“This year has been full of ups and downs. However, no matter what happens, we can only continue expressing ourselves. We will protect our voices, the members will not forget how to play their instruments. So promise you won’t forget us! We may be selfish, but we are serious about our music. We will continue to improve. Please believe in us.” - Lee Hongki
held their ‘2019 FTISLAND Japan Encore Live – Arigato’ Finale in Makuhari Messe
Event Hall on September 1st. This was the encore to their 13-stop
nation-wide tour ‘FTISLAND Japan Live Tour – Five Treasures’ held from April 4th
to May 5th (earlier this year). There were a total of 4 performances
across both Osaka Grand Cube and Makuhari Messe Event Hall. For a while now,
they’ve declared that this would be “the last live before enlistment.” As the
last live, all performances were sold out on the same day (as release).
This was an encore approximately 4 months after ‘Five Treasures’. While the overall layout of the setlist remained unchanged, approximately half the songs were replaced. Additionally, there were songs performed live for the first time, and a showcase of new songs to be released in Japan and Korea as a present to fans. Inclusive of the double encore, there were a total of 24 songs. All 4 members were completely devoted to playing this setlist, which summarises the history of FTISLAND as they approach their Major Japanese Debut’s 10th anniversary next May. At the very end, Hongki who is enlisting on September 30th gave his farewell to fans with a smile: “thank you for these past 10 years! We’ll be back!”.
As Song Seunghyun (Gt, Vo), Lee Jaejin (Ba, Vo) and Choi Minhwan (Dr) took their positions, Lee Hongki (Vo) called his usual “shall we go?” and sparks rose from the stage. Then, the show kicked off with the full-spirited God Bless You. The band went full-throttle from the start. The fans also stood to meet them, waving their yellow lights. It was fantastic to see the shining jewel of the ‘Five Treasures’ tour opening this performance. With the venue immediately united, they began singing along as Hongki gestured and called out ‘Singing!’ during the chorus.
“At last, today is our final. We’ve also prepared a present for you. Firstly, we will be performing a song that Jaejin and I wrote from our album Everlasting, live for the first time,” Hongki said. With that, they performed If U Want. It is a song resonating with Jaejin’s sexy bass. From the outro, Seunghyun’s impressive guitar connected to their next song Top Secret. These two songs were rearranged specifically for the encore live. Next, was Theory of Happiness. Then, with Hongki’s words “I’ll receive your voices!”, the fans simultaneously started singing along to the beautiful Aqua. This song is a FT-style J-rock song which truly boosts the sense of unity.
With the prompt, “Can you go even crazier? SCREAM!”, they launched into the FT-style band rock songs Take me Now and Pray. It’s been repeatedly acknowledged that these songs helped them shed their idol image and become a rock band in Korea. While singing in Korean, Hongki showed off a different expression. As he sang more heatedly, the heat of the fans who sang along in unison also rose.
During the MC, Hongki laughed as he announced, “I’m soaked all the way to my pants!”
He continued, “Next year it’ll be 10 years from our Japanese (major) debut. However, we won’t be able to hold concerts. So we’ve organised a segment for our old songs with a seasonal theme. Despite this tour being called an ‘encore live’, you all expected us to change things up didn’t you? In order to catch those who didn’t expect it by surprise, we prepared different songs for this tour. Once again, I realised we have a lot of good songs. From here on out, I really want to keep creating good songs too.”
With the image of ‘4 seasons’ in mind, the next set of songs were rearranged into an acoustic medley. Spring = Primavera, summer = Let it Go, rainy season = So Today, autumn = I Believe Myself and winter = Winter’s Night. All songs were rearranged and reconfigured for this performance.
The second half began with two songs which “radiate feelings of happiness when you sing along”. In response to the fans singing with full-power to Golden, Hongki’s whole face lit up with a smile and he shouted, “Amazing!”
“Ah, today is the end isn’t it? But it’s not the end forever! We will return unchanged so please don’t worry. So that you’re not sad while you wait, we’ve prepared various presents for you. I’ve also decided on something. This is true for Japan too, but in Korea our male fans have increased. I will invite 100 of my Army comrades to attend our concert.” Hongki spoke while smiling.
“To tell you the truth, I received the notice of my enlistment just as we arrived in Japan for these concerts. When I saw it, my heart sank. Even though there were so many things (schedules) planned for me, I’m sorry you won’t be able to see them,” he said frankly, with some bitterness.
“It’s a bit sad, but while you wait we have prepared a present. This next song is the new song we will release next year in celebration of our Major Debut’s 10th Anniversary. It’s called Sunrise Yellow. Our colour is yellow right? In order to achieve Freedom from now on, this song will become a staple at FTISLAND concerts! Therefore, today’s concert will become the PV!” he announced, introducing the invigorating new pop tune. It is a song with a springy rhythm, which will have you unconsciously jumping along.
After the new song solidified FTISLAND’s set of ‘iron clad*’ songs, the magical main part of the concert, which had everyone dancing passionately, came to a close.
(*staple songs, songs that are always strong performed live)
As the calls for FTISLAND grew steadily louder, the 4 members returned to the stage.
“I’m really sad that it will be the end after these next 2 songs. However, we will return safely!” Hongki said, and was met with loud applause.
“Promise that you won’t forget us. This year has been full of ups and downs. However, no matter what happens, we can only continue expressing ourselves. We will protect our voices, the members will not forget how to play their instruments. So promise you won’t forget us! We may be selfish, but we are serious about our music. We will continue to improve. Please believe in us.” He spoke earnestly.
“While you wait, please feel free to go enjoy our junior’s concerts. However, you cannot fall in love with them!” he said laughing.
With this, he introduced Don’t Lose Yourself from their upcoming Korean mini album Zapping to be released on Spetember 9th.
“The song we are about to sing is our new Korean release. As we were talking about earlier, this is a song which tells you not to forget your sense of self. The voices of the audience who sang the chorus at the Korean concert have been put onto the CD. But I also want to sing with everyone here in Japan.”
Hongki’s gentle voice enveloped the venue, and meshing with his gradually strengthening voice, the fans sang along strongly to the chorus. Seeming satisfied with the song they created with the fans, Hongki gave his thanks “thank you!” while singing.
“We’ll be reaching a turning point 10 years after our major debut in Japan, but we won’t be here for it. When we return, it’ll be the start of our second life. Please anticipate it. Our dream is to do music as a band even as we grow older. Men become cooler in their 30s and 40s. It’s the same for our music. I’m looking forward to it. Thank you so much for the past ten years! We’ll be off!” He gave his thanks with a gusto. However, it seemed as if he were trying to hide his tears by looking up into the back of the crowd.
Their ‘arigato’ was full of the thoughts they wished to convey. Hongki waved his hands toward the stands, to which he received an answering flurry of yellow lights.
More than ever, the lyrics (from Arigato) “in this selfish life, please stay beside me. From now on too, please support me” permeated the audience, filling their hearts.
As they brought it all to a close, Hongki shouted “Thank you! Laugh!” as he sang. Immediately, loud calls of ‘encore!’ rose.
“Don’t cry. We’ll do this song to leave you with smiles on your faces,” he said as he shouted Stay What You Are with all his power and sang for the audience with a smiling face.
Looking as if they were truly finished, the 4 members lined up in the centre and bowed.
“Thanks to you, I was really happy today,” said Seunghyun and Hongki clapped his hands toward the audience in praise.
After the members finished, Jaejin was left alone on stage. He said, “When we said ‘thank you’, I recalled memories from the last 10 years. Although you will be able to see me at my solo soon, FTISLAND will be going on a break from today. It’s lonely, isn’t it? I will remember this view so that when I am down, I can try my best.”
Then, as tradition, he shouted “thank you everyone!” without his mic. The answering “thank you” from fans carried a wave of gratitude in return to him.
FTISLAND started doing live activities during their teens. At that time, they couldn’t speak Japanese and their performance skills were still lacking. However, from their major debut onward, into their 20s, concert tours became the centre of almost all their activities in Japan. They grew into a band that could hold concerts in arenas every year. Of course, as their Japanese became more fluent, they were also able to talk frankly about everything with their fans, who they see as ‘friends’. At an FTISLAND concert, no matter the venue, the distance between hearts is close. FTISLAND accepts their fans, and the fans accept them in return.
Additionally, after all is said and done, I’ve become addicted to the 3 members’ tight instrumentals led by Hongki’s heaven-sent live vocals, which can lead you comfortably through the concert.
We won’t be able to experience this wonderful sort of concert for approximately 2 years. However, as Hongki said, they have prepared various presents in the meantime.
The first is Bassist Jaejin’s solo debut mini album Scene. 27 to be released on October 9th. He will also be holding his ‘1st Solo Mini Live Tour – Love Like the Films’ across Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
Then, the three remaining members (sans Hongki) will be representing FTISLAND in ‘2019 FNC Kingdom – Winter Forest Camp’. It seems we will be able to see collaborations with their juniors.
Jaejin, Seunghyun and Minhwan all plan to enlist in 2020. There’s no question that when they all return in their 30s, they’ll show us more thrilling live performances. At that time, I wonder what sort of songs they’ll bring back with them.
1.God Bless You
3.Boom Boom Boom
4.IF U WANT
8.Take Me Now
11.Let it go!
13.I believe myself
16.Hold the moon
1.Don’t lose yourself
3.Stay what you are