Despite our hyper-connected modern world, where artists and celebrities can hop on social media platforms in an instant to chat with fans, sometimes seeing the lives of the rich and famous can feel jarring, with their jet-setting and glossy shoots a world away from the lives most of us live.
Yet during the one hour, forty-nine minute concert that Korean pop artist SUNMI performed to over three-thousand fans in London, it felt as though that veneer was lifted, if only for twenty-one songs. Kicking off with her 2018 hit ‘Siren’, she hit the stage with her six dancers, before swiftly following on with ‘LALALAY’. Both songs’ striking choreographies were fantastic concert openers, highlighting from the get-go the sharp dancing and live singing capabilities that she has refined since her debut in 2007.
Her status as one of South Korea’s most famous soloists precedes her, and the sharp professionalism shown throughout the show was thus in no doubt. However, it was during SUNMI’s first opening statements that the real magic of the show was revealed. In between her performances of a multitude of hits, from ‘Heart Burn’ to ‘TAIL’, as well as beloved B-sides like ‘1/6’ and ‘Burn’, she took to the stage to address the crowd, reflecting upon her own personal thoughts and feelings.
Speaking in English throughout, she interacted at length with her fans, taking the time to pick up fan gifts such as a stuffed duck plushie and a spotted headscarf top, as well as to read signs that fans had written out for her. During the sixth segment of the concert, SUNMI brought out a bass guitar, which she played throughout her performances of ‘What The Flower’ and ‘Noir’. She confessed afterwards to fans that she was nervous but had been encouraged to perform onstage with the instrument due to the support of her fans (also known as Miyane).
The moments with bass also highlighted the balance between the higher-energy, choreographed stages and the stages where it was simply SUNMI, the audience and the mic stand. It was during these performances that her direct engagement with her fans felt the most heartfelt as she seemed to convey her lyrics concerning the self, authenticity and doubt, directly to each individual present.
It is the goal of many an artist to play stadiums and arenas with tens of thousands of fans in attendance, and SUNMI has certainly been in front of some huge crowds in her career. As a result, it was endearing and heartfelt to see someone with her profile and longevity speaking and signing to the audience as if they were dear friends and family that had come to visit. Rounding off her set with her 2021 song ‘You can’t sit with us’, she indeed treated her dancers as such, individually introducing them all by name to the crowd, and laughing as her two male dancers surprised everyone by taking off their shirts. With that, a deep, captivating and wholly fun concert was brought to an end in London.
So come to see a SUNMI show to be able to experience some of the best solo K-Pop out there, for a chance to see a soloist who has survived over a decade and a half in the game and to see her perform some of her thought-provoking lyrics up close. But stay to experience a concert from an artist who, both during her performances and in-between, endeavours to connect with each and every fan as if they are the only other person in the room.