(Previously on Rainy Day HK: The Complete Report…)
Day 3, Part 2: Killing Me Softly With His Moves
The show kicked off with clips for auditions for JYPE talents. “Who will be the next?” it asked. I dunno… maybe me if I am Korean and I auditioned? hehehe. (sorry, alien bitch in the house…)
A voice over introduced the concert. Then, the familiar strains of a song we Full Housers all love… Oh my gah! (tm Karen and Nurikocam of soompi), the front act is BYUL! Ok, I know I probably sounded really stupid when I said that waay too loudly coz the whole world who have seen the pics from the presscon or have read/watched the news from HK re: Rain’s arrival and presscon probably know that already, but please forgive me. I’ve been in Hong Kong since Thursday, there is like a news blackout about Rain’s concert (or maybe I just wasn’t reading the papers coz I can’t read Chinese), our TV in the hostel only has 3 channels and none of the news programs ever mentioned anything about Rain except in weather reports, and we haven’t gone online for three days already, so I really didn’t have any idea. I know that JY Park (Rain’s manager and record producer) is guesting, though, coz I read a news item about that before I left for HK.
About Byul: first, she looks really cute. Second, her voice is nice, though performance-wise, she’s a bit shaky on some parts. I think she still needs a confidence boost for big concerts. Third, she spoke Cantonese and did pretty well with it. Fourth, her songs are really nice; being a Full Houser, I’m already a fan of “I Think I”, but her other song, 12/32 (December 32??) is also good.
Byul, aka. Star
She then introduced – in Cantonese – the next performer. None other than………. RAIN!!!
Screams erupted and reverberated in all corners of Hall 3. The intro now familiar with all of us who have seen the Rainy Day DVD started playing. Onstage, I can see dark shadows behind the vast curtain that hangs, bearing the words “It’s Rainy Day”. Then, the curtain fell and we saw several hooded guys. One can venture a guess which one of them is Rain, but most if not all of us know Rain is still gonna pop out of the stage somewhere (people might’ve mistaken his ‘decoy’ to be him, though. hehe) At this point, I got ready with my camera (IT’S ALLOWED! YAY!!!) and waited for the Big Leap. It didn’t happen. :( Apparently, they chose to use the Budokan repertoire instead of the Seoul/Pusan setlist (the one we saw at the DVD), so he started with Bad Guy instead of My Way. Rain just rose from below the stage instead of popped out of it. Same effect, though; it elicited a thousand and one screams from the ecstatic audience. I also didn’t mind one bit, as I will be seeing a slightly different concert from the one I’ve seen several times on the DVD.
Initial reactions: the hair looks good. Gah, he looks good, period. He’s got a couple of very noticeable zits (yup, he’s human!). There’s a hint of chin stubble (double YAY!!!). He’s oh-so-tanned, but also oh-so-buffed even if he looked thinner than he was last July. He’s wearing the black version of the green-top-and-shredded-jeans ensemble that he wore in the Budokan concerts. Sigh. Oh well, maybe on Day 2.
And… he sang well. He danced really well. Anyone who can dance a storm and still sing well – for the entire duration of a two-hour concert at that! – gets my respect. I know it’s a given already since I’ve probably seen thousands of clips of his performances, but MAN! It’s different seeing it happening right in front of you. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: the guy has amazing stage presence. He connects with his audience. He’s not just dancing for the sake of dancing or singing for the sake of singing. There may have been others who are technically better singers or dancers than he is but he has this X-factor in him that makes him stand out. And most of all, we can tell he’s having fun, and he wants his audience to have fun with him. Same thing can be said with his dancers. Technically they are really good (whoever said they suck should have his head examined), but what made them better is that they give a little extra by connecting with their audience and with the guy they are back-upping for. We’re only on the first song and I can already tell this is going to be one hell of a night.
He then segued to My Way, and everyone is still screaming. If this keeps up, there will be quite a number of voiceless females in Hong Kong by the time the night is over.
This was followed by Last Handshake, with his mic stand moves. Make that the ‘decent’ mic stand moves (the ‘molestation act’ is reserved for his version of Usher’s Nice and Slow). Rain did some sexy, sophisticated moves, gave a turn and accidentally bumped the mic stand. He then gave this “oops!” smile and instantly killed all of us in the audience. This is probably the only time anyone will tolerate mistakes in a performance. I certainly will not mind if he would do countless mistakes as long as I can see that wonderful smile again and again.
I really love this final part of Last Handshake, when he would kneel down with his back towards the audience and cradle the mic stand in his arms, as if he’s gently holding a woman in his arms (and then the entire female population of the Rain universe would be jealous of the mic stand). Then he would turn and give a wink or a cute smile or a sheepish look or whatever cutesy antics he has on his (torn) sleeves. It’s only the 3rd song, people, and I’m already cussing like hell coz this guy is killing me over and over and over.
Then he stood up and greeted us with “Yo! What’s up, Hong Kong?!” Screams. “Uh, I’m Rain.” Right, as if we didn’t know. “Thank you so much for waiting so long…” It was then that I fully realized, omigod, his spiels are in ENGLISH!!! Not Cantonese, not Korean, it’s f’n English! No clueless moments for us this time! His English is really cute, with a hint of an American twang he probably learned from JYP. I do not mind the incorrect grammar or the incorrect pronunciation, I don’t care if he just memorized all that from a script since what he said was basically what he said on the Seoul/Pusan concert (we knew coz the DVD has subs), all that matters is that RAIN IS SPEAKING IN ENGLISH. During one of our post-show discussions, everyone of us agreed that this is simply the best decision JYPE has ever come up with. There was no need for anyone to ask for translations coz everyone, no matter how fluent or un-fluent he is, could at least understand a little bit of English. Good job, whoever you are who came up with that idea.
Next up is the moment most Bi’ers are dreading for. It’s Again and Again with Orange Girl, who got that label from fans because she wore an orange top in the DVD. Well, she’s now Blue Girl as she wore a blue dress. Ms Hwa Young is really sexy now, huh! She got some baby fats in the DVD, but now she’s really slim and sexy. And we gotta admit, she’s an awesome dancer, and she looks good with Rain. Of course, as expected, The Dip elicited lots of ‘omigods’ from the audience.
We know what’s next: The Striptease. But since I hated that part, I didn’t really watch it. Yes, I’m serious.
Throughout the show, he went a number of times to our side of the stage. It should’ve been my perfect opportunity to snap some close-up pics but I just stood there gaping at him like an idiot with a camera. Oh my, he’s so effin’ close. Karen later on revealed – all too excitedly, if I may add – that she had some eye-contact with Rain during one of those times he was near us. Well, he should notice her. The three of us were obviously aliens in the middle of Clouds and since Karen is tall, she’d be really noticeable. Rizza, Marissa and I had the same experience last July, remember?
One of my favorite Rain outfits – the leather trenchcoat!!!
A bit of a sidetrack here: why oh why do the security people keep on telling us to sit down?!?! Hong Kong is really weird… they don’t have places to sit on in malls, waiting areas and lobbies, but in concerts, they ask us to sit down. Are they crazy?? I would understand it if we were watching Pavarotti or something, but this is a pop concert. Make that a concert of an artist who does dance music. And you ask us to sit down? Geez. Later on, I saw one fan – not sure of her nationality – talking to the security guy. It seems she told the guy to save his breath and stop asking us to sit down coz we’ll stand up when he leaves, anyway. The guy gave up after that.
Going back to the concert…. Here comes Dreaded Part No. 2 (unless you’re the Chosen One): Girlfriend of the Night. Before he sang Chajayo (Looking), Rain ‘revealed’ that lately, he’s been lonely coz he doesn’t have a girlfriend. He punctuated that by singing “I don’t have a girlfriend…” – dang, he’s so cute – to which everyone responded with a scream (or by saying, “I’ll be your girlfriend!”). To the unfamiliar ones: this is the part where Rain’s dancers will pick a girl from the audience who will act as Rain’s Girlfriend of the Night and the lucky gal will be serenaded with the song Quiz, will receive a humongous stuffed animal, a necklace, a bouquet of flowers and an ‘engagement ring’, and if she’s really lucky, a tight hug (as opposed to ‘a light hug’ or ‘a pat in the back and/or in the head’ which Rain usually gives). She will also receive numerous envious glares from the rest of the Bi’ers all over the world. Now for this particular show, this is what happened:
Rain: How old are you?
Rain: 15! You’re so young! What’s your name?
Girl: (mentions something that sounds Korean)
Rain: Oh! Hangeuk saram? (Are you Korean?) (pardon me if I Romanized the phrase wrong. I just based it from what I heard)
Rain: She’s Korean.
He then gave another “oops!” smile which showed that he was totally expecting they’d get someone who’s from Hong Kong (or probably any country except Korea). But in fairness to the girl, it wasn’t her fault. It was nobody’s fault. And she was actually from Hong Kong, except that she’s a Korean national. However, there was a collective groan from the audience when they learned that they picked a Korean to be Girlfriend of the Night. I actually screamed, “isoli yan! kuha ulit ng iba!” (bring her back to where she came from and get another one!). Karen did a ‘reject!’ chant and we had to stop her coz it was in English and the people around us – who are Koreans – can understand her. :)
It was only at this time that I looked at the wide screen in front of us and realized there are actually Cantonese subtitles being flashed to translate the songs. The timing was off, though.
Rain followed it up with a song that he said, we can all sing along with (and we did sing along with it) – I Do. I was waiting for the butt-wiggling part towards the end, but he didn’t do it. Ow.
He then introduced to us his teacher and friend, none other than JY Park. One thing I can say about JYP: he’s a good songwriter. He sang a few samples of his work and we were like, “hey, I know this song!” The guy can sure write really good songs.
Before he turned over the mic back to Rain, he mentioned that American actor Tyrese is in the audience. Whoa, where?!?! He’s on the other side of the T-zone. Why can’t it be him on our side and not those Hong Kong actors who were all ‘dedma’ (indifferent) during the entire show…?
I took advantage of this little Rain-break to send an SMS to Rica of RainPH to update her with what’s happening in the concert. I was surprised when she replied that there are already pics from the show floating around the internet and that one of the Singapore soompiers have already uploaded some audio samples recorded from a phone call she got from the SG girls who are in HK. Wow, and I thought I was fast.
A few snippets of past Rainy Day concerts were then shown, and then in comes Rain looking absolutely dashing in a white suit. He sang When You Know, followed by the awfully sexy Nan (I), while slowly removing clothing items one by one. This has got to be the most decent-looking strip act ever. That is, until he pulled his shirt apart and showed his marvelous torso, with fake rain pouring over his head. Collective gasp and screams from the audience. If you think about it, there was actually nothing indecent about this number. Sure, he ended up shirtless and wet, but some people actually commented that they found it vulgar when all he did was took off his shirt, got wet and sang his heart out. Well, we can’t blame him if he’s oozing with sex appeal. Not to mention that the song itself is goddamn sexy.
After the song, he suddenly became very aware of his bare upper body and covered his chest with his arms, flashing an embarassed smile. Then, he picked up his wet shirt and covered himself. Rain really is a walking contradiction. After making us all breathless with his oh-so-sexy number, he would act like a little kid and try to cover himself up. I swear, this guy never runs out of tactics to make us swoon over him.
The really funny part was when he was sheepishly trying to wear the shirt again; he couldn’t find the armhole, so he just gave up and introduced the JYP Dance Team for their sizzling spot number.
Pyros became the introduction for the next song, How To Avoid The Sun. This is one of the jaw-dropping parts in the show. There was supposed to be a moving ramp on the T-zone where he would do his smooth dance moves. But for the Hong Kong concert, there was no moving ramp. Instead, Rain suddenly was raised really high up in a platform where he did his Usher-ish moves. The effect was simply astonishing.
He dedicated the next song, Not Used To, to the person he loves the most: his mother. We already know this to be the most emotionally-charged part of the show. While singing, some words were being flashed on the screen, but I did not understand them as they were in Chinese. Later on, I read somewhere that one of the things it said was that all photos of his mother were destroyed in a fire.
It’s non-stop dancing after that. He started with Do You Like Me Now That I’m Famous?, where he marveled us at the excellent timing when he was supposed to be ‘shot dead’. It’s like BANG! and he fell down. Excellent! It segued to It’s Raining, where he was hoisted up in the air ala-Tarzan. Two words to describe it: PURE ENERGY.
Then comes the part I am most looking forward to: Instead of Saying Goodbye. In Rain’s concerts, his fans are always doing chants and cheers every now and then to liven up his songs. My favorite has always been the ‘gamyon, gamyon’ part in Instead of Saying Goodbye and I’ve always wanted to experience doing it live. Finally, my dream came true. When the chorus came, I joined everyone in singing “gamyeon gamyeon niga tteonandamyeon…” nevermind if I’m probably saying the words all wrong and I’m surrounded by Koreans. It was fun, really fun. Then suddenly, during the dance part, Rain stepped forward and did this really awesome dance that really made us all scream. The only word that could best describe it is the Tagalog word, “HATAW!”
He then thanked everyone for coming to his concert and bade us goodbye with his (so-called) last song, my absolute favorite Rain song, To You. I don’t know why, but this part always make me teary-eyed, and watching it live only made me realize why. Rain is really sincere whenever he performs. Whenever he goes forward, gives a bow as a sign of respect, waves his hand, gives us a smile, makes “I Love You” hand gestures, etc etc you just know he’s not just doing that for show. I am usually a cynic when watching concerts, even in concerts of my idols, but with Rain, I put my cynic mind on hold and just took everything in. I thought, all the success this man is reaping now, he truly deserved it. He is not just an amazing performer; he does it with all his heart and soul. And I am proud to be a fan.
We didn’t leave our seats yet even if he bowed out coz we know the crazy part is still to come. He did an ‘encore’ with the remix of I Do, with the mandatory water splashing with his dancers. This is the part where we bear witness to the playful side of Rain.
After that number – if you could call that a ‘number’ – some people already started trickling out of the hall but Rain still came back to do his ‘Love Actually’ skit. He held some cards bearing some Chinese phrases which, again, we non-Chinese people didn’t understand, but it basically said some I-Love-Yous and Thank-Yous and ‘please continue supporting me, I will do my best’ blah blah blah. By that time, the front rows were already vacated so I was able to go closer to the stage and experience how it is to see Rain really up close even for just a few seconds. He then gave a bow and a wave and the show is over.
Gosh, I was exhausted after that. I’ve been to several concerts, even joined moshpits in rock gigs, but this particular one siphoned the energy out of me. My throat was raw – I don’t usually scream in concerts, not even with Ricky Martin, but with this concert, I did it. Well, more like I cussed like hell whenever he’d do something cutesy or sexy. Karen was also exhausted from screaming non-stop the entire show, while Rizza got tinnitus from Karen’s non-stop screaming. We made our way outside the hall when suddenly the lights came down and everyone screamed again. What, is he coming back for more?? Nope. They just forgot to release the white balloons from the rafters which were supposed to fall during the I Do number, and they decided to release it now. Hmm, why can’t they just save it for tomorrow? Doesn’t matter. The three of us – Karen, Rizza and me – went to our designated meeting place at the lobby of HKCEC amidst the excited chatter of shell-shocked Bi’ers and found some of our newfound friends already waiting there. We also finally met the Soompi gals from Singapore – Mel (whimsical), Leng (IceRain), Shikinlee and Pat (amaya) who came all the way from London just to see Rain. Are all Bi’ers crazy or what?? We exchanged stories and opinions about the show and it was unanimous – we all enjoyed it. Well, why shouldn’t we, when it’s Rain, for chrissakes. :)
The Singapore and Philippine Soompiers
(Photo courtesy of Carol)
Walking along the connecting passageways on the way to the MTR Station, we saw some entrepreneurs already selling blown up pics from the concert. But since I checked my cam and found that I have decent concert pics of my own, I decided to pass up. :) We had late dinner with Helena and our SG friends before we finally called it a night. Not really, coz Carol, Karen, Rizza and I barely got some sleep because of all the adrenalin rush. But it was all worth it. And the best part for me is, I still have one more night to experience it all again. :)
**Photo credits: Paulette Espiritu/fatgrrl_slim/bandstalker.com, except where indicated. All rights reserved.
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