Monsta X returned to London with what felt like a new-found confidence.
After selling out their 2018 concert, their first ever UK show, the K-Pop group were back in town on the European leg of their We Are Here tour, and their performance fully lived up to the upgraded venue.
We got animated backdrops, streamers, light shows, and even ending ments (speeches) completely in English from a few members, who have clearly been studying hard.
Members Shownu, Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney and I.M arrived on a stage flooded with red light, wearing black and gold jackets. Compared with the shimmering all-white jackets from last year, it was a sign we were in for something a little harder than their 2018 The Connect tour.
The mature and experimental sound of their recent album Take 1. Are You There? ran through the performance like a thread. From the intense opener Shoot Out to the navel-gazing Myself via RnB-heavy bop Mohae, they selected the albums best hits to bring to the stage.
It was a shame not to hear Underwater, however, as it is one of the songs that shows off their vocal skills best, although it did pop up in a lovely film halfway through.
They really excelled in their unit stages this year, reminding us they are accomplished performers and creative individuals, as well as idols. The raplines unit stage Sambakja, followed by Joohoney playing the drums in a sleeveless tank top, was ferocious.
Hyungwon, Kihyun and Minhyuk might have jokingly labelled themselves Etc because they were the leftovers when the group were choosing unit stages, but their slick cover of Bazzi track Myself certainly didnt sound like it was thrown together from whoever was left.
And Wonho showed off his producing skills once again with the song Mirror, a sexy, slow jam he performed with Shownu, who choreographed their routine himself.
Monbebe, Monsta Xs fanbase, might not agree but Mirror was a step up from Wonhos previous efforts. He is quickly evolving into a producer who can turn his hand to anything.
Of course they brought the fun, this is Monsta X after all. Without backing dancers or a live band they completely filled the arena with their stage presence, personalities and big smiles alone.
Up-tempo crowd pleasers like Oh My, Special, and Falling were wheeled out in the fist-pumping third act – even Dramarama got a very welcome outing – with a euphoric DJ set from Hyungwon (as DJ. H.One) briefly transforming the night into a rave before it was time to say goodbye.
Compared to the polished performance from another huge group just two days before in the same arena, Monsta X – with their leather-look trousers and EDM sound – are rougher around the edges in the best way. Their stage presence is freer and they have a slight edge to them, largely thanks their rapline, who on the night declared Monsta X the best team in K-Pop to an extremely supportive crowd.
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