Hong Kong boy band Mirror bounces back with sell-out shows, but unfinished business lingers from 2022 concert accident

Explainer | Hong Kong boy band Mirror bounces back with sell-out shows, but unfinished business lingers from 2022 concert accident

Popular Cantopop boy band Mirror and their accompanying dancers were performing at the Hong Kong Coliseum when tragedy struck on July 28, 2022.

A large screen measuring four-by-four metres (13.1-by-13.1 feet) came crashing down on the stage, injuring two of the dancers, one seriously.

The accident halted the concert series, shocked fans and sent the 12-member band into a long hiatus during which they kept a low profile and critics questioned if they would be able to bounce back.

It also surfaced allegations of negligence by stage producers and the concert organisers, prompting the authorities to review safety guidelines for such performances.

More than a year and a half later, Mirror is embarking on a new tour, with 16 sold-out concerts in Hong Kong over three weeks from January 15, followed by an international tour.

But there remains a trail of unfinished business related to the accident. The Post looks at the various parties involved and the issues not yet settled.

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Police patrol outside the Hong Kong Coliseum in August, 2022. Three employees of Engineering Impact are set to stand trial this year in connection with the accident. Photo: Dickson Lee

1. What went wrong at the concert?

Mirror members Anson Lo Hon-ting, Edan Lui Cheuk-on and 12 dancers were in the middle of a performance when the overhead screen crashed down. The cables keeping it suspended apparently snapped.

Dancers Mo Li Kai-yin and Chang Tsz-fung were hit. Li, 28, was severely injured and said to be at risk of becoming paralysed from the neck down.

The concert, the fourth of 12 shows, was stopped immediately and the rest of the series of concerts were cancelled.

Investigations revealed that during the first concert, another dancer, Zisac Law Tak-chi, fell two to three metres during rehearsals after an elevating platform failed to ascend to the stage as expected. He had chest and knee injuries and sprained his neck.

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At least 2 people injured by giant video screen falling onto stage at Mirror concert in Hong Kong

At least 2 people injured by giant video screen falling onto stage at Mirror concert in Hong Kong

2. How is dancer Mo Li?

Li, a pastor’s son, became immobile after suffering critical injuries to his spine, head and lungs. He is still at the CUHK Medical Centre run by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He has undergone multiple major operations, and his treatments include magnetic brain stimulation therapy, physiotherapy and acupuncture.

Last February, more than half a year after the accident, Reverend Derek Li Shing-lam said his son was able to take his first steps with the help of an exoskeleton device.

At the end of last year, he revealed that Li could speak, chew and swallow normally and had spent Christmas outside hospital with the family and his medical team.

Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li Tzar-kai, chairman of PCCW, the parent company of concert co-organiser MakerVille, visited Li at the private hospital and offered to cover his medical fees and donate HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) to the family.

But the injured man’s father declined the tycoon’s offer, as well as other donations from churches and individuals.

MakerVille co-produced the concert with Music Nation Group. Neither was charged with wrongdoing after the official investigation was completed.

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Dancer Mo Li is still receiving treatment at the CUHK Medical Centre after being critically injured on July 28, 2022. Photo: Handout

3. How was Mo Li’s girlfriend affected?

Li’s girlfriend, So Tsz-ching, was part of the seven-member girl group Collar, also managed by MakerVille. After the accident, she put her career on hold for five months to help care for him.

So made her first appearance last January at an industry awards show. She went on to produce a song with the group and took on several advertisement campaigns.

Then, last May, she announced she was quitting as she was too traumatised by Li’s accident and unable to cope with show business.

“The scenes of each trip to the accident and emergency ward and the hospital have been etched into my heart, leaving indelible scars,” she wrote on social media.

Since then, she has been a dance teacher and model.

So long, So Ching: girlfriend of injured Hong Kong dancer quits band over trauma

4. How have the other dancers fared?

After the accident, the rest of Mirror’s dancers took to social media to express their anger at the organisers for neglecting safety.

In an open letter demanding accountability, they recounted their problems, claiming they had only two days to familiarise themselves with the Coliseum stage, and that there was no full dress rehearsal.

They said the performers saw most of the mechanical, lighting and fireworks effects for the first time only during the first show.

They had not been told the scale of the fireworks, or where the indoor pyrotechnics would be set off.

Of the 24 dancers involved, more than 10 continued working with Mirror on music videos or concerts. The others are performing with other Cantopop stars or are running dance classes.

Shaken by Mirror accident, Hong Kong dancers call for more protection

5. What was the outcome of the investigations?

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s investigation report published in November 2022 said the concert organisers had submitted inaccurate information about installations at the venue and the professionals they hired had failed to ensure the fixtures were safe and secure.

The report found that contractor Engineering Impact under-reported the weight of six LED screens and a structure for lighting devices used at the venue.

Three employees of the company will stand trial this October on charges of falsifying equipment data to get approval from the authorities.

They were among five people arrested in November 2022 over the accident. The two others, from Engineering Impact and Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company, were later released unconditionally.

Hong Kong Mirror concert: 3 employees of principal contractor to stand trial

6. What are the other pending legal actions?

Last January, the Labour Department filed 15 prosecutions against three companies involved in the accident – Engineering Impact, Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company and Studiodanz Company – for breaches of occupational health and safety legislation, and employee compensation laws.

Studiodanz, which hired the dancers, was fined HK$132,000 last November after it admitted five offences, including failing to ensure the safety and health of employees, failing to give notice of accidents to employees and failing to provide them insurance cover.

The company’s lawyer said 23 of the 24 dancers had written mitigation letters, saying the contractor had mistakenly believed the dancers were self-employed.

Engineering Impact was fined HK$220,000 after it admitted four offences, including failing to ensure that devices were safe, failing to notify the Occupational Safety Officer of a serious accident within 24 hours and failing to give notice of an accident.

A case involving six charges against Engineering Impact’s subcontractor, Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering, was adjourned to January 17.

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Mirror has lay low on social media since the accidents, but released a ballad titled “We All Are” in October 2022, with references to the challenges following the accident. Photo: Martin Chan

7. What happened to Mirror after the accident?

The boy band kept out of the public eye for two months after the accident, as the authorities investigated.

They lay low on social media, but released an uplifting ballad titled “We All Are” in October 2022, with references to the challenges following the accident. Then band member Keung To suffered a knee injury in November, putting him out of action for another two months.

Some fans were disappointed by their slow comeback. Most band members also endorsed fewer brands between October 2022 and last January, compared with the four months before the accident.

This led critics to question whether Mirror, which took Hong Kong by storm during the Covid-19 pandemic, could bounce back.

Members of Hong Kong boy band Mirror to perform solo concerts this summer

8. Has the band finally turned a corner?

The band’s fortunes have turned for the better since the middle of last year.

Lead members Jeremy Lau Ying-ting, Anson Lo, Keung To and Edan Lui held sold-out solo concerts in Hong Kong last summer.

The group marked its fifth anniversary last November by booking Hong Kong Disneyland for a full day of celebrations with 12,000 fans who thronged the theme park, with tickets going at HK$1,680 apiece.

Mirror bagged multiple prizes at industry music awards at the end of 2023.

This month, the band has 16 sold-out shows at the Asia-World Expo starting on January 15. The first half of the year will see it performing in London, Manchester, Macau, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Toronto.

All this time, the 12 Mirror members have avoided commenting on the accident, and although they wished Li a speedy recovery, they have not visited him in hospital.

They said they would wait for their management to arrange “an appropriate time” to meet Li and his family, depending on their wishes.

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