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BTS headlines Wembley Stadium

June 03,2019
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Boy band BTS performs at Wembley Stadium in London Saturday, as the first Korean group to perform in the venue where legendary pop stars like The Beatles have taken the stage. [NEWS1]
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Fans walk into Wembley Stadium in London to see the K-pop boy band on Saturday. A total 120,000 fans are estimated to have come to the venue Saturday and Sunday during the concert, part of the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour. [YONHAP]
“We are finally here, Wembley,” said boy band BTS wrapping up its first of two performances at the stadium on the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour. It is the first K-pop group to perform in the iconic venue, where legendary groups, such as The Beatles and Queen, have performed. A mass of 60,000 spectators turned the London landmark into a sea K-pop joy. BTS took the stage with its signature hip-hop number “Dionysus” late Saturday, and again on Sunday.

It was a landmark moment for the already remarkable career of BTS, debuting at Wembley, the heart of the entertainment industry in Britain.

To welcome many of the locals coming to see them in London, English-speaking team leader RM made a point opening with a British accent, saying “It’s a beautiful night. Welcome to our concert.” Other members - Jin and Jungkook - also teased some British-accented English words after RM, resulting in wild laughter among the spectators. The Saturday concert featured a medley of the band’s mega hits, such as “Boy With Luv,” which peaked at eighth on the Billboard singles chart, Hot 100, last month, as well as “Dope,” “Fire,” “Idol” and “Fake Love,” burning the stage for two hours and 40 minutes.

The audience included fans from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Lithuania who sang along with the Korean-language lyrics of BTS songs.

It wasn’t just youngsters in their teens filling up the seats and shouting the names of their favorite band members. Their parents and other family members accompanied, not because the young ones needed a guardian to a pop event, but because their parents are also fans of the Korean boy band. Mothers have shared with the JoongAng Ilbo that the boy band has been a good “role model” to their children, as the messages in the band’s songs touch upon how important love and mental health are in life. Mothers have said many of their family members - even the kids’ grandparents - take the youngsters to concerts, traveling from neighboring countries.

A father from Germany, according to JoongAng Ilbo, who took his 11-year-old daughter who couldn’t travel by herself, said he listens to BTS song every day. Coming to London was a gift to his daughter, the father said. Officials related to the London concert’s promotion received messages of thanks. A Swedish mother, who brought her two daughters to the concert, said that she likes the band because the members are humble and always deliver good messages.

Even before the singers came out to take the stage, the fans began to sing songs sung in the stadium. The music videos of the singers warmed up the audience, and fans sang along in English. They stood up as soon as they spotted the members coming out onto the stage with fireworks. The band sang “Dionysus,” a song from its “Map of the Soul: Persona” released in April. The song hit No. 1 on the British charts.

In between performances, the members did not miss a chance to engage with their fans, taking in the historic moment of performing on the stage where legendary rock band Queen once performed.

“I watched the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ I cannot help copying it,” member Jin told fans near the show’s end, shouting “Ey Oh” as Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury did at the start of the band’s Wembley performance in 1985.

The audience answered in the same “Ey Oh” in unison.

“Today was really a beautiful day. I want to say I love you deeply,” member Jimin said. “We were able to stand at this stage thanks all to you.”

The British reception of BTS was far more wild than expected. The band initially planned to perform a single night at the stadium but changed it to a two-day event as the tickets for the first concert sold out in less than two hours. For the two days, a combined 120,000 fans attended.

RM took the British phenomenon personally and blissfully.

“When everybody talked about our Billboard chart [performances], I was grateful. But what surprised me in fact was the moment we charted on the official [British] charts,” the team leader recalled.

“You have spawned historically sensational musicians. So Britain is a very important place for me,” he noted. “You are the very evidence that we can continue what we do now. BTS will sing for you guys.”

To celebrate the two-day concert in London outside the stadium, a pop-up event was held since late last month. The store, which opens at 10 a.m., had hundreds of people lining up from around 8 a.m. on the day of the first concert Saturday.

The septet will move to the next stop of its ongoing “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” world tour in France, where it is scheduled to perform at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, just north of Paris.

BY LEE SUN-MIN, YONHAP [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]