The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] A journey from his 'abyss,' Woodz's 1st world tour 'Oo-Li' begins

Singer-songwriter Woodz successfully starts first world tour 'Oo-Li' in Seoul

By Choi Ji-won

Published : May 22, 2023 - 17:58

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Singer-songwriter Woodz performs during a concert to kick off his first world tour, Singer-songwriter Woodz performs during a concert to kick off his first world tour, "Oo-Li," held at Jangchung Arena in Seoul over the weekend. (Edam Entertainment)

Singer-songwriter Woodz kicked off his first world tour, "Oo-Li," over the weekend with two days of shows held at Jangchung Arena in central Seoul.

Spruced up in a black jacket and suit, Woodz, whose real name is Cho Seung-youn, made a dramatic entrance onstage via a lift.

He began the night with "Busted," a song off his latest album, "Oo-Li," performing the song live for the first time.

Up next were "Hijack" and "Love Me Harder," through which he proved his "all-rounder" title by singing, dancing and even rapping with an almost immaculate perfection.

"I first revealed my 'Oo-Li Project' in March, and I'm finally embarking on it with this concert," the 26-year-old said, speaking to the audience for the first time that night.

"I began the project to find my true self. It follows my journey to myself. I discovered what was inside my abyss, and now, I'm able to look forward to what comes next," he said, adding, "We have gathered here from each of our lives. I wanted to say (something) through the gigs about my anticipation about the future we have together in front of us."

Inviting fans to stand up, he began the next part with "Waiting" and "Chaser," songs from his 2021 album, "Only Lovers Left."

A pre-taped video played next, showing Woodz sitting in a chair and speaking in English about his unwavering resolution to "make a bold move" and move forward.

Returning in a different outfit, the singer performed "Who Knows," "Dirt On My Leather" and "Trigger." For the last one, the singer went on an almost endless replay with his fans singing along.

A special gift for fans from Woodz, the singer covered hit girl group songs on the two nights. On both nights he performed NewJeans' "Hype Boy," followed by Fifty Fifty's "Cupid" on Saturday, replaced by Ive's "Kitsch" on Sunday.

Ramping up the night with "Multiply," Sunday's gig took a sudden turn with "Abyss," an acoustic band sound through which he looks into his deepest, most genuine self.

"There are times when we feel we're too weak to start something new. Some of you guys might think like that now. I also have my weaknesses and I thought I had to reveal them in order to take my next step. I began this project in that state of mind, and I wrote this song trying to console myself," Woodz addressed the fans after the song, bringing them back to his core message.

Without dwelling for long in Woodz's abyss, the singer shot back with an upbeat stream of songs, including "Kiss of Fire," "Feel Like," "On My Own," "Sour Candy" and "Bump Bump." Here, he came up close to fans, jumping on and out of the island stage towards the crowd.

The tempo cooled down again as the thumping bass sounds opened into "Drowning," with Woodz shining alone under the spotlight. Still out of breath from the high-pitched rock score, Woodz said, "This is my favorite song off the album."

Having stepped into the stadium that afternoon wondering how the solo singer would be able to pack the two hours alone, there were no such questions by now.

Sunday's concert was a testament to Woodz's potential as a singer-songwriter and performer.

The first awe-inspiring moment came at the realization of the expansive discography he has piled up since his solo debut in 2018. The next came at his immaculate conduct with the crowd throughout the show. His group years -- three years with Uniq and six months with X1 -- seemed almost visible to the eyes on Sunday as Woodz pulled through the night alone tirelessly.

"Journey," the unofficial subtitle of the concert series, came as the last track in the official set list. As Woodz left the stage, fans called him back with a surprise slogan event, which was accompanied by a sing-along of "Better and Better."

Dressed in a casual T-shirt, the singer returned to the stage and replied to the crowd's calls with the first encore song, "I Hate You."

The night hit its emotional climax as Woodz sang "Better and Better," while rising slowly into the air on the lifting stage with sprinkling pink confetti surrounding him.

"Thank you for gifting me such a beautiful memory. Journey to continue. 'Oo-li' (us) forever,'" he said, reading out words on signs held up by fans. "I almost cried backstage hearing you guys sing."

With his eyes red and voice trembling, he continued, saying, "I felt overwhelmed because I felt like I was given back the exact message I wanted to say through the song ('Better and Better'). I won't forget tonight."

Closing out the night in peppy spirit, Woodz performed garage rock tune "Ready to Fight" as his last song.

With the Seoul gigs as the start, Woodz is setting off on his first global tour, "Oo-Li," encompassing 11 cities in Asia and Latin America. The next concert will take place on May 28 in Macau.