BTS reunite with ARMY at 'PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE' Seoul concert: "This is my true home." — gig report

BTS reunite with ARMY at 'PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE' Seoul concert: "This is my true home." — gig report

BTS are home. 

For the first time since 2019, the GRAMMY-nominated pop group have returned to the live stage in Korea, kicking off their highly anticipated PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE - SEOUL hybrid concert series. This comes as the 'Butter' hitmakers' first time performing in front of their Korean fans, following the cancellation of their MAP OF THE SOUL world tour in early 2020. 

The show is the country's biggest pop concert since the start of the pandemic, but it definitely wasn't the stadium the globally renowned pop group were used to. With a limited audience capacity of 15,000 for each show and a strict "no cheering" policy, it was a lot quieter than BTS were used to—something that they, later on, shared made them quite nervous. Meanwhile, thousands of fans from across the globe tuned in via VenewLive. 

But regardless of it all, it was a meaningful homecoming and a performance that proved exactly why BTS are one of today's biggest artists. 

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BTS come home to ARMY in first in-person concert in Seoul since 2019

In true BTS fashion, the concert began with pure power and a stunning showcase of skill and craft. Donning red and white, the seven-piece opened the show with ground-shaking performances of 'ON', 'Fire', 'Dope', and 'DNA'

While most of the setlist is one we've all heard and seen before—in both the online and Los Angeles renditions of the concert, there was a special energy and intensity in how BTS performed this time around. After all, there's nothing like being back home. 

After their opening number, the group addressed their Korean fans for the very first time in two and a half years. Even through a screen, you can tell the 'Dynamite' act radiated nothing but happiness. While yes, they still couldn't hear or see their fan's faces, it still definitely beats performing to a bunch of empty seats. 

"Back then, we danced while facing empty seats and looking at cameras but now we’re looking at ARMYs while performing. My heart is fluttering and I'm happy," said V

"Everyone has been waiting for this performance for a long time. We have prepared great stages that everyone can enjoy, so please enjoy it to your heart's content without looking at anyone," said J-hope

The three-hour concert went on with nothing short of top-tier performances from BTS, with each member shining every moment they took centre stage.

With RM's undeniable stage presence and adorable sense of innocence, Jin's enticing charm and stable vocals, SUGA's ever-impressive rap verses and powerful delivery, J-hope's infectious energy and dance precision, Jimin's beautiful harmonies and elegant dance moves, V's playful spirit and seemingly effortless performance, and Jungkook's unbelievable, studio-like vocals, the show was a spectacle you couldn't help but dance and sing (and luckily, since we were tuning in online, scream) to. 

You especially have to note V's performance. Having just recovered from COVID recently, getting through those physically-demanding choreographies and high notes was no easy feat. 

Again, this is a setlist we've seen before, but there was something extra special about this particular performance of 'Life Goes On'. It's been a difficult two years for both BTS and ARMY alike, having spent a lot of their time together through a screen and interacting online. And even with their homecoming reunion in place, it's shrouded with safety measures and guidelines. 

However, in spite of it all, the same love and admiration still stand. Like the very lyrics of the BE lead single: "Thankfully between you and me, nothing's changed" – a sentiment felt by every one in the audience that night as the very same words were also printed as slogans for the fans to cheer with.

Throughout the performance of the song, as the group stared into the crowd and watched the glistening ocean of ARMY BOMB lightsticks waving in the air (after over two years of performing to static fanlights), you could see this is exactly where BTS are meant to be—with ARMY. 

Other notable standout moments were, of course, the apt performance of 'HOME' that warmed our hearts, and 'Boy With Luv', 'Airplane Pt. 2', and 'Dis-ease' where RM played around with the lyrics and tempo on the fly (it was especially hilariously cruel to rap offbeat like it was lagging to tease the fans tuning in to the livestream). As well as 'Telepathy' where Jungkook changed the lyrics to send a message to their fans: "I'm the happiest when I love you, ARMY is the most important to me."

ARMY also got to celebrate SUGA's 29th birthday with him with a surprise greeting, making the concert much more special. 

Beyond their impressive performances, BTS also stunned the crowd with their hilarious interactions that had everyone laughing. Thanks to the group's charmingly chaotic energy, there were segments of the show that felt something straight of their reality show Run BTS.

From re-enacting fan reactions themselves to judging ARMY's uncoordinated ocean wave, the group really made up for the "no cheering" rule in the best ways possible.

We've also got to mention this concert's stage design. With so many twinkling lights and moving parts, it's clear that BTS went the extra mile to make this show their best one yet and present a concert that their fans deserve, way beyond the obvious powerful performances. 

It was especially heartwarming to see two whales float over the stage as the much-awaited reunion comes to an end. An ode to their song 'Whalien 52', it symbolises two lonely creatures (BTS and ARMY) finally finding peace in each other again. 

With their first PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE - SEOUL concert drawing to a close, BTS bid their fans farewell with a heartfelt message of thanks and appreciation, for staying with them throughout the years. It was undoubtedly a happy moment, reuniting with ARMY after so long and getting to perform where it all started. 

RM: "We didn’t realize how precious it is to be together and jump together, we took it for granted. I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect us; we had lots of restrictions.. but now doing the concert, it’s so much better than an online concert. I think we took a big step. I really wanted to sing 'HOME' and it was meaningful because this is my true home. Seeing you all made me so happy. and looking back at this, it's gonna be a fun memory."

Jin: "Everyone we really prepared a lot for this show because we said we’re doing a concert in Korea, we were wondering if we should change the setlist or not but because KARMYs couldn’t see this setlist, we wanted to show it to you all! It’s really cold today and I was worried but I’m glad to see that everyone was dressed warm!"

SUGA: "Everyone, two and a half years! Here we are again! When we were here last time, we said just wait a little bit but it’s been two and a half years so we’re sorry about it. We have better days to come and we will always find an answer!"

J-hope: "Everyone, have you been well? I don’t think I’ve been doing that well. Honestly, for the past two and a half years with COVID, I didn’t know when it was going to end and I kept missing you. For the past two and a half years, we wanted to do something for you ARMY and we lived while working hard but it was really difficult. Thank you for washing these concerns away and I missed you all so much, I cannot explain with words."

Jimin: "It’s been a while! We've all been waiting for this for a long time and missed each other so much. In the beginning, when doing soundcheck, it felt weird to see ARMY and I really felt 'I’m really back home'. I’m happy we spent this time together, it feels like meeting a friend for the first time in a while.

V: "I had really high hopes and thought we should have lots of fun! Was it fun everyone? Hearing your claps and not your voices made me want to hear your voice more; I made a goal of hearing your voices next time! We still have the two days left right? let’s make lots of happy memories!"

Jungkook: "First of all, it’s been two and a half years since I’ve seen you all. I was thinking about what to talk about in the ending ment so before going to sleep, I couldn’t sleep because I thinking of what to say. I just missed you all and this moment makes me so happy. Even though I can’t see your expressions or hear your voice, I was really happy. Let’s continue to make more happy memories, this is just the beginning!"


The rest of BTS' PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE - SEOUL concert series with continue on 12 March, with a global live-viewing, and 13 March with an online livestream. Here's everything you need to know about the rest of the concerts


PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE - SEOUL Setlist:

ON
Fire
DOPE
DNA
Blue & Grey
Black Swan
Blood Sweat & Tears
Fake Love
Life Goes On
Boy With Luv
Dynamite
Butter
Telepathy
Outro: Wings
Stay
So What
IDOL
HOME
Airplane pt. 2
Silver Spoon
Dis-ease
Permission to Dance