EXO Is One Of The Best Live Performers in K-Pop, And Here’s Why

By Zessa Ghaisani |

South Korean boy group, EXO, has just released a live album from their 4th headlining tour, “EXO PLANET #4 – The EℓyXiOn”. Started in November 2017, and ended in August 2018 with 5 encore dates (3 in Seoul, South Korea, and 2 in Macau), it marked as one of the biggest tours by a South Korean artist in 2018. Consisting of 35 songs they performed on their Seoul encore date, the live album showcases EXO’s ability in performing live—in audio format.

I would say that EXO could perform any song—literally any song—perfectly on stage. Seven years in the K-Pop industry, and having trained under one of the biggest South Korean entertainment companies, SM Entertainment, EXO’s ability in performing, whether it’s singing or dancing is not something to be argued about anymore. EXO has released several live albums from their previous concerts, and “EXO PLANET #4 – The EℓyXiOn” once again proves that EXO songs sound even much better live.

The songs included in the setlist were a part of their previously released studio albums, from their “XOXO” era, to “The War”. There was also the English version of EXO’s winter single “For Life” which was sung by D.O., accompanied by sweet piano tunes from Chanyeol. Their latest Japanese single, “Electric Kiss” was also included in the list. Other Japanese releases were sung in Korean, such as “Coming Over”, “Drop That”, “Run This”, and even EXO-CBX’s “Ka-CHING!”.

Some of the songs were remixed for the stage. Take the song “The Eve” for example – the opening track of EXO’s 4th album “The War” (and every EℓyXiOn concert). The stage version of the song sounded slightly different from the studio one. The duration of the instrumental break in the song “Playboy” was tweaked to be longer so that Suho could showcase his dancing ability (yes, he had a solo stage for “Playboy”). A remixed version of “Growl” was also included instead of the original one. Other than “Growl”, the tour also featured remixed versions of “Lucky” and “Run” which were also used during the EXO’rDium (their 3rd tour in 2016-2017). Nonetheless, the best remixed song of the concert falls to “Power”. In addition to the ethereal-sounding remix, the stage performance was also mesmerizing.

Apart from performing songs from their studio releases, the concert also had various special stages, each involving a different EXO member. Kai showcased his contemporary ballet moves and honey-like voice in “I See You” stage, Baekhyun had a powerful solo performance with “Psycho”, Chanyeol and Sehun sung, danced, and rapped in “We Young”—which was later released as an SM Station station, Xiumin enchanted us with his lively stage for “Beyond”, while Chen performed his previously released SM Station single with DJ Alesso, a Korean version of “Years”.

For the album, all the 35 live-recorded songs are divided into two parts (and two different CDs in the physical version). The first part starts with “The Eve” and ends with Baekhyun’s solo “Psycho”. Meanwhile the second part starts with “Heaven” and ends with their 2017 winter release “Universe”.

As a fan of EXO, I should say that The EℓyXiOn concert was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. I attended the Kuala Lumpur date for The EℓyXiOn (with different setlist from the encore dates), the KL one was less euphoric since there were some songs that weren’t being performed there, but still… Listening to the album brought back memories of being in the crowd, cheering for EXO. The fan chants could be heard clearly in every song (just like in real life, the fan chants by their EXO-Ls were no joke).

Objectively speaking, if I wasn’t a fan, I would love to see them perform live. Kudos to Shim Jaewon, SM’s choreographer and The EℓyXiOn’s performance director for creating the mesmerizing performances which will captivate anyone’s heart. EXO’s effortless synchronization for the group dance performances and their vocal harmonization are the main point of every live performance by EXO. Even though we can hear their heavy breaths at some points of the live performances, it doesn’t stop them from delivering stable vocals to each of their songs.

That is why fellas, EXO is one of the best live performers in K-Pop industry. I would recommend you to feel it yourself, starting by listening to their live albums and if you can, you can also try watching their live stages later.

Favorite Live Songs (which to be fair are my favorite EXO’s songs in studio version too, but the live version are just, wow) : “The Eve”, “Lucky”, “Power”, “For Life”, “Forever”

Overall Rating : 8.5 out of 10

Listen to the full album here

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