On September 1, 2017, Taeyang's "White Night" world tour made its way over to New York City and touched down at the Madison Square Garden Theater. It was the Big Bang member's first solo world tour, though hardly his first time performing in the states, and he came out on the stage with a confidence and assuredness that was simply magnetic. Taeyang's showmanship shined on this tour so brightly, and his combination of a warm personality with precise on-stage talent was a winner for the New York City crowd.
The show started off with a swelling intro, initially with nobody on stage until Taeyang came out of a slot in the wall to start singing. Early in the set, Taeyang went for the jugular with his bangers like "Ringa Linga" and "Body," doing heavy choreography while female dancers got handsy. Without missing a beat, he then made the transition to "Superstar," a midtempo track that allowed him to show off vocal chops while still giving him time to catch his breath.
Taeyang's tour interludes included documentary quality dramatic shots of nature - water and ice, plains, and forests accompanied by moody beats. After the first one concluded, he came back to the stage and started a new block of the show with "Wake Me Up" while lying down. Although the song was brand new, the crowd already singing along with passion. The passion only grew bigger once he transitioned into the career defining hit "Look Only At Me," resulting in a huge reaction from the crowd, many of whom have probably been following him for upwards of a decade now.
The stellar backing band played guitar with a light reggae tone through many of the songs, perfectly matching Taeyang's silky smooth voice. They had no trouble keeping the good energy and hits coming, as they launched right into "Wedding Dress" before Taeyang took a break to greet the crowd in flawless English. During his intro, he spoke about his first American performance more than 10 years ago with YG Family which happened to be at the same venue, then remarked on the feeling of having his own solo show. He then spoke about his new album, and earnestly joked "there's no one here who doesn't know about it, right? It's okay?" to a crowd of fans that clearly loved it.
As the show went on, Taeyang went into "Amazing," with many fans vocally declaring their feelings on his transparent tee-shirt. The show dazzled with hard hitting dancers and stimulating psychedelic video effects. Later, there was an outfit change into furrier vest, although every outfit during the main part of the show had a theme of white on white. He later blessed fans with an acoustic rendition of "I Need A Girl" to a huge response, with many singing along to the now-7-year-old track. After this point in the show, he slowed it down for "Empty Road" with just female guitar accompaniment to a delightful effect, and then moved on to "Ride."
After a series of slower songs, Taeyang had clearly worked the crowd into an emotional peak, which he delivered upon by performing deep cut "Love You To Death." Just when fans thought they'd get a chance to stop the waterworks, something remarkable happened: after a quick interlude, Taeyang arrived on the stage with just a spotlight on himself and a keyboard, and he proceeded to perform Big Bang single "Last Dance" solo in what was perhaps one of the most special moments of the night.
After speaking to the fans once again, the show came to a close but was shortly reignited with an energetic performance of "Good Boy" for an encore. Even without his brother-from-another-mother G-Dragon, Taeyang rocked the stage, making the room his own as he danced and sang along to his verses.
There were several false finishes to the show during its encore, and each of them seemed to be broken up by humorous stage directions or performances of cuts from his back catalog. Eventually, he launched into "Bang Bang Bang" and had the crowd jumping along excitedly, with many fans waving their Big Bang lightstick crowns in the air to the beat.
Finally, the true final song was naturally mega-hit "Eyes, Nose, Lips," and it became a real emotional moment for the crowd as they passionately sang along with Taeyang.
During this moment and throughout the concise hour and a half show, Taeyang illustrated to fans and onlookers alike that he was a pop talent unlike anything else this generation has seen. He can sing and dance at a level comparable to some of the greatest of all time and makes contemporary and remarkable music without any of the scandals and baggage that seem to affect some of the most well known western R&B stars. Indeed, with the "White Night" tour, Taeyang did his part to show fans the meaning of greatness in pop music and performance.
Photos appear with permission courtesy of Trevor Tomlinson, Copyright 2017