By Cecille Santillan-Visto, Contributor

Concert Review
Seventeen World Tour: Ode To You in Manila
Feb. 8
Mall of Asia Arena

A VIRUS scare could have easily have deterred regular concertgoers from going to an arena where they would have breathed the same air as at least 10,000 others.

Not the fans of Korean pop group, Seventeen. The news on the 2019 novel coronavirus did not stop Seventeen’s fans — who refer to themselves as Carats — from filling up the Mall of Asia Arena to see the Manila leg of the Ode to You World Tour. To manage any related health risks, the show’s local producer Pulp Live World required all spectators to wear masks and took their temperature before letting them enter the venue.

With a recent spate of cancellations and postponements of events featuring K-stars, Seventeen’s fans were relieved that the show went on without a hitch. When Pledis Entertainment announced on Feb. 9 — the day after the concert — that Seventeen would no longer perform overseas until March, the Philippines abruptly became the last stop of the world tour. The entertainment agency had no choice but to cancel the upcoming shows in Malaysia, Taipei, and a number of European cities such as Paris, London and Berlin thanks to the virus scare.

Woozi, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Hoshi, DK, Jeonghan, Dino, Seungkwan, Vernon, Joshua, The8, and Jun made it a memorable night even with the absence of their leader, S. Coups, who is on hiatus while undergoing treatment for his anxiety.

Dishing out 23 songs in all, the 13-member ensemble treated the audience to three hours of powerfully choreographed and synchronized dances, impressive singing, and the delightful fan service that Seventeen is truly known for.

It was their fourth time to perform in the Philippines but they apologized for making their followers wait for their return. Seventeen was scheduled to be part of a Korean concert festival last year, which was canceled.

“The passion of Manila is insane!” the group shouted, further stirring the already electrified crowd.

While the world tour was anchored on Seventeen’s latest album, An Ode, the baker’s dozen sang only two songs from their third studio CD which was released in September. They came on strong in their opening set with “Fear.” In “Happy Ending,” the fans accompanied them with a mix of chants and singing worthy of a videoke session. In between sets, Seventeen sang a portion of “Snap Shoot” acapella.

They, however, indulged their Filipino Carats by performing many of their hits such as “Clap,” “Adore U,” “Pretty U,” “Oh My!,” and “Thanks,” from their previous albums, Love & Letter and Teen, Age, with several numbers remixed to bring a different flavor to the songs.

The spectators came prepared with light sticks, fan chants, and relentless shouting. The mood at the MOA Arena was a pleasant mix of happiness and hysteria. There was a sing-along portion where Filipino fans, when prompted, impressively showcased their Korean singing and chanting prowess.

Seventeen is divided into sub-units — the vocal, performance (dance), and hip-hop groups. The hip-hop team sang “Trauma” and “Chilli” in their special set, while the performance unit danced to “Lilili Yabbay” and “Shhh.” Not to be outdone, the group’s vocalists sent chills through the audience with “Hug” and “Don’t Listen in Secret.” The vocal unit performed while seated on the hydraulics-operated platform, visibly relaxed though on key the whole time.

There were a number of fan favorites that did not end up on the set list, including “Home,” “Manse,” “Boom Boom,” and even “Chuck,” although Seventeen carefully picked songs from their full discography for Ode To You.

There was also a point in the concert when the audience coaxed the group to dance to the viral Sarah Geronimo hit, “Tala,” but it appeared that they were not briefed before hitting the stage so the request was lost in translation. The closing was heartwarming, with the boys singing the “Aju Nice,” which seemed to be never ending as they returned to the main and extended stages again and again until the curtain finally closed.

Ode To You In Manila was supported by Globe, which continues to bring the K-Pop experience to Filipino fans by sponsoring concerts and other events featuring Korean artists.

With the worldwide health risk from the coronavirus still to be contained, the staging of future shows — by both of foreign and local artists — will likely be carefully monitored. But Seventeen’s over-the-top and give-it-all performance last Saturday certainly provided their fans with sweet memories to go back to until their next visit. It was surreal not just to smell but to experience Seventeen’s high spirits.