[Concert Review] IU Finally Graces London with First Concert Outside Asia | IU HEREH Concert Review

Photos by EDAM Entertainment

When one utters the name "IU" to anyone even remotely familiar with Korean music, they are sure to trigger a wave of unabashed praise and sentiments that glow so brightly they could guide ships to bay. 

Labelling IU, born as Lee Ji-Eun, as a South Korean musical sensation is a gross understatement of her impact. After debuting in 2008 at the age of 15, and gaining the title of South Korea's "Little Sister" by 2010 with her hit song "Good Day" - featuring her legendary triple high note - by 2024 IU had already spent 17 years topping the Korean music scene. With her proven talent paired with a phenomenal discography, her influence is something that cannot dare to be challenged. Her success doesn't stop only at music, but also in acting as she also took on leading roles in massively popular K-Dramas such as "Dream High" (2011), "Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo" (2016), "My Mister" (2018), "Hotel del Luna" (2019) and many more. After the success of her London concert, these sentiments can be seen to ring true both in South Korea, as well as globally. 

On June 21st she performed at the Wembley OVO arena as part of her HEREH tour - making London her first concert stop outside of Asia. The reaction and overwhelming love from the audience, perfect sing-alongs, and overall reaction from the city solidified her global success - which came to surprise even the artist herself. With sirenic vocals and goddess-like presence - this was IU's first concert in London.

The Performance:

The concert was split into five segments; HYPNOTIC, ENERGETIC, ROMANTIC, ECSTATIC and HEROIC

Photos by EDAM Entertainment

The first segment was HYPNOTIC, with IU rising from the stage in an ethereal white ensemble, filling the arena with a "Good evening London" before diving straight into her first song "Holssi", her most recent title track from her newest release "The Winning". She then moved on to "Jam Jam" from her 2017 album "Palette" before addressing the audience. 

She expressed her surprise at how full the stadium was, noting how "It's so strange!" and that she was "fascinated" by the turnout in a foreign country. Uaena's (IU fans) also had the chance to recieve gifts, courtesty of IU's mother, which comprised of a tin filled with a magnet, keyring, and photocards. She revealed that they were "a small gift from my mum to London."

Appropriately for the current weather, she then dove into the refreshingly bubbly "Ah puh" and "Bbibbi" before once again, expressing her surprise at the passionate turnout.

"How did you guys know me from such a far away city?" she said, expressing how she was so curious she wanted to interview each and every audience member. She then stated that for the next song, she's going to erase our memories so when she returns for the next segment, it'll be "like love at first sight". And with that, she performed the marvellously mystical "Obliviate" from her 2013 album "Modern Times". 

She vanished from stage, leaving the audience with a dramatic intermission featuring a small child in a white nightdress, weathering a harsh storm with nothing but a single candle, before entering a magical land.

IU re-emerged in the spring time scenery, donning a sweet, fairy-like pink dress as she began ner next segment ENERGETIC.

As hinted by the name, the segment took on a more upbeat and hopeful tone as she started with "Celebrity" and "Blueming". The night took a tender, sentimental turn when all of a sudden, the stage turned orange, and a familiar instrumental filled the arena. Anticipation slowly came to a head as she sang the line "So are you happy now?", her angelic vocals echoing through the crowd as she began her 2020 hit "Eight (Ft. SUGA)", adding in her own ad-libs and lines during Suga's verse.

And just like magic, she switched the vibe with ease as she flowed into "Coin", tossing a gambling chip into the air and swiftly catching it, and finally her love story to all her fans "I Stan U". Once the segment was over, she picked one lucky Uaena from the crowd, giving him the coin she had tossed, before taking a photo with the entire arena. She disappeared again, as a VCR of extra scenes from her "Shopper" MV played on screen, featuring DPR Ian

IU returned for her next segment ROMANTIC, appearing as one's first love in a flowy, floral dress and sparkly flower hair pin. She set a vacation-like mood with "Havana" before setting herself down with an acoustic guitar, as a special surprise to her London fans. The audience hushed, not a single person daring to make a peep as IU's soft vocals washed over the audience, serenading them all as she sang the first song she had ever played on guitar - "Just Like A Star" by Corinne Bailey Rae. She gushed about her admiration for Corinne to the point of including her in her song "Palette", and how she was so happy to sing Corinne's song in her own country. 

Photos by EDAM Entertainment

She moved on, and as fate would have it, there was a strawberry moon over London that night. So of course, she performed "Strawberry Moon". IU mentioned how it all felt destined as not only did the moon appear, but fans also prepared a banner event for that specific song. 

She ended the segment with the guranteed tear-jerker "Through the Night", warmly serenading the audience amidst the backdrop of a serene forest, before disappearing once more.

Of course, her fans were not left to their own devices. A tape of her behind the scenes, and a message of her gratefulness to Uaena's played with the song "Heart" in the background. But before the audience could release their first tear she reappeared, this time in a striking red dress for the ECSTATIC segment with the fun-filled "Shopper" and sentimental "Above the Time", featuring a dance break with all the backup dancers exploding into a joyous flurry. She then moved onto her iconic fan-favourite 2011 track "YOU&I" before ending with a "Love Wins All" with the entire audience singing along in anguished yearning. All the while, an all too familiar cube lurked in the corner, glowing ominously until IU disappeared in a flash, and a single piece of white cloth fell dramatically from the ceiling. A solemn memory for those familiar with the MV

Photos by EDAM Entertainment

However, fans did not mourn for long as another tape played showing an alternate ending to the song, where IU and MV co-star V from BTS drove off happily in a flower-filled car after their wedding. 

While that was set to be the final act of the concert, after much cheering for more, a tape appeared on screen of IU on a similar set to her iconic "Twenty-three" MV in front of a birthday cake, except she switched the candles from 23 to 32 before blowing them out. 

Once more, she reappeared for the first encore stage and HEROIC segment, ending strong as the ultimate femme fatale in a fierce black leather skirt and top. 

She began with the dark "Shh..(Ft. HYEIN and Joe Won Sun)", seamlessly taking on the young Hyein's vocals as well as the legendary Joe Won Sun's, as well as adding an extra outro at the end. Despite approaching the end of the concert, her next performance could only energise the audience even further as she performed her other fan-favourite track "Twenty-three" from her equally iconic 2015 album "CHAT-SHIRE". She ended the encore with the carefree "Holssi" again with young backup dancers cheerily prancing around, before disappearing into the stage as she waved goodbye. 

Photos by EDAM Entertainment

At this point, the crowd had some work to do. A prompt appeared on screen, inciting the audience to sing to bring their beloved IU back out. The lyrics to "Strawberry Moon" appeared, and the audience united in a heartwarming display, singing along in unison to summon their idol back. And lo and behold, before long, IU's powerful vocals echoed around the arena in as she re-joined her London Uaena's for her final encore.

She labelled the second encore as "Our own after-party" and gave the audience the chance to request songs they'd like to hear her sing. She started with her "Dream High" OST "Someday", and "LILAC". The crowd then screamed for a ballad, so she blessed them with the beautifully sentimental "Love Poem". And with a final wave of nostalgia, she performed the final song "Palette (Ft. G-Dragon)", and for the last time, left the stage.

Final Thoughts:

The IU concert was unlike any other K-Pop concert we had witnessed before. From the very structure to the unique way she engaged with her audience, her veteran status in the Korean music industry is one that has been solidified and set in stone. What's more impressive, is how her talents shine even more live than in studio, where every emotional waver and tone shift can be heard as clear as glass. How her presence can fill up such a large arena with such a tiny frame, and how such a delicate beauty could produce such terrifyingly raw power that cannot help but soften your heart and bring you to tears. The favourites of the night were "Eight (Ft. SUGA)", "Through the Night", "Above the Time", "YOU&I", "Twenty-three", and "Palette (Ft. G-Dragon)".

Overall, hearing IU sing live is an experience we highly recommend to all audiences, and not just Korean music fans. We wish IU luck on the rest of her tour, and can only hope that she comes back to grace London with her talents again soon.

Thank you Magic Sound for the invitation!
[All photos provided courtesy of EDAM Entertainment]

Did you go to the show? What did you think? Be sure to let us know, and follow KpopWise for more updates!

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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