Unlike their previous US tour, JYJ’s 2011 North American concerts featured Korean songs they wrote themselves.
by Mai Nguyen
Date Published: 06/09/2011
JYJ world tour. Photos courtesy of Powerhouse and C-Jes Entertainment
After holding successful U.S. showcase performances in 2010, the Korean singing sensation JYJ returned in May 2011 for a concert tour in four different North American cities. Even though the tour was winding down at its last stop at the San Jose Event Center Arena in June, fans were pumped as ever, all decked out in red and ready to have a good time. Red shirts, red glow sticks, red signs — it’s really quite something to witness the red ocean, the masses of fans showing their support by wearing JYJ’s representative color. It’s even crazier to see the whole venue light up with a red glow as fans wave their sticks to the beat of each song. Before the two-hour concert kicked off, the audience was buzzing with anticipation while the screens played the dance rehearsal and tutorial video for the “Be My Girl” remix — showing the audience the flash mob dance that would take place when the song is performed later on in the show.
As the lights dimmed, the screaming gradually grew louder, and the show was off to a start. The piano intro of “Empty” fluttered throughout the venue, and with a dramatic pause, JYJ rose up from elevators onto the stage, each dressed in suits in different colors (green, blue, and red). Opening with one of their popular tracks from their international debut The Beginning was a strong way to get the crowd fired up, and the group kept the audience dancing into the following song “I.D.S.“ Moving into the first ballad of the night, the group sang “Nine,” which is about yearning to be back with a former love.
Then, they warmly greeted the audience with: “Welcome to the JYJ Worldwide Tour in San Jose!” For the most part, Yoochun took the reins and did the talking, as it seemed that Jaejoong and Junsu were shy about speaking English. Yoochun quickly threw in a “Let’s have a good time together” and “Enjoy the show!” before transitioning into “Pierrot.” JYJ performed on the raised stage, while the female dancers wearing white masks and monochrome dresses took the main stage and danced with sharp, jagged movements, like puppets. Walking down the stairs, the boys began “By My Girl,” a track that is naturally easy to groove to — especially during the chorus when the boys danced against their mic stands, setting off another round of screams. For their live performance, they changed their harmonization a bit, which was a nice alteration from the CD version. The trio exited the stage for their first costume change, as the screens played a clip of the behind-the-scenes of their photo shoot for The Beginning CD.
When they returned, the boys hit the stage with black rhinestoned outfits to perform “Be the One” and “Ayy Girl.” “Be the One” showcased the trio’s precise and powerful dance moves, before they grooved it out to the heavy bass of “Ayy Girl.” Blasts of smoke shooting from the stage at every chorus enhanced the performance and heated up the show.
Yoochun kicked off the individual performances with “I Love You,” as female dancers provocatively danced around him and in large clear boxes. Unfortunately, the infamous “crotch grab” that was included in the first two stops of the tour was edited from the choreography, but that didn’t prevent his sensuality from oozing out of his performance.
As a drumbeat pulsed throughout the venue, the backup dancers marched uniformly into position in a warrior/military-like fashion. The group re-entered the stage with long black hooded, silver studded coats in “Mission,” performing the most impressive choreography of the night. With powerful and controlled movements, the boys threw punches, made turns that let the tail of their long coats fly dramatically behind them, and riled up the fans with some memorable pelvic thrusting. The boys moved from one side of the stage to the other, only to stop momentarily to let their fans take in their seductive moves.
Switching back into the solos, Junsu performed “I Can Soar” with a single female dancer in a white leotard, twirling with a long cloth. Because the stage was very bare and lacking special effects, the focus was on Junsu’s voice, as he made the lyrics sound so precious and meaningful.
Finishing up the solos was Jaejoong’s “Still in Love,” which he sang with grace and confidence, as the female dancers moved against a long black sheer cloth. One of the dancers helped Jaejoong take off his jacket, revealing an equally black sheer dress shirt, invoking some screams before he belted out an impressive adlib.
Returning to the stage, JYJ performed their popular track from Korean drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal starring Yoochun, one of the group members. The audience reacted most strongly to this song, as both old and young concertgoers all waved their hands in big swiping motions in time with the trio. Jaejoong and Yoochun were particularly playful, casting glances and smiling at each other throughout the performance, leaving Junsu oblivious and left to sing on his own. Soon after, they performed “Fallen Leaves,” a song they wrote and dedicated to their fans.
The audience’s energy shot back up as the boys performed the “Be My Girl (remix)” and the audience participated in the flash mob dance. With playful energy, the boys constantly moved around the stage, while dancing and interacting with the dancers. The audience and the back up dancers sported glowing Mickey ear headbands, as today was Yoochun (English name: Micky)’s birthday in Korea. To Yoochun’s surprise, Jeri Slaughter, artistic concert director of the North American tour, came up on stage and presented a cake for Yoochun’s 25th birthday. The whole venue joined together to sing “Happy Birthday” as Jaejoong was tempted to pick up the cake and throw it at Yoochun.
A special portion of the concert was listening to the live performances of four unreleased songs. First off was “Boy’s Letter,” about a love confession. There were times the instrumentals would fade out, allowing the trio’s mastery of harmonization and falsettos to shine. They sang another new song “You’re,” an upbeat and cheerful song to which the audience waved their arms to. Jaejoong and Yoochun continued to joke and play around with each other, leaving Junsu to sing the song on his own again. They teased each other by shoving all the mics into one person’s face when it was his turn to sing and Junsu finished up the song, squeaking a “Thank you” as he tried to back away from all the mics. They all wore Mickey ear headbands and came together for a hug toward the end.
Back on stage with their official concert shirt, a white tee with JYJ written in red on it, the trio performed “Get Out.” Although the lyrics center around a cheating woman, the boys performed great catchy choreography, and when they all grouped together in the center and pulsed, the fans went crazy. A memorable moment of the song is when Yoochun hollered out “You’ll never find true love. Fuck you!”
Performing the remix version of “Empty,” they revealed new sharp choreography to the beat-inducing track. To finish up the show, the boys sang an encore of another new song “In Heaven.” Wisps of smoke covered the stage and the boys crooned the fitting lyrics of “Don’t go, don’t go… I love you, I love you…” to the audience. In response, fans held up and waved signs with the words “Don’t go (가지마)” during the song. Almost literally taking your breath away, it was the perfect final song to wrap up the concert . Fans had trouble leaving their seats as they were stunned it was actually over. Continuing to wear their hearts on their sleeve, JYJ successfully showcased their devotion to their music and to their red ocean.