(Photo Credit: Tracy Awino / Billboard)
In 2015, TWICE arrived on the K-pop scene with their hit debut single “Like Ooh-Ahh” and have been going forward at a fast pace ever since. With addicting, bright electro-pop songs coming out with regularity, the nonet is one of the most prominent girl groups of the generation -- they've sold more than 6 million albums since their debut -- but they have largely focused their touring efforts in Asia, where they recently became the first-ever K-pop girl group to hold a stadium tour in Japan. This month, however, the “one in a million” girl group brought their TWICELIGHTS world tour to North America, hitting up Los Angeles and Mexico City before appearing at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Sunday night.
Returning to the arena and New York City area for the first time since they performed at KCON 2017 New York, the members of TWICE brought their vivacity and catchy discography to the arena, where they showed off their diverse “colors” throughout the night, or their “TWICELIGHTS.” Switching between energetic moments and more sentimental ones, sweeter and sexier ones, the show brought forth something for everyone as they showcased the diverse set of charms that have attracted fans from across the globe.
Things kicked off with the dynamic “Stuck in My Head,” an apparent nod to how TWICE’s singles regularly feature earworm hooks such as the next song, “Cheer Up,” which brought any stragglers sitting down to their feet as the entire arena was filled with the audience singing and dancing along to the 2016 hit. Over the next two hours, the act displayed a variety of different sides to themselves, breaking the show up into color-based acts.
The first black-and-gold-hued act was full of propulsive energy and led into the emotive white segment, when the women appeared in gowns as they performed songs like “You in My Heart” and “Sunset,” displaying their stirring vocals. Things took a sudden turn when a ballad remix of “Heart Shaker” stopped right before the chorus, as the lights turned off while the crowd was audibly heard continuing to sing on; they turned on moments later, with the members returning to the stage in red looks, brightening things up with a bombastic, sexy remix of the song, kicking off a set of impassioned performances from the act, including the Chaeyoung-penned "Strawberry."
Things then shifted to put the focus on smaller units of the act, with Sana, Tzuyu and Dahyun performing a cover of Beyoncé’s “Dance for You,” Jihyo and Momo putting their spin on Taemin’s “Goodbye,” and Chaeyoung, Jeongyeon and Nayeon leading the crowd in a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” As the night turned toward its end, the act showed up in colorful outfits similar to ones they wore while promoting and performing hits like “Likey” and their most recent Korean single “Fancy,” and fittingly performed those songs along with some of their other biggest songs, including “What Is Love?,” “TT” and “Like Ooh-Ahh.” The night wound down after an interactive encore break featured a series of quests that Once in the crowd could participate in, before the night ended with the women performing “Signal” and “Knock Knock” ahead of the sweet closer “Stuck,” a soft-pop counterpart to opener “Stuck in My Head.”
Throughout the night, the group’s newly released Candybong Z, the updated version of their lollipop-shaped lightstick known as the “Candybong” with “bong” meaning “stick” or “rod” in Korean, brought a sense of festivity to the excited atmosphere, illuminating the venue with Twice’s literal lights. Fans of the group, known collectively as Once, could change the colors at will, and throughout the night, the sold-out arena was filled with fans alternating between either the two-tone official colors of TWICE -- apricot and neon magenta -- and colors that correspond with each of the individual members of the group.
While it felt like a party for much of the TWICELIGHTS show as TWICE and Once celebrated the group’s career by performing their biggest hits and a wide array of B-sides, the night was tinged with a sense of bittersweetness as Mina was unable to attend due to her struggles with anxiety. A standout moment, and a testament to the act’s bond with their fans, was during the second act of the night when Once changed their Candybongs to Mina’s mint hue while the group sang “After Moon,” leading to a touching discussion from the members about how much they missed the member -- plus a moment of hilarity when Jeongyeon said she was touched by the event but admitted she had at first thought fans were changing colors for each member’s part and that the mint was in fact her corresponding green. Jihyo, who was brought to tears by the sentiment from ONCE, said, “I really want to see her... I see a lot of Mina's placards and her color. Today, I really miss her."
The close relationship between the women was apparent throughout the night as Mina’s vocals were kept in many songs to maintain her presence despite her physical absence and came to an emotional high toward the end of the night when Chaeyoung urged concertgoers to “please remember us as nine members."
A show built around showing the bond between TWICE and their Onces, the long-awaited night didn’t disappoint through its display of the diverse colors of the act. As a first-ever solo show in the market, it was an impressive showcase of just what makes TWICE such a sensation, with their exuberance shining throughout the night. As things ended and the members expressed a desire to return again next year, the crowd roared with approval in an apparent promise of continued support, making it clear that though it was the act’s first concert series in the U.S., many in the crowd hoped that it would be far from the last.
(Photo Credit: Tracy Awino / Billboard)