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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Blackpink ends first seven years with fire concert, As If It’s Their Last

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Blackpink held a two-day finale concert for its "Born Pink" world tour on Saturday and Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome indoor arena located in Guro District, western Seoul [YG ENTERTAINMENT]
Blackpink held a two-day finale concert for its “Born Pink” world tour on Saturday and Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome indoor arena located in Guro District, western Seoul [YG ENTERTAINMENT]

Blackpink’s concert on Sunday was a statement in itself: a celebration of the girl group’s seven-year journey and the end to the yearlong “Born Pink” world tour, proving to fans and critics what K-pop really is.

The concert kicked off quite literally with a bang shortly after 6 p.m., with Blackpink appearing on the stage with lasers, fireworks, and cheers from some 17,500 Blinks.

“It’s a very special day today […] We are finally holding our second concert [of ‘Born Pink’] in Seoul, almost a year after we started the tour back in Seoul; I’m so happy and pleased,” Rosé said after the group opening the show with “Pink Venom” (2022), the group’s hit track from its second full-length album “Born Pink.

The two-day encore concert held on Saturday and Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro District, western Seoul, marks the end of the girl group’s historic world tour that lasted just under a year, with the group visiting 34 cities around the world and holding 66 performances.

The last concert was indeed special.

The final show

The key components of what makes a Blackpink concert a Blackpink concert stayed the same, including the group’s most popular song performances and the live band.


The “Born Pink” tour wasn’t always smooth sailing: Jisoo was unable to attend the group’s Osaka performance in June after contracting Covid-19, while Jennie left early during a performance in Melbourne that same month due to health concerns. The concert also occasionally received negative reviews from critics.

But for the finale concert, all four members were back and energetic, proving their live vocal skills and professionalism, and showing off their true elegance as a veteran girl group as they controlled the crowd with no effort and, most importantly, enjoyed the putting on a show.

The stage props and songs were also spiced up for the finale.

The stage was decorated with giwa (traditional Korean roof tiles), as first seen in the group’s Coachella performance back in April, which was reconstructed from the ground up for the Seoul finale. The concert’s setlist also saw a change, with never-before-seen arrangements and remixes.


Blackpink performed a total of 22 songs during the encore concert, ranging from “Whistle” and “Boombayah” from its debut album “Square One” (2016) to its hit tracks “As If It’s Your Last” (2017), “Ddu-du Ddu-du” (2018) and “How You Like That” (2020).

Each of the four members of the band — Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa — also had their own time to shine by themselves, from Jennie’s “Solo” (2018), which was the first solo release from the group, to the most recent “Flower” by Jisoo.

As the two-hour show neared its end, the members each shared their thoughts on the tour.

“It really feels like yesterday when Jennie cried during our first concert [in 2018], so to stand during this last moment of our second world tour, years after that day, really feels bizarre,” Rosé said. “While this is the end [of the tour], it feels like it will last for an eternity.”

“To Blinks, it’s been 2,596 days since we first met you guys,” Lisa said as she read through the memo she wrote on her phone. “I wrote it on my phone so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to say.”

“Thank you for supporting us no matter what the weather is like outside […] thank you for staying with me through my 20s,” she added.

“It has been an eventful year for us as we spent a lot of time on the plane,” Jennie said. “It’s also been seven years since our debut […] and I’m glad to have a finale in Seoul.”

High expectations, high return
 

Fans’ expectations for the finale show were huge even before it started.

On Sunday, the indoor baseball stadium and its surrounding environs were filled with Blinks — the name for Blackpink fans — equally full of anticipation. Nearly everyone was dressed up in vibrant, black-and-pink outfits, and some were taking photos and videos while others were holding up their official, aptly colored Blackpink light sticks.

One unexpected scene at the venue was the long line of fans queuing to take a photo with a massive banner of Jisoo, held by two men.

“I’m just here to support Blackpink — and especially Jisoo,” said Wang Zha Qiang, one of two men holding the banner, who said he traveled from China to see Blackpink. Wang added the event was planned “out of goodwill” so that fans could take a commemorative photo on site.

“After seeing them in Macao and in Thailand, this is our third time going to a Blackpink concert, but we are still very much excited about the concert,” Wang said.

For many other overseas fans of Blackpink, the finale concert managed to fully meet and exceed their expectations. Nineteen-year-old Jinnie traveled from China to see Blackpink for the first time, and Pluem, 26, came all the way from Malaysia though she had seen Blackpink “many times” before.

Korean Blinks were no different. “Listening to Blackpink’s songs as I finish my day at work is what gives me strength,” Je Hye-yeon, a 29-year-old Korean Blink, said.

“It’s my first time seeing Blackpink — in fact, it’s my first time going to any concert, and I was practically overwhelmed by the endless passion and energy from the four members,” she said. “I saw elderly fans of Blackpink sitting in front of me, smiling throughout the concert, and that’s when I truly realized how Blackpink can make people happy just by being Blackpink.”

The “Born Pink” tour has already brought Blackpink many “first” and “most” titles. It saw more than 1.8 million concertgoers worldwide, making it the largest tour by a K-pop girl group. Blackpink also became the first K-pop girl group to host a solo concert in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the first girl group to hold a concert at the Gocheok Sky Dome, Korea’s largest indoor arena.

Seven years and counting

But for this record-setting girl group that celebrates its seventh anniversary this year, one big question remains as the members have stayed mum about renewing their future contracts with their agency.

The length of these exclusive contracts between artists and agencies in Korea typically lasts just under seven years, as the Korea Fair Trade Commission in 2009 recommended such contracts at seven years.

The “Born Pink” finale concert could potentially be the group’s final official activity as a group of four, unless all four members decide to renew their exclusive contract with YG Entertainment.

Many fans who attended the concert were aware of the issue, but hoped the members would address the rumors and give a clear statement.

“While I’m a bit worried, I think all members will stay together,” said Park Ha-young, a 20-year-old Chinese fan living in Korea.

“I respect the four members’ decisions, whatever that might be,” said Nurul, who flew from Malaysia to see Sunday’s concert.

“There have been a lot of baseless rumors circulating online about Blackpink’s future contracts, and I just hope the members make official announcements to deal with it,” Wang said.

As no announcements were made during the concert, all possibilities are still open.

“We will continue to be great as Blackpink,” Jennie said as the curtain lowered on the group’s first seven years.

Blackpink held a two-day finale concert for its "Born Pink" world tour on Saturday and Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome indoor arena located in Guro District, western Seoul [YG ENTERTAINMENT]
Blackpink held a two-day finale concert for its “Born Pink” world tour on Saturday and Sunday at the Gocheok Sky Dome indoor arena located in Guro District, western Seoul [YG ENTERTAINMENT]

BY CHO YONG-JUN [cho.yongjun1@joongang.co.kr]