“I’m so excited and so nervous,” Wonho says minutes into his second livestream concert, #WENEEDLOVE. If the latter emotion is how he’s feeling inside, though, it isn’t obvious on screen. Instead, he spends the show’s two-and-a-half hours goofing around, sharing his innermost thoughts and putting on performances that run the full gamut of human emotion without a jitter in sight.
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Of course, this isn’t a man who is short of experience when it comes to wowing crowds, whether they’re in front of his face or watching from their rooms. He first dipped his toes into the virtual concert world last September with his debut solo live show and, before that, was better known as one-seventh of MONSTA X. His former group is a big shadow to step out from, but in the seven months since he debuted on his own, Wonho has proved he’s more than capable of owning a stage by himself.
Today, he does so with a show that gives a 360-degree view of his personality. It begins in his dressing room, Wonho gazing into a mirror like a Hollywood starlet about to make cinematic history. The camera follows him as he walks towards the stage and takes deep breaths as the backdrop lifts and he steps out to really get things going. As sepia-tinged film reels flicker behind him, he delivers a heartfelt version of the piano-led, tender ‘FLASH’, opening things on a soft note.
As his set continues, the performances gradually shift in mood. There’s the funky pop of ‘Best Shot’, whereby the star is joined by backing dancers to deliver a bright and effortlessly cool routine (complete with mock golf swing move), while ‘Lost In Paradise’ takes things into far cuter territory.
After a simple but dramatic palate cleanser with the always-emotional ‘Losing You’, the Wonho you might recognise from his thirst trap-filled Insta feed starts to make himself known. On ‘Devil’, he smoulders while singing from a chair engulfed in atmospheric lights, while the English version of ‘Lose’ finds him upping the sexiness in front of a futuristic set.
Between tracks, we get a more intimate glimpse into Wonho’s life. There’s behind-the-scenes footage of his rehearsal for this show, a video Q&A and real-time interviews with an MC. At times, he mimics the translator as they interpret his words, mouthing along as if he’s the one still speaking. During one segment, he takes on fans’ own choreographies for his songs, dancing along to their videos. “I don’t think she’s just a normal person,” he says while watching one impressive clip and drops his jaw when another, even more complex routine appears on the screen later.
These behind-the-mic moments are entertaining to watch – to a point. Through them, we get to learn in-depth details about his life, as well as the fact that Wonho is working on a new album that he’s hoping to release in the summer. But when there’s only 45 minutes of the whole show left and he’s still only performed five songs, an urge for things to be a bit more concise does start to emerge.
Still, when he’s on stage, Wonho is the kind of performer you can barely take your eyes off of. As he enters the final throes of the show, he takes the mood back full circle. ‘Ain’t About You’ mixes cute with sexy and every time the singer deploys a move that sees him raise his shirt to reveal his abs, he gives a knowing smile to the camera. Just as quickly as he’s teased us, though, he and his dancers switch to dorky mode via dancing like robots.
Closing song ‘WENEED’ features Wonho standing alone on stage once more, ready to tug at our heartstrings again, just as he did at the start. It’s a bittersweet ending – gorgeous and poignant, but a reminder that it’s still unclear when the physical distance between the WENEE fandom and Wonho himself will close. “When I’m back on the stage and sing this song / Will you be there for me again?” he asks on the track.
It’s a moving reminder of the symbiotic relationship between fan and artist that has been forced to exist in a different realm over the last year. “Being with you guys and you guys being with me – I really do feel the influence from it,” he says as he walks back to the spot where he first entered the stage a few hours ago. Here’s hoping that soon Wonho gets to feel that connection – and stun us with his performance skills – in person sooner rather than later.
‘Lost In Paradise’
‘Ain’t About You’