Taking London by storm NCT 127 delivered power packed performances that highlighted agility, talent and charm. Having embarked on their first world tour ‘NEO CITY – The Origin’ this January, the expectations are high as the nonet take the stage at SSE Arena, Wembley on their third anniversary and they don’t disappoint.
The buzz of anticipation whirs through the air on July 7th and despite the stadium not appearing sold-out, it’s a fact that can be overlooked as the band’s legion of fans dubbed NCTzens scream in unison as they adoringly welcome them. As the first notes of the opening of bass-heavy track ‘Cherry Bomb’ plays with a screen introducing each member, there is an immediate realisation that it’s going to be a good night.
Sharp choreography interspersed with roaring rap and clear vocals follow on as they perform track after track with same enthusiasm and energy. Their sound is catchy but nothing surprising. Cut perfectly to the mould of what’s expected from K-pop music NCT 127 is all about high value production, appealing visuals and perfect dance moves. Tracks from ‘Come Back’ to ‘Fly Away With Me’ and many others in the first half go by in an unnoticed flurry of futuristic electronic music that merges together.
It’s when the rappers of the group Mark and Taeyong take the stage that your ears perk up even as everything is drowned out in the deafening screams of fans. The powerful stage presence that defines the group shines through bright and clear as the duo prove themselves to be much more than “idol rappers” who recite meaningless verses in recycled rhythm.
Performing ‘Mad City’, ‘Good Thing’ and ‘TOUCH’, raw talent breaks through and they leave behind a shell of their K-pop mold. Other highlights from the night- involving all members this time- was the Latin-inspired ‘Regular’ as well other bass-heavy offering ‘Simon Says’.
While the group’s talent clearly lies in high-energy performances- all synchronized moves and acrobatic climbing- they still don’t shy away from showcasing a softer side. Their inexperience is made clear as their vocals of the band is not the strongest, with improvements to be made.
But they still succeed in their efforts to please fans - whether on romantic numbers ‘Replay (PM 01.27)’ and ‘Jet Lag’ or vocal-line ballads ‘Timeless’ and ‘No Longer’, managing to unite their fans as one in their love. Their set of 21 songs ends much too quickly with ‘Fire Truck’, but it's not over yet as gold streamers and glittering costumes welcome ‘Superhuman’.
The title track from their recent album is a great song, and marks the beginning of an encore which while entertaining seemed to drag on for much longer than necessary; though their ever-loyal fans may argue this point. Fanservice galore, the encore is the peak of the band’s interaction with their London NCTzens and both sides seem equally reluctant to see the night end as they perform their final two songs for the night ‘Summer 127’ and ‘0 Mile’.
With a night of monstrous stage presence and anthemic delivery comes to an end, and despite shortcomings in their vocals, the group have made a memorable and impressive debut in London and they are only three years in.
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Words: Malvika Padin
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