There’s a sea of young men and women outside the SSE Arena in Wembley, London wrapped in variations of crop tees, hoodies, and rough finished denim pieces all featuring a splash of black and pink. One of 2019’s hottest Kpop girlgroups BLACKPINK, made up of Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa and Rosé, are performing in London for the first time and almost everyone has a ‘Pyong Bong’ or Hammer Stick. For those not in the know, the pyong byong is BLACKPINK’s official lightstick and looks like a gavel with two pink hearts where the head should be. It lights up and also squeaks. It’s an entirely ridiculous object that somehow looked amazing during the night.

Currently the jewel in their agency’s crown, YG Entertainment is facing backlash over one of their now previous star’s involvement in what is known as the ‘Burning Sun scandal’ that involves allegations related to sexual assault and sex trafficking. YG’s shares have plunged but BLACKPINK remains safe in the court of public opinion.

BLACKPINK has been criticised for holding big stadium tours with a limited discography. In two years, the 4-membered group have released 14 songs (including a collab with Dua Lipa) and in the Kpop world, this is nothing. Even with the show running half an hour late, the screaming BLINKs were happy to wait even more. Thousands of people singing along to the music videos played before the girls even appeared washed away all of the fatigue of waiting in the sun. Rather awkwardly, the tour’s sponsor Kia had an outrageously horrible promo spot featuring the members and was also name checked on stage. I’ll be happy to see less of that, thanks.

Covering all songs from dual debut singles 'Whistle' and 'Boombayah' to latest hit 'Kill This Love', they even managed to squeeze in some solo performances. In a moment that’s expected for veteran Kpop fans and potentially out of place for those new to the genre, main vocalist Rosé covered a mashup of 'Let It Be' by The Beatles, Park Bom’s 'U&I' and Taeyang’s 'Only Look at Me'. Lisa of course did a dance cover while Jisoo covered Zedd’s 'Clarity'. Finally, it girl of the group Jennie performed her solo track, the aptly titled 'Solo', despite a clumsy pause due to a faulty stage lift.

During the awkward Kia video, something felt wrong. The rhythm of the set feels strange and the lack of a full troop of backing dancers makes the stage feel rather empty in a big arena like this. YG Entertainment splashes a lot of cash on the music videos for BLACKPINK and the transition to a live stage has seen some of this rich visual effects fall flat. What does work is the use of what used to be company senior group BIG BANG’s live band. The Band Six rearranges and performs with YG Kpop idols while on tour across the world. They’re a good portion of the online buzz for BLACKPINK’s set for Coachella and absolutely added a layer of rock, drama and power to the entire show. It’s a shame, then, that they were kept behind the scenes so much.

BLACKPINK is marketed as a Kpop girl group with an edge. They’re a little rougher than their peers and offer something a bit more energetic than some of the cutesy pop out there. Ultimately though, it’s still pop marketed as rap/ hip hop. I’d like to see some more diversity to their discography and for YG to not be so tight on filling the stage. If you’re selling a squeaking heart gavel lightstick at £30 a pop, you can afford it.