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Everlasting Super Junior

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Text and photo by Cecille Santillan-Visto

Concert Review
Super Show 7
(Super Junior World Tour)
June 30, 8 p.m.
Mall of Asia Arena

THIRTEEN YEARS after they were catapulted to stardom, Korean pop group Super Junior can still give boy bands half their age a run for their money. In their first solo concert in Manila in five years, the group — which is recognized as the catalyst that led to the worldwide K-pop craze — rocked the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Fans could only describe their performance as “walang kupas” (unfading).

Super Show 7 in Manila was a testament that although dozens of K-pop acts have performed in Philippines in recent years, the original is still the best.

Ticket selling for concert was scheduled only a month before the concert — producers usually give at least a three-month notice — but the idols’ unique charm and proven draw easily filled the venue to the brim.

The concert was not just a test of stamina for leader Leeteuk and members Donghae, Eunhyuk, Shindong, Yesung, Heechul, and Siwon — who are now in their early- to mid-30s — but a vocal challenge considering that Kyuhyun and Ryeowook, their lead vocalists, are serving in the Korean army. Two other members — Kangin and Sungmin — have been embroiled in controversies, forcing them to go on hiatus temporarily.

But even with seven members instead of the usual 11, Super Junior definitely pulled off a performance that left fans already eagerly anticipating their promised return for Super Show 8.

The group’s 30-song repertoire was a mix of its newest hits plus “vintage” fan favorites. Although it was awesome to witness Super Junior perform new songs, fans agreed that the triple combination of the smash hits “Sorry, Sorry,” “Mr. Simple,” and “Bonamana” was the biggest treat. Heechul’s mean drum solo added a bit more spice.

The three-hour show opened with “Black Suit,” with the boys looking slick in their black-and-white ensembles. The rousing welcome they received during the first song was proof that they were sorely missed. While they were the main act in the Best of Best in the Philippines in April 2015, their last solo concert here, Super Show 5, was in October 2013.

They followed up with “Scene Stealer” and the infectious “Mamacita,” the title track of their seventh Korean studio album of the same title. “Shirt,” “Girlfriend,” and “This is Love,” rounded up the early set.

As expected, they sang almost all of the songs from their latest album, Play, released in November, including “I Do,” “One More Chance,” “Spin Up!,” and “Runaway.” A personal favorite was “Super Duper,” where they playfully went around the entire MOA Arena.

The crowd grew extra wild when the members threw several practiced Tagalog lines. But what made the crowd even more curious and entertained were the acknowledgments and references to Filipino celebrities throughout the show.

Siwon greeted Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, a self-confessed fan, and midway through the concert, even handed her his water bottle. She also posted a backstage photo with Siwon on her social media account. When she clinched the crown in 2015, Ms. Wurtzbach wore a sapphire blue gown, which happens to be Super Junior’s official color. When Siwon learned that she was a loyal follower, he personally invited her to the group’s next Manila concert. Last Saturday, the beauty queen obliged and netizens were ecstatic over her fangirl fantasy coming true.

Meanwhile, Heechul, a big fan of boxer Manny Pacquiao, couldn’t help but mention him in between songs.

As in most K-pop concerts, the level of fan service greatly contributes to the success of the show. With Super Show 7, extra attention was given to the Everlasting Friends (or ELFs, Super Junior’s fandom).

The stage was set up to allow close interaction with the fans. It was extended to run around the entire Arena floor and there a second elevated stage was ingeniously assembled a few inches from the VIP seating area. The fans there were literally face-to-face with the group members during some segments, including “This is Love.”

One of the highlights of the show was when Leeteuk delivered a touching message to the ELFs about how they have both grown through the years. He said that the once childish group that he leads have become veterans in the K-pop industry while their fans have also matured.

“The same girls who have listened to Super Junior and have always cheered for us became college students, someone’s lady, a child’s mother… We’re happy to share these with you all,” said Leeteuk, who was teary-eyed during his address.

He added that Super Junior wants to continue to make more “lasting, beautiful, and happy memories” with their fans.

Super Junior members are regulars in Korean dramas and reality shows. Globe, a Super Show 7 presenter, said subscribers can watch their favorite Korean shows on VIU on GoWATCH for as low as P29.

For 13 years, Super Junior has entertained audiences worldwide and judging by the Manila leg of their latest world tour, there are no signs that they are slowing down. They may well be gunning for the title of longest surviving K-pop idols in history.