The lights faded away, music began to play, and the Magic Man show commenced. The spectacle that we, the audience, witnessed at Jackson Wang’s London concert was purely magical.
As part of the artist’s world tour, MAGIC MAN, with only two European stops (London and Paris), Jackson proved that he is one of the best solo entertainers of the 21st century. Having sold out stadiums back in Asia, Team Wang opted for a smaller venue in the UK. And those who managed to get tickets (the show sold out in under 5 minutes) were the luckiest fans in London. Although the majority know him as a member of Got7, Jackson has gained plenty of dedicated fans from his work as a soloist.
Despite the 40-minute delay (the venue had issues with scanning tickets, but Jackson made sure that everyone was in the venue before he started the show), people were patiently waiting for the singer’s performance. When Jackson appeared, or rather when he was lowered in a fancy elevator, the venue was filled with the loudest cheers from his fans.
The show itself was split into acts, like the ones we often see in theatre. ACT I: FAME began with 100 Ways, an upbeat song that explores the concepts of love and time. Along with his dancers, Jackson performed beautifully synchronised choreography and showed that lip-syncing wasn’t an option for him. The moment he sang “There’re a hundred ways to leave a lover / I won’t wait a minute longer / Hundred ways to leave / But I’m the only one that you need” we felt each and every verse – it really hit hard. Dressed in black, the singer smoothly moved to Go Ghost, a track from his second studio album, Magic Man, that brings together Rock, Grunge, and Synth-pop. Upon completing the song, the artist turned his attention to the audience: “London, how are you? I can’t hear you!” The screams were overwhelming.
As it was just the beginning of the show, Jackson didn’t waste his time on chit-chat. The next song he performed was Blackout and I Don’t Have It from his 2022 mixtape LOST & FOUND. With a much slower vibe than the two previous songs, I Don’t Have It was vocally very well executed, particularly when Jackson hit that bridge: “I can’t give you what you want / ‘cos I don’t have it.” Jackson demonstrated great precision when it came to delivery – not only with the sound, but also the staging. The first act came to an end as the audience was treated to an interlude performance by the dancers.
Eight dancers, dressed in hooded long capes, transported the crowd into a world of darkness – perhaps the dance itself was a manifestation of how trapped Jackson felt in the world of fame, a world where he couldn’t show his true self. It is hard to dwell on the meaning of that performance, however, to me, it looked like a battle with your own demons or those who try to “smother” your life. And when the silhouettes of dancers appeared as shadows on the venue walls, it created nightmare-like imagery, perhaps a reflection of how the singer might have felt at some points during his career.
After the display of the contemporary choreography, Jackson appeared on stage once again and effortlessly moved on to the second part of the show, ACT II: ISOLATION. Accompanied by a live band and his backup dancers, the singer hit the stage with Just Like Magic, a song influenced by 1970s Rock. In addition, the atmospheric tune and the power of the instruments strongly complemented Jackson’s vocals.
Minute by minute, the show was turning into a storyline that depicted Jackson’s heart-rending artistic journey. Bullet to the Heart revealed the singer’s vulnerability through the lyrics, expressing his struggles and pain, while also taking the stance that love “overcomes everything”. The longer the artist performed the more moving the concert became. Drive You Home, another song from his latest album, took the audience on an emotional journey with its beautiful storytelling. The staging for this song was as striking as the previous ones, moreover, the chemistry between Jackson and his dancers was undeniable.
“Ready to carry on? Fuck yeah!” Jackson shouted, then carried on with the next song, Blue, and ending his second act with Dopamine. ACT III: REDEMPTION brought forth feelings of freedom and fulfilment. Jackson, this time dressed in a red suit, commenced his third act with LMLY, a Synth-pop track. For the performance of LMLY, props were brought on stage, including cafe tables and chairs, with Jackson jumping from one table to another. The biggest climax of the show was probably the moment when the singer invited a fan on stage to sing I Love You 3000. The excitement of the girl who was picked was immense, and with rose petals falling from the ceiling, Jackson surely took the lucky fan to her dreamland for a few minutes. Before moving to his final set, Jackson performed Poison, a synth-based R&B song. Vocally, Jackson is like a finely-cut diamond. He doesn’t stop – he just sings, he shines, and above all, he entertains.
Prior to performing ACT IV: ACCEPTANCE, a short film was presented, depicting the beginning of Jackson’s musical journey. It was a poignant reminiscence of Jackson’s self-discovery as an artist and a man. Jackson reflected on questions such as: “What about me? What about things I wanna do? What is the meaning of life?” He also confessed that he felt empty, but the moment he found his true self, he realised that you have to “be you for yourself, trust yourself. Trust your gut feelings because YOU know it’s right.” Jackson concluded the short film with words of gratitude: “I love you all, and I care about you, I care about you as an audience, as my friends, and as my family. Everybody here can be true to themselves. It’s okay to say that you are not okay. Find your magic!” And this was the moment when I burst into tears. I have never cried at anyone’s concert, but those words resonated with me so dearly that I could only whisper “Thank You”.
The fourth act started with Come Alive, and Jackson entered the stage in a new outfit: a black leather jacket paired with a fishnet top and black trousers. With strong staging and tantalising choreography, the song electrified those gathered in the venue. Followed by Champain Cool and a short chat, the singer brought another fan on stage to perform The Moment, a song that depicts the closeness and passion between two lovers. Dead, a funky retro beat song, and Drive It Like You Stole It, a smooth R&B song combined with disco beats, presented a perfect visual performance for the audience.
Jackson is well-known for his passionate speeches. While on stage, he directly addressed the audience: “This show, this is my story. Hyping up celebrities, I am tired of it. I am just here to entertain you (…) Every one of you is special.”
After the speech, Jackson, charged with energy, moved to perform Cruel, a song that contains amazing electro-pop elements and a smooth bass that highlights the lyrics perfectly. Blow, a pop-rock song with hints of dance-pop and hard rock riffs, was a great track to end such a spectacular show. But of course, there wouldn’t be an ending without an encore, which included Pretty Please.
After two and a half hours of performing, it was time to say goodbye. With a big smile on his face, Jackson expressed his appreciation to everyone who supported him and left the stage like the star that he is.
The entire repertoire displayed by Jackson deserves great recognition. The artist performed magnificently on the London stage – he was charming, confident, and full of talent. During the show, the artist created a separate miniature world, a visual feast, that will undoubtedly go down in the history of music.
Written by Maggie Gogler
View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, and art, 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 / K-music, and Asian music in general, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.