Words: Anna Marie
It’s unbelievable that two years have passed since the release of BTS’ magnum opus (so far) Map Of The Soul:7. The album had so much success and yet deserved so much more, and longer to shine, but so many of BTS’ plans were cut short due to the outbreak of COVID 19. However, that’s not to say that the era vanished altogether – BTS were one of the very best at adjusting to the new ways of performing and communicating with fans. To celebrate the birthday of MOTS:7, here are seven of the era’s best live performances.
You can ask pretty much any baby ARMY which performances they watched on repeat when they first started stanning, and this is one of the ones they will say. ‘ON’ is always incredible when performed live; the energy and ferocity of the song are unmatched, but there’s just a little something extra about this version. They also included the dance break from the ‘ON’ Kinetic Manifesto Film, and we love to see it get the airtime it deserves!
Not only is this performance testament to their artistry, but it’s also the perfect example of their work ethic. The performance was filmed at 3 am in the middle of a particularly gruelling US promo trip. Watching behind the scenes, you can see how much the group pushed themselves and host Jimmy Fallon has previously said that he could feel Jungkook’s heart beating through his back when they hugged afterwards.
Every second of these 37 minutes is pure gold. Arguably their best ever awards show performance (I’m right and I should say it), BTS meshes eras new and old before dedicating the last 20 minutes of their set to one of their very best songs, ‘Dionysus.’ ‘Dionysus’ is a discussion of the similarities between art and alcohol, and alcoholism and artistry, through the vessel of Greek god Dionysus. For the first part of its performance, BTS have individual breaks, where they each represent a different Greek god and dance to a remixed version of one of their older tracks. Eventually, the moment crescendos and their usual performance of the song begins (I say ‘usual’ – it’s insanely ambitious and involves several tables), plus the addition of one of their best ever dance breaks.
Without including the MOTS ON:E online concert, this list would be pretty much worthless. Born out of the frustration of the Map Of The Soul World Tour getting indefinitely postponed (and eventually cancelled), BTS took matters into their own hands in 2020. MOTS ON:E took place on 10th and 11th October 2020, live-streamed globally, making BTS one of the first artists to really make use of online performances during the pandemic. The setlist was explosive, spanning the 20-track beast that is Map Of The Soul:7, whilst incorporating hits and b-sides from all the previous seven years of their career. Highlights included the show’s opener of ‘ON’ and ‘N.O.,’ as well as every member getting the chance to perform their solo tracks from MOTS:7 – honestly don’t even know where to begin with praising those.
Oh, how I wish I’d been on ARMY Twitter the day of this performance. ‘Black Swan’ being released as a single was quite the surprise to ARMY, and the choreography is unlike anything BTS had ever done before. Performed barefoot, as they lament about the potential death of their passion and artistry, this performance represents a change in BTS’ creative direction just as much as the song represents a turning point within MOTS:7. The strong contrast between the performances of ‘ON’ and ‘Black Swan’ demonstrate BTS’ versatility and dynamism, and it’s also wonderful to see Jimin’s background in ballet and contemporary shine here.
As we saw with the Grand Central Station performance, ‘ON’ is an astonishing feat when performed live. For the 2020 MAMAs, BTS knew they needed another incredible venue, this time Seoul World Cup Stadium. Complete with individual dance breaks, the performance also included dozens of drummers and backing dancers, as well as cheerleaders and acrobats being thrown into the air. Plus the smooth camera work despite the intense and intricate nature of the performance is testament to not only BTS’ talent, but their teams too.
Whilst some could argue this is technically a ‘Dynamite’ era performance, there’s no way I could’ve ignored this performance of ‘HOME,’ from Map Of The Soul: Persona. Despite being one of the only songs from MOTS: Persona to not make it onto MOTS:7, ‘HOME’ is definitely a fan-favourite, and maybe this performance is why.
In a blue-themed house where everyone is wearing PJs and Loewe, the set included a spinning bedroom that, yes, was actually spinning IRL. Every time I watch this performance I spot someone else being weird as hell in the background, from throwing flour to punching a blender to doing pull-ups on the kitchen cupboards. It’s so fun to see BTS being anarchical in a space where their perfectionism often remains supreme.
‘Black Swan’ is already one of their most beautiful performances, but for the 2020 MMAs they really stepped it up a notch. Down a member due to SUGA’s shoulder surgery, the group performed a small dance number in pairs, including the absolutely iconic moment where Jungkook lifts Jimin. The setlist is almost split in two, with ‘Black Swan’ and ‘ON’ being followed by ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Life Goes On,’ which perfectly blended the Map Of The Soul era with its successor, and allowed BTS to transition into the next phase of their careers.
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