I think this is becoming commonplace for me….I see my bias and something happens. My world gets gently rocked. My mind goes into a flux. I grasp to find balance and try to remain coherent. The thought of putting together a couple of sentences to verbalize (and of course memorialize) the experience escapes me for at least a good month, sometimes longer. Such is the case here, again.
This could be problematic. The further from the experience I get, the possibility of remembering becomes an issue, especially at my age. However, when it comes to the gentle G.O, the one who has unceremoniously laid claim to my heart, those experiences I have involving him tend to leave their mark. Those moments are pretty much imprinted and branded into the memory of that heart, and I am forever scarred. You see, heart memory is strong and true. Like any muscle, it remembers. Therefore, I have faith I will be able to share with you at lease some of those moments I had in his presence this past June when I attended the shows at Omiya Sonic City in Japan.
June 5, 2015 – Welcome Back to Japan
[Image credit: Nelly Ahmad]
I have never waited at the arrivals door for any celebrity ever. G.O and MBLAQ were to be my first. I have to admit, I was excited. Coupled with that, I also felt a little nervous anxiety. The last time I saw them was seven months prior at what was basically a farewell to the OT5 MBLAQ at their Curtain Call shows in late November.
During that time, so much had happened, and so little was known. What was evident however was that MBLAQ was staging a comeback as a trio consisting of leader Seung Ho, main vocal, G.O and rapper, Mir. And they were getting the proverbial ball rolling by doing so outside of the comfort of their home country, away from their home fans, and a mere three days before the release of their new album, Mirror.
This was a gutsy move filled with risk especially given their hiatus (primarily G.O’s) from social media. Leader Seung Ho and maknae Mir sprinkled those seven months sporadically with non-descript updates. Mir visited MBLAQ’s Daum cafe a few times with messages and/or chat sessions. But overall, it was crickets.
So imagine my delight when they walked through the arrivals door at Haneda and were visibly shocked and full of smiles to see the group of us waiting for them, greeting them, and welcoming them. Mir walked out first and stopped dead in his tracks. The first fans he saw consisted of our little international contingency (Nelly, Marlena, Marisol and Clara). It was very cute. And excuse you Mr. Yang Seung Ho walking in like a boss.^^
But when my bias walked in, everything slowed down when he heard his named being called. He looked over towards us, waved, and gave us the warmest and sweetest smile. Okay, so he was wearing a face mask and all – but it in no way obscured the smile in his eyes. The last time I saw that kind of smile in his eyes was the first night I saw him after Seopyeonje. I knew then that they were ok, that he was ok; and, that this first stage back and return to their beloved A+ was going work itself out just fine.
June 6, 2015 – The First Show
The anticipation. Can you imagine how it felt on both ends? This was to be MBLAQ’s first stage as a trio. The first time they would stand before us without Joon and Cheondung. The first time we would see them in this new formation and the first time they would see our reaction. I have to admit, I was concerned because I did not want them to be worried.
Towards the end of last year, but before Curtain Call, we had kind of grown accustomed to seeing MBLAQ perform minus Joon. In fact, following Peru in mid-June of last year, most (if not all) of the scheduled performances MBLAQ had outside of Korea were without Joon. In looking back, I suppose that was kind of telling in some ways. Clearly Joon’s career was taking a turn towards acting. However, most all of the performances leading up to Curtain Call that took place in Seoul saw all five on the stage. For all intents and purposes, things were ok and it was safe to assume that Joon’s filming schedule was simply not flexible enough to allow him to leave the country.
When everything did blow up following Curtain Call and it was confirmed that Joon and Cheondung would depart, I was relieved that it was NOT the end of MBLAQ entirely and that Seung Ho, G.O and Mir would go on as a trio keeping the MBLAQ name, legacy and music intact. So I was very ready to see this new incarnation. VERY.
When they walked out onto the stage and were greeted with warm cheers, squeals and screams, their smiles in return were all I needed to see. I knew they would sound fine and they did. They gave us some true favorites, Mona Lisa, Oh Yeah, This Is War, and Scribble. But….G.O had to go there and wreck me with I Shouldn’t Speak and Spring, Summer, Autumn….and.
Coming to Japan to see these shows held a two-fold meaning for me. First, as I mentioned, it was to be MBLAQ’s first stage as a trio. As such, I felt it was important to be there to show my support. From a purely, unadulterated fan girl perspective however, I wanted to see G.O and I wanted in on that hi touch following the shows. True, I experienced a full-fledged MBLAQ concert having attended Curtain Call, but that did not come with any particular perk such as a fan meeting or hi touch. With their appearance at Omiya, the coveted hi touch was part of the package. Any time I can get the opportunity to touch G.O’s gorgeous hands proved impetus enough for this fan girl to cross the ocean to cop a feel, as it were.^^
However, when my bias stepped onto the stage under those lights, looking soft, serene and gorgeous, I forgot my name, where I was, and why I was there.
This man grows more and more handsome with every breath he takes. With just a peek of the word ‘Able’ visible on his crisp white shirt, he sent a message to us all (in my opinion) that MBLAQ was back and they were ready, willing and able to meet their fans once again, to share their music, and to begin their journey back to us. Omiya was their teaser, their testing ground, and they eased into it gently with quiet confidence and charm.
After the music came the talk and they were every bit as engaging as we have come to know them to be. I could not understand a word of it. They were speaking Korean and it was being translated into Japanese. What I could gather at times were Seung Ho, G.O and Mir’s attempts at Japanese. I cannot be sure, however. Nevertheless, just to hear them speak, to feel the vibration and tone in their voices – well, does one really have to understand the language to feel the heart?
One thing was very evident to me as I watched the interplay between them and how they relayed that to us. There was a tangible closeness between them. A quiet trust. A comradeship that has been building over the past eight years. A love so strong that in the wake of an abrupt and devastating change in the group’s dynamic, you could almost see the force field of friendship…no, more like brotherhood, that encapsulates them. You certainly can feel it. They are each other’s strength. Whatever they went through in the months following the break up brought them closer together and with that experience came an elegant maturity that they displayed in their subtle return to the stage in Japan. I was very happy to see them and equally pleased to hear them in their new form. They performed well and upheld the vocals of five perfectly well as three.
Following the show, we all sat quietly as row-by-row, starting from the back, each member of the audience filed slowly into formation to receive the coveted hi touch. I had no experience to gauge this hi touch against. It was to be my first. And inasmuch as I had the distinct honor (and absolute pleasure) to shake G.O’s hand following the shows I attended for both Seopyeonje and The Kingdom of the Winds, a hi touch was new and uncharted territory for me. I felt the anticipation to my core and my heart began its uneven flutter when my row was motioned to stand and begin the walk towards the hi touch hallway.
MBLAQ was not the solo act on the bill that day and therefore, they were not the only ones handing out the hi touches. Kpop girl groups, Minx and Dal Shabet also performed, and as such, were also part of the hi touch line. It was exceptionally cute, if I do say so. The ladies of both Minx and Dal Shabet were shocked to see a few foreigners in the line and even hesitated and let out audible ‘Ohs’ when I greeted them. Then with looks of sheer excitement, they eagerly gave their touches. It was quite sweet.
Now this is all happening at a rapid fire pace, I might add, with theater staff urgently pushing you along, and not gently. I am not exaggerating when I say ‘push.’ Such is the way of the hi touch in Japan – from what I have been told. Well, I certainly did not want to be pushed past my bias without some kind of connect. Girl, please. I did not cross the ocean to have someone grab my shoulders from behind and shuffle me past G.O, Mir and Seung Ho with a mere brush of the hand – I wanted full on contact.^^
After the last member of Dal Shabet gave me her best hi touch, it was my bias who stood first in line for MBLAQ.
O-M-G!!!! Fan girl spazz. As you can see from the pictures above, he was looking right handsome (as he is want to do). As I walked up, he looked at me and threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed loudly, “Haaaaaaaaa!” Nice to see you, too, Byung Hee.^^ He offered his hand and I just could not help myself, I had to give it a squeeze which then elicited an audible “Owww..owww..owwwww,” from him. This playful namja. >.<
Mir was second and the beams of sparkle and light from his smile and eyes were electric. He was very happy to be greeting fans after all this time. Finally, standing stoic and erect holding his arm in a fixed 90-degree angle position, leader Seung Ho held his hand high to receive a touch. His smile though. I have to say, when Seung Ho smiles, it comes from somewhere really deep, gains momentum and when it reaches his lips, becomes this mega watt bombastic explosion of happy.
Of course, it was all over too fast. The upside was that there was a second show and with that, another hi touch. I had a little time to come down off of that high, regroup and recompose myself for round two.
June 6, 2015 – The Second Show
The second show that day was scheduled to begin at 6:30PM. The ladies of Minx and Dal Shabet began the show in much the same fashion as the afternoon show and MBLAQ followed closing the evening before the hi touch. There was a slight wardrobe change in the men. Seung Ho went white leather and both G.O and Mir opted for an all black ensemble.
The three of them looked stunningly handsome.
A bit more relaxed while performing, it seems the initial return to the stage as three and any resulting concern of how it would go, passed. These three artists are well-versed in stage presence and performing and although physically bringing the songs and accompanying choreography may have been altered to accommodate three instead of five, they managed quite well. Very well, in fact. They were every bit as powerful as three.
By the close of the second and final show at Omiya, the three men of MBLAQ were at ease, comfortable and seemingly satisfied with this pre-comeback to their official comeback that would take place in three short days. I think they were eager to get back and eager to meet with fans, and the stage at Omiya gave them the opportunity to ease back into their rightful place on that stage, sharing their music. I have to admit, I was hoping they would give us a little hint of the new music and if I am not mistaken (and if my memory serves me correctly) they were asked to do so and G.O, in reply, cheekily sang in a straight monotone note, “거울……….,” the Korean word for mirror. Ever the tease, our beautiful main vocal man!^^
Before they made their way off the stage and to their hi touch perch, Seung Ho gave us a little sleight of hand magic trick by making something disappear. I am not quite sure what Mir gave Seung Ho to use, however. Yet, the smile on Seung Ho’s face while effectuating that little maneuver was priceless. The pièce de résistance was when G.O himself attempted to do likewise and failed. OMG!!!! Clearly, he simply wanted to add to the fun knowing full well that his attempt at the magic trick may not play out as successfully (or as smoothly) as that of leader Seung Ho’s. Seung Ho of course has been honing his magic skills for some time. Not so sure G.O has spent equal time practicing. Still, this was one of the most endearing moments of the evening because my bias is just so……………..SO ADORABLE!!!!
I just cannot with him……!! He is priceless.
With that, the performance part of the evening ended and ended on a high note. Still, we had another hi touch to look forward to before our time with MBLAQ was over. I already knew the drill. First the ladies of Minx and Dal Shabet followed by our beloved MBLAQ. But, they threw us a curve. When I turned the corner to begin the long line of hi touches, I was greeted with none other than my magic trick challenged bias himself……..oh my!!
[Image credit: Nelly Ahmad]
No time to prepare…only time to flail!!^^ The hi touch was fast and furious. Yes, I admit to lagging to actually get a full touch from each of the men. I was successful. ^^ By the time I greeted the ladies, staff was pushing me so fast, I was in a light jog. Oy….omg!!! Still, it was all worth it.
You see, every moment I am able to spend in G.O’s presence is a gift and it makes me adore him more and more. The shows at Omiya only added fuel to that adoration fire.
Just too much.
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