The thudding of the bass speakers was turning my inside to soup as the shrieks of the fangirls were searing laser-like into my brain. And the concert hadn’t even started yet. I had brought a stiffening drink into the arena with me, but there was no chance to down it. As soon as the band emerged from their suspended animation pods, everyone was on their feet waving their yellow BIGBANG crownsticks. The elbow and hips of the fangirl beside me were gyrating in my face and the only way to get a view of the stage was to stand as well. Everyone’s shoes were sticking to the floor, tacky with years of spilled beer and soft drinks, but no-one seemed to mind.
It was the second of two consecutive nights, but still the female dancers didn’t seem to know what they were doing in the enjoyable mayhem that was possibly the highlight of the early part of the set: Fantastic Baby. Fortunately the jets of CO2 smoke squirting across the stage distracted attention from any choreographic glitches. In one number two of the singers trundled on stage on gold spangly Segways, expertly steering the unweildy machines while singing their vocals. In another number a platform wobbled precariously as it rose into the air, threatening to tip the singer onto the stage below, but he kept his footing and kept going like a true pro.
In fact, the band was hard-working and professional throughout. One of them even did a passable imitation of a Cockney accent as he bantered with the audience rehearsing us in the Fantastic Baby windscreen-wiper dance. And they worked the audience in the time-honoured way of Korean performers, getting one half of the house to compete with the other. The only number where there was a slight sense of unease was when, so soon after the school shootings in Connecticut, the singer waved a laser-sighted rifle at the audience.
The audience seemed to love it all, not put off by the 45 minute queue to get in preceded by half an hour queue at the merchandise stall. If there was any doubt that there is a market for K-pop in the UK the two BIGBANG gigs should have dispelled it, with each night grossing in the region of $10 million in ticket sales, and thousands of glowsticks, T-shirts and other official memorabiliia sold. There’s money in it, but for how long, who knows? Whatever, there will be some sore throats tomorrow: how those fangirls can produce so much sustained noise is a miracle.
BIGBANG’s Galaxy Tour 2012 came to London’s Wembley Arena 14-15 December 2012