BLACKPINK: Born Pink World Tour, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, June 10th 2023 – K-Pop Live Review

BLACKPINK have been major influencers of fashion and music, successfully appealing to both Asian and Western audiences, enticing many unsuspecting listeners into the world of K-Pop.

Hype queensJisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa are back in Australia for their BLACKPINK: Born Pink World Tour, performing at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena for the first time in four years. Their highly anticipated return marks the first of four sold out shows with two in Melbourne and two in Sydney. Stocked with a bigger music catalogue than their last visit, many fans both new and old, eagerly gathered at the Melbourne venue to see the popular K-Pop ensemble.

Patrons were adorned in their BLACKPINK inspired outfits, whether it be a mix of pink and black clothes, official merchandise just purchased from the stalls at the venue, the recent BLACKPINK x Cotton On collaboration, or designer branded clothing and accessories that the K-Pop members are brand ambassadors for, this included Calvin Klein, Celine, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. Regardless, all patrons were ready with their Bl-ping-bong lightsticks in hand, available in abundance at the venue for $90 a pop (a rarity for K-Pop shows as lightsticks are usually a limited and highly sought after K-Pop concert necessity).

Having already performed songs ‘Really, ‘Ice-Cream’ and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ at their soundcheck behind closed doors to a lucky few hardcore Blinks, and after two full cycles through BLACKPINK’s single discography on the big screens, the cheers of excitement during the music clips slowly turned into impatient audible groans when the group were over 20 minutes late. But the Melbourne audience quickly switched gears the moment the music volume was turned up, providing notice to fans of BLACKPINK’s imminent arrival.

When the K-Pop foursome finally took to the stage in matching pastel pink and gold accented outfits, accompanied by a live band, the best 16 dancers that money can buy, smoke machines, lasers, fire, and fireworks, the venue transformed in the blink of an eye into a party of pink lights and phones, with fans keen to record every moment. Visually, it looked like we were all at one big exclusive rave that we were lucky to get an invite to.

Through many outfit changes, BLACKPINK entertained with bop after bop including ‘How You Like That’, ‘Don’t Know What To Do’, ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’, and ‘BOOMBAYAH’. ‘Kill This Love’ was a fan favourite, with the audience cheering for the anthemic track upon hearing the iconic trumpet intro and seeing the big screens replicate the visuals of the giant pipe organ, much like the music video. The new songs also went down well with ‘Pink Venom’, ‘Crazy Over You’, ‘Tally’, and ‘Shut Down’ getting a loud reaction from the Melbourne crowd.

While all their songs were well received with equal enthusiasm and energy throughout the night, it was the solo numbers that were the most anticipated section of the concert. This provided the BLACKPINK members the opportunity to display their individual talents. The eagerness from the Melbourne audience was understandable, as last tour it was only Jennie that had a solo release. This time, all four members had their own original songs. Super fortunate on our part, as the world tour had initially begun prior to Jisoo’s solo being released and the Australian dates were thankfully slated after.

Speaking of Jisoo, the vocalist was up first with her new song ‘Flower’. Upon seeing Jisoo’s name show up on the big screens and hearing the introduction to her solo, the silence of the venue turned into a unified roar. Briefly singing in unison to the chorus during the intro clip, the audience quickly begun to chant her name loudly before she even took to the stage.

Appearing in a sparkly black mini dress with matching long gloves and a flower in each hand like the music video, every patron in the venue was ecstatic to finally hear Jisoo sing her own song while performing its mesmerising choreography. You would be hard pressed to find someone in Rod Laver Arena that night, not enchanted by her charm, beauty, talent, and infectious smile.

Next up was Jennie. I expected her to perform her iconic hit conveniently also titled ‘Solo’. Instead, she performed an unreleased track called ‘You and Me’. I found this bizarre as for a song that has been performed consistently during this current world tour since it began back in October 2022, it is very weird that now in June 2023, this song is still unreleased.

The song itself is catchy and helped to showcase Jennie’s dance ability. With clever lighting, it really looked like Jennie was dancing in the moonlight, much like the lyrics described. The song also makes a cheeky reference to the lyrics of ‘How You Like That’, but unless you’re a hardcore Blink that watched a recording on YouTube to familiarise yourself with this song, there would be no way to prepare for this mostly unknown number, nor could you really listen to it again because it’s not on streaming services anywhere.

Homecoming queenRosé received the reception she deserved in her home city, with fans passionately chanting the Melbourne bred K-Pop idol’s name while energetically waving their lightsticks. Morphing into high pitched screams when Rosé literally emerge from the ground onto a raised platform with the stage covered in smoke to replicate clouds, Rosé performed a bit of her song ‘Gone’ before jumping into her signature solo, ‘On the Ground’. It was a little disappointing that we didn’t get to hear the whole song and see the iconic floor choreography that it is known for.

Nevertheless, Rosé swiftly impressed with her strong sweet vocals, songwriting ability (she co-wrote both these songs), professionalism, and captivating stage presence. During her entire performance, fans around the second stage held up their “Welcome home” handmade signs, which was such a sweet and beautiful gesture for the Melbourne K-Pop star.

Finally, Lisa/Lalisa commanded the stage during her song ‘Money’. In a sparkly and fluffy blue mini dress, Lisa worked the entire stage, including the catwalk. She genuinely looked like she was having fun while effortlessly displaying insane dance skills, charisma, high energy, confidence, and her beaming smile. Lisa inspired screams from the audience, with everyone hypnotised by the choreography by the time she reached the second stage. Some smart fans near the second stage also collectively threw into the air fanmade Lisa dollar bills during the song, perfectly timed to the lyrics “Drop some money” which was both hilarious and fantastic.

Although definitely fun, BLACKPINK’s Born Pink World Tour is far from perfect. For a K-Pop concert, the video interludes in between weren’t entertaining nor were they interactive. The two clips appeared more like slow luxury brand commercials than anything else, and while on brand for the group, they are not exactly ideal for a concert.

All four of the BLACKPINK members are stunning in these footages but none of it was engaging and they even took away the momentum from the concert. When there weren’t fashion shoot inspired video interludes, the transition in between sets was flawed, leaving the arena in awkward silence and total darkness much longer than necessary, with everyone waiting for the next act so that the lights would turn back on.

The fan interaction and chatter were limited, Jennie and Rosé briefly made jokes about the adlibbed moment being Jennie and Rosé’s talk show. With Lisa and Jisoo quickly joining them, Rosé shared that despite growing up in Melbourne, she had never been to Melbourne Zoo until recently during this visit and felt like a tourist in her home city.

She also shared that prior to performing at Rod Laver Arena, she’s been to the venue only once to watch tennis during the Australian Open and that it was an honour to perform at the iconic venue. With her family, friends, and her parents somewhere in the audience, she hoped that they were proud of her, even singing a little bit of Skylar Grey’s ‘I’m Coming Home’ to mark the momentous occasion. The members were happy for Rosé to be home and shared in her joy which felt wholesome.

Lisa revealed her interest in wanting to go to Perth to take selfies with quokkas, and while Jisoo’s English isn’t as strong as the other members, she made a conscious effort to affectionally acknowledge and address the fans in English, which I found thoughtful and sweet. However, when Jisoo spoke in Korean, unlike other K-Pop concerts, there wasn’t a translator which was strange as there usually is always a translator available to advise audiences what the K-Pop idol is saying.

BLACKPINK ended their concert with their more light-hearted and uplifting songs ‘Forever Young’ and ‘As If It’s Your Last’, overall, still providing a fun and entertaining night for Melbourne patrons. It didn’t matter if you were a long-time Blink or a casual fan, there was something at this show for everyone.

For the uninitiated, BLACKPINK are a great introduction into the world of K-Pop and in that retrospect, this concert delivers in spades. However, for those that have followed the genre for a while, as well as tallying up the time spent on video interludes, being late to start, and waiting in pitch black darkness, BLACKPINK’s concert felt far too short.

As I left the venue, I overheard many patrons voicing the same opinions out loud which was both a relief and incredibly frustrating. With BLACKPINK’s combined talents, this concert had the potential to be so much more.

Before considering taking their future tours to stadiums, which I believe they’re more than capable of doing, a few kinks will need to be ironed out production wise. Also, more songs (like ‘Playing With Fire’ which was not on the setlist despite their limited discography) and less empty darkness, please.

BLACKPINK performed in Melbourne at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday June 10 and Sunday June 11 as part of their Born Pink World Tour. BLACKPINK have two more shows in Australia in Sydney at Qudos Bank Arena this Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of June.
Due to popular demand, all shows are sold out, but to try your luck and for more information, visit:

Images supplied by BLACKPINK, presented by YG Entertainment.

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