There was a roar in the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, London; it’s anticipation for a special visitor that sold out the venue in three minutes. As the time approached for pop star Jackson Wang to make his first appearance in front of a London crowd on a solo tour, the stage was smothered over in a thick fog, and blue light illuminated the room. One by one, the dancers crept out onto the stage and kicked off the London stop of the Magic Man tour with a bang: literally. Gold pyrotechnics burst out in front of the stage as the dancers made their fiery introduction.
Descending slowly in an elevator stage prop - a replica of the one in his “Blow” music video - Jackson arrived to the stage in a glorious manner. He stepped out, dressed in a black glittery suit, gloves and a mesh shirt, looking like a real-life magic man. The star began the first act of his concert with “100 Ways”. Moving along with the dancers, Jackson sang the famous hook ‘There’s a hundred ways to leave a lover…But I’m the only one that you need’. The song took a swift turn and faded out as the lights changed to warmer tones, the dancers encircling Jackson and performing one of many theatrical dances of the night.
Next came the more romantic “Blackout”, followed by “I Don’t Have It”. At one point there was a dance sequence depicting a losing fight against the cloaked dancers. Eventually he was brought down to the ground by these characters and dragged back into the elevator, concluding the first act of the show. It was not just the dance that was captivating, but Jackson’s facial expressions as well – the storytelling of the first act and his commitment to it suggests he could be the decent actor.
Having been in the industry for nearly a decade, Jackson Wang has experienced a lot of evolution and growth. He started off as a rapper in K-pop group GOT7 under JYP Entertainment, where he was famous for his rapping skill and loveable personality. There’s no doubt Jackson adores his bandmates, but it’s clear that part of his career has not been entirely fulfilling in terms of what he wants to do musically and as a performer.
This is evident in his solo concert, where he conveyed himself in a completely different tone to the performer he was in GOT7. With theatrical performances, more relaxed crowd interaction and most importantly music of his own, Jackson is climbing into the skin of his final form; the highest stage of his evolution, and it’s beautiful to see. With a raw openness that’s rare to see on such a scale, Jackson entranced the crowd into him in London. He came to mesmerise; to show the very best of himself, and that’s exactly what he did.
The second act brought a live band to the stage, and the guitars could be heard singing through the venue alongside Jackson, especially in “All The Way”, which ended with an explosion of confetti. He then performed the popular “BULLET TO THE HEART” and “Drive You Home” both with raw emotion.
It was after this song that Jackson introduced himself properly to the embracing crowd, expressing, ‘I wanna show you guys me as a person…No matter how you know me I’m blessed and I appreciate it a lot.’ Jackson hoped the crowd could relate to his music, and connected to them as he opened up about a rough time he went through.
This was oh-so-clear in a VCR signifying the end of the second act, Jackson narrated a point he’d brought up earlier in the show, elaborating on the reason he needed to change the way he presented himself to the world. ‘I didn’t care enough about myself. I didn’t give myself a chance to understand “me”’. He detailed feelings of loneliness, and the losing of oneself, because of giving out too much to others and too little inwards. ‘We are the same. We’re all in this together as humans,’ Jackson’s narration said, comparing himself to each person in the audience, which brought many in the crowd to tears.
The band introduced the third act with some incredible guitar action, and a lucky moment for a fan during the song “I Love You 3000”, where he brought a fan onto the stage to sit on the stairs under floating petals and sing together. This was not the only time a fan was brought onto stage. During “The Moment” and “Dead”, a fan received a sensual dance from the performers, and was then brought into the elevator with Jackson to be serenaded as the audience grew wild.
Just the day after the concert Jackson hung out with several (ID checked) fans he’d got the contacts of during soundcheck for some food, games, and association. Multiple photos and videos of the party went viral especially on Twitter, and Jackson was praised once again for his closeness to his fans, and the fans themselves for their respectful nature around him.
The creative direction in both Jackson’s music videos and live performances seems to be flourishing. The styling, choreography, set production, writing and direction are all well thought-out. It’s clear there was a solid vision from the beginning, and Jackson and Team Wang should be praised for their abundant creativity and successful efforts to bring those ideas into action. Jackson’s concert was theatrical, and simply intoxicating.
Jackson went viral on Twitter for the next talk he had with the audience, shortly after “Dead” and “Drive It Like You Stole It”. After taking a swig of what appeared to be Hennessy, Jackson expressed his love to the London crowd. He talked about his role as an entertainer, and stated his distaste for the way celebrities are “hyped up too much”. ‘At the end of the day we only dance and sing. I perform and entertain. That’s it.’ Jackson then went on to praise people in many different industries, closing the gap between himself, the audience, and everyone else in the world. Despite his earlier confession about his serious struggle with mental health, after nine years of being a famous musician in the limelight, his soul has still not been eroded to the point of being detached from normal society. That in itself is admirable, and Jackson received extensive praise on social media for his kind, honest and down-to-earth personality.
‘As an artist I would do anything to entertain you': a line from one of his VCR's. He’s the Magic Man; he’s the entertainer. He had a mic, and he was on a stage: so he poured his heart out to the crowd, urging them to consider their own lives and dreams. He’s got a lot of love to give, and a lot of talent to share.
That’s Jackson Wang.