Downtown Los Angeles lit up on the evening of March 9 for the first-ever joint concert between idol bands FT Island and CN Blue!
The day before the concert, another Soompi staff member and I were given the opportunity to interview both groups. Please check it out as the boys shared their thoughts on visiting America, their musical growth, future plans, and more.
Held at the famous Nokia Theater, the two-hour concert “FTISLAND & CNBLUE “Stand Up” by M Live” was jam-packed with popular tracks from the two groups, and screams from over 5,000 exhilarated fans.
I arrived two hours before showtime and there was already a crowd forming. Fans began collecting by the entrance with excited chatter from the circulating banner for FT Island and CN Blue plastered on the front of Nokia Theater. It was really cute watching fans stroll into the scene looking a bit lost, but as soon as they saw the concert banner, they would jump, point, and scream, and proceed to take a picture with the sign in the background.
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As this is both FT Island and CN Blue’s first time performing in the States, American Primadonna and Boice fans were more than prepared to show off their yellow and blue colors, and represent their proud fandom. Check out some of the gear they prepared. There was even a cake by Code Azzurro (the first international forum for CN Blue fans)!
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The concert began promptly at 8:00PM with a slideshow of the faces of CN Blue members Lee Jungshin (bassist), Kang Minhyuk (drummer), Jung Yonghwa (vocals and guitar), and Lee Jonghyun (guitar).
CN Blue stepped on stage and immediately kicked off the show with their hit song “Intuition.” The boys stepped into a 360 change from their image at the previous days’ press conference!
Yonghwa put aside the clean, humbled leader image, and yelled “Come on!” to the eager crowd. Of course the fangirls (there wasn’t a strong male presence :/ ) answered back with powerful fanchants echoing behind Yonghwa’s voice: “Because I love you,” “Please don’t go go go.” “Don’t say no no no.” Wrapping up their second song “Now or Never,” the band took a break to speak to the crowd.
What I truly loved about CN Blue’s performance was their genuine effort to reach out and interact with the American crowd. I have been to many K-Pop concerts in America where the performers would speak nearly exclusively in Korean (even with native English speakers in the group). Yonghwa drummed up the crowd with his English: “What’s up LA! Good evening,” “Say ‘yea.’”
Asking us to chant “L O V E,” Yonghwa led us into the next song “Love Girl.” At this point I unleashed my inner fangirl because I love this song so much. It’s my jam. There’s something about singing lyrics out loud and carefree along with the artist, and cheering with thousands of fans that makes you want to get out of your seat and jump! The energy really makes any song so much more awesome.
The songs transitioned into a stronger rock style with “Just Please” and “One Time.” All the members seemed entrenched in the beats and rocking out with the crowd. I noticed Minhyuk in the back had a cute habit of spinning his drum stick in between each note. Yonghwa displayed his inner rockstar by headbanging during his guitar solo at the front of the extended stage. He even kneeled down and let the front crowd touch his guitar.
There must be something magical about Jungshin and Jonghyun’s hair. Even as they were headbanging without any care, their medium-long hair manage to fall back perfectly as if untouched. (Please tell us your secrets!)
Moving onto “Tattoo,” Jonghyun changed from his first guitar to a white guitar.
Wrapping up the batch of energetic, heavier-rock songs, Yonghwa spoke to the audience again. You could tell how much energy he was feeding into the stage by his extremely heavy breathing in the mic. He gave us his gratitude on behalf of the whole band: “Thank you, thank you, thank you for the awesome time. Are you having fun? Really?”
The audience was quite obedient and responsive to Yonghwa’s talk, until Jonghyun took off his plaid shirt, and Yonghwa removed his black leather jacket. Then the crowd (the girls) roared and shrieked in approval.
Turning to Jungshin, Yonghwa teased him into showing his English skills too, asking “Do you know LA bands?” Jungshin shyly replied in his mic, “Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi, and…” Next Minhyuk spoke up: “Next song is released to Japan.”
Jonghyun switched back to his original guitar (seen below), and the stage slipped into a medley of their Japanese songs “Get Away,” “Where You Are,” and “In My Head.”
I remembered that Minhyuk mentioned in the press interview that he wished there FT Island’s Jonghun could join the group so that Yonghwa would be released from the duties from balancing guitar and vocals. But from what I could see, Yonghwa had the most freedom. He was hopping around the stage, headbanging on the extended stage, hyping fans, and teasing out both Jonghyun and Jungshin from their respective corners. He cupped his hands up to his ear to listen to the fans, and signaled for them to cheer louder. By the end of their medley, his white shirt was drenched and sweat was streaming down his face.
They moved to a slower tempo with “In My Head.” Setting down the rockstar nature, Jonghyun and Jungshin calmed their bodies down and played with softer motions.
Showing his great love for the city, Yonghwa said “I love LA. I love LA.” Speaking into the mic, he asked the stage managers to shine light onto the crowd, “I need more light to see the audience.” This was a heart-warming moment for the audience. CN Blue’s humble actions showed that the stars of the show wasn’t the band, but the fans who came out to show their love. The boys took a quiet, long stare through the thousands of fans, and Yonghwa gave us a thumbs-up.
“Okay okay, so awesome! Very nice. Thank you.” “I cannot believe it’s time to say goodbye. It’s been very good.”
Yonghwa turned to Jungshin: “Jungshin how do you feel?” Although Jungshin looks tall and lanky, he surprisingly has a lot of energy and can transition from smooth, relaxed, and confident strumming to powerful, moving bass jamming. He showed his unending energy by yelling “Do you want some more?!”
Baby-faced Minhyuk in the back wasn’t able to interact with the crowd nearly as much as the other members, but he sent his warm thoughts to the fans with his English message: “I believe we can meet again. We can have much more song list next time!”
The band could feel that the energy declined with the sad news that they would wrap up their set list shortly. Yonghwa stepped in and asked “Do you want CN Blue?” and everyone cried in cheers. He joked around with us and asked “[or] Do you want FT Island?”
Jonghyun cut in with a chord, making Yonghwa laugh. Finally they jumped into their debut Korean song “I’m a Loner.” Yonghwa slyly slipped into their final song “LOVE” with an acoustic rendition of the chorus and rap.
My overall verdict of CN Blue was sheer fun. Their presence is definitely different from K-Pop idol concerts I have seen where artists focus on the execution of their performance, dancing, vocals, looking good, and strictly sticking to how they train their body to move in front of the camera. The boys were natural and able to let loose while keeping to the music. It’s a real treat to watch them perform live (none of the hand-sync playing) because they are true musicians in their musical performance, but also have the refined and professional act of idols.
Following the 10 minute intermission, FT Island stepped onto the stage.You could immediately tell Hongki was thrilled to perform (or had too much sugar). He hopped onto the bench for the center vocalist and cutely said “Annyeong!”
Hongki looked like a cute child waiting for Minhwan, Seunghyun, Jaejin, and Jonghun to strap in. He stretched left to right, front to back, and kicked his legs. As the members checked their instruments, he squat down and looked at the crowd.
Just as they promised in the press interview, the band kicked off their set list with “Hello Hello.” Hongki danced along the stage while Seunghyun and Jaejin sang. He signaled for us to sing along every time the words “hello hello” and “goodbye goodbye” came up in the chorus.
Contrasting to CN Blue’s casual apparel, all five boys were dressed up in sleek monochrome outfits. Hongki wore all black, and a jacket with silver embellishment. Jonghun and Jaejin kept things simple and professional in black pants, white tee, and black blazer. Seunghyun styled up in a black jacket with a white collar, black tee, and black bottoms. Maknae Minhwan wore a black drapey top blazer, with a black choker necklace.
Wrapping up their hit song “Love Love Love,” Hongki dazzled the crowd with his English skills. “Wassup LA. Are you guys having fun?” He chokes up and laughs, “Sorry I can’t speak English! How did you like CN Blue’s part?” Everyone gives a loud roar. Hongki shows support for their labelmate, responding, “Right, they are really awesome band. But! I will show you something different. FT Island!”
The stage becomes draped in a sharp blue and red-orange light as the band kicked into “Love Sick,” their debut song. I remember being impressed by their debut five years ago because Hongki had such command over his vibrato and emotions for his young age. I could see that the group has developed great, natural chemistry as Jonghun looked at Hongki during his guitar solo.
Continuing the emotional, heart-break song mood, FT Island proceeded with “Severely,” the song they were recently promoting in Korea. Each member puts on a great act when it comes to emotional songs. You can see them letting their bodies move and lean freely in sync with the highs and lows of the music. Hongki in particular swung his mic pole as if he was singing to it. While he has a lot of command over his expressions, his left hand really dictates the control of his vocals. When he sings a high note, he raises his hand and opens his palm, and lets it fall and clenches up when the note falls or closes up a phrase.
Jaejin proudly announced after the song, “You just listened to the hottest song in Korea! Right now it’s time to rock.”
Hongki took off his jacket, jumped on te bench, and yelled “Ready to rock?! Okay it’s time to go!” They jumped into a cover of Song Gol Mae‘s “I’ll Love Everything,” which Hongki sang on “Immortal Song 2” last year. Taking a bit of energy off, Hongki sat down and sang to the fans.
But the hyperactive boy got up and drove the crowd crazy with his body rolls, and flaunting his back line while singing with his back facing us. Hongki looked he could spend hours dancing! He jumped in the air, bent back over the bench, and moved his hips left and right with his legs wide open.
He yelled “Everybody put your hands up!” as they moved into their first Japanese song, “Revolution.” In their next Japanese song “I Want,” Hongki looked like a free-spirited child prancing around the stage, drunkenly moving his body wildly compared to Seunghyun, Jaejin, Jonghun, and Minhwan who stayed cool with their smiles and winks. (Might I add, Seunghyun likes to wink during his raps!). During the guitar solo, Hongki turned to face Minhwan and imitated an orchestra constructor commanding the stage.
Just like CN Blue, the band took a break to speak to the audience. Jaejin heartfully said, “Thank you, I have many words to say… but I can’t speak English.” The boys looked to the audience, asking if they could understand Korean. Jokingly, nearly everyone yelled back with a positive answer. Hongki began searching high and low in the front crowd for a Korean speaker. After some failed attempts, he asked us “Do you know the twist?” He swayed his legs and hips. Either everyone understand his heavy accent or screamed in approval of his cute moves. FT Island took the renewed energy and slipped into “Bing Bing Bing.”
Energyball Hongki darted down the stage and hyped everyone up! He waved his arms and kicked up his feet, and of course did more hip gyrations. Even the ahjummas standing in front of me were joyously clapping and swaying!
After working up a sweat, Hongki cutely whined “Wah so hot!”
Jaejin let Hongki catch his breath and he asked the crowd “Are guys having fun? Yea?! Thank you ^^”
Hongki jumped back into action and asked us “Do you know ‘Barae?’” They bounced into the upbeat song and strung up fan interaction by asking us to yell “Barae” (I hope) during the chorus. During the rap, Hongki touch the fans’ hands while Jaejin played with Seunghyun. After Jonghun’s guitar solo, Hongki grabbed a bottle of water and yelled “break time!”
The crowd joined in an acoustic version of the song and sang the first line of the chorus. FT Island resumed the music, reviving the energy.
It’s amazing how simple but teasing taking off a jacket can be. The audience cried out piercing screams as Minhwan removed his jacket.
Hongki announced “Last two songs. Enjoy!” This time they changed up their routine a little. Hongki switched spots with Jonghun, who strolled over to the middle of the extended stage for “Let It Go.“
King of energy Lee Hongki ran to the far right and hi-fived fans, and threw his bottle of water (super wide shot!), and Seunghyun finally moved around.
The two princes of English, Jaejin and Hongki, were adorable affirming each other’s English. Jaejin began with “Really, last song.” Hongki supports him with “Really, really last song,” Jaejin replied “oh my god!”
Pretty boy Jonghun smoothly pressed down his sideburns as they began “Flower Rock.” In the middle of the song, Jaejin suddenly yells “stop” and the lights turn on. Hongki teased everyone “Let’s do something fun! Everyone sit down.” Of course everyone was confused. Hongki repeated “Sit down. Let’s jump together okay? Guitar!” Hongki signaled Jonghun to do his thing.
Peering down on the crowd, Hongki squat and askeed “everyone…? JUMP!” The stage lights blew up brightly and you could see an explosion of hands tossed up in the air.
Wrapping up their set, Hongki gave us his thanks “You’re so hot. You’re so awesome. I love you! Thank you, thank you. Gomawo”
The crowd refused to let the show draw to a close and chanted “encore!” Both the CN Blue and FT Island boys shyly stepped back on stage with “Like the Birds.” Jonghun came on stage without his jacket (much to fans’ happiness). Hongki took one of the yellow FT Island flags from a fan and proudly waved it in his left hand while jumping.
The two groups finally united on one stage and showed their playful nature. Bassists Jaejin and Jungshin hugged, and Minhwan gave Jonghun a piggy back ride. The two bands conclude giving their greatest gratitude to the crowd. They uniformly bowed to the left, center, and to the right, and finally took their step offstage.
Thank you to Mnet and Powerhouse Live for the opportunity to review this awesome concert. Look forward to more shows by the two in the future!