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[Herald Review] ‘Happy End’ to sweet, sorrowful year

The four gentlemen of vocal group Sweet Sorrow have returned with a series of year-end concerts to bring 2014 to a happy end.

The year-end concert series, titled “Happy End,” comes less than six months after Sweet Sorrow held its nationwide “Harmony” concert series after its fourth studio album, “For Lovers Only,” was released in June.

Though Sweet Sorrow is not part of the mainstream K-pop scene, it still managed to attract thousands of concertgoers to each of its shows, making it one of the most popular live acts of the year.

At the “Happy End” concerts, the four members ― In Ho-jin, Song Woo-jin, Kim Young-woo and Sung Jin-hwan ― not only live up to their reputation as the nation’s most iconic a cappella group, but also heal the hearts and minds of those who have kept their noses to the grindstone this year.

Their show last weekend at the Welch-Ryang Auditorium at Ewha Womans University in Seoul did not disappoint some 2,500 concertgoers, who we can safely assume were seeking a night of healing through soothing vocals. 

“We have been busy this year with a hectic schedule. I feel so touched to be here now. How was the year 2014 for you?” tenor Sung asked during the opening of the show. 
Sweet Sorrow holds its year-end concert, “Happy End,” at Welch-Ryang Auditorium at Ewha Womans University in Seoul on Saturday. (Music & New)
Sweet Sorrow holds its year-end concert, “Happy End,” at Welch-Ryang Auditorium at Ewha Womans University in Seoul on Saturday. (Music & New)

The members joined the stage one by one to sing a medley of Christmas carols, accompanied by a brass band.

Before moving on to their hits “Viva” and “First Date,” tenor Kim, who recently became a father, jokingly said to the mostly female audience, “It is not easy for men to come to our concert on such a precious Saturday. We know it.”

The four singer-songwriters, who have been together since their Yonsei University male choir days, have gradually expanded their fandom in Korea since debuting in 2005 ― largely supported by women in their 20s and 30s who have fallen for their soft vocals and cheerful tunes.

Throughout the three-hour performance of 24 songs, there were no flashy costumes, showy performances or bold choreography as seen at typical K-pop concerts. Sweet Sorrow’s unique vocal colors and signature harmonies were enough to create a memorable event.

One highlight of the night was when the foursome performed “Time to Say Goodbye,” originally sung by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, showcasing their opera vocals.

As the concert neared its end, each member revealed a hand-written, heartfelt letter to fans before performing their megahit “I Love You.”

“There cannot always be good things in our lives, but it is important to live with hope,” said In, 39, the oldest member of the group.

“Don’t let this year just go. Let’s look back and comfort ourselves thinking we did quite well, and come to us whenever you are going through rough times,” Kim concluded. “We are here to make you happy.”

Sweet Sorrow will hold concerts in Seoul on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day before moving on to Busan on Dec. 27 and Daegu on Dec. 30. Ticket prices range from 99,000 won to 110,000 won and can be purchased online at interpark.com.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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