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Queen, Lady Gaga light up music festivals

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Published : 2014-08-17 20:54
Updated : 2014-08-17 21:55

Last weekend was heaven for music lovers in Korea, with the nation’s last two major summer music festivals taking place back to back for three days in Seoul.

With Korean Independence Day falling on a Friday this year, Super Sonic 2014 kicked off the long weekend on Thursday, followed by the inaugural AIA Real Life: Now Festival 2014 on Friday and Saturday.

In line with the local festivities, some of the biggest names in music including legendary rock band Queen and international pop star Lady Gaga made their way to Korea to meet tens of thousands of local fans last week.

Moreover, YG Family consisting of K-pop acts from YG Entertainment including Psy, Big Bang, 2NE1, Akdong Musician, Epik High, Lee Hi and rookie group Winner led a particularly large-scale collective performance on Saturday, drawing an international and age-diverse crowd.


Super Sonic 2014: Queen and Adam Lambert

Though this year’s edition of the annual Super Sonic music festival was reduced in scale and size, the presence of Queen with Adam Lambert singing in place of Freddie Mercury was more than enough to draw over 15,000 local fans on Thursday.

Brian May and Roger Taylor of the iconic English rock band Queen staged its first-ever concert in Korea, with popular “American Idol” season eight runner-up Adam Lambert taking the mic as the band’s honorary lead vocalist.
Brian May (right) of Queen and Adam Lambert perform at Auxiliary Stadium at Jamsil Sports Complex on Thursday. ( Live Nation Korea)

For over two hours, the trio delivered a boatload of hits including “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Killer Queen,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Somebody to Love” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

While lacking the full energy of their prime years, the two original members of Queen nonetheless led an electrifying concert featuring not only the band’s classics but also well-executed guitar solos and heartfelt vocal solos.

And as for Adam Lambert, though he is no Freddie Mercury, the “American Idol” star proved that he had more than enough flair and spectacular vocals to send thousands of fans jumping and enthusiastically singing along throughout the entire performance.

The most memorable moment of the night was undoubtedly Queen’s grand closing performance of its greatest hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” during which a video of the late Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991, appeared on the back screen singing the well-recognized melody.

Queen and Lambert closed their first concert in Korea with an encore performance of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” with Lambert’s driven vocals soaring through the night.


AIA Real Life: Now Festival: YG Family, Lady Gaga

The next day, the two-day AIA Real Life: Now Festival took off with tens of thousands of K-pop fans flocking to the stadium to see their favorite stars from YG Entertainment.

Tour buses full of fans from abroad as well as the long line that had formed in front of artist merchandise stands proved the international popularity of YG artists.

Psy, 2NE1, Big Bang, Epik High, Akdong Musician, Lee Hi, rookie group Winner and Team B returned the high support with a collective performance of about 50 songs for almost five hours.

The music fest weekend came to a grand finale on Saturday with a headlining performance by the global pop star Lady Gaga with over 20,000 attendees.
Lady Gaga performs at Olympic Stadium at Jamsil Sports Complex on Saturday. (Live Nation Korea)

Performing in Korea for the second time, the quirky pop icon brought her signature over-the-top fashion and glitzy performances as part of her latest concert tour “artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball.”

Appearing on stage looking flashy in golden wings and a sparkly unitard with a giant ball stuck to her chest, Gaga began the show with several new tracks from her recent album, which seemed less familiar than others to the local audience.

However, performances of Gaga’s international hits which promptly followed, including “Just Dance,” “Poker Face” and “Telephone,” soon had the audience singing and jumping in unison.

As usual, Lady Gaga featured many wacky costumes and performances throughout the night. Wearing a clamshell bikini and a particularly large blonde wig, the singer performed “Venus” and “Manicure.” At another point, she appeared wearing a polka-dotted, inflatable tentacle outfit resembling fried calamari.

The highlights of the night were Gaga’s bold commitment to her fans as well as her signature pep talks directed at the audience.

“Whenever I come to Korea, before I go on stage, sometimes they give me rules and they say, don’t talk about certain things because some people might not like it. But I don’t give a f ― what everybody likes,” she said.

“There are gay kids in Korea. There is an LGBT community in Korea. And you deserve to be f ― ing equal!” she shouted to a deafening roar in the audience.

At another point, Gaga teared up while sharing a story about her best friend, a Korean adoptee named Bo-kyung.

“Bo-kyung has been my best friend since I was 4 years old. And she was adopted from Korea … and I love you so much. … Thank you, Korea, for giving me my best friend,” said a teary-eyed Gaga before dedicating an acoustic version of “Born This Way” to Bo-kyung.

The global pop star ended the night with an encore performance of “Gypsy,” officially closing down this year’s summer music festival season.

By Sohn Ji-young (jiyoung.sohn@heraldcorp.com)

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