By Cecille Santillan-Visto, Text and photos
Concert Review
2018 Seventeen Concert: Ideal
Cut
in Manila

Sept. 29
SM Mall of Asia Arena
SOME KOREAN pop groups — no matter how popular — have performed in the Philippines only once and without an insistent demand, they never managed to return. Not so in the case of the 13-member group, Seventeen, which can now boast of a three-sold-out-concert streak in Manila, a feat that only equally phenomenal bands such as BTS, EXO, and Super Junior have managed.
Seventeen had its baptism of fire in Manila in 2016 at The Theater of Solaire Resorts and Casino for the local leg of the Shining Diamonds world tour. They came at a time when there was a high-profile dispute between the country and China, forcing Chinese members Jun and The8 to skip the show. ( http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Arts&Leisure&title=sweet-seventeen&id=132148). But they were complete last year for the Diamond Edge concert, filling up the SM Mall of Asia Arena. With the clamor from their fandom, called the Carats, Seventeen returned to Manila less than a year later.
Leader S. Coups, Woozi, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Hoshi, DK, Jeonghan, Dino, Seungkwan, and Vernon and Joshua, who are from the US, plus the two Chinese members sizzled on stage and made sure that Ideal Cut in Manila was as, if not more, memorable as the first two concerts in the country.
They kicked off with “Highlight,” from the group’s Going Seventeen album. The opening salvo was, to say the least, explosive. The energy at the MOA Arena before the concert was already delirious. Thus, when the boys emerged from backstage wearing matching black suits and gyrating to “Highlight” and later, to fan-favorite “Thanks,” the shrieking reached the maximum decibel possible.
The distinct advantage of Seventeen, which has been active since 2015, is the group’s sheer number of members. The MOA Arena may not be as big as other stadiums but its stage is relatively huge. With more members performing in sync, the stage somehow felt fuller and more dynamic than if there were only six or seven performers on the platform at any one point. Moreover, Seventeen has three distinct sub-units, each with a different specialization. It has a vocal unit, a hip-hop unit, and a “performance” unit. As such, there is always variety in every show. As some members were given a short breather when they were not all required to be on stage, the boys were able to deliver 26 songs with no problems.
In the three years since its debut, Seventeen has released two studio albums and five extended plays.
Although Ideal Cut in Manila was a largely mix of staple Seventeen dance hits such as “Chuck,” “Pretty U,” “Oh My!” “Beautiful,” and “Thinkin’ About You,” there were a number of nice inserts including the performance of the unreleased song of the hip-hop team, and “Campfire” and “Healing” which formed part of the encore. They returned to the stage thrice during their last song, “Aju (Very) Nice,” which could be taken as an indication that they so enjoyed the show that they did not want it to end.
Performance-wise, all members contributed but special mention should be given to diminutive Woozi whose wide vocal range is the envy of other K-pop groups. It was also delightful to see that their dance choreography is the same live as seen in their music videos. The crisp dance moves make the group a joy to watch.
In between sets, Seventeen members took the opportunity to interact with the audience. They tried to outdo each other with the little Filipino that they have learned. The middle segment even became a mini-talent show of sorts, with members dancing to Twice’s “TT,” competing in a rap showdown, and generally just titillating fans.
Producer Pulp was spot on with the lights, sounds, and stage effects, contributing to heightening the excitement and the drama exactly when necessary.
A downside to the show, if at all, was the strict no photography, no videography policy enforced by the producer. Bouncers were all over the venue to remind the audience that all forms of recording were prohibited. Some fans were not too happy that they were unable to record even snippets of the show. On the bright side, it gave them the opportunity to enjoy the show without having to wonder whether they took the photo or the video at the perfect angle.
Ideal Cut in Manila was definitely a concert that could be listed as among the most enjoyable K-pop shows in recent memory. It was obvious that performing is second nature to the members who definitely knew how to make sure the audience have a great time.
Now, that really makes Seventeen an ideal cut above the rest.