With nearly a decade under herl belt as a top K-pop star, Amber Liu’s first-ever solo tour could have fallen into many of the common tropes of the scene — blown-out productions, intricate stage choreography — but instead created a refreshingly candid and heartfelt performance that earned just as large of a response as her peers.
At the sold-out show of her New York City debut at Irving Plaza in Manhattan, Amber’s Gone Rogue Tour began with a performance from opening act Justin Park with the 6’3” crooner successfully hyping up the crowd with his smooth falsetto and moonwalk-esque movement through tracks “Like We Used To” and a cover of Kehlani‘s “Honey.” Amber eventually took the stage with two instrumentalists and two dancers who mostly created a full stage experience despite the minimal setup. Throughout opening numbers, it felt as if Amber was leading a bit of pop-music army platoon as they sang along and raised their fists in agreement throughout empowering lyrics in “High Hopes” and “Lost at Sea.”
The mood may have already been set, but Amber took a moment to specifically address what type of concert experience she aimed to create when first addressing the crowd. When sharing what her only rule for the concert was, she declared, “This is a be yourself zone,” before adding, “I don’t care what color your skin is, how tall you are, who you love, I don’t care about that…I want you to be comfortable here” to roars from the audience that, at times, would out power Liu and leave her unable to continue speaking without a bashful smile.
The concert continued with moments that were political (including Amber explaining dedicating her song “Borders” to her mother who grew up with a language barrier in America as an immigrant while touching on the “screwed up stuff happening now”), stylized (with the 26-year-old’s K-pop training with f(x) coming out to play during performances of “White Noise” and new single “Countdown”) and filled with gratitude (as Amber thanked the crowd for “the confidence to be me” before performing “Beautiful”).
Even with her long pop history, the starlet also created some surprises throughout the evening by nailing the high note on the bridge of “Shake That Brass” (originally sang by Girls’ Generation powerhouse Taeyeon) and her inability to sometimes get through songs without laughing or falling on the floor with her team (“Three Million Years” was, by far, the goofiest, cutest performance of the night).
With the Gone Rogue Tour representing her first outing on her own, the seven-date tour undoubtedly hints to an artist with a vision, working to create a larger, inclusive community with her fans and live show from the get-go.