SEOUL, March 10 -- The Seoul Olympic Stadium again turned into a festival of purple lights from ARMY bombs on Thursday as the K-pop supergroup BTS returned to the stage for its first live concert in front of fans at home since 2019.
The show was the first of the group's three concerts titled "Permission to Dance on Stage — Seoul" scheduled for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The audience of 15,000 erupted in thunderous applause when the seven members appeared on stage singing "On," the main track from the group's fourth full-length album "Map of the Soul: 7," released in February 2020 and performing perfectly synchronized dance moves.
Since all screaming, chanting or singing along during concerts is barred under strict COVID-19 rules, fans instead expressed their enthusiasm by clapping and waving their purple-colored LED wands known as ARMY bombs in sync to the tunes of BTS songs. ARMY refers to the band's global fan base.
Band leader RM said he was thrilled to be performing before a live audience at home again.
"The fact that you are all seated in the stands shows a lot has changed," he said, referring to a concert the group performed for live-streaming without an audience last year.
"When would we experience a concert where we can get only clapping? This is a concert to be remembered in history," he said.
Another member, Suga, said, "There may be some regrets that we cannot shout, but isn't it important that we're together like this for the first time in two and a half years?"
The show was prepared without splashy stage sets or effects to help audiences better pay attention to their favorite stars, whom they have not seen for a long time, according to the group's agency, Big Hit Music.
For this, a massive LED screen was installed on the stage as in the group's Los Angeles concerts last year, so the audience can get better views of the artists even at a distance.
The show that lasted for slightly more than two and a half hours closed with the band's performance of "Permission To Dance."
As it was the biggest music concert held in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the organizers appear to have made every effort to prevent spread of the virus at the venue.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has limited each show at 15,000 spectators per night, despite the stadium's 70,000 capacity, to provide some physical distancing amid the pandemic.
Big Hit also deployed about 750 health safety management workers, which is about 5 percent of the number of spectators approved for each night, so they can thoroughly check the spectators for fever and ensure mask wearing. They asked spectators to refrain from shouting during the show and leave the place in an orderly manner after the show ended.
The band will hold two more concerts at the same venue on Saturday and Sunday.
The second show will be also available for "live viewing" at movie theaters around the world while the last show will be streamed live online.