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[personal profile] wanderingflame
What first started out as a brief review of the concert, with a small focus on Hikki's outlandish outfits, quickly grew into this detailed account (or as detailed as I could get without being too repetitive) of the live dvd. I think I'll keep this preface short and simple, though. There are plenty of screen shots embedded in the review, just keep your eyes out for text that is actually a link. And without further ado, enjoy the show ;)

Crossover Opening - The concert opened with the first track off Hikki's English album Exodus. As it was playing, the huge screen behind the stage showed an up close shot of Hikki's face with sakura petals floating around her. It was kind of a weird opening because Hikki is just staring at you for about a minute, blinking maybe once. After that faded away, the concert really began.

Passion - I love this freakin' song and it made a perfect opener, with how it starts off slow and mysterious and then explodes after the first verse. Hikki rose out of the stage amidst a soft lavender light and as she stepped up to the mic, a light blue spotlight shone down on her. As you can see, the stage itself was made entirely of lights, broken into square. While her outfit was a bit of a shock, she remained gorgeous and sang beautifully. They extended the slow beginning a line or two more, keeping the lighting low, and then the stage exploded in light as to the rest of the band kicked in. It was an incredible performance.

This Is Love - After a brief break, during which the lights went down, the stage lit up in a rich blue as the opening keyboard notes of this song started up. Hikki called out to the crowd and then the song began. This song is so energy-packed, when I'm driving down the road to it, I'm usually bouncing in my seat/pumping my fist in the air while singing at the top of my lungs. XD I had wondered how an artist whose main talent is her voice would entertain an audience as large as the one at this concert (since it's just her moving around), but Hikki did a fine job of keeping everyone excited. In fact, at many times during the concert, it was hard to get clear screen caps of her because she wouldn't hold still. :D

Traveling - No real break this time, as the music went straight into the opening of "Traveling". Hikki asked if everyone was ready for departure (XD) and then we're off. The music video for the song played on the screen behind the stage and the lights flashed like crazy. I really like the added bass they had during the "Mi~nna~ odoridasu..." part. They also had the music video playing on the stage floor.

Moving On Without You - Wow, talk about a blast from the past. Once again, going straight from one song to the other, the stage darkened and then glowed red as an almost techno-inspired opening of this song played. I love this freakin' song (you'll hear that a lot XD) and this live was even better than the original. Another song where you find yourself dancing in your seat, at least during the choruses. More incredible singing and a extremely colorful backdrop. After a flashy ending, the entire stage went dark.

Sakura Drops - For those who know the song, correct me if I'm wrong, but the cd version has breathing sounds in the beginning, right? Well picture a completely dark stage with just that echoing along with the sound of water dripping, then the spotlight hits Hikki as she sings the first chorus. There were four movable "screens" made of lights that slid on and off the stage through most of the concert, but here you can see a gorgeous example of the effect they created. Another shot, as they peeled away during the opening. This song is crazy difficult to sing (I've tried at karaoke) with all it's jumps from highs to lows, but Hikki rocked it.

Final Distance - This performance is hard to describe because the song itself is so beautiful, it doesn't need a wild show to go with it. They kept it to a simple black and white montage on the screen behind Hikki, mostly of flowers or water. The song itself was a touch different than the album version, in terms of the instruments accompanying her, but no less poignant.

At the end, the lights dimmed and then came back up at a more casual level and Hikki talked for a bit about how exciting it was to be back on tour after 6 years. (Wow, has it been that long? o__O) She thanked the audience profusely for attending and then asked them to listen in while she sang a song she wrote when she was 15.

First Love - ZOMG. Who didn't see that coming when she introduced it? The audience nearly went through the roof at the opening notes. XD Hikki's voice has matured a lot since that first album, but other than that, the song was the same. Again, the lighting was kept simple, and the focus was on Hikki and the song.

And thus ended the first part of the concert.

The segue into the second part was a poem/dialogue read by Hikki. The stage was dark, but the screen in the back showed water flowing, flowers and trees, and thunderstorm clouds moving along. I managed to translate it without too much trouble:

The sound of air, the sound of water, the sound of sand
The sound of grains flowing above me
The sound of blood flowing through me

Little things rapidly connecting, growing bigger
Big things roughly collapsing, growing smaller

Disappearing Appearing Disappearing

There's no one Inside my heart there's no one
Quietly, in the wide open, one large tree stands
Quietly, in the wide open, standing between the sky and the plains

Why do I want to present myself well?
Why do I work hard every day to be liked by everyone?

When I'm tired, why do I want to be alone?

I want to be spoiled by someone, to be touched by something tender...

I want to reveal my secret to someone
I want to be able to see the real me... And yet, I don't want to see...
Even though I want to know myself, the thought is scary. Therefore, I'm lonely...

If I'm the only one who understands me, that's all right. That's what I think.

The thunderstorm theme continued even after the reading stopped, with sound effects and flashing lights to represent the storm. Then, after an ominous clang like a giant bell tower, everything darkened for a moment and the first song began.

Devil Inside - Ah yes, the Exodus part of the concert. I can feel some of you cringing already, but to be absolutely honest, this section was just as good as any other part of the concert, even if you're not a big fan of her English songs. Through a combination of incredible singing, a crazy light show, and a band that truly knows how to rock, I was kept thoroughly entertained. Anyway, it was impossible to get the full effect of this song in a couple of screencaps, but they had this on the screens when it first began. Also, Hikki was bathed in a "devilish" red for a lot of the song. :P When she wasn't rocking out, that is.

Kremlin Dusk - I've always thought this was an awesome song, because of the vocals and how it builds up and explodes towards the end. They used those awesome sliding screens again in this song, as well as the screen in the back ("By the door, you said you had to go..."). Then when the song kicked into high gear, Hikki left the stand and began striding around the stage like a queen, making it hard to get screencaps until the end. "Is it like this, is it always the same..."

You Make Me Want To Be A Man - On the album, this song is just annoying. Live in this concert, I want to have its babies. XD This lady and this man (don't worry, he's not really headless) made the song everything it should've been on the album, had it not been overrun with that annoying background keyboard riff. It's still there in the song here but not as obvious underneath a killer guitar and Hikki's vocals.

(Forever and a half ago, I reviewed Hikki's English album and said, concerning this song, "I don't think I get what it is that 'makes [her] want to be a man'." Because I could finally listen to the song all the way through (without an overdose of the chorus and hella annoying keyboards), I finally get this song. With lines like, "Every word you say finds a home in me, nothing anyone could ever say could hurt me like this," and "Arguments that have no meaning, this is just the way I am," I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess that this song deals with a crumbling relationship. That frustration and unhappiness is conveyed extremely well in this live version, especially when it crescendos into the crazy guitar solo with backup by Hikki, almost in scat style. And did I mention the light show? This is easily one of my favorite songs from the concert.)

Man, after all that rocking, I think it's time for a break, don't you? The lights went down long enough for some stage rearranging and a brief wardrobe change, and then the concert continued.

Be My Last - I'm not a huge fan of this song, to be honest, but it wasn't bad with just Hikki and the woman on cello. The verses themselves are pretty, I just don't like the chorus. You could hear a couple of times here that the strain of performing several intense songs was beginning to take its toll but even though there were moments of weakness (from here on out), Hikki never faltered or lost her pitch or key. And you can see she's definitely worked up a sweat.

Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro - The piano joined Hikki and the cello for this song, and a montage of emotional scenes played on the screen behind them. There was everything from footage of war and starvation, to children with their parents and newborn babies. Combined with a song that's already a little sad, and you might find yourself choked up a bit during this part.

Colors - The lights dimmed briefly then came back up with the rest of the band joining in for a gorgeously soft version of this song. The floor was utilized beautifully for lines like, "Aoi sora ga..." and "Orenji iro no...". (That's "blue sky" and "orange colored", for the non-Japanese speakers.)

They took another break here and Hikki talked a bit more. She started to introduce the band, but after the cellist, she sort of looked around the stadium and said how amazing it was to see so many people gathered. People were calling out where they were from and she commented that some had come pretty far. She also talked about how a fan had written in and asked her to say "Happy Birthday!" to another friend during the concert, but that surely, in the crowd that night, there were lots of people who might also have a birthday that day. So she just said it to everybody that had a birthday that night, and there was much rejoicing. :D She also went on about how thinking about birthdays made her think about living until today and wasn't it great to be alive? (In similar words. ;P) And in that great spirit, "without rest", they went on with the show!

Can You Keep A Secret? - The song began slow, with just Hikki and a bit of the guitar leading up to the rest of the band kicking in. She grabbed the mic and began moving across the stage, getting the audience to clap in time. During the verses of this song, the band's part is minimal, and I think it's awesome how clearly you can hear everyone in the stadium clapping in time while Hikki sings. (My lady was lookin' good in red too. :3) Once again, these two made an awesome pair (not the keyboardist), especially with their improvisations at the end of the song.

Addicted to You - A personal favorite of mine, I rather liked the rich color choices for this performance. They kept the light show to a minimum and just went with lots of red, which I think is perfect for the song. Kudos to Hikki for jazzing up the second verse's "Mesaagi kiki ni mou ichido kaketai". In every live I've seen of this song, she always does something a little different there and she definitely didn't disappoint. Plus, there was more guitar solo/Hikki action. X3

Wait & See ~RISUKU~ - Even after a taxing song like "Addicted to You", they only paused briefly before heading into the next song. Although at times sounding a bit breathless (it *is* a hard song, another I know of from experience in karaoke), Hikki gave it her all. They kept the stage in mostly blues during the verses, but blazed with red and yellow for the choruses. Even the bassist and guitarist were rocking out.

Another short break for our tired but still-smiling lady. She reflected again how wonderful it was to have people from so many places gathered together, and how their time was short, but she hoped they were having fun. (Oh don't worry about us, Hikki! :D :D :D)

Letters - Another song I just adore. It's just so upbeat that every time I hear it I feel it lifting my spirits. It's another tough one, though, with it's almost unrelenting vocals, but Hikki still seemed to be having fun and giving it her all. There were some amusing images floating by on the big screen too, like a red pepper. How strange?

Keep Trying - Another upbeat song (as if you couldn't guess from the title), this time from her latest album. "Ganbarou yo!" she sang, getting the audience into it as she moved back and forth across the stage, striking poses and making silly faces to go with the song. In the quiet part of the song, before the last big chorus and finale, she listened to the audience clapping in time with a grin. There was a flashy finish and then the usual, "that's the end, we're going now!" as the band left the stage, but of course, it wasn't over yet.

Automatic - The band came back first, then as they started playing the first few notes, Hikki appeared at the back of the stage and approached the mic, while the audience went nuts. This is another blast from the past from the first album, but a perfect encore song because it's such a classic. Nothing too flashy for thing song, aside from Hikki's outift. :P

Afterward, she talked to the audience one last time and finally introduced the band. This was cute enough at times to warrant screen-capping. Starting from the left (and I might have these names wrong since she was saying them fast): Tomita (or just Mita) on keyboards and backup guitar. Hikki gave him double-thumbs up, which he returned. Next was Sam on bass: "You da man! No, you!" "Mori-kun" on drums, sharing vibes (or something) with Hikki and then with a twist. (Just after that, Hikki commented to the audience that it was like some kind of Dragonball Fusion and how did he know that? XD) Tak on percussion, nothing silly here, and Matt on keyboards, also referred to as "band master". Kon on guitar, doing some sort of crazy hand thing with Hikki. And finally, Utada Hikaru for the vocals. :P

After a veeeery long thank you to the band, stadium staff, and the audience themselves (she called for them to applaud themselves for creating such a great atmosphere), with Hikki choking up towards the end, they began the last song of the night.

Hikari - Wow. With an opening line like, "No matter what comes, we'll always be together," Hikki picked the perfect song to end the night on. Once again, you could hear the whole stadium clapping as everyone gave it their all for the finale. You could hear during the talks with the audience that Hikki was definitely getting tired, but tired vocal chords didn't stop her. There weren't any flashy images or odd pictures on the back screen this time, just Hikki herself, and then towards the end, the rain of confetti began. They kept that going until the very end, as Hikki moved back and forth, getting everyone to wave to the beat as this time she and keyboards had their little solo moment. But all good things must come to an end and after the final notes faded, Hikki took a bow, then everyone took a bow and the show was over.

I highly recommend that any Hikki fan see this concert because it's absolutely worth it. I found a few clips on YouTube (look below for those), but I really think that to experience it to the full extent, you should find a torrent or buy the dvd. Unfortunately, I realize the latter option isn't possible for most of us since it's only been released in Region 2 Japan. :F So for those interested in the former, let me know and I'll post the link I used. ;)

The set list: (with video links)
Crossover Opening...Passion
This Is Love
Moving On Without You
Sakura Drops
Final Distance
(small break to talk with audience)
First Love
Devil Inside
Kremlin Dusk
You Make Me Want To Be A Man
Be My Last
Dareka no Negai ga Kanau Koro
(more talking)
Can You Keep A Secret?
Addicted To You
Wait & See
(more talking)
Keep Trying
(band introductions and final comments)
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October 2013


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