MANILA — With their ardent cheers and relentless energy, Filipino fans of NCT 127 made an impression on the popular K-pop band during its first solo concert in the country, so much so that the boys want to hold more shows when they come back.
The nine-piece act, a sub-group of the much larger NCT from top K-pop company SM Entertainment, staged the Manila leg of its "Neo City: The Link" tour last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The tour's name refers to NCT's "world," where the artists and fans are linked by music and dreams, members Johnny and Mark explained.
"Today, I mark this the day that we connect with our Manila Czennies (NCT fans)," Johnny said in English.
The event marked the first time NCT 127 held its own concert in the Philippines, following appearances at K-pop Republic 2 and the K-pop World Music Festival in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
Concertgoers were treated to an audio-visual spectacle that accompanied the band's performances with laser lights and stage pyrotechnics.
Similarly, the Manila crowd's fervor impressed members Taeyong, Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Mark and Haechan.
Near the end of the show, Johnny checked up on the audience, which had been letting out passionate screams since the start of the three-hour concert.
"I don't know about you guys but my throat is hurting. Are you guys okay?" Johnny asked, drawing another loud response from the crowd that filled the Pasay arena.
"Everybody's talking about how it really is our first time having a [solo] concert here. But why? Why haven't we had a concert here before? You guys are amazing," Johnny said.
"I'm gonna be honest. On our way home, we're probably gonna be still hearing you guys. That's how amazing you guys were," he added.
The group prepared a strong setlist of around 30 songs, comprised of singles and other album tracks, and solo and unit stages.
The boisterous 2020 single "Kick It" opened the sold-out concert, raising the energy with its iconic heavy metal guitar riff intro and chant-like chorus.
During their solo stages, Taeyong and Johnny turned up the heat by going topless, with the latter even dancing inside a transparent cage.
The band also performed hit singles "Cherry Bomb" and "Sticker," before capping the night with the more laidback offerings "Dreams Come True" and "Promise You."
Doyoung admitted to feeling "a bit sad" that the group could only hold a single-day concert.
"Hopefully next time, we can have a two-day or three-day concert," he said via an interpreter.
"We'll be back whenever you guys want us to be back. Next time let's make it two days [or] three days," Mark said.
Veteran singer-actress Sharon Cuneta and former Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago were among the notable personalities present at the concert.
Aside from touring, the group is preparing to release its fourth full-length album, "2 Baddies," on Sept. 16.