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Ayaka- MTV unplugged

2010年 1月 14日

This was released just the other day and I have to say that I’m a huge fan of MTV Unplugged. I never used to listen to Utada Hikaru until I heard her MTV Unplugged concert. ayaka is a perfect candidate for something like this, given the almost folksy sound to her music.

So yeah… ayaka has a voice! We begin with Jewelry Day, although you can’t tell that’s what it is at first because it opens with ayaka belting out notes. She has a stunning vibrato and is in tune. The acoustic guitar make its entrance after a minute or so of ayaka singing. What’s interesting about the live version of this song is that we only have a single guitar and ayaka… nothing else. It makes for a serene opening. ayaka never misses a note.

Next we have one of her most famous singles, I believe. Complete with live piano and violin I believe maintains close semblance with the original song. Of course this being MTV Unplugged we have acoustic guitar instead of electronic instruments. During the bridge there are noticeably no drums, and the beat is created with the acoustic guitar.

Next we have the first out of six MCs. I will not be reviewing them.

Te wo tsunago is next, already a calm song. The complete acoustic version is even more serene than the original song. I loved the presence of the violin in this song as well. ayaka released a live version of this song on a previous single, but this time the background singers are actually in tune and together. Since there’s no electric guitar I wondered what they’d do during the bridge. Instead of electric, acoustic guitar and violin center stage. This violin solo is gorgeous.

Why begins with a quick note from piano. ayaka and acoustic guitar quickly chime in. The violin accompaniment during the verses gives the song a folksy atmosphere. Background singers accompany ayaka during the chorus, but I prefer doing it solo. Now there is electric guitar during the bridge, but it has been given a different effect so that it doesn’t stick out so much. Its sound is somewhat muted and reminds me of something from past decades.

To tell you the truth I was surprised to see that Goodnight Baby made it onto the set list. That being said it’s one of my favorite ayaka song. Ayaka’s vocals are overall softer during the live than on the track. With new instruments this song (like keyboard) has a different atmosphere from the original song.

The next song, Human Nature, is a cover of Michael Jackson’s song of the same name. This was my least favorite song on the set list because it’s kind of dated and didn’t exactly fit in with the other songs. That being said, I do like how they took a traditional R&B song and gave it an acoustic feel.

Fortunately another one of my favorite ayaka songs was up next. Blue Days was given a bit of a transformation during Unplugged. It was kind of hard to discern whether ayaka was accompanied by an electric guitar with effects or a heavily microphoned acoustic. Either way it maintained a very wholesome sound. No other instruments were added. Also ayaka ends the song a bit differently than the original (she goes down in pitch).

Mikazuki had a totally different opening; you couldn’t even tell that it was mikazuki right away. For the first thirty seconds or so we have a duet between piano and violin before transitioning into the rest of the song. Piano occupies most of the instrumentals, but violin and acoustic are added later. ayaka’s voice really rings in this song.

Unfortunately there were no bagpipes for the performance of Okaeri. Instead their melody is kind of implied with the harmonies of the violins and piano. Okaeri was already kind of a folk song and the live version only enhances that fact.

Now off to newer material. Yume wo Mikata ni proves to be one of the more powerful and uplifting tracks on the set list. The cheery piano pairs well with ayaka’s airy voice. The song gains a lot of momentum during the chorus because of the choir in the background. One of the background vocalists actually gets a solo.

I was surprised that Arigatou was on the set list. They used piano and violin to replace electric guitar and brass. The audience clapped during the beat of this song. I kind of like this version better than the original.

Another surprise… WINDING ROAD? I wasn’t a fan of this song actually, and I wasn’t sure what they’d do without Kobukuro. Background singers took their place… much better than Kobukuro because these singers actually have soul and voice. Now this song is over 8 minutes… why? There’s actually an audience participation section in the middle with ayaka guiding them along.

Lastly, we have Minna Sora no Shita, and I couldn’t recognize it at first. I was like “where are my strings??” Instead, they were replaced by piano. Also this song opens much slower than the original. This gives ayaka some freedom with her vocal solo. Kind of a rubato. For this song we just have piano and ayaka, making this song more ballad-like. The live of this song was over 7 minutes because of the songs slower pace. A perfect way to end the night.

Overall: ayaka can do no wrong… she performs exquisitely on CD and live. Also, don’t miss out on the MCs… ayaka’s known for talking a lot xD. I don’t know when this concert took place or the status of her illness at the time, but if she wasn’t feeling well she definitely didn’t let it show.

Rating: 10/10

Set list:
1. Jewelry day
2. I believe
3. 手をつなごう
4. Why
5. グンナイベイビー
6. Human Nature
7. ブルーデイズ
8. 三日月
9. おかえり
10. 夢を味方に
11. ありがとう。
12. WINDING ROAD
13. みんな空の下

*MCs are not included in the track list!

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