LOS ANGELES – Witnessing the emotional reunion of K-pop titans BTS with their fans in Los Angeles, it was clear that the two years apart left their bond not just completely unscathed, but stronger than ever.
“I really wanted to say I missed you, and we know how hard things were for you, how thankful I am. In Korea, we didn’t have any fans and performed in front of the camera. I really shouldn’t feel this way, but the first time I saw you in two years, honestly it was a little awkward. I felt like I went back to seven years ago,” said Jimin during the Sunday night concert, the second of their four sold-out shows at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, LA.
“And I’m really moved that all of you’ve waited for us. I don’t think I did all I could for you guys for the past two years, so I’m really honored that you’ve waited for us,” he added.
(Big Hit Music)
The “Permission to Dance on Stage” concert series marked BTS’ first live show in two years since “2019 BTS World Tour ‘Love Yourself: Speak Yourself’” show in Seoul, due to the ongoing pandemic-related restrictions that have halted the group’s touring. The multi-venue series, which kicked off on Nov. 27, was accompanied by special live broadcasts each night at adjacent YouTube Theater.
The two-hour set, jam-packed with 24 songs, was fired up by exhilarated ARMYs who spruced themselves up with BTS-themed fashion items and merchandise. Thousands of dazzling ARMY bomb light sticks filled the venue, just like the band’s previous shows. As the concertgoers waited for the long-awaited seven boys, the stadium beautifully lit up in the group’s signature purple.
But there definitely was pleasant tension felt in the air, as the clock ticked down to BTS and ARMYs’ sentimental live encounter.
As the lights went down to signal BTS’ arrival and the ear-splitting screams got louder, RM, Jin, V, J-Hope, Suga, Jimin and Jungkook kicked off the show with power anthem “On,” a fitting choice for the opener. The bandmates had previously mentioned it as the song they most anticipated performing live in concert once the pandemic is over. The audacious tone continued with two bombastic hits, “Fire” and “Dope,” before they finally grabbed the microphones to give their first shout out to their long-waiting fans.
“Hello, we are BTS! Welcome to our PTD stage in LA. My name is RM nice to meet you guys,” RM said.
Other members also went onto greet the audience in English, addressing them how much they’ve missed and love them.
“We finally got to perform ‘On’ for you. How was it? Good?” asked V of their much-anticipated gig.
Jin said, “I’m so happy to see more of you today,” while Jimin sweetly said “I’ve missed you” in Korean.
What set the SoFi show apart from the band’s past gigs was that it only featured group songs -- no solo numbers.
Suga explained, “This PTD performance was a big challenge for all of us, as obviously we’re getting older. And let me tell you why we set this concert without solo songs. We’ve prepared everything, from the cue sheet to devices. We’ve been away for two years, and we wanted full attention on seven of us.”
(Big Hit Music)
The rest of the show was an ebb and flow through BTS’ biggest hits such as “Dynamite,” “Blood, Sweat and Tears,” “Life Goes On,” “Boy with Luv” and “Idol.” Running at full throttle, the boys were soon soaked in sweat, even though the nighttime temperature kept falling at the indoor-outdoor venue.
During “Airplane Pt. 2” and “Baepsae,” the boys split onto two separate groups, riding pods that circled around the outer rim of the floor seats that brought them closer to the audience.
One of the most breathtaking moments of the night came with magical “Black Swan” and poignant “Blue & Grey,” which were coupled by a mesmerizing orchestral intro and cinematic choreography that reminded of swans’ wings.
But the real jaw-dropping moment happened when Megan Thee Stallion, the Houston rapper, crashed the stage in a surprise appearance for a revamped version of “Butter.”
Sporting a sassy pink outfit, the rapper grooved with the group and said, “Everybody give it up for the boys! Thank ya’ll for having me. I’m feeling like a hot girl every season!”
RM replied back on her way out, beaming: ”Your existence makes the stage perfect.”
Megan was originally scheduled to perform the song live at the recent American Music Awards, but couldn’t make it for personal reasons.
The later part of the show featured hits like “Stay,” “So What,” “Save Me” and “I’m Fine,” which gradually spiced up the mood and somehow heralded the end of the show at the same time.
After performing “Spring Day,” which was followed by “Epilogue: Young Forever,” the bandmates reconvened to the main stage to share their overwhelming feelings with ARMYs.
J-Hope, who looked quite emotional, went first.
“ARMYs from all over the world came to LA,” he said. “This concert will be a pick part of my history, life story, memory after being away for two years because of the pandemic. This is also meaningful for you guys and me too. For that, you guys can be really proud.”
Jin said, “Could you please look around? Isn’t it almost like a movie? I think you and I are making a movie together. And to make this movie, I’m willing to do anything, even if it makes me feel embarrassed. This is the movie we’ll continue to make until the very last.”
The boys continued.
“It was another great night! I hope you had a great time. It’s been so long, and it was nervous performing in front of all of you. I’ll be thinking about tonight a lot if I go home later. This is such a precious memory, and I will cherish it forever,” Jungkook said.
V said, “We’ll continue to shoot in front of the camera, but I don’t need any of that. I want to come back here. I think I will go back with all your emotions and everything that I saw from ARMY. I think I’m going to have another concert tonight in my dreams.”
Wrapping up the show, RM addressed, “After Saturday’s show, I’d thought in my bed that I wouldn’t be able to make it on Sunday as I felt so tired. But some power that I didn’t even know popped up and moved my body. You guys are magic and my miracle. You guys are every good word in this world. I love you so much!”
The encore, obviously, went to “Permission to Dance,” the overall theme of the tour.
Over the weekend, BTS have gathered around 106,000 concertgoers from all around the world. The band is to continue the SoFi tour from Dec. 1-2 and proceed its Stateside promotion by performing at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball at the Forum on Dec. 3.
By Hong Dam-young (email@example.com