This is the first time I’ve ever felt a pressing need to write about a concert I attended. But PERSONA is truly . . . man, I have to write this. So here goes.
I had stayed clear of any spoilers of the very first concert on Friday cos I was only gonna attend 5/13 and 5/14 shows, so when I first entered the venue on 5/13, I was frikkin’ eggcited, to say the least.
5/13 recollection & review: My first impressions and some after-thoughts
The first thing that surprised me, was the stage. At first, it seemed standard enough. Not unlike Butterfly Kiss, I thought. There were butterfly wings design at the sides for ButtKiss and this time, there were like shattered fragments of glass on both sides and ‘PERSONA’ in the middle of the screen on stage. But when the stage ‘opened’ up, SURPRISE, there were lots of boxes, almost like a grid on stage. Each block works as a screen and can be used for images (pictures of sones SM asked for submissions were screened during this time) and the uppermost, middle block is pushed back.
Taeyeon appears right there, at the highest point, elevated into the space and belts U R right away.
Now, I didn’t think much of it at that time, but now I realize that starting with U R at that particular part where the song is at its climax, makes it feel like we picked up from ButtKiss (which ended on U R) and carried on with the show. I find it meaningful like this – a simple way to remind us of ButtKiss and therefore the continuation.
Then the stage surprised us with the levels. Taeyeon went from the highest block, down to the middle block for Feel So Fine and I must say, they made really good use of the ‘screen blocks’ for images corresponding to the song’s ‘feel’. The stage was an absolute treat for the eyes. Taeyeon then goes straight on to I, which I feel is a great progression cos of the similarity in both songs (open, uplifting, band-ish songs).
At this point, the stage proved to be even more interesting cos there was an elevated surface that rose up to the middle block to bring Taeyeon down to the stage floor level. This path is used many times during the concert and it’s a really smart way to ‘transform’ the stage without actually changing anything at all.
Then I was surprised yet again, when Taeyeon got on the crane (at the extended stage) and was lifted and rotated around in the air above us as she sang MMLY. It got all of us really excited cos she came closer to us and gave her more opportunities to interact with us better. This is another stage design that is a level above ButtKiss.
Insert wardrobe comment: Personally, I feel that her first outfit is beautifully designed.
Slightly (white, not black) Gothic / Victorian-ish? design (I’m no fashion expert) but to me it’s sophisticated and regal and current all at the same time. It is also feminine yet not entirely girly. This outfit matches the songs in the first segment well, imo. And her hair cut is a smart one cos the hair stylist and pull the long parts into a ponytail behind, leaving her with a fresh shorter look from the front. Deceptive. Funky. Smart.
By this time in the concert, I’m already thinking that this is a completely different Taeyeon we’re seeing. In ButtKiss, Taeyeon was still a little shy. Understandably so, since that was her maiden solo concert and all things first are a little unnerving, even if she had stood on numerous stages by herself before.
If ButtKiss were at rookie solo concert level, then Taeyeon literally went from freshman, to final year student, comfortable in her skin, confident on stage and beyond at ease with her audience. Taeyeon had graduated in the span of one year, from her first solo concert to her second solo concert. Absolutely no trace of nerves. No trace of insecurity.
In ButtKiss, Taeyeon’s sexiest segment was when she did Night. She had on a nightgown-ish slip on and a sexy two-piece top and shorts. Her dance moves were smaller, subtle body waves, what we call 小性感 (small sexy).
But in PERSONA, Taeyeon went full on sexy. Taeyeon has her own idea of exuding her sensual side and it is not in the Hyuna way. Firstly, the outfit.
Nothing but sheer behind, just covered by the black lace(?). How’s that for bringing sexy back. -wink- Also, this is again a regal outfit, full black, and quite Gothic imo. Very tasteful and classy. Her hair style also suits this fusion look. It’s all very pleasing.
So when the stage reopens, there she is, in her Gothic, regal glory, standing in the middle block. To me, IGL is probably the best stage act, right next to Eraser. This whole segment is just award-winning level. IGL’s choreography is brilliant. Lots of voguing. Nothing to big. Mostly smaller, sharper moves. Fast and slow.
One move in particular, a smart body wave step forward so Taeyeon could get out of her box without hitting her head yet look sexy at the same time. B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T. Another move that I really liked and is still stuck in my head is the part where Taeyeon simply flips her hand/arm from one side to the other while her dances do voguing. Oh. My. Gawd. Excellent use of backup dancers for maximum effect.
This mind-blowing performance is followed by I’m OK, and then, the BAMMM – Eraser.
Oh. Eraser. I’m pretty sure I had a huge grin on my face throughout Eraser because it is the one song in My Voice that I found to be a HUGE song. Huge as in musically, its performance potential and instrumentation etc. And I was not disappointed. Eraser got a lot of focus, had smart props and extended the sexy into sheer bad-ass sexy complete with Chicago-ish lit up bars of red spinning around and just when you think it can’t get any sexier, Taeyeon leaps onto the bars and totally makes the audience go wild.
Tbh, I’m quite done by the time this song is done. I’m like, I cannot with Taeyeon. But the next segment is softer and more emotional (where I literally sit and totally forget to wave my fanlight cos I’m just so engrossed listening to her singing), followed by fun and hype with Cover Up and Hands On Me where she does the fan service part and gets a cart to travel and meet second floor audience up close.
But right after the fun and chill, she goes and blows your heart up with the most emotional songs ever before laying it off and talking to us, jokes and all. And if you haven’t already lost it and thrown in the towel by now, she goes and does the acoustic version of 11:11 wearing THIS (without the jacket).
The music arrangement is cool and smart here cos Taeyeon sings the last ‘nanana’ part in a cappella so you don’t hear the guitar rift and when it comes back in, it’s in a higher key and is now used as a guitar rift for Why’s verse. Such a neat little trick. Yet another surprise.
Then, you think . . . okay, this concert can’t possibly get any better than this. But Taeyeon comes back with an encore segment featuring Fine, Time Lapse and Curtain Call. I will not insert her outfit for the encore here because I don’t think it fits the genre of music featured in the encore segment. She really should have come out in the leather jacket concept they used for Fine’s MV or something ‘rockier’ than that much-too-flimsy dress that clashes with the heavy band sound of the three songs.
Fine is fine, of course, but let me talk more about Time Lapse. While TL isn’t my favourite song on the album (I have some comments about the mixing), Taeyeon’s rendition of the song in a LIVE performance is absolutely what the song is for. This song just needs to be performed LIVE. The guitar that I didn’t like so much in the studio recording is perfect in this concert setting. And Taeyeon’s emotional expression, voice, facial and body, were all on-point. Incredible.
Finally, Curtain Call. How apt. And that’s the end. But it’s not the end for us members of the audience. I then proceeded to join my friends for Korean BBQ but on the way there, we were talking about the concert. Then I went back to my guesthouse with another friend I’m sharing the room with and the entire time, we talked about the concert too.
So it’s not the end, like SHINee’s Key said, the songs get stuck in your head. Everything you saw is stuck in your head.
I noticed even more things about the concert on my second night, 5/14, but I’m gonna stop here cos I don’t want this to turn into a thesis. I mean, I can’t even say enough about my first night on 5/13, lol.
What I watched over the weekend, is a concert made for an artiste who is no longer simply catering to a young audience looking up to their idol, looking for some fan service and cute moments to spazz over (although there were no lack of such moments in PERSONA too).
What I watched over the weekend, is a quality concert brilliantly designed by a professional team, packed to the brim with high quality multi-genre music played by a live band, performed by a performer who can deliver the vocal prowess, vocal expression, dance and act required to pull off a convincing rendition of each of the songs on the set list.
I would go and watch this even if I’m not a fan. Like how I went and watched Jacky Cheung’s concert simply because he has the reputation as a singer and performer. Kim Taeyeon might not at that level just yet (I say this because Taeyeon did go flat on quite a few of her high notes on 5/13 and 5/14. There were also some other vocal hiccups here and there. Nothing major enough to ruin the overall experience but definitely some room for improvement there). However she’s gonna be there soon with the rapid improvement she makes from concert to concert.
Meanwhile, I will look forward to the next concert series.