After three years, Amber Liu returned to Los Angeles with an intimate, live band concert at the Fonda Theatre on January 21 for the No More Sad Songs World Tour 2024. Longtime MeUs (f(x)’s official fandom name) and diehard Amber fans stood outside in the drizzling rain in anticipation of the stop.
The concert began with the first opening act, Su Lee, a trilingual-speaking Korean artist. Donning a hot pink athletic jacket, she dazzled the audience with her awkward yet charming humor, performing easy listening tracks like “Coward (I feel like a coward to say I’m lonely).” She also let herself loose, freestyle dancing during “Super Happy,” an English-Korean lo-fi dance track.
Opposite of Su Lee’s stripped-down and quirky performance was Emily Mei, Amber’s longtime friend and Grammy host with a show-stopping, high-budget production. With the lights dimmed down low, Emily emerged wearing a traditional Chinese dress, impressively playing the guzheng. Traditional Chinese drummers took it away soon after as dancers came to Mei after a quick costume change for “Mania (Where Them Girls At).”
Emily’s setlist was incredibly star-studded with a quick and sweet appearance from sunkis for “Ain’t Ready.” Emily also sang two unreleased tracks, “Inside” and “Venom.” “Monster Under The Bed” had much fanfare, complete with impeccable choreography. Her dancers were also highlighted during her quick costume change, dancing to Jessi’s “Gum” during intermission.
The last song “My Domain” got the crowd to watch with bated breath as martial arts performers took the stage with stirring flips and kicks, followed by an intense dance break with a blue-haired Amber. Cheers erupted when the two locked arms and eyes. With that kind of spectacular ending, it made many wonder how this was Emily Mei’s first-ever performance on stage.
After a short intermission, a VCR showed Amber with a short monologue about her passion for music and live performances. It was cut abruptly before she emerged to sing “Easier” from her 2022 album, Z!. She delivered Jackson Wang’s feature with ease before being joined by her dancers and transitioning into slow tracks like “Stay Calm” and “Hands Behind My Back” as psychedelic and groovy graphics flashed in the background.
Amber’s androgynous charm was clearly present throughout the night as the choreography was a perfect blend of masculine and feminine energies during songs like “Curiosity.” Her stable vocals and clean dance moves were indicative of her decade-long career as a K-Pop idol, and her silly side came through as she leaned onto dancers during “Neon” with a sly and mischievous smile on her face. The cheeky energy continued as “ILY,” a song about a drunk text that led to a hookup. She asked the audience if they had ever sent a drunk text to someone before, which led to a few fans screaming “Yes!” back with a lot of laughter and cheers. The close intimacy was felt greatly during “make it better” as fans jammed quietly, perhaps reminiscing about a relationship they had.
Amber took the intimacy to another level as she beckoned her guitarist, Sam, to the middle stage and sat right in front of the barricade. As MeUs politely scooted closer with phones in their hands, Amber was wooed by Sam’s jammy notes while also appearing a little nervous to do the next song, a soft and sweet ballad. As a fan reassured her that it was okay, she began “Three Million Years” with more confidence. Her sweet melodious voice rang through the theater while fans began turning on their phone flashlights to wave to the beat.
As the song was dedicated to couples, Amber gave a shoutout to the “people who are single as fuck” with many cheering and chuckling at her cute antics. She dedicated the next song, “I Love Somebody,” to the forever singles. The upbeat pop song about unrequited love and pining was followed by a jazzy and smooth solo from Sam as Amber fist-bumped him in appreciation.
After a small intermission to announce giveaway winners in which fans got some “LuLu” hoodies, Amber sang an unreleased demo she wrote while playing video games called “Laser Tag,” cracking her voice intentionally to make the song more fun and entertaining. As she danced freestyle throughout the stage, she beamed at the audience to do the same, as she encouraged fans to “be themselves” at her shows.
“I always used to feel so alone because I felt like no one understood me,” she revealed during her second to last ment. “I feel like at the darkest times of my life, music has always been there. I kept writing and writing, and I don’t know, it’s been very therapeutic for me.”
“I’m so happy that music can bring people together,” she continued, “It’s definitely an exchange, man.”
She dedicated her second to last set to darker songs that she wrote during her “darkest times,” starting with “Lately,” a stripped-down acoustic song with just Sam playing the guitar. Amber’s raw vulnerability through the lyrics got the crowd emotional as her voice filled up the theater. She turned to her pianist to sing the next song, “Numb.” Her sweet and high notes could sway anybody in the audience to tears and a few did, wiping their eyes and singing along. She ended the segment with “hatemyself,” a song reminiscent of the pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne’s older ballads. As the song built up, more fans cried, swaying their arms back and forth in support.
Amber ended the night with a few upbeat songs, including “No More Sad Songs” and “Other People.” Both songs generated a lot of cheers and chants of the lyrics from the audience. It felt as if Amber’s demeanor changed in an instant as she happily danced with her dancers, bumping her hips into theirs as she hopped around on stage. She looked liberated and peaceful in comparison to the more soft and quiet energy she extruded earlier in the night.
As chants of “Amber!” and “Encore!” ensued, she returned in a black tank top, doing a band version of “Shake That Brass,” a song old K-Pop fans knew too well, before ending the night with “Paradise.”
Before the night ended for good, she pulled Sam and her staff member Justin onto the stage to celebrate their birthdays. Another staff member joined them and jiggled in happiness with two cakes in their hands. Mischievously, the said staff member and Amber pushed the cakes into the birthday people’s faces, generating a lot of uproarious laughter from the crowd.
The fans then asked to be caked in the face, in which a bewildered Amber asked “Are you sure?” to a few willing participants. As the crowd squished together with Amber at the barricade, she pushed a vanilla cake into their faces, making fans cheer in amusement and happiness.
It was incredible to see Amber touring the States again since her 2020 U.S. tour. Los Angeles fans had an amazing and intimate experience that not only uplifted their energy but inspired Amber herself as well. MeUs can follow her throughout the country for the next few stops before she heads out to Asia.