At full 'Gangnam' gallop
Psy saves the best till last as he celebrates Loy Krathong with Thai fans at Muang Thong Thani
Some 30,000 "Gangnam" fans braved the rain and traffic-locked roads Wednesday, spilling into the SCG stadium in Muang Thong Thani to welcome South Korean artist Psy to his Loy Krathong concert. Sadly though, they failed to set a new Guinness World Record for the most number of people dancing to the hit "Gangnam Style".
The festive event kicked off with a show by three comedians from the Yong Chernyim Troupe who put on a great Thai folk performance and had the audience laughing at their jokes.
They were followed by Korean DJ Sound Cruz and Kim Eung Joo, a member of boy band 7942, who came with a DJ mix set of Korean hits including 2PM's "Again and Again", Super Junior's "Sorry, Sorry" and Big Bang's "Fantastic Baby". The crowd showed surprisingly little enthusiasm, probably because most of them were well out of their teens and not particular fans of Korean boy bands and girl groups.
Cheers rang out as Gancore Boy, featuring Joey Boy and Sing Nuea Suea Tai, appeared on stage with a set of songs that blended hip hop, luk thung and much more besides. While not a new set - many had seen it performed at earlier concerts - the crowd did whatever rapper Joey Boy wanted them to do and had fun too.
Then, at last, it was time for Psy. Staff busied themselves giving the wet stage a final wipe before the Korean artist, whose hit "Gangnam Style" has become an international sensation, emerged to screams and applause.
Yet unlike most other artists, he didn't swing straight into his opener, but set the tone for the rest evening by starting up a conversation.
"This is my very first time in this country. You are the first people to see my performance live in Thailand, City of Bangkok. Are you ready?" Psy shouted to the crowd, before turning round and asking his technical team to turn every light on and off.
"I know you only know one of my songs. I have been a singer for 12 years in Korea. From now on, before 'Gangnam Style', I'm gonna show you my 12 years and sing my previous songs. So, when I say jump, you are gonna jump, okay? All right, let's practice first, because I see people sitting down there. So, if you sit down, I'm gonna sit down and perform. Are you ready, Thailand? My first song is called 'Champion'. When I pass my mike to you, you are gonna shout 'Champion'.
"I learn your language. Let me speak it: 'sawasdi khrub', and 'phom rak khon Thai'. All right, give me the music."
"Champion", a successful single off his third album "Psy" in 2002, is essentially a dance song with an old melody, rather like the disco numbers of the 1970s and '80s. And while the crowd would have preferred "Gangnam Style", they obediently jumped and gamely shouted "Champion", giving themselves a loud round of applause as the number came to an end.
Before going to the next song "Right Now" from "Psy Five" in 2010, Psy again introduced himself.
"This is Psy from Korea. How are you tonight? Let's practice how to scream. 'Khor sieng noi' [make some noise]. It is really a good day, a memorable day, and an honourable day in Thailand. You are gonna be the happy people, not me. So, this song is for you. If you don't jump, I'm gonna stand [still] like this and finish it. So, please jump like this everybody and turn on every light. If one single person isn't jumping, I'm not gonna move and stand like this and finish it."
"Bit too talkative," said someone standing next to me. "Yeah, wish he'd shut up and sing," said another.
As the electronic intro played, Psy shouted: "Are you ready, Thailand?"
He started jumping, and, yes, the audience followed.
After the song, Psy drank water from a bottle and asked: "Are you thirsty? I can give you my water by just pouring it or by drinking then pouring it from my mouth. What do you want?"
Silence, then a shout: "That's so dirty." Fortunately, the Korean artist chose to splash water from the bottle, not from his mouth.
Psy talked again before going to "Paradise". "Everybody has a cell phone, right? When I say cell phone please, you're gonna put your cell phone in the air."
During the song, he said: "I got the news about 860 million views on YouTube and Thailand gives me 40 million YouTube views. Thank you."
With "Paradise" safely behind him, Psy could safely move on to the song everyone was waiting for, "Gangnam Style".
"This is my last song," he announced. "This song needs more energy. I want everybody in this building to dance with me together, sing with me together, and rap with me together. I'm taking off this shirt. Are you ready for the dance moves?"
Yet, he still didn't go to the hit, instead talking about his new album to be released on next March.
"I'll come back here with the new songs. Thailand, thank you so much and thank you for your support. I love you. 'Phom rak khon Thai'."
"Gangnam Style" ended with a firework display and concert promoter Vinij Lertratanachai leading Psy to float his krathong in a small pond on the stage.
And fortunately for a few frustrated fans, he chose not to speak but swung straight into an encore - "Gangnam Style".