Worldwide phenomenon EXO are no strangers to hall stadiums in Kuala Lumpur. The K-pop boy group has consistently been visiting Malaysian fans for their tour dates, and this time was no different. The long-awaited “EXO PLANET – EXplOration in Kuala Lumpur” would mark the boys’ 5th official concert in Malaysia. Held at Axiata Arena on the 14th of December 2019, the event was organised by Star Planet.
Entering Axiata had a different air to it. It was partially due to the awful weather, which had fans scurrying for cover from the pelts of rain in the form of a flimsy poncho or an empty tent. It was also thick with excitement; cheers and chants louder than anything we’ve heard before. As the ferocious chants of “E, X, O, ” rang through the stadium, it was clear that this was the impact of South Korea’s most prized boy group. What were previously white light-sticks clad by fans were now changing colours, synching with the bombastic VCR playing on the many screens in the arena. As flashy red cars revved up on the big screen, the entire stadium turned into a similar crimson shade.
This show however, was a tad different from their past events as the stage seemed a little emptier than before. Only 6 familiar and extremely good-looking faces were present on the stage; Suho, Chen, Baekhyun, Kai, Chanyeol, and Sehun’s. As vocalists Xiumin and D.O. were currently completing their mandatory military service and Lay continues his promotions in China—it would be a lie to say that the difference was not felt. With that being said, the rest of the EXO members put on a show like never before.
Keeping in the theme of futuristic racers (which was the concept of their album), EXO began the night with the appropriate “Tempo”. The song never rests up once—which made it the perfect opener for a night full of wonders. “Tempo” also shows EXO at their best; harmonious vocals, gorgeous layering, snappy and snazzy dance moves, all while dripping with sex appeal. We were then launched into the gritty “Transformer” and “Gravity” before the members dispersed themselves into the darkness; a sign that the solo stages were about to begin.
— raichu. (@drkyungsoo) December 14, 2019
Vocalist Baekhyun takes the baton first, whisking all of us into a seductive trance with his track, “UN Village”. All of the member’s typical boyish charms were replaced by this charming man who was ready to sweep you off your feet. The entire stadium was tinged a baby pink, which further set the mood for the sensual song. We found ourselves musing that perhaps the view through rose coloured glasses isn’t too bad sometimes.
Maintaining the energy, the rest of EXO were reunited on the stage to perform the somewhat suggestive “24/7” and “Ooh La La La”—but nothing could compare to the sounds that erupted from fans the moment the familiar intro of “Loveshot” began playing.
The members finally took a moment to introduce themselves and say a few words to the crowd. The group’s maknae, Sehun, was quick to notice that the fans had stuck to a dress code, wearing shades of brown and beige, as a tribute to their song, “Universe”. Leader Suho sheepishly smiled when he realised he forgot to introduce himself, but smoothly spoke in English as he noted that the passion was hotter than he expected. “Today, we’re going on a trip,” he said with a smile. “Are you ready?” With that, the lights went off and we held our breath; wondering what would come next.
The answer came in the form of the creeping creature of a track, “Monster”. The 2016 crowd favourite got everyone cheering along as loud as possible, singing almost all the words to the song. However after all of that grittiness, EXO switched things up by performing the invigorating “Oasis”. After that refreshing swig, we were treated to more solo performances. Suho took the stage first, giving us his rendition of “Been Through” while Chen came out shortly after with a heavenly delivery of “Lights Out”. Rappers Chanyeol and Sehun got the whole stadium vibing with their fun jams; “What A Life” and “Closer To You”. It seemed to wind down to the slower songs of the night, with “Falling For You” and “Wait” playing once all the members had reunited on the stage.
After another quick word from the boys who noted that EXO-Ls were their energy, it picked up again once the zestful and bright “Power” came on. The track had everyone jumping from their seats, truly feeling the adrenaline of the moment. Then it was finally time for the last solo stage of the night; Kai’s “Confession”. The greasy hip hop track laced with heavy bass was not what one expected from a graceful dancer like him but at the same time, we could not complain. With a complete 360 from his usual persona, Kai proved to be a seasoned performer with duality who seems to have tricks up his sleeves (or lack of, in the case of this stage).
Fans were truly in for a surprise when the boys threw together performances of their older tracks; the stylish “Growl”, the theatrical “Overdose”, and the iconic “Call Me Baby”. Seeing the members perform the numbers again, we couldn’t help but think about how far they have come since, in terms of sounds and even choreography, but their essence still remains. EXO wrapped the night up by performing two songs off their winter releases, “Unfair” and “On The Snow”. Chen was delighted to wish fans a Merry Christmas as well, smiling through it as he waved energetically.
After constant screams from fans, EXO treated the crowd to an impromptu performance of their latest single, “Obsession”, from their newest album. Despite not having an actual stage prepared for the track, it was clear that fans were extremely excited to see it being performed. The boys, in the end, agreed to give the crowd a little taste, which resulted in them performing as an acapella group—while donning on ridiculous hats, wigs, and scarves that were pelted by fans on stage. It was amusing to say the least, to witness such a sight in general, let alone while performing a track as abrasive as “Obsession”. Regardless, it was obvious from their notion that the boys do truly appreciate and value their fans and would really go above and beyond for them.
All members of EXO came forward to bid their final goodbyes for the night. Kai cheerily mentioned wanting to have a 3-day concert here, which we will hold his word to! Baekhyun mentioned how he would never forget today, especially with how long it’s been since their last visit. Sehun added on to that, mentioning how he really wants to come back to Malaysia badly. He also reminded fans to not be sad as they would meet again in the future. Suho wore the biggest smile of the night when he promised the crowd that they will return again with new albums soon if they were willing to wait.
With that, it was time for the final song of the night. As the bittersweet “Smile On My Face” played, members took their time saying goodbye to fans by running to all corners of the stage to interact with everyone. Several lucky fans managed to catch a glimpse of the members up close—some even had their phones picked up by Chanyeol and Sehun to take selfies with! All 6 members then gathered at the front of the stage where they officially gave a bow of thanks and waved goodbye for the last time.
Overall, it would be safe to say that EXO’s EXplOration tour was an impressive one. The group was at a loss performing without two main vocalists to begin with, and yet they made it work by redistributing lines and performing flawlessly.
With solo stages that each showcased every member in their own light, seductive numbers, and cult classics; it seems like EXO is every bit as captivating as they were when they first debuted. With the tenacity they are performing at, it will be very hard to forget a group with this much of raw talent, star power, and dedication to their fans.