Live Report: aespa – The O2 Arena, London

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Following Blackpink’s historic headlining show at BST Hyde Park earlier this Summer and big arena shows in London by ATEEZ and Twice, K-Pop is a genre that is truly thriving in the UK.

The genre has emerged in recent years as a dominant force in the West and one of the fast rising figures of this movement is girl group aespa, made up of members Winter, Giselle, Karina and Ningning.

Following their US debut at Coachella last year and performance at Governors Ball, which was the first performance by a K-Pop act in the festival’s history, aespa further marked their rapid ascent as they made their hotly-anticipated UK debut at a jam-packed the O2 Arena.

Hardcore fans had been queuing up for hours before the doors opened, finally getting the chance to see their favourite K-Pop group make their UK debut. When the lights dimmed there was a huge roar and fans leapt to their feet and when Aespa then hit the stage to perform ‘Girls’, the roar got louder and louder, almost deafening! 

From the first song, aespa had an infectious energy and commanding stage presence with choreographed dances, joined by backup dancers and virtual avatar versions of themselves on screen. 

The band went on to perform hits like ‘aenergy’ and ‘Savage’, the heavy electronic beats, which verged on Dubstep, had fans waving their blue glow sticks in the air. It is almost impossible to go to a K-Pop concert and not have a good time, the fans and band seem to have a perfect synergy that creates a special atmosphere in any venue.

There were regular intervals with movie-quality visuals, which usually led to a solo performance from each member. Karina started with a theatrical performance of ‘Menagerie’, which had similarities to Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ with avant-garde dancing. Winter performed the beautiful ballad ‘Lips’, which slowed the pace down, but this allowed the audience to catch their breath and wave their glow sticks from side to side whilst admiring the song. 

The next two solo performances, Giselle with ‘2 Hot 4 U’ and Ningning ‘Wake Up’ got the party started again and it seemed like every dance move provoked a huge scream from the audience that were loving every moment. 

There was a flurry of some of aespa’s biggest hits, starting with ‘YOLO’ and followed by ‘Hold on Tight’, ‘Spicy’ and ‘Better Things.’ This was arguably one of the highlights of the set as the futuristic visuals on screen were bright and vibrant, matching the vibe of the songs which got the endorphins pumping.

The main section of the show ended with the band’s first song ‘Black Mamba’, which catapulted them onto the world stage being YouTube’s fastest climb to 100 million views for a K-pop debut. 

From the beginning of the show to the very end, aespa showed why they are quickly becoming one of the biggest K-Pop groups and their UK debut was certainly worth the wait.

It is incredibly only three years after their official debut but Aespa have quickly risen to global fame. With their first full-length album in the works, their first international tour and big collabs on the way, the sky’s the limit for these Korean superstars.

Words: Adam Davidson