To say that Taemin’s Beyond LIVE – TAEMIN N.G.D.A (Never Going to Dance Again) concert last week was emotional would be an understatement. Watching the youngest member of a group that has been a driving force in K-Pop for over a decade perform his final concert before enlistment had a bittersweet taste. As a part of SHINee and as a solo artist, Taemin has crafted his career into a magnificent creature of talent and passion. At the height of his solo career, he bid a temporary farewell at his online solo concert where Shawols from all over the world came together to support him as he gave one of the most moving, reflective concerts to date. It was his last concert before his mandatory enlistment on May 31.
The start found a long-haired Taemin quietly behind a mic, an unusual move for one of Korea’s best known dancers, where he performed the live debut of “Think of You” and “I Think It’s Love.” Known for his creative, boundary-defying dancing, Taemin’s nimble voice proved that he is as versatile a singer as he is a dancer. He exuded a feeling of stillness as he channeled his emotions into the songs whose lyrics ask for comfort and camaraderie.
After a VCR, Taemin took to the stage for a medley and several of his hard-hitting singles like “Criminal” and “IDEA.” Like the seasoned pro he is, the malfunctioning of his headset didn’t phase him. He threw himself into synchronized, fluid movement with his backup dancers. When he greeted fans during the first ment, his energy was calm and pensive as he spoke earnestly about his preparations for the concert and how much he had looked forward to reuniting with his fans. It was a different, but expressive face of the maknae of one of K-Pop’s most influential acts.
Following the ment, Taemin brought back one of fans’ favorite stages, the slanted stage. The winding melody of “Heaven” joined him and his dancers as they seemed to defy gravity. It was followed by 2017’s “Door” and its captivating ribbon choreography that transitioned into “Move,” a sensual, genderless number with one of the most progressive, gender-defying choreographies of the decade.
One of the most gorgeous VCR’s for “Just Me & You” followed this set. Taemin and his dancer shadow flow in out of choreography united with lighting that plays with shadows and video editing that toys with duplicates. Impassioned, Taemin paints and dances, pouring his soul into the VCR that is more than a VCR – it is a work of art.
For his next set that included “Goodbye” and “Shadow,” Taemin continues to deliver the on point dancing, but his costuming continues his ode to androgyny: a militaristic uniform adorned with lace, a velvet glove and a silver bracelet.
In the next ment, he explained how much effort he put into planning the “Just You & Me” VCR from the costumes to the video to the styling. He also joked about how he’d hoped his hair-styling would last a little longer, but he danced so hard that it fell out of its perfect coiffure.
“WANT” and a catchy “Drip Drop” remix were next. Taemin drew energy from his fantastic backup dancers as the dance heavy songs were delivered with his dependable energy and finesse.
Bolstered by a collage of fan live feeds in front of him, Taemin was able to perform and receive loving feedback that is sorely missed curing pandemic-age online concerts.. The online concert has redefined what a K-Pop concert can really be, showing how the industry has adapted to 2021 and global needs. The combination of live stages, VCRs, and ments where Taemin can interact with fans live (and safely) via the internet and also receive energy and support where there once were huge stadiums full of deafening cheers.
The next VCR was a beautiful journey through Taemin’s career, both with SHINee and as a solo artist, showing him from his 2008 bowl cut in “Replay” to his first solo release “Danger” to his latest mini-album- “Advice,” a song from his upcoming third mini-album “Advice” to be released on May 18, 2021. A melodious piano melody leads into Taemin’s first line, a verbally punctuated and tight opening phrase that brings his newest style straight into 2021. It plays with musical high and low notes that weave into its heavy electro-pop influences. Complemented by the sassy, edgy choreography that included a sexy little hip rock and fancy footwork, the debut left fans thirsty for May 18 and more from the artist.
“Pinnochio,” “Black Rose,” and a “Sherlock / Danger” remix continued the concert. Taemin is dripping with sweat by this point, but still owning the stage and leading his dancers though a battlement of intense choreography on a moving stage. Nearly an hour and a half into his solo concert, the master still held strong in a classy half-black and half-white suit.
A second to last ment finds a smiling, exhausted Taemin greeting his fans. He spoke about his new song and mini-album “Advice.” The king of spoilers also revealed, “I used an emoji on my IG account to give you a bit of a spoiler [about the album].” It looks to be a piano emoji that hints at what his May 18 mini-album will reveal. He also shared that worked hard on the styling and the choreography with Casper, a choreographer who has been by his side for many years.
As the concert wound down, Taemin gave fans not one, but two encores. “Soldier” and “Rise” were the first of his sung goodbyes to his fans. He stood solemnly in front of his mic and poured his soul out to his fans. After a short break where the teasers for his albums were aired, he came back in the Beyond LIVE – TAEMIN N.G.D.A t-shirt and sat on a stool to sing “I’m Crying.” There was a tightness to his voice that indicated how emotional he was to give these two songs to his fans as a memory to hold onto.
During his last ment, Taemin bowed deeply in thanks for the fan-prepared event where the chat was flooded with texts that read “Taemin’s partners are always here,” showing that his fans will be by his side no matter where he is. He thanked everyone for being with him for 14 years and asked for his partners to remain by his side before wrapping up the show with “Snow Flower,” a wistful ballad, fitting the bittersweet goodbye.
As he said his final farewell to fans, his expression held sadness, but he promised to make many more memories in the future with them. He will serve his country beginning on May 31, 2021 and come back in 2023.
For those who missed the first concert, it will be aired again on May 16 at 11AM KST and May 17 at 8PM KST. It’s worth the watch.