Sometimes all it takes is a singular spotlight and a legendary voice.
Being in the K-pop industry for 16 years tends to make you an icon. It takes a lot of grit and passion to stay in music that long, and the inimitable Kim Tae-yeon, or Taeyeon of the iconic band Girls’ Generation, is definitely a pioneer, a mainstay in the K-pop hall of fame.
So once she announced the Manila stop of her “The Odd of Love” concert tour, tickets immediately sold out. Thousands of fans wanting to finally hear the K-pop queen’s live vocals scrambled to get their hands on any ticket available, as the last time Taeyeon held a solo outing in Manila, her concert was in a much smaller venue in 2018 (which sold out in minutes, too).
“The Odd of Love,” which kicked off in June in Seoul, South Korea, is the idol’s fifth concert tour. Taeyeon visited Manila earlier this year in April as part of a lineup with other artists, a preview of what to expect for her solo concert.
Finally, the K-pop legend serenaded fans in her own solo concert on July 30 at the Araneta Coliseum. Taeyeon opened the night with her dance-club single, “INVU,” in a chic black dress designed to let you focus on one thing, and one thing only—her showstopping soprano.
After Taeyeon belts out her notes, the whole Coliseum lights up in pink, an air of anticipation putting a spell on the Manila crowd. With a live band, Taeyeon captivated Filipino SONEs (her fandom) with her vocal chops, proving exactly why she was considered one of the pros.
In “Set Myself on Fire,” Taeyeon is heartbreakingly vulnerable, a sentiment that seems to climb into the hearts of her audience.
“I really like these people who are very expressive. I really have so much energy because I see all of you expressing your love for me,” she says to her Filipino SONEs, praising them for the crowd’s energy.
The K-pop queen’s solo outing definitely had everything, from youthful fun sets to a display of her talents as a musical diva. In “Siren,” the soloist changes it up with choreography, back-up dancers and a shimmery ruby red outfit.
Proud in purple
Taeyeon brings a party to the Big Dome with “Weekend,” a sugary sweet pop hit. The idol is just as adorable as when she first debuted in 2007, bringing snappy choreography and superstar attitude to this section of the concert. She’s able to do any genre, after all. For “Stress,” the crowd lets loose and jumps along with Taeyeon, waving purple flags and turning the coliseum into a mini-festival.
While Taeyeon manages to make every show extraordinary with her vocal prowess, the crowd was determined to make sure Manila was just as memorable. Her SONEs were up for a challenge, donned in cutesy purple outfits (a nod to Taeyeon’s favorite color), geared in different banana-themed headpieces, proudly showing off their barong Tagalog and Sablay fresh from graduation, and even dancing in their very own inflatable dinosaur costume.
Their efforts paid off, as Taeyeon acknowledged their gimmicks. “Banana, annyeong,” she points at an audience member, and the crowd goes wild. “You guys are so cute. Do you know that?” she jokes.
In less than three hours, Taeyeon created a little bubble of time, her connection with SONEs making the coliseum feel like an intimate gig at a kitschy bar. Sure, there’s spectacular production value in lasers, lights and smoke, but the way she interacts with her fans made the venue feel smaller than it is.
She jokes with SONEs, waits for their cues, grants their wishes when they ask her to take a picture and even teases them for asking for too many things. It’s a connection only an artist of her experience and caliber is able to create.
The superstar also promised fans that she would come back. “The songs you weren’t able to listen to tonight, I will prepare them for next time. So I hope you guys invite me again to Manila … Promise!”
Over the years, we’ve watched Taeyeon enchant crowds all over the world—may it be during busking on the streets of Berlin, to concerts in Seoul arenas and now in Manila’s very own Big Dome.
There’s something about the way she sings that enchants thousands. There are multitudes in each verse, stories of heartbreak and sheer raw vulnerability she’s sharing to a crowd through her music. It’s not even in a language that most in the audience are fluent in, but they know every lyric and beat perfectly, singing and dancing along. Everyone comes into a Taeyeon concert prepared to be moved to tears. Taeyeon has always been known for her ardent and emotional stage presence, even cementing it as her wheelhouse, her signature.
It is Kim Tae-yeon after all, an artist who’s had 16 years of experience in her belt and has sung more times than what we know might be humanly possible.
Still, nothing prepares you for when the moment finally comes. The lights dim, and a hush falls over the once noisy crowd. The band stops playing and it’s just Taeyeon and her mic, and a bright spotlight. The world stops for a moment, and she sings about love lost and yearning in “Fine.”
“I’m repeating to myself like a fool/ I can’t hold the words that linger on my lips/ It’s not fine,” Taeyeon sings in brilliant, heartbreaking soprano.
In seconds, you’ll feel the tears running down your cheeks, just like magic. It’s an instantaneous reaction, goosebumps riddling your arms as you take in the wonder of what just happened.
The stillness of that 15-second moment is what makes Taeyeon the legend that she is. “The Odd of Love” is a mosaic of all of our very own moments, as you find a fragment of yourself in every Taeyeon song. Our moments of longing, heartbreak, beauty and happiness immortalized with the K-pop diva herself. It’s a fitting set for the one and only Taeyeon.
Taeyeon’s “The Odd of Love” was produced by DNM Entertainment.