Today (or, “yesterday” in Japan), SHINee performed their first concert without Jonghyun. It’s been less than two months since he passed away. The show began at 5:25 p.m. with a set-list of their most popular Korean and Japanese songs. The twenty-fifth song they performed was the Japanese version of their Korean debut song, “누나 너무 예뻐” (Nuna Neomu Yeppo/Older Lady, You’re So Pretty). The concert’s start time and the placing of this song is significant to members of SHINee and SHINee World.
It is highly unlikely SM Entertainment/SM Entertainment Japan will release this performance, even though social media footage seem to show that it was being taped. However, social media sites offer live-Tweets of the action, and fancams share performance clips. Fans get a sense of SHINee members understandably wavering at the beginning and quickly settling into their usual push towards excellence as the concert continues. They seem to gather strength from the fans (who, in turn, seem to be working diligently to give it to them).
“No one can replace Jonghyun hyung’s position. We want to let everyone know that SHINee’s stages in the future will always be together with Jonghyun.” – Choi Minho (January 8, 2018)
In most cases, song and choreography have been modified only where absolutely necessary. No back-up dancers cover for Jonghyun. Fan accounts state that the group performed “Everybody” – one of their most intricate choreographies requiring all five members – without an extra dancer.
In addition to “missing man” formations, the show is peppered with activities keeping the spirit of Jonghyun on stage: his singing parts play without edit; special “ments” (films/vignettes in show breaks) about Jonghyun; and the like. As a particular tribute, SHINee performed a new song that the group recorded before Jonghyun’s passing. The photo still in this post is from that portion of the show.
At the end of the concert, each member briefly shared particularly vulnerable thoughts about preparing for these shows, and discussed the role and memory of Jonghyun in their lives. Their comments also seem to reassure fans that the group plans to continue working together for the foreseeable future.
This concert makes plain that SHINee’s goal is not to prove that they can perform without Jonghyun. They are there to show that Jonghyun is still performing with them as far as they are concerned. They could have easily taken this tragedy to withdraw, to say “it’s all for naught.” They could have said, “it will be too hard to change the formations, to sing Jonghyun’s high notes, to perform the songs he wrote for us.” They could have decided, “it’s too hard to face the fans.” They did none of that.
In some clips, microexpressions show their sadness and the conflict they undoubtedly must feel performing on stage so soon after Jonghyun’s death. They are still very much grieving. However, they are feeling these feelings and are doing what they love – for whom they love – *anyway.*
This concert falls during a time that is very challenging and disappointing lately for me as a professional. In watching these images and performances, I am trying to re-center and re-evaluate many things. I am so, so, very, very thankful for SHINee’s selfless example of fortitude, and that’s just the way it is.
UPDATE: The concert footage will be released for purchase in late June 2018!