K-pop fans proved that weather stood no match between them and their artists as Boice (or CNBLUE fans) from all over the east coast and beyond waited outside the Best Buy Theatre in the snowstorm that hit New York City on January 21st, 2014. CNBLUE is a four member Korean pop band consisting of Yonghwa (lead vocals, guitar), Jonghyun (lead guitar, vocals), Jungshin (bass guitar, vocals), and Minhyuk (drums, vocals). Before the show opened, fans were treated to a video about the CNBLUE School project. In 2012 CNBLUE established their first school in Burkina Faso, Africa. The school can accommodate 100 preschoolers and 1,000 elementary and junior high students and serves meals in addition to providing education and day care services. The project is funded though part of CNBLUE’s income from albums and the Blue Moon World Tour and from fan donations. The pre-concert video informed fans of their project and asked for continual support so more CNBLUE Schools can be built.
The concert opened with a cool, galactic intro video, sending fans through a whirlwind of stars in clusters representing each member’s face and their musical instruments– a great embodiment of the “Blue Moon” title! After the video CNBLUE took to their instruments and opened with the English version of their fifth Japanese single, ‘Where You Are’. Without skipping a beat CNBLUE followed with The Korean version of another one of their Japanese songs ‘Get Away’ from their Japanese album Code Name Blue. CNBLUE is an incredibly linguistically diverse group with Korean, Japanese, and English versions of many of their songs! Next, the group opted for a bit of a heavier, more rock ‘n roll sound with ‘One Time’ off their first full album First Step. Yonghwa quickly got fans participating in the song by prompting with the lyrics, “I know!” and having fans sing “You know!” back at him. The energy remained high as fans shouted and cheered during the guitar solo!
Following this set of songs was CNBLUE’s personal introductions to the fan. CNBLUE opted to not use a translator and each member did their best to communicate in English with the crowd, ultimately with Yonghwa doing most of the conversing. “Finally CNBLUE is in New York City!” Yonghwa proclaimed. The Blue Moon World Tour marks CNBLUE’s first time on East Coast and the boys were just as excited to be in NYC as Boice were to see them. Yonghwa even acknowledged the bad weather and thanked fans for braving the snowstorm and allowing them to perform in what he called “the center of the world.” He then turned to bassist Jungshin and poked fun at him saying that it was his dream to perform in New York City telling him that this was not a dream, that they were really in New York City and in the middle of a concert which excited fans probably more than it excited Jungshin!
CNBLUE had fans singing and clapping with their next set of songs starting with ‘Man Like Me (나란 남자)’ from their last Korean mini-album Re:Blue released early 2013. Things took a bit of a jazzy turn with ‘Coffee Shop’ (also from Re:Blue) as fans jumped and shimmied along with Yonghwa. Boice could be seen dancing on the floor and up in the stands! CNBLUE kept the energy high with ‘Have a Good Night’ another English track from Code Name Blue and followed seamlessly, albeit ironically, with ‘Wake Up’ from the same album. Fans got to enjoy not only the boys’ performance along with a brightly colored backdrop video of the songs’ English lyrics. Fans had another singing moment with Yonghwa as he challenged the audience to match his pitch as he sang the notes of “Wake up, wake up” higher and higher. Then he let the fans take over his “Wake up’s” and continued on with the next lyrics, back and forth, before ending in one of his incredibly impressive high notes! Yonghwa expressed his excitement at the fans’ participation in ‘Wake Up’ and then treated the audience by singing the chorus of ‘Empire State of Mind’ to which fans eagerly joined in on.
The next part of the concert slowed down tremendously with ‘Love Light (사랑 빛)’ from their second Korean mini-album Bluelove. Fans swayed back and forth to the beat and the crowd shone brightly with blue light sticks. The stage darkened at the end of ‘Love Light (사랑 빛)’ and after a short pause a spotlight fell onto Yonghwa who had moved from his position center stage to keyboard on the right. A soft, sweet melody played from the keyboard as he began to sing the opening lines to ‘Feeling’, the B-Side track from their ‘Where You Are’ Japanese single. The lights grew brighter, illuminating the rest of the band who kicked the beat up for the rest of the song. Yonghwa remained at the piano for Korean version of ‘These Days’, Jonghyun’s self-composed solo song from Code Name Blue. Yonghwa returned back to the guitar for the final song of their slower set was ‘Y, Why’ from Bluetory, CNBLUE’s first Korean mini album.
CNBLUE was ready to kick the tempo back up into high gear as Yonghwa told the audience that it was time for some “DSM” (dark, sexy metal)! ‘Just Please’ one of CNBLUE’s harder sounding rock ‘n roll songs from First Step, started and Yonghwa showed off his amazing vocal prowess holding an array of long and high notes – proving that CNBLUE’s recorded works are nothing compared to the amazingness of their live performances. Without notice ‘Just Please’ turned into ‘Tattoo’ (off of Bluelove) and the set wrapped up with ‘In My Head’ from their third Korean mini album Ear Fun. Boice were ecstatic when the chords for ‘In My Head’ began and started dancing in the pit and in the stands!
As the concert drew to a close, Yonghwa told fans that this was not the end and instantly broke into Linkin Park feat. Jay-Z ‘Numb/Encore’, singing and rapping two parts of the song. He then reassured North American Boice that CNBLUE would be back as long as fans continued to support them, to which the fans quickly and enthusiastically agreed they would. It was a high energy closer with three of CNBLUE’s most famous title tracks: ‘Intuition (직감)’, the title track of First Step, ‘I’m a Loner (외톨이야)’, the title track of Bluetory, and ‘I’m Sorry’ their latest Korean title song off of Re:Blue. Each song featured some of Yonghwa and Jungshin’s adorable improvised dancing and had lyrical hand offs between the band and the fans. ‘I’m Sorry’ had the cleverest opening of all as Yonghwa looked to the fans and said, “This is the last song, I’m Sorry!” The song ended with Jonghyun, Jungshin, and Yonghwa jumping around the stage Minhyuk’s drum beats as they played an extended instrumental, punctuated by an explosion from a confetti canon!
Fans weren’t kept waiting long for an encore. Starting with another star filled, semi-galactic video ending with the words “CNBLUE is back!” the band took to the stage again with their smash hit, and the title track of Ear Fun, ‘Hey You’! After ‘Hey You’ Yonghwa took a few moments to get fans pumped up for the next song, ‘Love Girl’, chanting “Say L.O.V.E” back and forth with Boice; CNBLUE seemed incredibly thrilled by how well Boice not only sang along with the song but tossed in the fan chants as well! ‘Love Girl’ was followed by ‘You’ve Fallen for Me (넌 내게 반했어)’ the OST track of the drama Heartstrings. Yonghwa took a break from the music and challenged fans to imitate his beat boxing! Boice tried their hardest at first but eventually gave up and just awed at Yonghwa’s own beat boxing skills. The final two songs were ‘Love’ from Bluelove and ‘Try Again, Smile Again’ from their second Japanese album 392. As CNBLUE took their final bows, the album version of ‘I’m Sorry’ sounded over the speakers, with the very prominent lines “It’s over, I’m sorry” sending the boys off as the concert came to an end.
CNBLUE put on the epitome of a rock ‘n roll show! The energy was high and CNBLUE really gave it their all not only in their musical performances but in their interactions with Boice as well. CNBLUE’s excitement to perform in New York City was equally matched by the fans’ excitement to see them, despite the frigid temperatures and bad weather, and CNBLUE will undoubtedly be welcomed back anytime!