“What we’re doing on this tour is not something that should be thought about lightly,” member Mark reflected.
On April 24, NCT 127 kicked off their very-first North American tour with an explosion of fiery pyrotechnics, coordinated-and-chaotic clothes and three surprise songs for an arena full of fans. The Prudential Center date of their Neo City – The Origin tour was not only ambitious in the boy band's first U.S. solo concert was an arena date but also in the way the setlist and the members themselves were filled with surprises.
The concert started off in a similar fashion to the Seoul date for the Neo City earlier this year, kicking off with "Cherry Bomb" (but the English version for the U.S. crowd) with a mix of high-tempo hits ("Come Back," "Chain") blended in with hints of the band's R&B sensibilities (like "Back 2 U"). Early parts of the show seemed troubled by production issues with many of the stage LED screens blank, which made performances like that of "Limitless" — which saw the members moving in-and-out-and-behind the screens — feel confused and somewhat empty. Still, once the production stepped up to the band's energy, the surprises became all the more elevated and exciting.
The first surprise came when the band delivered a rendition of "Jet Lag," a currently unreleased track set to appear on the band's forthcoming NCT #127 We Are Superhuman EP that drops in late May. Fans were treated to the band's romantic side with a song that started as a stark piano ballad before jazzy kick-drum was added to the band's blend of boy-band belts and harmonies. Fans were of course on hand to record the new performances that will have to do until the new music comes.
The surprises didn't stop there as the band teased a good bye to the crowd before opening their encore stage with a never-before-seen music video to another new We Are Superhuman track "Highway to Heaven." The soaring synth-pop track didn't get the live treatment, but instead fans got the full track along with an aesthetic, black-and-white visual.
After the video, the audience earned their third helping of exclusives with the first full performance of the band's upcoming single "Superhuman." A snippet of the track track was surprise-premiered during the group's Good Morning America appearance, but fans now got to hear the full version that included additional rap sections and more of its delicious robotic-bubblegum chorus.
The significance of the night was not lost on the members in multiple happy yelps to the crowd, but it was most visible in Mark who gave a sincere reflection on K-pop's western crossover that's rarely heard from most performers.
"What we're doing, and what we're doing on this tour, is not something that should be thought about lightly," he told the Newark crowd. "Bringing K-pop, there's a significance to that and I'm very very grateful. Thank you so much for showing up today. I'm going to be honest, before we even started the tour, I was nervous because we have to bring this K-pop culture and all that we do to North America. I want to thank you guys for being that confidence and allowing us to do what we do. I think that's the best relationship that any performer can have." In a concert that saw many of the NCT members relying on scripts and monitors throughout the show, Mark's off-the-cuff reflection felt all the more important to the concert atmosphere.
With a slew of surprise performances to hype fans up their forthcoming music plus some earnest reflections from Mark, NCT 127 made sure to make their live show a must-attend event — all the more important as the K-pop scene gets all the more competitive in America.