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[Herald Review] Le Sserafim overcomes fear with first concert 'Flame Rises'

Despite minor disappointments, the rookie band sets off bold on their first global concert tour

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Aug. 14, 2023 - 17:21

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Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour "Flame Rises" at the Jamsil Arena in Seoul on Saturday. (Source Music)

Le Sserafim's standalone concert was one of many firsts for the five members. A valiant first attempt, and the first time the charismatic and bold group got vulnerable on stage.

The two-day event, held over the weekend at the Jamsil Arena located in the Olympic Sports Complex in Seoul, marked the start of the group's first global concert tour "Flame Rises."

Some 10,500 tickets for the long-awaited concert were sold out in just eight minutes, according to the band's label Source Music.

Just as with the previous night, Sunday's gig unfolded in four parts, "Embers," "Ignite," "Flame" and "Rises," which intended to portray the group's growth story.

Opening the night was "The World Is My Oyster." The girls made a magnificent entrance over the pulsating, majestic beats as the LED screen glided open to show the five standing on a raised stage.

"Fearless," with which the girls threw their hat into the ring 13 months ago, came next, followed by a raucous 20-dancer mega crew rendition of "The Great Mermaid." The fresh sounds of "Blue Flame" and the ethereal ambiance of "Impurities" revealed the dynamics of the group's musical spectrum.

Launching into the second part "Ignite," the girls transformed into rock stars with "No Celestial," dressed in kitschy -- perhaps a tad too baggy -- outfits. Here, Yunjin, a self-proclaimed rock enthusiast, stole the spotlight with her exhilarating guitar play.

Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour "Flame Rises" at the Jamsil Arena in Seoul on Saturday. (Source Music)

Toning it down a notch, they took the microphones in their hands to sing some hidden gems, "Sour Grapes" and "Good Parts (when the quality is bad but I am)." Then came the surprise of the night for fans, an unreleased song, "We got so much," which was unveiled for the first time.

Just like the set's title, "Flame," the night kicked into high gear for the next part, as the girls took the audience through their biggest hits, "Antifragile," "Eve, Psyche & the Bluebeard’s wife" and "Unforgiven." The mega crew dancers reappeared with "The Hydra."

With Sunday's concert Le Sserafim proved that they are a powerful performance-centered five-piece, as they pulled off almost the whole 17-track setlist by themselves, save for the addition of dancers for "The Great Mermaid" and "The Hydra."

But whether it proved Le Sserafim as a "must-see live group," as Yunjin aspired to hear after their first tour, remains to be seen. Perhaps due to their rigorous dancing, the girls' vocal performances weren't as stellar as anticipated, with their voices sounding unstable by the end of the show.

The lack of coherent story line, and the creative stage art to portray them, were also glaring. The four-part structure growing from embers to flame, and beyond, was not clear cut, and -- although some fans may not agree -- the dialogue that came every two to three songs seemed to disturb the immersive experience.

Such disappointments yield from high anticipations weighing on the quintet, which has shown its presence as the next-generation K-pop queens in just a year. The first girl group of multilabel company Hybe -- under which sensational boy band BTS is also housed -- Le Sserafim made a record-setting debut in May 2022 with "Fearless," which racked up the highest first-week sales by a Korean girl group debut album in history.

Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour "Flame Rises" at the Jamsil Arena in Seoul on Saturday. (Source Music)

With its sophomore EP "Antifragile," it entered the prestigious Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 14, and went onto renew the score to No. 6 with its first LP "Unforgiven" dropped in May. With "Unforgiven," the girls won its first million-seller title on the album's first day, a feat achieved for the second time by a K-pop girl group after Blackpink.

"It's been a year since we debuted. I've achieved many dreams thanks to the members and Fearnot. Although there are times when I feel insufficient and worried, I believe I can overcome anything if I have Le Sserafim and Fearnot," Japanese member Kazuha said, speaking in much improved Korean, and referring to the band's fandom, Fearnot.

The band's youngest Eunchae said, "There was so much we wanted to deliver at our first concert. More than anything, we wanted to send the message that we can rise higher and further as long as we're with Fearnot."

"It was the best. Thank you for cheering for us at the top of your voices. Please don't forget that you guys are what inspire us. I hope we've gifted you an unforgettable memory tonight," Sakura, Japanese, said.

The band's leader Chaewon took a short moment to address her teammates. Steadying her shaky voice, she said, "Thank you for standing by me even though I'm not always a perfect leader. I know it's been a physically and mentally stressful time, and I'm grateful that you guys have endured it."

Perhaps Le Sserafim's declaration of being "fearless" and "anti-fragile" had been their endeavor to overcome their weaknesses. With the first two concerts off "Flame Rises," the five members embraced their vulnerabilities and expressed their gratitude for fans.

Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour Le Sserafim holds its first global concert tour "Flame Rises" at the Jamsil Arena in Seoul on Saturday. (Source Music)

After singing "Between you, me and the lamppost" -- a song all members took part making -- as the night's first encore song, the song's main producer Yunjin said, "I was reminded a lot of when I first wrote this song. It began from the topic of 'fear.'"

She continued, "I'm a coward. But I've come to realize through Le Sserafim that fear, which is a thoughtful energy about something we cannot see, may hold a special value of itself, despite making us unstable sometimes. ... We cannot rid of all the fears in life but could work to encourage and help each other to overcome them. I will continue to embolden you, so please stay by me."

Leaving some space from improvement for the ambitious team, the second day of Le Sserafim's "Flame Rises" in Seoul rounded out with "No-Return" and "Fire in the belly."

The five-piece is now set to bring the series to Nagoya, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok.