BTS, the biggest band IN THE WORLD – bigger than the Beatles EVER WERE! – REALLY! – is restarting their “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” world tour on Oct. 10 at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The appearance comes at the request of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and has generated a sliiiight bit of controversy for the band, especially as MBS (as he is known) is currently implicated in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And let’s not forget the country’s long history of anti-LGBTQ rights violations, Human Rights violations, anti-women policies and tendency to stone or behead anyone who falls on the wrong side of the darkly authoritarian regime.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy,” RM, BTS’ 25-year-old charismatic leader, says (extremely carefully) of the decision to play there “But we were officially invited. It’s been a while since we’ve performed in the Middle East — I guess the last time was 2015 in Dubai.”
Adds band member Jimin: “To put it simply, if there’s a place where people want to see us, we’ll go there. That’s really how we feel.”
Indeed, when the boys are being interviewed, all sticky subjects are quickly skated past.
Whenever the conversation turns to anything controversial — or just slightly provocative — their answers have all the spontaneity of a Disney animatronic figure. For instance, when asked if they have any reservations about resuming their tour in America during such a politically fraught period, a switch seems to flip in RM’s brain. “BTS doesn’t talk about big issues like war or peace, or global poverty or starvation, or things like that,” he says, shooting down the question. “There are a lot of issues, both in the United States and in Korea. I think the message [is] loving yourself, as well as to look at the small things.”
Of course, nothing can quite touch the boys at this point in their career, so I’m sure a concert for MBS will be just a blip on the radar of what looks to be a very long career.