The familiar intro of Jin Akanishi’s “Sun Burns Down” began playing in the Best Buy Theatre of New York City as hundreds of fans began to scream and cheer. The excitement of the audience reached new heights when the curtain was pulled and beams of red and yellow light filled the stage, flooding the crowd. As the vocals kicked in and the man of the hour began making his way down the stage, the time spent waiting in the winding line outside felt miles away compared to the aural and visual delight that awaited us.
While some may mistake Jin’s minimalistic movement through the first songs of the show as nerves, it was more akin to working the crowd like a pro. He would give small glimpses of his dancing prowess; each move eliciting shrieks of glee from the mass of attendees. Listening to “Japonicana,” I did not expect tracks like “Set Love Free” and “Like You” to translate well to a live setting, and at the live I worried that the energy would die, killing the flow of the show. Instead, this section ended up being one of my favorites of the night. With little dancing to carry the energy, it was left to Jin’s natural charisma to get the job done and it was obvious by the swaying front rows that this stripped down, intimate section of the concert was a special moment for all in attendance. The show heated up with “Pin Dom,” a rap showcase song that closed out the first half of the show. Filled with ticking and the swagger that fans had been expecting all night, this performance was a small taste of the dance-filled second half that amped up the intensity of the show.
Halfway through “That’s What She Said” Jin made his triumphant return with a drink in hand and a video camera to the audience. Pulsing lights, a smoky stage, and the scintillating dancers gave this sexy interlude the perfect amount of eye candy to ring the viewers back into the party atmosphere after the intermission. The dancers began pulling out all the stops in the second half of the show with “Aphrodisiac,” one of the most fun performances of the night, leading straight into fan favorite (and Jin’s debut US Single) “Test Drive.” Even sitting near the back of the venue I could hear the crowd singing along with Jin as his dancers waved checkered flags in rhythm with the song. The show kept building upon itself with a feedback loop of energy between those on stage and in the audience, ultimately culminating in the closing number “California Rock.” From the pounding bass to Jin’s loud exclamation of the chorus “Put your drinks up! Put your Drinks up!” it was an unforgettable number.
By the time the concert finished it was obvious nobody wanted it to end. Chants of “Encore!” rang through the hall before Jin finally came back on stage. He told us he would finish with one of his Japanese songs. He began singing the first few lines, then stopped to nervously ask if we understood what he was singing. The audience couldn’t shout out “Yes!” fast enough. Jin laughed and continued the beautiful ballad. Even after shouting messages to the audience throughout the night and singing his heart out, Jin still was able to bring the concert to a simple close with a touching rendition of his hit single “Seasons.” It was the perfect ending to an amazing concert.