Archive for the ‘Lives’ Category

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Hey Y’all

2010年 8月 5日

Hi everyone! Aoliwa here.

As you’ve probably noticed, Koweizhi and I have been rather absent lately. We just got back from a Taiwanese American camp and we’ve got lots of stuff.

  • Jpop releases by: YUI, Kanon Wakeshima, Nana Mizuki, VAMPS, alan, Ayumi Hamasaki, JASMINE, Namie Amuro
  • Kpop releases by: C.N. Blue (discography), BoA, and SHINee
  • Editorials: Kpop vs. Jpop (II), Summer of Tek
  • Live reviews: D’espairsRay, Dir en grey (we get to meet them :D)
  • New Polls
  • Aoliwa’s playlists for EVERYTHING

Also Koweizhi and I are doing some recording in the next couple of days so we might post that as well. Look forward to it!!

Much 愛、

Aoliwa

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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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DIR EN GREY LIVE REPORT

2009年 11月 19日

So this is our first live report, and Kowezhi and Aoliwa are doing it together! From start to finish we’ll jam pack as many details as we can remember.

Aoliwa: On Monday, November 16, 2009, Kowezhi and I set off for Chicago. This was our second Dir en grey show and we had a lot of high expectations. It would be a three hour drive to the Metro, the venue of the show.

KWZ: Yup, I drove the whole three hours. We ended up arriving there with another three hours of waiting ahead of us. We pulled into a public parking lot (the very one next to that hotdog place) across from the Metro, and walked across the street to see that some crazy people had camped outside and there was already a decently long line. It wasn’t too cold at first, but with wind chill it was freezing! I eventually walked over to a nearby McDonald’s and bought some warm things to consume.

ALW: Ok! So we met up with our friend Kelly, and it was finally time to enter the Metro. It took a little bit to get through security, but eventually we made it in. Willis and I found our way to the concert hall and meandered our way through the mosh pit. Through various pushing and shoving (not by us though… by people in the waaay back), we ended up being in the second or third row of people in the mosh pit. Yay for us!

KWZ: Yeah!! It was great that we were that close. Anyway, the opening act was this weird band called “Digital Mindy”. I will give them this, they were better than last year’s opener, “The Human Abstract”. They had a sort of dark school uniform theme going on and they were all kind of on the fat side, but at least they did something…. Last year, all you could hear of the opening act was the bass drums. Absolutely NOTHING else. This time you could hear everything pretty decently balanced except for the bass guitar, which was inaudible. Oh right…. This being an all ages concert makes this funny: they had strippers come out and do some dancing for a couple of their songs. Aoliwa laughed about how when they came out, all the guys in the room would turn to watch them lol. They were really nothing special to look at… On with the music: I had no idea what the vocalist was saying in almost any of the songs, except i did manage to pick out some of their lyrics. I won’t bother mentioning what they were because they were just repetitive and bad. Overall, the opening act was… meh. All their songs sounded pretty much the same. Don’t bother checking them out. Please. We were at the Metro for DIR EN GREY!

ALW: Ok so now it’s time for Diru!!! As soon as they came on the entire mosh pit lurched forward (this was how we got so close to the front!) As to be expected they entered the stage with Sa Bir in the background. The first official song they played was Vinushka. Not the short version either… the full 9+ minutes of epicness. I couldn’t believe the intensity of the song… Vinushka was flawless.

Next up? Red Soil. We all know this is the third track from Uroboros. Kowezhi and I were right in between Kyo and Die, so we got to see a lot of Die’s technique here. He played with such great accuracy.

Now we have REPETITION OF HATRED, the first track from their previous album, Marrow of the Bone. This song is a personal favorite of mine. This track is one of their heavier tracks and it’s great for lives. I couldn’t help but scream “dead passion!” along with everyone else.

KWZ: Ahh yes, continuing on with the epicness…. Stuck Man was next on the set list. I have to say, I love the bass lines in this song. Being much more complicated, they also show Toshiya’s skill. And as Aoliwa mentioned we were close to Die. It was really cool to see his technique up close! He makes it all look so easy…

A favorite of both the crowd and Dir en grey, Agitated Screams of Maggots definitely had every one riled up. It got pretty crazy once this song started. I love hearing this song live because you can see that Diru really gets into it.

Obscure, another of their well known songs was played after. Nice heavy song. It’s amazing to watch Kyo putting so much effort into screaming and just pushing himself to the limit. Damn good performance! I really wish I could see them more..

ALW: What I loved about this concert was the variety in both the members’ behavior and the setlist. We had songs from Uroboros all the way back to Vulgar. The members also did some unique things as well. Kaoru and Die shifted between 5 different guitars each; it just shows how specific they are about their sound.

Along with water and towels, the stage crew also provided the band with beer. Toshiya opened his about two songs in xD.  The crowd got excited and he waved back in acknowledgment.

Alright, back to the show! The next few songs are all from Uroboros. Bugaboo has an interesting title… but it is one kickass song. You could tell Kyo was really in control of his vocals here.

Now we have Toguro, one of my favorite songs from Uroboros. I love the guitar harmonies especially. Before the song, Die and Kaoru switched guitars again. On the album this song opens with some of Kyo’s soft vocals layered over one another in a very spiritual way. Throughout the show Kyo had been doing these Buddhist-like chants (recall the live version of Agitated Screams of Maggots on the Dozing Green single). That’s how Kyo lead into this song; it created an almost ethereal atmosphere.

Yay now we have Glass Skin, the last single before Uroboros was released. Glass Skin is definitely on the softer side, as it opens up with a simple piano melody. This song moved the audience, and things slowed down for a bit.

Glass Skin was the perfect lead in to the best ballad on Uroboros, Inconvenient Ideal. I was sooooo excited when they performed this song. Almost instantly everyone had their eyes on Kyo.. he began with very soothing vocals before he completely opened up with his raw and passionate vocals. Listening to this song was simply amazing. I almost cried here ._.

KWZ: Dozing Green was next on the set list. This has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it. Kyo’s vocals were perfect. And I watched Die’s guitar technique again. It was actually really nice to be on his side because you get to hear all of the harmonies their songs. Whenever I listen to this song I am always anxious for near the ending where Kyo does a series of piercing screams. Best part of the song! However… Rather than hearing Kyo, I heard a bunch of fan girls -_-

Another song from an earlier era, Merciless Cult came right after. I love this song and I guess part of that is because Diru pretty much has their own cult haha…. Anyway, it was perfect! They are so consistent and keep together so well, it’s amazing. This is a really catchy song too… I couldn’t help but sing the chorus with the crowd. If I remember correctly… it sounded a lot like the album recording tone wise. They must have used the same guitars/effects…

Their last song before the encores, Reiketsu Nariseba, was awesome. I really think that Kyo is a pro at chanting. During the middle of the song there is a section that he does so before bringing back the rest of the band. Pure sexiness. And it was a perfect choice because it left everyone asking for more Dir en grey! (Of course they would anyway… but really, it was great)

ALW: Yay encore time! We only got 3 encores, but I think that was due to the fact that we got some really long songs in the setlist (props to Kaoru). The crowd was ecstatic when they started playing The Final, one of their best known songs. This song made me cry… again. It’s a very emotional song for both Kyo and the fans.

Also… I thought I’d like to point this out. At one point during the show while most people were looking at Kyo I’m pretty sure Die and I made eye contact. Just saying xD

KWZ: Their second encore was Kodou. This song is overall a bit softer than the other songs. It was great to hear Kyo singing for a bit. Also, it was a sort of break for the audience too. No need to jump around and scream lots. Towards the end though, when Kyo started the screams, the crowd followed suit. Gah, I swear that the fan girls hurt my ears more than their sound system!

“Last song!!  LAST SONG!” shouted Kyo. Dir en grey ended this concert with Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro. This fast-paced song was a great way to bring the show to a close. After our break with Kodou, we got to use up more energy with this. Frickin’ awesome! All of the band was going wild with this one.

On a side note: At some point during the concert, Toshiya came over to our side and did his crowd provoking. We got to see him up pretty close too!

ALW: So here we have it, the glorious end to an amazing show. Afterward Kowezhi and I waited in line forever to get merchandise. We finally made it and got a shirt and DVD. Shinya and Die signed our DVD. They eventually came downstairs into the store to sign stuff and Kowezhi and I turned around and right there was Die *___* We said “arigatou” and bowed… they smile=]

Yaaay for Dir en grey!!

Setlist:

Sa Bir

Vinushka

Red Soil

Repetition of Hatred

Stuck Man

Agitated Screams of Maggots

Obscure

Syoukubeni

Bugaboo

Toguro

Glass Skin

Inconvenient Ideal

Dozing Green

Merciless Cult

Reiketsu Nariseba

 

Encore:

The Final

Kodou

Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro