Sukmawati Umar Litak
The New Paper
Monday, Jan 11, 2016
When top K-pop boy band EXO had their first full-length concert here in August 2014, former Chinese member Kris had already left the group due to contractual issues with their company, SM Entertainment.
There were more shocking changes to the group's lineup from that time to their two-day gig here over the weekend.
The show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium was part of their EXO PLANET #2 - The EXO'luXion tour.
Chinese members Luhan and Tao also made their exits and ventured out as solo artists in October 2014 and August 2015 respectively. Both cited health reasons and unfair treatment by SM Entertainment.
Despite the absence of these three popular idols, the remaining eight Koreans members - Xiumin, 25, Suho, 24, Baekhyun, 23, Chanyeol, 23, Chen, 23, D.O, 22, Kai, 21, Sehun, 21 - and sole Chinese member Lay, 24, proved they could still keep their popularity going strong.
EXO's two-hour set on Saturday was full of surprises.
Lay's onstage appearance was enough to send the 6,000 fans into screaming fits. They had assumed he would not be there because of his promotional activities in China.
Polytechnic student Tan Li Yan, 20, said she could not control her emotions and nearly jumped out of her seat when Lay appeared.
She told The New Paper: "I was initially upset because everyone was saying that Lay wouldn't turn up. He's one of my favourite members and the only Chinese member left. It means a lot to the fans that he's still staying strong with the group."
During the short breaks between crowd favourites that included Overdose, Call Me Baby, Love Me Right and Growl, the boy banders talked about how they were dripping wet with perspiration because of the warm and humid climate here.
Baekhyun teased the audience: "We're sweating so much. Is it because of the hot weather in Singapore or is it because of EXO-L's (the name given to the fans) love and passion?"
The venue was transformed into a deafening and exhilarating club when Chanyeol walked to the centre of the stage to hype up the crowd by playing the part of DJ during songs Drop That and Let Out The Beast.
But the biggest surprise came towards the end of the concert.
For the band's usual encore song Promise, the fans had prepared banners with the Korean lyrics for "I want to protect your smile".
But, to their fans' confusion and uncertainty, EXO performed their latest songs Sing For You and Unfair instead. They are from their special winter EP album, Sing For You, which was released last month.
The fans eventually raised their banners during the title track Sing For You, a touching number about EXO's gratitude towards their diehard supporters.
The band also got their fans to sing the Happy Birthday song for D.O and Kai, whose birthdays are on Jan 12 and Jan 14 respectively.
Junior college student Bryan Quek, 17, and polytechnic student Berlinda Loh, 17, screamed themselves hoarse when D.O and Kai hugged and smiled for the cameras after expressing their gratitude.
To cap off the night, leader Suho announced that they will be releasing an album this year, coupled with "lots of activities" to promote it.
When asked if the changes in EXO's line-up made any difference, Bryan said: "It did as I've grown attached to each member over the years. I think EXO is getting bigger due to their dedication and effort. If they're not successful, they wouldn't have a two-day concert here, right?"
Berlinda said: "EXO has been working very hard. They're still perfect no matter what."
For secondary school classmates Celine Tan, 16, and Karilynn Low, 17, the gig was a treat before the release of their O-level results today.
Karilynn, who has been a fan since EXO's pre-debut days, said: "It's our first concert and I think it's perfect. Whether there are 12 or nine members, there's no difference because I still see all of them as one."
Get The New Paper for more stories.