By Cecille Santillan Visto

Concert Review
TWICE World Tour 2019
June 29
SM MOA Arena

EVEN WITH the deluge of Korean boy bands holding concerts and fan meetings in Manila, there is a dearth of K-pop girl groups performing in some of the biggest venues in the country. The last all-ladies team to stage a concert at the SM MOA Arena was the now-defunct 2NE1, with Sandara Park, in May 2014. Early this year, Momoland had a fan meeting at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while six-member GFRIEND opted for the more intimate New Frontier Theater for its own concert in August 2018.

Filipino fans, to say the least, are thirsty for more showcases featuring girl groups so they seized the opportunity to see TWICE live over the weekend.

The MOA Arena was a sea of apricot and neon magenta, which are the official colors of TWICE, with most fans waving their “Candybong Z” light sticks throughout the show. It was a full house, with tickets to the concert selling out in less than three hours on June 2, the first ticket release day.

Having watched the group on two previous occasions — first at the Busan One Asia Festival in 2016 when they were barely a year old, and at the 2018 Korea Music Festival in Seoul — this writer was excited to see TWICE live in Manila, and in a full solo concert at that. Since I last saw them, they have released more hit songs and I was curious to see if they had progressed beyond the cutesy personas they initially presented to the K-pop industry when they launched their first album, The Story Begins.

JYP Entertainment did well in pacing the careers of the members: Chaeyoung, Dahyun, Jeongyeon, Jihyo, Mina, Momo, Nayeon, Sana, and Tzuyu. From their debut song “Like Ooh-Ahh,” to their latest smash single, “Dance the Night Away,” TWICE has caught the fancy of K-pop fans worldwide, filling the void left by the disbandment of labelmates, Miss A and Wonder Girls.

There was a different vibe at last Saturday’s concert, and the presence groups of fan boys leading the fan chants made the event more interesting. Although fan boys are a staple in girl group shows, Twicelights had more than its fair share — most of whom were unashamed to demonstrate that they were ecstatic to see their idols.

Manila was only the third stop in the multi-country world tour that started in May, which includes the United States and Mexico. The setlist was the same as the Seoul and Bangkok legs. There were five costume changes — a total of eight, if counting the solo stages — each of which was in line with the theme for each performance set.

Pulp Live World also set up five huge LED screens to benefit the fans occupying the General Admission area. There was an extended stage that allowed the ladies to interact closely with those in the VIP standing sections.

Barely four years in the business, TWICE already boasts of two studio albums, two compilation albums, and eight extended plays. As a way to give back to the fans, they sang no less than 29 songs during the concert, including covers of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Beyonce’s “Dance For You,” and SHINee Taemin’s “Goodbye” — the rest were original songs, many of which are recognized fan favorites.

TWICELIGHTS in Manila opened with “Stuck In My Head,” followed by “Cheer Up” and “Touchdown” with the girls donning black dresses with knee-high boots. After briefly introducing themselves in Filipino, the girls immediately proceeded to sing “BDZ,” the upbeat “Yes or Yes,” and the remix of “Like Ooh-Ahh.” They emerged from a quick break wearing glitzy black-and-gold ensembles and continued their hit parade with “I Want You Back, “Knock Knock,” and “Dance The Night Away.”

The vocals were admittedly far from perfect but there are standouts among the nine members. There were instances when some of the ladies were flat but Jihyo and Nayeon, with their crisp and almost flawless renditions, carried the team through.

The show was divided into six segments — with a color theme per segment. Most striking was the “white stage,” where the ladies were virtual goddesses in white gowns, playing some of their popular ballads including “After Moon” and “You In My Heart.” During the “red segment,” they danced to “Heart Shaker,” “Strawberry,” and “Woohoo.” But the best part of the show was towards the end when they performed “Likey,” “What Is Love,” “TT,” and “Fancy.”

TWICE was amazed at the reception of the Philippine audience — the members said they could hardly hear themselves amidst the deafening screams. They apologized to their ONCE, as their fans are called, for not visiting the country sooner.

For the encore, they sang snippets of their major hits, with “Stuck” as the finale.

It took TWICE four years to hold its first event in the Philippines. The extended anticipation of their huge local fanbase coupled with was undoubtedly a very entertaining show made for a doubly fun concert experience.