On October 23rd 2011, approximately 12,000 kpop fans arrived at Madison Square Garden in central New York for possibly the most hotly anticipated K-Pop concert in American history-SMTOWN Live World Tour!
The queue to get in stretched all the way around the building, with people of all ages and walks of life turning up, dressed in colourful outfits, with banners and lightsticks. 90% of the merchandise was sold out on the ground floor, and nearly as much on the upper floors. The start of the concert was delayed as there was still a large proportion of the audience were still queueing to get in by the scheduled start time of 7pm.
About half an hour after the scheduled start time, f(x) opened the show with their performance of ‘LaChaTa’, sending the audience wild. This was followed by a special performance of Ke$ha’s ‘Tik Tok’ by SNSD’s Jessica and f(x)’s Kyrystal, and a performance of ‘Chu’. f(x) then introduced themselves with all their usual charisma and energy.
Kangta was next to perform with his songs ‘Pinetree’ and ‘Solaris’. Then followed a duet with Sulli of f(x), singing ‘7989’, with SHINee’s Onew as guest star. The duet was a comedy, with the pair finding microphones in various places, from a mailbox to the pizza box that Onew delivered. After this followed the first of many CFs, featuring SM artists giving messages to their fans.
Next, to the great excitement of all the shawols, was SHINee with ‘Stand By Me’. After this, they introduced themselves with excitement. Following this was a performance of ‘Replay’, ‘Get Down’ and ‘Juliette’, which had all the fans dancing and singing along. Then was a performance of ‘Sorry Sorry Answer’ by Super Junior K.R.Y., and a special stage of Ke$ha and 3Oh!3’s ‘My First Kiss’ featuring SHINee’s Key and f(x)’s Krystal. Two more special stages followed-Super Junior’s Kyuhyun and SNSD’s Seohyun performing ‘Way Back Into Love’ and delighting all the SeoKyu shippers with plenty of fanservice, and SHINee’s Minho and Key and Super Junior’s Eunhyuk and Shindong performing a special version of SHINee’s ‘A-Yo’, beginning their performance by running down the staircases in each corner of the arena and sending fans in that area into extreme excitement.
Another CF was followed by SNSD taking to the stage, opening with ‘Run Devil Run’ and their introduction, which included Tiffany giving a moving speech about how much it meant to her to be performing in Madison Square Garden. Then they performed ‘Kissing You’ and ‘Oh!’, turning the arena pink. After this, Super Junior performed ‘Bonamana’, sending all the ELFs into waves of hysteria in their fetching red feathered jackets. Next was their introduction, and a surprise for everyone-Henry and Zhoumi! The screams were deafening as supporters of SJ15 realised what was going on. This was followed by a smooth performance of ‘Perfection’.
More SNSD and Super Junior performances followed, before BoA performed ‘Look Who’s Talking’ and ‘I Did It For Love’ (featuring Key of SHINee). The next few songs included a remix of SNSD’s ‘Genie’, Super Junior’s ‘Sorry Sorry’, SHINee’s ‘Ring Ding Dong'(Complete with fire) and f(x)’s ‘NU ABO’. ‘Mr Simple’ and ‘Don’t Don’ were next, with Henry and Zhoumi on a raised platform, playing the violin and rapping respectively. A couple of the members also rose into the air on wires.
Kangta then performed ‘Breaka Shaka’, followed by more performances from SHINee and f(x), and then SNSD’s performance of the English version of ‘The Boys’. Onew of SHINee then wowed the crowds with a stunning performance of the opera classic ‘Neesun Dorma’. Next was the hotly anticipated Dance Battle, featuring SHINee’s Taemin and Minho, f(x)’s Luna and Victoria, SNSD’s Hyoyeon, Sooyoung, Yuri and Yoona, and SUper Junior’s Eunhyuk, Donghae and Shindong. BoA then performed ‘Eat You Up’, ‘Copy and Paste’ and ‘Energetic’.
The last artists to be introduced were DBSK, who flew in over the heads of delighted Cassies. The began with ‘Mirotic’ and ‘Maximum’, before introducing themselves and performing ‘Before U Go’ and ‘Why(Keep Your Head Down)’. The boys stunned in fetching navy blue and white outfits, and performed with all their usual fierceness and power. The final performances were f(x)’s ‘Danger’, SHINee’s Lucifer’ (where the boys flew through the air, complete with armoured gloves that shot lasers across the arena), SNSD’s ‘Gee, Super Junior’s ‘U’, DBSK’s ‘Rising Sun’ and BoA’s ‘Hurricane Venus’.
For the finale, all the artists came onstage in their ‘SMTOWN’ t-shirts, singing ‘Hope’. Some of them, including SHINee’s Jonghyun, brought their own cameras out and filmed the scene, while some of them picked up fans’ flags and banners, and signed fans’ CDs. Super Junior’s Leeteuk in particular, spent a while on stage by himself-and this, it was soon discovered, was because ‘SMTOWN Live in New York City’ is likely to be his last SMTOWN before he enlists later this year.
For me, SMTOWN Live World Tour in New York City was the best night of my life. The staging was excellent, the styling was particularly good, and the standard of performance was of SM’s usual superiority. The only faults that I could find were in the hair and makeup and the set list-I was disappointed that there was no performance of ‘Hello’ or ‘No Other’, and I felt that the remix of ‘Genie’ was too different to the original song. The hair and makeup could also have been better-Key’s foundation in particular was rather pale and made him look slightly ill, and Sungmin had this strange ginger bowl-cut type hairstyle, which wasn’t very flattering. The only other thing was the ‘flying’-if you could call it that. Apart from DBSK, who flew in a straight line across the arena, the rest of the flying was simply them rising into the air, staying there for a bit and coming down again. However, I don’t think this could have been avoided due to the lighting, camera and sound rigging in Madison Square Garden itself.
Overall, the concert was incredible, and not something I would have wanted to miss. I would have recommended it to anybody!
My rating: 9.7 out of 10.