SHINee (샤이니) lit up the Sony Centre to an enthusiastic welcome from fans. This would be their first Canadian tour stop as a part of their ‘World V’ tour. Their Toronto and Vancouver shows were presented by KpopMe. An endless lineup of ticket holders snaked through the sidewalks around the building, adorned in their best fanwear. This felt like déjà vu to me, when last spring I accidentally stumbled upon the mammoth Yoyogi Stadium in Shibuya, Tokyo. Japanese Shawols were gearing up for a SHINee show that night. I asked two girls swathed in SHINee towels for a photo, envious that they had tickets to what was sure to be an amazing concert. Flash forward to this week, when I finally got a chance to see SHINee live, after being a longtime fan for years.
The SM fab five have been around since 2008, an enduring group unofficially a part of the ‘second wave’ of K-pop. They’ve endured not just because they maintain their original five members, but their loyalty to fans as well. Taemin, Onew, Jonghyun, Key and Minho were in top form, their performances feeling fresh and emotional. The atmosphere of camaraderie was palpable. A girl next to me gave me her glowing SHINee light stick for half the show, and I waved it wildly as the crew unrolled their hits.
The show was a good mixture of classic SHINee and new bangers like “I Can Make You Feel Good”, “View” and Taemin’s “Press Your Number”. The boys made impressive outfit changes throughout the show. They started off with complementing Gucci menswear in crimson and gold, jackets dashed with patch appliques and ornate embroidery. Despite being dressed to the nines, the boys were no slouches when it came to dancing, keeping up with their rigorous choreography. It was thrilling to see them live, always on-beat.
Beautifully produced mini-films were placed throughout the show, highlighting SHINee’s creativity and sense of humor. Titled ‘VCR’, they imagined a world where the boys were a group in the nineties.. complete with crazy retro fashion. It matched perfectly with the sounds of their latest album, 1 of 1, which dropped in 2016. The hit release referenced 90s-era boyband and R&B styles, breathing new life into the sounds of that era.
The show was also broken up to include several breaks where SHINee chatted with the crowd. Key, the most fluent English speaker, was especially talkative. He noted that “It’s not our first time in Toronto, but our first full concert. We visited Niagara Falls for three hours!” Jonghyun added, “We just began our North American tour. How do you feel?” The audience screamed in appreciation. “We are having fun as well since we can see the crowd so close.” Taemin cut in, “When I think of Canada it’s very cold. But it’s not in here, it’s very hot in here!” Despite two hours of dancing and singing in suits under hot stage lights, the guys were delightful and funny. It’s great to see that even after all these years of tours, award shows, promotions and appearances, they are still so kind to their fans.
Wearing jewel-toned suits, turtlenecks and blinged-out earpieces, SHINee performed “1 of 1”, “Everybody” and “Dream Girl”. If anything can be taken away from their latest foray into Toronto, it is that SHINee are at the top of their game. Before the show I waited outside a back door for my ticket, shivering in the cold wind. Without any warning, SHINee slipped out the door bundled in winter jackets, flanked by a bodyguard. To passersby, they probably just looked like a group of buddies with exceptionally good hair, nothing more. But to anyone who follows K-pop it was awesome bumping into the legendary pop group. I turned my back, trying not to stare. I’d be seeing them later that night in full force, pulling off a music spectacle we’ve been waiting almost ten years for.
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