Xdinary Heroes Rock London with Show at the O2 Academy | Break the Brake in Europe Concert Review

 Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

Explosive, exhilarating...extraordinary? All this and more could be said about Xdinary Heroes, the young rock band from JYP Entertainment, as they finally landed in London for their "Break the Brake Tour" in Europe. Only 2 years after their debut, the 6-member band quickly rose through the ranks and public perception, releasing hit albums such as "Hello, World!" and their latest, "Livelock". Which is why we here at KpopWise were honoured to be in attendance of their first London concert on November 13th, at the O2 Academy in Islington

Leading up to their tour, Xdinary Heroes made a brief stage appearance in London a few days prior for Korea On Stage, where they gave the crowd a taste of their discography, as well as an iconic cover of "We Will Rock You" by Queen

Now if there's one thing the British love - it's a good rock band. And it seems that Xdinary Heroes fit the bill as Villains (XH fans) lined up all around the O2 Academy and through Angel shopping centre, brandishing their lightsticks and ready to rock. From electrifying guitar solos, mesmerising vocals, and twirling drumsticks - this was Xdinary Heroes in London.

 Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

The Performance

The concert opened up with each member taking up the stage. First came Jun Han, the mysterious, quiet electric guitarist with the heart of a rockstar. Next was Gun-il, the drummer and noble leader of the group. Following was Jungsu, the cat-like keyboard player with unique, honey-like vocals, and Gaon - the energetic vocalist, rapper and guitar player. Next to join was Jooyeon, the mischievous youngest member, bassist, and absolute power vocalist; and finally O.de - the synth player, vocalist, and charismatic rapper.

The set opened up hard and fast with "Freddy" - the first song on their newest album "Livelock" - with the symphony of vocals and instruments blasting through the speakers, and shaking the bones of the Villains in the audience. Thunder filled the room as the crowd roared. The band went through a medley of tracks, taking the audience on an invigorating ride right until they concluded the first set with "Hello, World!" title track "Test Me". 

 Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

They then took the first break of the show, introducing themselves with a loud and proud "We are Heroes! This is Xdinary Heroes" - resonating into the city. The members expressed their excitement about playing in London - with Villains passionately reciprocating the same sentiments. They swiftly moved on, teasing "I think we should get a haircut!" before diving straight into the next song - you guessed it - "Hair Cut", complete with it's unique scissor-cutting sound effects. Gaon took this opportunity to be playful, belting out a "Welcome London!" when the time came for his iconic line. The set continued to showcase their diverse talents, having fans screaming 'til their voices were out with "Man in the Box", to Jooyeon and Jungsu's hypnotic falsetto in "Ghost". 

The show then took a slower turn, encapsulating the audience in a sentimental calm as the first key of "Dear H." delicately rang through the hall. Gun-il directed the fans in a gentle wave, with O.de joining in as the vocalists serenaded the room with their raw, tear-jerking vocals. The usual powerful guitar from Jun Han was quelled, replaced by a stirring solo. The audience rode the calmess through with "Good Enough", swooning when Jooyeon pulled a heart gesture, before ending with "Paranoid" from their newest release.

Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

The therapeautic experience continued, but in a different direction. "We hope the next songs will heal your heart" they said, as the group dove into the rock version of "Wannabe" by their labelmates ITZY. Though the cover was initially cut short when Gaon's eagle eyes caught a fan in distress, the situation was quickly resolved by their leader, and the band restarted sassier than ever as they rocked out to the viral K-Pop sensation. The next cover was truly a gift to millenial and early Gen Z punk and emo kids as the Heroes did proper justice to the iconic "The Great Escape" by Boys Like Girls. Fans threw away their troubles as they jumped along to the American 2000's pop-punk anthem, living in the wave of classic, peak emo-punk nostalgia. The group then asked the audience what they would like to see next, promising a "Bring Me the Horizon" cover (referring to their previous cover of "Drown") next time they come - something British Villains will most certainly be holding them to! 

But the good times didn't stop there. The audience chanted for Jun Han to repeat his skillful guitar solo on the rock rendition of "Wannabe", with Gun-il expertly chiming in on the drums. 

The show resumed it's initial power with Jungsu instructing the audience to throw up rock signs, O.de leaping up above the barriers, and fans emptying out their lungs as they yelled the notorious hidden-expletive verse they've all been waiting for "If you seek it why owe you!" The segment ended with the legendary, fan-favourite "Strawberry Cake" - complete with the smooth, deep bass in the chorus, and the most captivating, powerful vocals from Jooyeon, offset by Jungu's magnetic talents immediately after. 

Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

If we thought that segment was fast, the members warned that the next set would be even faster as they dove head first into "Pirates" - with Gaon and Jooyeon playfully rowing in unison at the start, and praising the audience for their chorus harmonisation. The oh-so-promised speed was then delivered at full force with "Bicycle" featuring all three guitarists headbanging in satisfying unison at the chorus drop. They ended with their current title track and tour namesake "Break the Brake", with an extra dramatic guitar and drum instrumental at the end.

The show was reaching its end. The band briefly left, only to return wearing official tour merch and brandishing lightsticks. They then resumed with the 2000's style pop-rock track "AGAIN? AGAIN!" featuring another moment with Jun Han fully engrossed in his guitar - seemingly transported to another world where it's just him, and the melody he expertly plucked out, as the audience enthusiastically sang along. The set came to an end with the celestial rock-ballad type track "PLUTO", which was proven to be the ultimate fan-favourite amongst Villains, and casual listeners alike. 

And with that, the band put down their instruments and headed to the front of the stage, for their final statements.

Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

Ending Ment

The leader Gun-il began with a general statement of thanks, before handing the microphone around to hear each members thoughts - starting with O.de. The charming rapper humorously commented on the heat saying "I love you Villains that helped me sweat today", before fans teased him for the tears that followed - which he vehemently denied. He thanked London Villains for their "Power and tears", ending with a heartfelt "Thank you, and I love you"

Next up was the maknae Jooyon, his smile reaching his eyes as the audience cheered in anticipation. He expressed how the fans diminished his doubts about their popularity in the UK, stating how "Today is the day I really feel like I'm glad I'm doing music". The bassist prepared an English statement, requesting that fans "Please tell the whole world that we are here, and tell everyone Xdinary Heroes of course, is the best band ever" - resulting in a collective roar from the audience in passionate agreement to his request.

Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

The mic returned to Gun-il - who broke away from the charismatic rock-band drummer image; flashing a warm smile and taking on a softer tone as the group English speaker. He mentioned how nervous he initially was speaking English in front of so many people, and that the last time he had done so was "Back in college" - alluding to the drummers impressive past as a scholarship drum major at the Berklee College of Music - eliciting an enthusiastic response from the students in the audience. He joked about London feeling like his second home due to living in "New England back in America", before mentioning how he found the city comforting and warm, complimenting the food (which some of the audience questioned), landmarks and most importantly - the Villains. He ended his statement by thanking fans for cheering, crying, and connecting with them through music, before expressing the wish to return. 

Next on the mic was Gaon. Despite expressing how his experience with the language wasn't the same as their leaders, the guitarist still cutely said in perfect English "Thank you so much for making today a perfect day, you gave me memories that I'll never forget in London". His warm expression quickly changed - a michievous sparkle in his wide eyes as he then said "I think the world is more fun if you go a little crazy". The guitarist expressed how fans should live a fun life and not worry too much, before passing the mic to Jun Han

 Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

The electric guitarist coolly expressed his sentiments about how London Villains "Enthusiasm and cheers are the biggest of any stages I've ever been on". He gently brushed his long hair out of his eyes, mentioning how the moment felt strange because it "just feels different and more special", before collapsing onto the floor with laughter as the audience threw all their love at him. Jun Han thanked the fans for coming before saying in English "I'm so happy to have met you in London", and promised their return. 

Finally was Jungsu. The euphonic vocalist swiftly charmed the audience, noting how the stage was very close and how he felt like "[fans] came one step closer to me, and me one step closer to you". He stated that he'd never forget the support and energy from the fans, and made the profound comment that "Despite the fact that we don't speak the same language I felt like we came together as one". He also made sure to mention in English "I really, really thank you, and I will be working hard on my music so I can come back next time. See you again, and I love you". Therefore concluding the segment.

And thus the concert ended.

Or so we thought! 

With a swift "It's nearly Christmas time right?", the band got the party started back up again with "X-MAS" before finally blessing fans with their debut song "Happy Death Day" - with the audience wholly participating in Jungsu's long awaited, iconic vocal fry as O.de cheerfully frolicked around with the members on stage. The band finally put down their instruments and rushed to the front in a final reprise of "Freakin' Bad" as they interacted with fans.

The group took a photo and video with the audience - and with that, the Xdinary Heroes Break the Brake concert in London was over. 

 Photo Cr. Charis Bagioki // KpopWise

Final thoughts

The favourites of the night were "Man in the Box", "Strawberry Cake" and "PLUTO". As Jooyeon said in his ending ment; "Tell the world" - and here we are. The Xdinary Heroes concert was a showcase of what pure talent truly looks like - from the synergy of the instruments, to the raw, powerful vocal ability. It is already impressive for an artist to sound the same live as they do on a recording. However, to sound better - where you can pick up on every instrumental note and sheer emotional depth - is a whole new level of artistry. And for a group that's only 2 years old? Even more so. It was an opportunity to witness how each of the 6 members showcase their individual strengths, as well as how they weave them together to form a harmonious group. 

Overall seeing the band live is an experience that we highly recommend. We can only hope that they stick to their word and return to London soon, and wish them the best.

In the meantime, be sure to follow KpopWise for more.

May S

May is a London-based freelance writer and fiction author, holding a Masters degree in Psychoanalysis. Being a long standing K-Pop fan since 2012, some of her favourite acts are 2NE1, IU, Dean, BTS, WJSN, TXT, ATEEZ, Xdinary Heroes and many more. Frankly, she finds it too hard to choose. Contact on twt/inst: @WriterMay_S

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