From glitzy 20s inspired performances to the contemporary hip hop tunes of this decade, everything was fine tuned to perfection for a great night to welcome 2021.
This isn’t Bighit’s first time holding a live concert; they’ve done so with BTS (twice now) and GFriend and other groups within their large all encompassing Bighit Labels. But this is the first time they’ve held a joint concert on a massive scale like this. And it was nothing short of fun, glamorous and memorable.
As we all waited for 9:30pm KST (6pm IST) for the show to start, there was excitement as well anxiety. With 2020 being the year that it has been, we all can’t wait to get away and have some semblance of sanity. 2021 is carrying the world’s hopes and expectations on it’s back. Bighit NYEL kept that in mind and made sure that people who were watching the show started their years off happy and excited and less anxious about the future, their whole theme centering around being connected even in a time when we’ve been the most disconnected physically.
Right from the start, the energy was high! Hanbin really knew how to get the crowd riled up, even if there was no crowd. With the perfect choreography to a powerful song I&credible, he did his absolute best and achieved the reaction he wanted – he got all of us hooked to the rest of the show.
His staggeringly energizing performance was followed by Enhypen’s adorable love song Let Me In, a cute little track that had the members dancing to express their love to their significant other. Cute and fun, it let them segway into another light-hearted number, 10 Months. The song saw the members dancing with each other, in cute ways to express that they’re all grown up now and don’t need to be babied by their love interest. It’s the perfect song to tie them through their performances and the choreography is just as soft and entertaining.
However, we’re pulled from the mellow fun songs into Enhypen’s dark world through their title track Given -Taken that comes after. Dressed to the nines in suits that look as dapper as their Victorian stage setup, Enhypen lead us to their end of their medley of songs with their electric stage. For a group that has only debuted this year, Enhypen’s energy and power is refreshing and fun, as are their songs. They continue to perform better with each stage and each show and it’s a testament to their passion for music and dancing.
Speaking of a year into debut, Enhypen was followed by Tomorrow X Together, who are only in their second year of debut and perform like they’ve been doing stages for more than that time.
They start their piece off with Can’t You See Me, an emotionally charged number that has members lamenting about a friendship lost. They’re, to simply put it, perfect at what they do, delivering the song perfectly with all the pain it holds. Even their clothes help a lot in showcasing the hurt; it also helps Yeonjun lead into their enigmatic B-side PUMA with a captivating solo stage. The song has the members crouching and prowling like predators on stage, inside a VR cave shaped perfectly like a Puma’s mouth (that closes once the performance ends, absolutely stunning visuals).
The cave shutting on PUMA really helped TXT to start their performance anew, coming up on stage in lighter colours, clad in school clothes and surrounded by white walls, blackboards, bed, tables and textbooks that they used to elevate their performance and make it more visually appealing. All the members had a short solo section, each with their own prop that highlights a part of school life.
This transitioned into We Lost The Summer, a song about how COVID-19 and ensuing lockdown took away Spring and Summer from school children, confining them within the four walls of their homes. It’s touching, considering most of the members themselves are still in school and know exactly how it has felt to be apart from friends for so long.
We Lost The Summer is a perfect gateway to Wishlist, a more lively, upbeat song compared to the previous songs (don’t let the tropical beats of We Lost the Summer fool you into thinking it’s a party banger, it’s actually sad). Wishlist doesn’t have a choreo but the members’ animated performance, along with a cute retro van that was decorated with fairy lights and a large teddy bear on the driving seat, brings the song to life and really lets the members’ fun sides shine through.
But wait, it gets even better with the performance of their most recent title track Blue Hour, a cute disco pop number that has boys dressed up in long coats and cowboy hats, looking right out of the 60s and 70s. The prop-filled synchronised dance break that Blue Hour has leaves breathless and in awe,and it brings together their entire performance to a satisfying close, leaving us wanting an encore.
Now that the youngest of Bighit have shown what they’re capable of, it was time for the timeless idols to take the stage, with our first performer being Bumzu. He started his performance off with an amazingly vibrant number called Give it 2 U, that had the dancers around him with saxophones, imitating an almost broadway musical type of performance that had all of us bopping our heads to it. Bumzu didn’t disappoint and gave us a dynamic opening to his magnetic set.
Coming in next was Forever Young, a soulful rock song about youth and it got all of us overwhelmed, Bumzu is just that good at evoking emotions through his music. Forever Young easily went into another fun single, Ddandara, an enthusiastic track that once again utilised the musical style stage setup to its full advantage and even Bumzu even showcased his rapping skills on this one – what can’t you do? Bumzu ended his set with a heartwarming song called Beautiful, a ballad that had us feeling his own emotions and also applauding the his grasp on having incredible vocals as well as crazy good rapping ability.
Bumzu’s energetic performance was followed by the Homme Fatale Lee Hyun, one of the very first artist’s of Bighit and the oldest of the lineup of performers. He started on a live band setup, with staging that was decorated with streamers and took inspiration from what live singers in restaurants and bars perform on; in short, his stage was inarguably grand and yet, it made his performance feel more personal and closer than it actually seemed.
He started his set with You Are the Best of My Life, a timeless classic that even many of the younger k-pop fans have heard time and time again and he killed it with his angel voice that’s ageless as well. He went into a 악담, an old song that Lee Hyun brought to life once again in this performance, bringing his set to end on the notes of an old gem.
Bighit had planned Connect stages as well, and we finally got to see one of them. It was introduced by none other than BTS Suga, who gave a moving and beautifully worded introduction to Late singer Shin HaeChul’s connect stage, with introduction being the collaborative section between Enhyphen’s Jay, NU’EST’s Ren and TXT’s Heuningkai, performing What Do You Really Want? The next performance included members of Enhyphen, TXT, Gfriend and NU’EST, performing with a hologram version of Shin HaeChul in the back, letting us share what his excitement and energy would be like and also giving us a glimpse on how far technology has come in 2020 and how it’s full potential is finally being realized through wonderful and powerful stages like Shin HaeChul’s.
Gfriend went up right after, starting their set off with a slower rendition of their song Time for the Moon Night, which had the members sitting in front of a white background with darkness surrounding them to sing the song rather than dance it. Their angelic voices carried through to the next number, Crossroads, where they continued to stun us with their perfect choreography and great vocals, letting the light shine on their great synchronization. They didn’t let us know throughout their piece that they were down one member.
Apple, their title track from earlier this year, was introduced by a captivating solo stage from Yuju, who looked like a beautiful devil in her flowing red dress. With what seemed like the Tree of Life in the background, the members performed their tantalizing choreography to the sensual beats of the song, showcasing their movement from young girls to a more mature adult image. Their recent track Mago, a disco inspired retro track, was the ending song for their set, where the members changed their look up entirely and came on stage in flapper outfits of the 20s to perform on a burlesque inspired stage set up. It really sold the theme of the song and what it wanted to portray. The girls had a dance break that was executed with perfection and their act ended on the high of an actual burlesque performance.
Alright, let’s start with NU’EST’s amazing stage that resembled a broken chessboard, kind of like the one we’ve all seen Alice in the Wonderland movie. It went with their opening performance of Overcome, a performance that required their passion to match the zeal of the set design and backup dancers. Overcome was followed by Love Paint (every afternoon), a dark energetic song that showcased powerful moves from the members and helped them carry on their intensive flow towards their next number, Bet Bet. They performed the orchestral version of this song, a fast paced confident love song that really showed NU’EST’s prowess and grasp of their years of performing and singing.
They only added onto their impressive stage by performing Shadow, where the choreography is detailed to show the backup dancers as their shadows whilst they dance. They brought out their more sophisticated style of music and choreography with I’m In Trouble, showing their cool and more collected movements, refined with practice, that goes well with the intense feeling of the track.
Fortunately, NU’EST have the perfect song to follow through with their energy in the form of LOVE ME, a fun love song that has the same force as the previous one and helps them to segway into their last song. DRIVE is easily their most relaxed song for the night and an excellent way to end their grueling 7-track set. The members were tired and out of breath by the time they performed this last one, but they evidently enjoyed every bit of it and couldn’t be happier, even if they were bone-deep exhausted.
There was a short break before the final performers came on stage where every group and solo artist that had performed up until now came to talk about their wishes for 2021 and leave cute messages for their fans. All the artists had two very common wishes: for everyone – members and fans alike – to stay healthy in 2021 and meet the fans face-to-face in a concert soon. We also hope that these wishes will come true in this new year.
The last performer for the night, just before Korea rang in the new year, was none other than BTS. They opened their set with a dynamic Dynamite performance, sans Suga who would only come on stage for their vocal performances. They had their best outfits on, from ruffles to fancy jewel-studded glasses, and every member shone like a diamond throughout. Even though Dynamite has been performed 50+ times, it never loses it’s charm as the members never lose energy every time they perform. They carried this vigour forward by performing an old favourite Best of Me, an EDM dance track that had the members jumping up and down around the stage, reminiscent of how they used to perform this song at concerts.
They paused on their setlist to welcome in the New Year through a series of drone formations, the highlight being two hands reaching out to each other, with the hope that 2021 lets us hold hands once again without fearing for the worse. With a countdown to try and emulate some of the excitement, everyone wished each other Happy New Year – me included even though New Year happened much later for me.
A short segment followed where each group’s leader and solo artists wished the viewers happy new year, and then we were taken right to the connect stage with Steve Aoki. And we all know when Steve Aoki puts his headphones and has a soundboard in front of him, we’re getting Mic Drop from BTS. They performed with the same gusto as if it was their first time, with 7 mics on fire in the background. They carried through Suga’s part perfectly, opting to not have anyone sing there for him and instead perform the choreography as is. This performance of Mic Drop included the famed dance break that left everyone speechless the first time and even now, it left us all breathless.
From Mic Drop, BTS jumped right into the connect stage with Lauv to perform the slow acoustic version of Make It Right featuring the American pop singer. He sang his own part beautifully, passing it off to the BTS members seamlessly. Suga was present in this one, and it felt great to see all seven performing together. This beautifully crafted love song to the fans transitioned easily into the fun and more lively Boy With Luv featuring the connect stage with Halsey who even danced to the choreography every time she sang her part. This was different performance visually as there were different screens, mimicking a zoom call where each member – including Halsey – had their own screen and a separate screen for all six.
In this year of 2020, no BTS performance is complete without their very introspective Life Goes On. Born from the difficulties of the COVID-19 situation, the song is a way for people to hope and believe, that the pandemic isn’t the end of the world and that life will still go on no matter the obstacles and universe put in front of it. BTS performed this song as they do, standing in a line with all their memories from 2020 playing you in black and white on the large LED screen around them, adding to the depth of this soulful track. They paused the song just before the last chorus to make their own wishes for 2021, once again wishing for fans to be happy and healthy and hopefully meet them in concerts in this new year. After their touching comments, they finished with their song with hope as all their black and white footage turned to colour, signifying that it won’t be like this for long and happiness will find us again.
All in all, Bighit’s NYEL was a masterful work in production and sets design, engaging performances and equally great artists and groups who all put their best foot forward to help fans all around the world welcome 2021 on a much happier and relaxed note.
Let’s also hope, just like our idols did, that 2021 brings with it good fortune and opportunities to meet our near and dear ones in person. And that in these trying times, we all remain healthy and happy, and learn to appreciate the smaller things in life.
Happy New Year, everyone!