I was having post-concert dinner with my lovely SONE friends when our guide of the group reminded me about the long ass fanaccount I had written for PERSONA in Seoul. Back then, I had really been blown away by the concert and felt compelled to write something as a way to remember my thoughts and feelings at that time.
This time, I can’t say I was blown away like that. The magnitude of this Christmas concert series was never as big as PERSONA in the first place. It’s a seasonal “Special Live”, not so much a full-on concert tour concept like PERSONA. But due to the passing of Jonghyun just days before this concert series, everything changed.
I find it hard to put those feelings into words so I’ll just get into the swing of it and let it fl(sn)ow.
What makes this concert series so different is the mood in which most SONE came with. We had just experienced a loss of someone we were familiar with. Along with this personal loss, SONE also carried worries about Taeyeon herself. Her grief and sadness was evident on her SNS as well as footage of her all over the news on Thursday, December 21.
To be honest, I wasn’t at my best for those few days. I was affected by a few factors and didn’t have the mood to enjoy Seoul at all. It wasn’t until after I went with my friend to Jonghyun’s funeral hall to pay my last respects to him that my head cleared up somewhat. And if a person like me, who never knew him personally and had only seen him on stage a few times felt this affected, it is crushing to imagine how hard the hit would be for Taeyeon.
Personally, I felt that doing the concert would be a good way to keep her going. To be able to do something she clearly loves, on the stage where she is most confident, with thousands of people who have good feelings for her. I thought, hey, this way she wouldn’t be staying at home with nothing much to do during such a difficult time. So, just like all the other SONE who were attending her concert on Friday, I went with my heart and mind ready to support her as much as possible.
With all these in mind, I headed to KHU Peace Hall with my friend.
The venue is clearly meant to be part of the experience. It is a majestic piece of architecture, much like a grand cathedral. I was thinking, this is the ‘magic’ right here. Walking up the steep slope I ‘love’ so much, it felt somewhat magical because of the beauty of the place.
Like many people said, it gives off Hogwarts vibes. And this is enhanced upon entering the grand main lobby.
I don’t usually comment on the venue as part of my concert experience because it’s been pretty standard concert venues so far, like Olympic Hall. But this place is an experience in itself. Taeyeon mentioned how KHU Peace Hall is a place she has memories of – GDA emcee along with Tiffany – and how this place is peaceful. Yes, the grandeur and serenity of this place is wonderful.
Friday, December 22
I was up on 3/F, section C, so I got a pretty good central view of the stage as well as the top of Taeyeon’s head. HAHA.
It started with a VCR. I got some PERSONA vibes from it. Maybe the director is the same person? But the music, jazzy and grand, a tad mystical and later on, majestically sad, is interestingly PERSONA-ish too. Then came Harry Potterisque music which is the introduction, leading to “The Magic of Christmas Time”.
It’s also interesting to me, that the VCR featured KHU Peace Hall and had a shooting star shooting over it and a spiraling magical light, all of which resembles the trademark Disney castle animation as well.
We all cheered with a blast when Taeyeon appeared. And I held my breath as she sang her first few lines. It’s a beautiful song, well suited for this magical, grand setting. The backdrop was of the venue’s grand entrance which I found interesting too.
And Taeyeon’s beautiful, grand red dress. It’s similar to the red dress she wore in the opening VCR and the lobby shown in the VCR is the actual lobby of the venue, as well as the huge Christmas tree there. This doubling up of the actual scene and dress in the VCR is another interesting element, further enforcing the concept of bringing the venue onto the stage.
I got really excited when Taeyeon sat on a chair in front of a mirror after doing 11:11 (which had cute bells arranged into the ending to suit the Christmas mood if I remember correctly). Mirrors are an icon of PERSONA’s concept and sure enough, the lights turned red and Eraser came on with the dancers pulling off sensual dances to the fiery music.
Clearly, Taeyeon had to change her outfit within this time, so when she reappeared with a sexy, yet cool black-jacket-white-shirt-hidden-black-shorts-huge-black-ribbon-thigh-high-black-boots ensemble, we all cheered like crazy. I was especially high right then because I LOVE Eraser very much. It’s my favourite song in the album and I hope she performs it at every concert like Rain and Gemini.
It’s a nice shift from the melancholic songs to the fiery and sexy, Eraser and Night, so it’s funny that Shhhh comes next, after the VCR. And Shhhh is also the first song performed ‘behind the doors’ whereby the exterior face of the ‘building’ was lifted, revealing the ‘indoors’, the more intimate ‘inside’ so to speak. Ahem.
My theory is that Taeyeon and the band, as well as crew, did not get enough practice together due to the unforeseen circumstances. Because on this first night, by this time, some errors had happened. For example, Taeyeon missing the timing on pulling her mic off her mic stand during Shhhh. But as mentioned before, this concert is done under unique circumstances and can’t be judged the usual way.
Rain was well done. Rain is jazzy in nature but they went full out Christmas and even jazzier than usual in the arrangement. Part of it is due to the spotlight parts given to the brass instruments. Taeyeon even did a tiny bit of scat singing which got me really interested. I would love to see her dive into even more scat singing in future.
(Scat, also called Scat Singing, in music, jazz vocal style using emotive, onomatopoeic, and nonsense syllables instead of words in solo improvisations on a melody.) A recent use of scat can be seen in BoA’s new song Jazz Club where she does quite a significant amount of scat.
Next came the ‘energizer’ part of the concert. I got real excited when Good Thing and Hands On Me came on. I love those songs so much. Then came, Winter Story.
The moment WS music played, I knew this would be the song Seohyun was going to sing on the second and third nights. But perhaps, due to the difference in singing it alone versus with Seohyun, Taeyeon fumbled in this song too. Later on, Taeyeon mentioned Seohyun’s collaboration with her but I don’t think she had to, everyone had probably already guessed it. HAHA.
Classic Christmas carols were next. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. I-LOVE-THIS-SONG. Truth be told, this was one of the Christmas songs I used to perform during Christmas time. And out of the many Christmas songs, this is one of my top few favourites. I love the melody, the feel. It’s a touch of sentimental, a pinch of melancholy, yet really sweet and fluffy.
So HYAMLC is one of my top few favourites and another favourite of mine would be My Grown Up Christmas List. This Kelly Clarkson classic is one of my all-time favourites and I was on the verge of raising both my hands and shouting ‘OMG YES’ but I didn’t because Taeyeon was singing and I had to listen. Her condition wasn’t great but I was happy to hear her sing that song nonetheless because I had missed the opportunity during Marchen Fantasy (SAD).
After the emotional ‘I Am All Ears’, it was encore time. The VCR introduction to the encore segment had a ton of product placements which had me rolling my eyes and laughing. Anyway . . .
From my vantage point up on 3/F, I could see Taeyeon hiding inside the huge gift box. She was adorable, waving at us on 3/F, giving us a little treat that only us 3/F-ers could have. HAHA.
Dear Santa wasn’t very well sung, to be honest. I do think it is difficult to sing a song that was originally meant for 3 to sing and some of the high notes went off. But other than that, Taeyeon was adorable in her reindeer hairband and woolly top. I didn’t quite like the black translucent bottom skirt-like thing though. Lace just gives me the creeps.
Candy Cane had a nice ‘signed ball’ surprise which 3/F-ers had no part in. Then it was lottery time. That was fun. Taeyeon had drawn 1/F and 2/F so we were like ‘3/F come on!’ and Taeyeon was super adorable trying to draw a 3/F ticket. She would draw one, peep at it, and return it if it wasn’t 3/F. She tried a few times, and we all laughed. She was so cute with that. She even tried to explain that there are more 1/F and 2/F seats so it’s hard to draw a 3/F. HAHA.
Finally, she managed to draw a 3/F, but it wasn’t me. T_T
She also talked a bit about why she brought her little Christmas tree from home and spoke of it fondly. On the first night, I was thoroughly amused by how she treated her tree like a dear friend but we found out on the last night, just how significant the tree is to her. T_T
All in all, I left KHU Peace Hall with a strange kind of happiness. Truly unique and difficult to put into words.
The walk down the my beloved STEEP slope wasn’t too fun though. XD