The name ‘WINNER’ is a bless, but at the same time it’s also a burden. The name suggests victory and glory, and people will put such high expectation on the name bearer. So how do these five young men named Kang Seungyoon, Kim Jinwoo, Lee Seunghoon, Song Mino and Nam Taehyun bear this burden? In an interview with ARENA HOMME in 2014, the magnae Taehyun said that the name indicates a big responsibility. Whatever the name means for them, we know for sure that they’ve been working hard not to disappoint their fans (called Inner Circles), as shown by their ongoing second tour in Japan.
Japan Tour 2015 is WINNER’s second tour in Japan with more dates and cities added to the list. If in the previous tour they only played in ZEPP venues, this time they moved to bigger places. And even though they haven’t released any new single or new album a year after their debut, this second tour proves that their popularity in Japan is rising. Having seen their performance in YG Family Concert in Singapore before, we became more curious to know how WINNER have improved in terms of stage act and live performance in a span of a year. We got a chance to attend their concert in Kanagawa, Yokohama, on September 27th. It was a day after Jinwoo’s birthday so we had expected that both YGEX staffs and fans would prepare something special to celebrate it.
We departed from Tokyo at one o’clock, and an hour later, we arrived in Motomachi-Chukagai station. Stepping out of the station, we noticed that Yokohama’s sky that day was full of dark clouds. But that didn’t lessen our enthusiasm to catch WINNER live. Kanagawa Kenmin Hall is only a five-minute walk from the station, and by the time we got there, some fans had been queueing. Some others were still sitting comfortably, enjoying the sea breeze as the venue is right facing the sea. We decided to join the line since we wanted to check the goods.
At ten past two, the door to the lobby was opened. The first thing that we saw when entering the lobby was the gift boxes. We immediately put all of the letters and gifts from Indonesian Inner Circles that we brought into the boxes with a big hope that WINNER would be aware that their fans in Indonesia are waiting for them. Then we spotted that fans had gathered in front of the official merchandise booth. Some goods sold were t-shirt, hoodie, lightstick, Krunk dolls in WINNER t-shirt and badges. Only in ten minutes, the lobby had become really packed, so we decided to find our seat. Our seat was on the third floor, but we’re lucky we got the front seats with a good view to the stage. We took the blue lightstick out, ready for the concert!
Five minutes past the scheduled time, the lights were turned off, replaced by the nebula blue ocean coming from the lightsticks. The opening VCR was played, and every time each WINNER member was introduced, the lightstick colour changed to the colour that represented the member (for example, white for Jinwoo). The colour change actually was controlled by the staffs, and it only applies for the Japan version lightstick, the one with the blue stick.
We on the third floor screamed because from above, we could see the WINNER members preparing to emerge from below the stage. When they finally appeared, the intro of Just Another Boy blasted and made the whole hall shriek even louder! For the opening, all WINNER members wore military-inspired black outfits with golden and silver details. We actually prefer to see WINNER in simple, classy outfits but this one was not bad. In fact, it added more charisma to their stage presence.
Just Another Boy was followed by Smile Again, an old track from WIN that has been re-arranged for their debut album, 2014 S/S. For its positive lyrics, the song has been a favourite among fans. The next song was their biggest single up to now, Empty. The atmosphere turned melancholy as the five members displayed their skill in putting the right emotion into the song. The sorrow continued when they performed the next song Color Ring. The piano intro played as blue lights appeared on the big screen. WINNER members were sitting on the stairs when performing this song. The leader Seungyoon showed his high note in this song.
After But, Taehyun and Seungyoon went backstage while Mino, Seunghoon and Jinwoo stayed to interact with the audience. They asked each other about the things that they liked about Japan. Jinwoo said that he loves sushi. Then the three acted as if they’re in a sushi restaurant. Seunghoon and Mino kept teasing Jinwoo during this MC part (because, we know, Jinwoo is extra cute when he’s being teased). For example, they told Jinwoo to act out a scene of eating wasabi sushi. Mino also showed his fantastic rap skill during this session. Jinwoo tried to rap too but he failed. Fans giggled looking at this fake magnae’s innocently cute act.
The next part of the concert was solo/duo session, started by Taehyun’s Confession. In white shirt and black tie, he just stood there singing but somehow he was truly hypnotizing. The whole hall was silent, attentively listening to each note that Taehyun sang. We even closed our eyes during this song so that we could focus on Taehyun’s soft voice. Next was Rocker Kang’s turn with Wild and Young. We had always wanted to listen to this song live, and Seungyoon’s performance did meet our expectation! He shook the stage with his powerful voice. The rock performance continued as Taehyun appeared to accompany Seungyoon to perform a cover of Glamorous Sky by Mika Nakashima. Both in leather jackets, the 94-liner duo showed their musical chemistry. Seungyoon easily slayed the song, but we’re suprised that Taehyun could sing a rock song too! He also seemed to enjoy the performance when he was lying down on stage while singing the song.
Mino drastically changed the atmosphere of the concert with his hip-hop solo song I’m Him. Not only showing his amazing rap skill, he also demonstrated his smooth dance movement. There’s a move in I’m Him choreo that resembles a puppy but Mino acted silly by moving like a duck instead. With Seunghoon, Mino then performed Good Boy, originaly sang by their seniors Taeyang and G-Dragon. The hall quickly changed into a club as the rapper duo moved and swayed sleekly.
Jinwoo’s fans must have been impatiently waiting for Up in which Jinwoo dressed up as Park Bom. We know Jinwoo’s beauty when crossdressing is spellbinding (remember their parody of The Heirs?), but we’re still completely in awe when he appeared in a smooth, long wig and a minidress. After the song, Mino and Seunghoon tried to tease Jinwoo. Mino tried to lift up Jinwoo’s skirt and he even landed a kiss on Jinwoo’s cheek! Here, they inserted a skit that expressed Jinwoo’s inner voice. With a sad expression, Jinwoo told the audience it was tough to dress up like this (during this, Seunghoon and Mino froze at the back). The screen then showed photos of him choosing stockings at a store. Instead of feeling sad for Jinwoo, we ended up laughing when looking at his funny expression in this skit!
Seungyoon and Taehyun appeared as a duo again as they covered a song originally by BEGIN, entitled Koishikute. Seungyoon played an acoustic guitar, while Taehyun an electric one. It’s actually a song accompanied by an orchestra, but Seungyoon and Taehyun made a slower, simpler version of the song. Taehyun showed his guitar playing skill when he performed the solo guitar part. Afterward, the three other members came back to the stage to perform 2NE1’s Missing You. In total, there were seven cover songs that WINNER performed in this concert. They’d re-arranged some of the songs so that they sound new, but we really hope that for the next tour WINNER would sing more of their own songs!
Next was the stage that Seungyoon dubbed as their sexy stage. In Tonight, WINNER danced sensually with the mic-stand (and of course Inner Circles couldn’t help but scream at this part). There was a small incident during Different when Seunghoon accidentally dropped his microphone. Thankfully, it didn’t really affect the whole performance as he quickly chased the rolling microphone and picked it up.
Don’t Flirt has always been our personal favourite, and just like what we saw on music shows, the live performance of this song was indeed really fun! Following the reggae beat of the song, WINNER members shook their bottoms and danced cheerfully. They finished the concert with a song that means so much for them, Go Up. The fanchant for this song was really loud, and Inner Circles continously moved their lightsticks to the energetic beat of the song. The five of them then bowed and hurriedly walked to the backstage, leaving the stage dark and empty. But of course the concert didn’t end just like that since we still had the encore!
For the first song of the encore, WINNER performed Fantastic Baby. They also completed their performance by dressing up like BIG BANG members. Mino as TOP put fake eyebrows (actually yellow cellotapes), Taehyun as G-Dragon wore highlighted hair piece while Seunghoon as Taeyang wore fake braids. Taehyun seemed to really enjoy his role as G-Dragon since even after the song he kept acting like G-Dragon! Seungyoon also funnily mimicked Daesung’s friendly eyes when smiling.
When WINNER members came to the backstage to prepare the encore, the staffs and the fans were also preparing a celebration for Jinwoo’s birthday with banners and white balloons. After Fantastic Baby, suddenly a birthday greeting video from all members appeared on the big screen, which shocked Jinwoo. In the video, each member gave a heartwarming birthday message to Jinwoo, the oldest hyung that they love. Fans laughed when Jinwoo fell down to the floor in embarrasment when he found out he was recorded secretly at the backstage.
Then Jinwoo’s birthday cake (with Krunk decoration!) was brought to the stage, and we all sang happy birthday for him. When Jinwoo was asked by Seungyoon what kind of gift that he’d like to receive, he answered he wanted ‘love’ from Inner Circles. I’m sure Inner Circles will give all their love to Jinwoo since he deserves it 🙂 After Jinwoo’s speech, Mino quickly put cream onto Jinwoo’s nose, followed by other members. Taehyun also played with the balloon, heading it and even putting it inside his shirt.
The whole concert ended with Just Another Boy. WINNER members bowed as a gratitude to the fans who came that day. They waved to all fans in every floor, looking tired but also happy because the show went well. As the fans left the venue, the screen showed the ending VCR in which WINNER members in school uniforms were slowly walking away from the camera.
In a year, we can say WINNER have become more confident in terms of stage presence. Also, they’ve reached this point where they’ve become really comfortable with each other on stage, which is an important aspect for a teamwork. However, there was one thing that we didn’t really enjoy from the concert. It would have been even better if the staffs had dedicated more effort for the VCRs since several VCRs looked like karaoke videos. There’s no doubt that WINNER is one of the most solid and talented new groups out there. Thus, It’s time for YG to prepare a bigger, more well-concepted tour for them. Not only a Japan tour because the world needs to see how sterling WINNER are. Give them a chance and they will come, see and conquer.
- Just Another Boy
- Smile Again
- Color Ring
- Confession (Taehyun’s solo)
- Wild and Young (Seungyoon’s solo)
- Glamorous Sky (Taehyun and Seungyoon)
- I’m Him (Mino’s solo)
- Good Boy (Mino and Seunghoon)
- Up (Mino, Seunghoon and Jinwoo)
- Spoiler (Taehyun, Mino and Seunghoon)
- Koishikute (Taehyun and Seungyoon)
- Missing You
- Don’t Flirt
- Love is A Lie
- Go Up
- Fantastic Baby
- Smile Again
- Just Another Boy