MANILA -- “If your throat starts to hurt, you don’t need to scream so loud,” said South Korean superstar IU, addressing her fans that filled the Araneta Coliseum Friday night for her first-ever concert in the country.
IU’s appeal, however, seemed futile. The crowd responded by unleashing louder cheers, drawing a look of surrender on the 26-year-old singer’s face. She simply smiled back, as though both elated by the audience’s fervent devotion, and finally acknowledging that she was not capable of taming her ardent fans.
It has been 11 years since IU, whose real name is Lee Ji-eun, made her entry into the Korean music scene but it was the first time she performed in the Philippines. The show was part of a tour to promote her latest extended play “Love Poem.”
The longing to see IU play live was evident in her supporters, who loudly recited fan chants and sang along to nearly all of the songs performed in the four-hour show. For her part, IU repeatedly praised the zealous crowd throughout the concert.
“You guys are really passionate. So charming. I fell in love,” she said at one point.
IU even invited the Filipino crowd to her upcoming concerts in Indonesia and Thailand.
“If every concert, my crowd was like this, I think I would have so much fun,” she said. “I’m gonna bet everything that no one can beat Manila.”
SURPRISED AND SORRY
The deafening screams started the moment IU took the stage and opened the show with “Unlucky.” This was followed by an acoustic version of her 2017 hit “Palette,” where IU displayed a bit of theatricality by performing in a stage filled with props such as a chair and table.
During the first verse of “Palette,” the audience’s loud chants and singing-along appeared to abruptly distract the singer, who let out a wide smile and soft laughter in between lines.
After singing “Palette,” IU confessed she was surprised that she was popular in the country and apologized to fans for coming “too late.”
“If I knew a lot of people love me here in the Philippines, I should have come here earlier,” said IU.
In her early years as a singer, IU performed songs written for her by other songwriters. She eventually learned to assert authority over her music by writing her own songs, a creative exercise not a lot of K-pop acts enjoy.
At the Manila concert, she performed “Hold My Hand,” which she proudly introduced as the first song she ever wrote.
IU also performed the fan-favorite “Bbibbi,” her 2018 single which she wrote as a warning to her critics.
IU also performed her past hits, including “Friday,” “Through the Night,” and “Blueming.”
Perhaps it was in “Autumn Morning,” her cover of a 1991 Korean folk song, where IU perfectly showcased her soothing vocals. She sang the song’s first minute in a capella before being accompanied by a guitar for the rest of the performance.
At the supposed end of the concert, the entire Araneta Coliseum gave a standing ovation for IU, her back-up dancers, and band members.
As with any other K-pop concert, IU returned to the stage for an encore set, comprised of songs that allowed her to boast her powerful vocals.
For the encore, IU sang the heart-wrenching ballad “Love Poem” and her 2010 breakthrough song “Good Day,” which has an iconic climax where she incrementally sings three high-pitched notes.
The show appeared to be over after the encore but no one in the audience left, with some pleading for more performances. IU then reappeared on stage, dressed casually in a Sunday dress and purple sweater, and started taking song requests from the audience.
After four fan-requested performances, IU finally wrapped up the second encore — and simultaneously, the entire concert — with “Ending Scene” and “Heart.”
Similar to other K-pop acts, IU promised fans that she would return to Manila, which she fondly described as “the city of passion and love.”
The Manila leg of IU’s “Love Poem” tour was produced by PULP Live World and Kakao M.