Seoul, South Korea

MTV K Concert Recap: XIA @ Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

MTV K Concert Recap: XIA @ Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

September 10, 2012

XIA, also known as JYJ‘s Junsu, lit up New York City on August 30 for the kick-off concert of his first world tour. It was his third time visiting the East Coast — Remember our secret show with JYJ back in 2010 when they stopped by New York City for their first showcase? And JYJ’s concert in Newark last May? But this concert in particular held special meaning to XIA, both as his first solo concert in the US and as the first stop on a world tour that would land him in Los Angeles, Mexico, South America and Europe.

It was the perfect opportunity for K-pop fans to experience firsthand the true meaning of the term triple threat. All those in attendance will attest to XIA’s superior command of the stage and his genuine love for music as he flaunted his quality vocals, on-point choreography, and expressive acting skills that evening.

After warming up the crowd with XIA’s “Tarantellegra” music video on the main screen, the concert opened with the high-energy dance track, “Breath.” The fierce backup dancers were seriously working it, but all eyes were on XIA as he rose up from a platform, excitement washing over the crowd as they prepared themselves for the magic they were about to witness.

Both the ballads and dance tracks were the stuff of musical legend, with XIA’s vocal acrobatics expertly hitting chord progressions and key changes throughout the two-hour show. The R&B-flavored  track “No Gain,” the ever-sensual “Lullaby,” and the downright sexy “Intoxication,” were the first three songs performed, showcasing both the sheer force of XIA’s vocal stamina and his prowess as a dancer.

Though he could have simply plowed through his performances, XIA made a real effort to engage fans at every turn of the concert. One of the night’s highlights was the XIA-dubbed “Genie Time,” during which he granted three wishes to three lucky fans in the audience. He first sang a few lines from Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” followed by a reluctant cameo by the adorable Angel XIA (his signature aegyo pose), before which he requested that all the men in the venue avert their eyes. The final wish treated the audience to a sexy hip shake, which required a little winding up.

The stage visuals throughout the concert were just as bold and visually impressive as those of a musical. During “You’re So Beautiful” (from Scent of a Woman), ”Though You Already Know,” and “I Turn Around and Around” (from Rooftop Prince), the combination of the stage lights and his angelic white coat gave the breathtaking illusion of XIA himself brightening the stage.

After a quick costume change, during which the dancers headed a mass dance party set to the tune of JYJ’s “Be My Girl” remix, XIA returned to the stage as his alter-ego, Death, from his last musical, Elizabeth.  For those of you who weren’t aware, XIA is quite the decorated musical actor and has cited musicals as the inspiration for his tour’s artistic concepts. After “The Last Dance,” he also treated the audience to a Mozart! medley of  “I Am Music” and “Why Can’t You Love Me?”

The English version of his debut album’s title track, “Tarantallegra” proved to be one of the night’s highlights, and XIA was dripping with confidence as he walked up to his throne at the end of the song. What soon followed, however, was the moment that everyone had been waiting for. The music video for XIA’s English single “Uncommitted” began playing as whispers of excitement spread through the venue. It was time.

XIA emerged from backstage in a sleek black suit for his first-ever live performance of his English single, “Uncommitted.” Clean-cut, easy-on-the-eyes choreography and plenty of playful gestures towards the crowd (who sang right along with him) made for a perfect moment of interaction between XIA and his fans.

XIA took a long dramatic bow and thanked his fans for coming out to see him. After three consecutive ballads off his studio album, he disappeared backstage, only to return for one last song. Of all the beautiful light and stage effects throughout the show, nothing that night was as visually stunning as the beautiful onscreen autumn motif  for XIA’s encore performance of JYJ’s “Fallen Leaves.”

And thus concluded the first stop on XIA’s 1st World Tour Concert: Tarantallegra. As the first South Korean male artist to embark on a true world tour, XIA set a pretty high bar for the acts that will follow him out of Korea and around the globe.

You can find the full set list for XIA’s NYC concert below, and stay tuned for MTV K’s exclusive interview with XIA, coming soon!

1. “Breath”
2. “No Gain”
3. “Lullaby”
4. “Intoxication”
5. “Set Me Free”
(Genie Time: Three Wishes)
6. “You Are So Beautiful”
7. “Though I Already Know”
8. “Turn Around and Around”
(Dance Break to JYJ’s “Be My Girl” Remix)
9. “Last Dance” (from Elisabeth)
10. “I Am Music” (from Mozart!)
11. “Why Can’t You Love Me” (from Mozart!)
12. “Tarantallegra” (Oriental/English version)
13. “Fever”
14. “Uncommitted”
15. “I Hate Love”
16. “Tree Covered with Dew”
17. “Fallen Leaves”

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