The band takes a bow at the end of a successful concert.
The band takes a bow at the end of a successful concert. By Cara J. Chang

The Rose Concert Review: Group Therapy At Roadrunner

Huge black roses filled the stage as props, and the band and fans handed each other roses, the symbol of the band’s simultaneously sweet and thorny music.
By Larissa G. Barth

“I honestly feel like our music fits really well with Boston’s weather,” lead singer Woosung of The Rose told a crowd of fans — nicknamed Black Roses — after performing “She’s In The Rain.” With a balanced mix of lightheartedness and sensibility, the aptly titled “HEAL TOGETHER” concert provided a therapeutic space with its setlist that journeyed from heart-wrenching rock over joyful pop escapism to ballads about true healing.

The Rose is a South Korean pop-rock band that sings in Korean and English. The group is composed of members Woosung, Dojoon, Hajoon, and Jaehyeong. Their current world tour featuring their first full-length album “HEAL” comes after a three-year hiatus due to the members’ completion of Korea’s mandatory military service as well as the termination of their contract with J&Star Company.

By Cara J. Chang

After this long and tumultuous time of waiting that led many fans to fear The Rose’s disbandment, both The Rose and Black Roses were clearly overjoyed by their reunion. Huge black roses filled the stage as props, and the band and fans handed each other roses, the symbol of the band’s simultaneously sweet and thorny music.

The concert started with some of the band’s most heart-wrenching songs such as “Insomnia” and the fan-favorite “She’s In The Rain” which had the crowd singing along with Woosung: “You wanna hurt yourself / I’ll stay with you / You wanna make yourself / Go through the pain / It’s better to be held / Than holding on.”

Woosung, who is also a solo artist, possesses one of the most distinctive voices in the K-pop industry. His crystal-clear falsetto and the deliberately quivering and exceptional agility of his voice combined with an engaging stage presence, create a rock-star package that was a delight to behold. The Rose’s other members were in no way inferior to their charismatic frontman and each showed their mastery over multiple instruments.

The setlist then shifted toward upbeat pop-rock with “California” and “Red” that had both performers and audience dancing away their stress and worries. As the stage lights bathed the hall in red and Black Roses turned their lightsticks the same color, Roadrunner became a warm, blissful hideaway.

The band then played more of its new album “HEAL.” The most emotional song of the album and concert was the ballad “See-Saw,” written by Jaehyeong during his compulsory South Korean military service. “Hi, it's me here / I'm fine / Don't worry / What I want to hear the most / Emotions all day long / It’s going up and down,” Jaehyeong sang with his eyes closed and voice trembling with emotion. All of Roadrunner’s lights were turned off, underscoring his loneliness and isolation. Yet, in a truly touching moment, Black Roses responded by lighting up the hall with a sea of flashlights.

On the stage’s screen, The Rose showed an excerpt of the video documentation “The HEAL Project | Episode 2,” where Woosung said, “When someone has a problem or worries, I don’t think we have the power to directly solve these issues. Nobody has that kind of power. Because everyone has to solve these problems themselves. But what I can do is stay at someone’s side.” As he read the lyrics Jaehyeong had written, he wanted to comfort and reply to him, so the second verse turns the song into a dialogue: “Hello, it's me / I'm here / And you're okay / Don't worry / What do you want to hear the most? / I'll do it for you all day / With no ups and downs.” With brilliant songwriting, the see-saw metaphor — originally illustrating emotional imbalance — is reinterpreted: “Like a see-saw with different ends / I'll relieve the weight off you, slowly, little by little.”

“See-Saw” epitomizes The Rose’s message of healing. Healing cannot happen in isolation, it comes slowly by sharing our stories and staying by someone’s side. For The Rose, this also means interacting closely with their fans. During the sweet ballad “I.L.Y.,” Woosung gestured towards Black Roses as he sang “I love you, our love is true.” He also asked the technicians to turn on all of Roadrunner’s lights to read the fans’ creative signs, which was a funny and heart-warming interlude.

Before performing their debut song “Sorry,” which is still the band’s most popular hit, they reminisced on their humble beginnings: “Nobody knew us, we were giving out candies for people to come to our show,” Woosung shared. The audience, passionately singing along in (more or less accurate) Korean, clearly reciprocated The Rose’s gratitude for coming so far.

After the last song, the band went off stage for what felt like forever, making Black Roses shout “Encore!” with increasing fervor. Finally, The Rose reappeared to perform “Black Rose,” a song dedicated to their fans, rewarding their wait once again. After promising that they will come back next year, the band concluded an unforgettable evening of collective healing with the words “We Rose You!”

—Staff writer Larissa G. Barth can be reached at