What makes K-pop such a global phenomenon? There are many reasons: ingenious approach to music videos, sophisticated choreography, the charming personalities of idols, and catchy songs. Although lyrics might not always be relatable, the melody itself can be enough to hook listeners. But what about vocal abilities? While I am strict in my judgement when it comes to singing live during a concert, I do realise that, at times, it is not always just about the vocals but the performance as a whole. K-pop stars can often deliver dynamic and exciting shows, capable of outperforming Western pop singers.
Wonho, a former member of Monsta X, is an artist that I was initially unsure about, but he proved me wrong. He debuted in September 2020 with Love Synonym Pt.1: Right for Me, and quickly became known for his involvement in songwriting, composing, and producing, fully demonstrating that he is an artist of his own making.
Since 2020, Wonho has released four EPs, including his latest one, Facade, which was revealed in June of this year. The collection consists of five tracks, including hits such as Close, CRAZY, and White Miracle, which he also performed during his European Tour 2022 Facade at Indigo at The O2 in London.
The moment Wonho entered the stage, he beamed with passion and energy. Along with his four à la mode dancers, the singer commenced his show at 6:40 pm with Open Mind, a song that gives away a funky, almost avant-garde, vibe. This was followed by Best Shot. Wonho, showcasing great confidence with his emotional performance, co-wrote and co-composed the song with Savage House Gang and An Seon-yong.
Prior to moving to I Just, a song that presents Wonho as a more mature lyricist, the singer exclaimed: “Thank you for coming, so many of you are here. You know what? I missed you so much. As London is the last stop of my European tour, I want to thank you for coming!”.
Wonho performed a few more songs, including 24/7, Ain’t About You, and Lost in Paradise, which showcased his charming stage presence. Although Wonho has enough songs in his repertoire to perform, he opts for time fillers to engage with his fans. In between songs, he goofed around with his back-up dancers and performed dance covers requested by the crowd.
Despite some chart success, Wonho has always unfairly suffered from under-appreciation. His desire to expand his career internationally might actually come true if he puts a little more emphasis on singing live. Although he’s got a vast and loving fanbase, a regular listener might be more demanding when it comes to his delivery.
During Wonho’s London concert, one could see the undeniable bond between him and his fans. While he was full of high energy throughout the first part of the concert, Wonho transitioned to slower melodies, including Losing You and Weneed (short for We Need Each Other and the name of Wonho’s fandom). The lyrics of Weneed are transparent enough to comprehend the love between the artist and his fans.
The repertoire of the evening included songs that Wonho released between 2020 and 2022. All of them were warmly welcomed by the audience, although it cannot be denied that it’s the older tunes that arose greater emotions. Before concluding his show, the singer performed Eye On You, Blue, and White Miracle, ending the concert with Close.
While he is a good performer, Wonho can be seen as a commercial vocalist as he lacks clarity in terms of his vocal ability. Previously, he has given us a glimpse of his skills as a vocalist by being cast in a musical – his sample song shows that there is power in his voice – so I wonder, why is the artist not using his vocals to the fullest?
Another important visual aspect of Wohno’s performance was the staging. The production team decided on complicated lighting routines and displays of digital art on the stage’s walls, the visual elements creating a striking impression throughout the show while also enhancing the overall audience experience.
Wonho was thanked for his dynamic performance by a cheering, overjoyed crowd and a standing ovation from those seated on the balcony. It might have been the singer’s first European tour, however, he managed to absolutely delight his fans with entertaining shows in Spain, Germany, and the UK. Let’s hope he comes back with more extravagant performances next time!
Written by Maggie Gogler
View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts, and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.