Super Junior M who usually perform with the main group on tour, Henry (Canada) and Zhoumi (China), were missing, due to personal schedules and visa problems (really ?), that meant no Chinese songs and usual solos from these members. The band arrived little by little in Paris just a few days before the concert to prepare the show and also to go sightseeing in the city. Some TV staff followed the members during their stay in Paris, and other staff did some photo shoots. According to some Twitter sources, they went to some well-known places, for example, the Bir-Hakeim bridge, Café Le Nemours, the stairs of the church Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. A documentary about this special show by the Korean TV channel MBC will be broadcasted on April 27th 2012.
The day of the concert
The date was announced only one month before, and a lot of young European fans didn’t manage to come because of the impossibility to book train/flight/hotels in that short time and because of the expensive price of the tickets. Standing and category 1 tickets were sold at 111,50€ and category 2 were at 89,50€. The French organizer also sold tickets at 89,50€ that allowed people to attend 30-mins rehearsal and win backstage meeting for two lucky persons by drawing lots before the show (which, I guess, probably might be something quick and not that special…). A press conference took place in the venue before the show, a video of it by the Korean Cultural Center in Paris is available online.
The Paris show
The concert started at 8:10pm and lasted about 3h40mins. It was unexpectedly not soldout, contrary to Asia shows where tickets are sold in seconds and minutes. If it was soldout, a second date could have been added the next day apparently. When you entered the venue, you noticed that some seats were hidden by curtains at the back of the venue, so we couldn’t see that on TV ? The audience consisted mostly in teenage girls under 18 and young women. There also were a few boys and men. It’s surprising how Kpop spread so fast among young European people and how they were introduced to it, when you know that it’s been ages since Occidental boy bands and girl bands are outmoded... But for some of my Korean friends, Kpop is a bit outmoded in South Korea…
No merchandising outside, we were given two ridiculous fluorescent blue sticks at the entry. Fans were well prepared, they brought their own blue lightsticks, representing the pearl sapphire blue color, the color of the “fanclub” called “E.L.F.” (Ever Lasting Friends). Fans from many countries prepared banners and from what I know about the fan projects to support the members (like holding specific banners or creating a wave of an unique color with lightsticks and digital screens), the European fan projects for each member were quite successful, thanks to an early preparation on social networks and fan forums to spread the word among the fans.
This show in Paris was different from their shows in Asia. The French venue, le Zénith, can welcome about 6,400 persons including 5,830 seats, but we can’t compare it to huge Asian venues with more than 10,000 seats. The usual water fountains and some facilities(e.g. treadmills) were not allowed inside the venue, so the setlist was modified and some songs were not performed, e.g. “Walkin” with members usually flying in the air and walking on treadmills. People thought that the two special guests from the band The Grace were invited to perform the song “Oops” with Eunhyuk and Donghae, instead of Sulli and Amber from the band F(x), but they performed their own song instead. While all the members had their solo or duet parts, the member Shindong was the only one who didn’t perform his usual solo. Is it because there were only four dancers who came for this show, so not enough dancers to support him ? Or just a lack of time ? That’s kind of unfair, especially for the fans of this member.
The special setlist
32 songs were performed. Here’s the setlist I tried to retrace (there might be mistakes) :
Video : Super Junior Intro underwater
1. “Superman” #
2. “Opera” #
3. “Twins” #
4. “A Man In Love” (remix version) #
5. “Bonamana” (rock version)
Video : members jumping in the air
6. “You’re My Endless Love” * X
7. “Wonder Boy” *
8. “Rokkugo” *
Video : members sightseeing in New York (filmed during SMTOWN NY)
9. Sungmin’s solo – “One In Million” (Ne-Yo Cover) *
10. Kyuhyun’solo - excerpt of “Still With You” (Eric Benet cover) + “Isn’t She Lovely” (Stevie Wonder cover) on piano and harmonica *
11. Ryeowook’s solo – “Moves Like Jagger” (Maroon 5 cover) *
12. Eunhyuk’s solo – “Say My Name” *
13. Leeteuk’s solo – “Loving You” (Kenny G cover) on saxophone + excerpt of the music battle from the Chinese movie “Secret” on piano + “She” (Elvis Costello cover) *
Video : parody of the Korean movie “Sunny”
14. “Good Friends”
15. “Pajama Party”
Video : ice hockey
16. “Feels Good” *#
17. “A-Cha” #
Video : members preparing themselves in the morning in a glamorous way…
18. “Mr. Simple” #
19. “Don’t Don” #
Special guests : Dana and Sunday from The Grace – “One More Chance” *
20. Siwon’s solo with PJ/3rd Wave Music – “Your Grace Is Enough” (Chris Tomlin cover) *
21. Yesung’s solo – “For One Day” (“Warrior Baek Dongsoo” OST) *
22. Donghae and Eunhyuk – “Oppa Oppa” #
Video : dramatic scene featuring Super Junior KRY with Donghae and Sungmin. Ryeowook plays on the video the beautiful piano song "Reflection I" by Song Kwang Sik.
23. “Storm” (Super Junior KRY with Donghae and Sungmin) * (+ confettis)
24. “You and I” *
Talk fanservice with two lucky girls chosen in the crowd
25. “Lovely Day” (Acapella version)*
26. “Our Love” (Yoo Jae-Ha cover) (+ blue balloons)
Video : parody of the movie “The Sound of Music” called “The Sound of Super Junior”
27. “Doremi” (cover from “The Sound of Music”) #
28. “White Christmas”
29. “Dancing Out”
30. “Sorry Sorry” * #
31. “Miracle” *
Talk + Happy Birthday songs to Siwon and Eunhyuk with water spray
32. “Destiny” (Korean version) *
* songs that sound to me like live performances, i.e. no lipsync/playback
# with whole choregraphy
(Tons of fancams are available online.)
No impressive facilities here, no 360° stage. On the first songs, they danced on a platform that moved to the front and then to the back at the end of the song. They didn’t perform all the songs live, animations on the big screen and the choregraphy and dance were well done. No dance mistake allowed. On the song “Feels Good”, I was more focused on the animations and try to understand them than listening to the song… During their talk, the members introduced themselves in a good French (really) and learned some French words, like “Criez !”/Scream!. On the videos on the huge screen whose aim is to seduce the audience by featuring the members, translations were made in French with syntax mistakes, sometimes with romanized lyrics, so you can sing along. Maybe it would have been better if they also were English translations, because most of the non-French fans didn’t understand the translations then.
When you have been following them for months, you already know what was going to happen in the whole show thanks to fans who wrote mini-reviews of their favorite moments of the shows (often related to their favorite member). The only surprise for everyone at this Paris show was when the members walked in the crowd in the corridors at several times and fans went… crazy. It was difficult to walk normally with people piling up around them. That’s something they don’t do in their Asian shows, the Paris venue was too small to install “safe” extended stage to get closer to the audience. During “You’re My Endless Love”, on my side, Sungmin and Ryeowook went into the audience from the left of the stage and Yesung and Kyuhyun from the right side, they were followed by managers, security guards and Korean TV cameramen and French coordinators.
They did a parody of the famous Korean movie "Sunny" by disguising themselves in characters that people could know more or less. The funny fact is that I briefly met the director of "Sunny" (which I like) at a film festival last year... Such coincidence... I still ask myself why the members also disguised themselves as the characters in “The Sound of Music” and who in the staff approved the idea… I would have preferred to see them disguise in vegetables instead of “weird” characters (cf. pictures), like they did in their previous tour for their song “Cooking Cooking” (search it online.) That could seem to be silly and funny, but it sounds to be something absolutely normal in Asian shows, the way you act cute or funny or dress in a certain way is part of the show... Which other singers would disguise themselves as a carrot or a green pepper ? Not a lot of singers. Apart from that, I particularly enjoyed when they performed “Rokkugo” (a trot song, in the oldest form of Korean pop music) where they kind of improvized the dance part. When a member sings his part, he has to dance or make some gestures and the other members have to follow him. I also like when the band covered the song “Our Love” by Yoo Jae-Ha, the audience took part of the song by naming member’s full names when they were alternately singing, all the more because I like the songs by the late singer Yoo Jae-Ha.
Donghae showed many flags on stage that fans brought and gave him in order to show that the audience came from everywhere, e.g. Hungary, Tunisia, Korea, China, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Italy, Norway, etc.
From my seat, just near a corridor and stairs, I felt lucky that five members, including my favorite ones (Yesung, Kyuhyun, Sungmin, Ryeowook, Eunhyuk) passed by me at different times of the show, near enough to see well their milky-white skin… One of them is my "birthday friend" (day/month/year) ^^. That still feels strange to me when meeting/seeing someone in person who shares my birth day, but that made my day ! They look all really handsome in real life. As there are a lot of members, it’s difficult to focus on one member, so you found yourself looking at all of them, no matter where they are and if they’re your favorites or not. The members interacted a lot with the audience and bowed several times to thank the crowd at the end of the show.
Why did I attend this show ?
It was my first ever Kpop concert and no regret. I missed the SMTOWN concert last year and the Music Bank concert a few months ago, both in Paris, because I don’t know much about Kpop and I was in Korea when I heard about it... And I’m more into the Korean indie scene and classic old ballads songs. It’s not something exceptional, but I enjoyed the concert, I laughed a lot ! I did have heard of Super Junior a few years ago, but I admit that their debut and dancing songs didn’t attract me. When you travel in South Korea, you can overheard Kpop songs everywhere in shopping streets. For example, the popular song “Sorry Sorry” by Super Junior was played everywhere and got stuck in my head for a while. That leads me to do some research to understand their popularity and know more about them. I found out that the members have busy schedules, they’re not only singers, but also TV presenters, radio hosts, models, actors, comedians, musicians, dancers and business men too, which is not the case for other bands. They’re everywhere in the South Korean entertainment industry and won a lot of various important awards. They appeared on TV shows, promotion events, dramas, movies, OST, radio shows, musicals, commercials/endorsements, and some of them have their own businesses/shops, like coffee shops and Internet cafe. It could take some time, but it’s finally not that difficult to remember the names and to recognize the voices of the 15 members as they’re clearly different of each other. From what I watched and read, they all seem to be friendly, funny, talented and lovable persons in front of cameras or in normal life. The ticket price for that concert refrained me at the announcement, but it’s the only Kpop band I know well, so I finally didn’t resist, as we don’t know if they will come back in Europe in a few months or even years, when you know that some members have to go to the army this year (South Korean men have to complete their 21 months of military service between 18 and 35). There are other reasons that made me want to see them live, but not important ;), so I hope you don’t mind if I end up this long review here.
That concert was successful, they performed the main songs that the audience appreciated. I read many positive feedbacks online from young fans who will keep that concert in their mind for a while. In the current competitive music industry in South Korea, more and more new Kpop idol groups are created. According to that page on Wikipedia listing all the Korean idol groups, in 1996 only three groups made their debut. In 2005, 12 new ones. And in 2012, at least 40 new bands ! That might not be a good idea to have so many new bands, how can people follow all of them ? Bands have to work hard, perform good songs to be noticed, plus find the best marketing and communication ways to promote their works. Considering that, I hope that Super Junior members will improve themselves in the activity they like to do and still continue to be part of the best groups, to appear in shows and launch new albums, because they’re skilled in many fields and are good performers and entertainers. I think that they can’t be compared to other idols. They always bring a good and cheerful atmosphere in any of their appearances. Maybe stage performances are the only moments where they can be all reunited at the same place, so don’t miss them if they come in your town someday. They seem to me to be persons I'd like to discuss with or to interview. I might have questions to ask them, questions that they're allowed to reply, but that's an another story... Thanks for reading !