I was still thinking what a crazy idea it was to travel all this way from the UK to Japan to see two gigs. But I know that deep in my hearts of hearts, I will defo regret not doing this. I think I’ve caught a few of my close friends by surprise that within six weeks of a holiday in Japan, I am now back again in Tōkyō. That old chestnut of the Far East.
I snagged tickets for two gigs of SCANDAL’s HELLO WORLD TOUR 2015 which kickstarted last week in Atsugi, Kanagawa. And a few hours ago was my first experience of seeing them live in Japan, at a hall in a city called Tachikawa, 25 minutes from Shinjuku on the Super Rapid Chūō Line. It’s kinda like going to see a signed Malaysian rock band in Kuala Kubu Baru.
Whilst waiting at Manchester for my flight to Helsinki, I simply tweeted to the band that I’d be coming all the way to catch them live.
A few minutes before boarding, I saw a number of notifications on Twitter, only to see this:
Now, that was a first! I boarded the Helsinki flight in high spirits, feeling all the more psyched up to catch them live in their home country.
I met up with my two friends in Nishi-shinjuku for tendon meal at our fav spot, and we then caught the train to Tachikawa from Shinjuku-eki. It looked pretty far from Tōkyō on the map but we were there in no time. On leaving the station, the look of the place so reminded me of Sannomiya in Kobe – the pedestrian walkways, the monorail system, the gaudy Pachinko neon lights, I could go on. The venue is called the Tamashin RISURU Hall and it was a 9-minute walk up one of the streets from the station. Pretty easy when you have Google Maps!
On reaching the venue (it was about quarter to 5), you wouldn’t think that there was a gig because we didn’t see a queue. My friends nervously asked if I had the correct date. It was a tad chilly and as it was a school day, most of the people were loitering about indoors, taking refuge from the cold outside. After a few minutes, I started to see high school kids milling into the foyer, most of whom were still in their seifuku!
The best bit of the wait was the queue for the band merch (or ‘goods’ as they call it here). It was pretty non-existent when we decided what to get after looking at the board. And the only thing that was sold out were the wrist bands which I wasn’t too bothered about. So, they had everything else still available. So much so, I almost reached out to buy TIMO’s *koffkoff* set of scented candles. After spending a few , err… yen at the stands, I noted the box where you could leave the band presents, and promptly I dropped the CDs I bought for them in Blighty.
There were a few people in cosplay at the venue. I saw two girls dressed as Dobondobonduo (I do hope these two girls got front row seats – such a pity if they didn’t get noticed) and another two in the long-skirted navy blue seifuku, like the ones SCANDAL wore in that outdoor fest with Kishidan a couple of years back. My favourite bit was when CANTA turned up. I joked to my friends that it was MAMIchan inside, but when CANTA was carrying a guy in his arms for a photo op, it was obvious that it couldn’t be her. CANTA was blind as a bat though – the poor thing was led around by a minder. He was patting my head like I was a wee lad and his minder was kind enough to take our photo with him.
The hall staff then announced that everyone was to queue outside. It was pretty cold but the line cleared in less than ten minutes with all of back in the foyer and up we went to 2F. To our back row seats. But I have to say, as this was a medium-sized venue, our view was still better than last row seats on the rafters in, say, Yokohama Arena. Members of staff with large NO PHOTOS signs were standing at strategic points in the hall. I think they don’t have to worry that much as Japanese punters don’t really take photos at gigs. Anyway, this is pretty much what the stage looked like:
Photo of the stage at the gig in Atsugi last week. Photo from BARKS.
The house lights went down at 7PM and Duke Ellington’s Take the ‘A’ Train was played on the PA (no more Mas Que Nada this time). MAMI, RINA, HARU and TIMO then casually walked across the stage greeted by cheers from the audience. MAMI was in dungarees, RINA had a black and yellow/black chequered getup, HARU had her Brit punk red/black chequered skinny jeans and TIMO in a striped top and a hat. Sorry for the lack of further details on the women’s fashion front – but I can tell you what guitars they use. Later.
The girls kicked off their much-awaited set with love in action. I actually had seen the Atsugi set list, but I was hoping that they’d they shake up the set list a bit. They were in top form, I have to say. But I have to admit that when they played this, my eyes were all on RINA’s drumming as I am learning the song at the moment.
When they played OVER DRIVE next, my heart sank a little bit as I had a strong feeling I will be seeing the same set as the Atsugi one. But it shouldn’t really matter – they could play Onegai Navigation all night and I’d still see them live again. It was mawashite time next – but without HARU actually saying Doru! in that serious tone of hers. I couldn’t imagine spinning the larger bath towel they were selling at the merch booth without blinding your fellow SCANDAL fans next to you.
They greeted their Tachikawa fans in the first MC and thanked all for attending their sold out show. MAMI had her Pelham Blue Gibson Les Paul out for the next tune, 瞬間センチメンタル. I almost did a HARUNA kikku (wrong song, I know) but restrained myself. SCANDAL BABY was next, early on in the set. I am so used to listening this later on in a SCANDAL live set but they seem to do this more and more recently. My fav bit was seeing MAMI and TIMO walking towards each other behind HARU for their kawaii face-off in the middle of the song. Then, it was hebī metaru time to Onegai Nebigēshon. Man, seeing this fav HELLO WORLD song live is just out of this world. It is amusing to see the lack of coordinated audience participation during the newer songs. You get some chanting OI! OI! whilst shaking their firsts while some are jumping in time. Me? Air drums are the way to go, yo. Air drumming at gigs is waaaay better than air guitar playing, but I digress.
MAMI had her delay and pitch shifter in action as a song intro. I kinda knew what they were gonna play next when she does this – 下弦の月. I felt that the keyboards to this were a tad overwhelming but it was still all right. I also wondered if the keyboards were played live offstage – it felt a little… ‘live’. Nice! Next was another MC where HARU introduced everyone onstage to the Tachikawa audience. They then proceeded on to the series of HELLO WORLD songs where only one of the girls in the band would sing on, unlike the usual HARU/TIMO combo you’d get in a regular SCANDAL song. Graduation by HARU was a nice rocker (err… more air drumming from yours truly). The tech got MAMI’s Gretsch White Falcon out (finally seeing this guitar with my own eyes – yes!) and she proceeded to sing 本を読む. To anyone who thought that this song was too high pitched for her to do this live, think again. She pulled this off with nary a bum note in her voice. 缶ビール was endearing but anything with TIMO is. But the best was RINA’s おやすみ. The tech handed her… wait for it, a lovely cream-coloured Tele, and not the Mustang. Auto tune, you say? She was fine. During MAMI’s guitar solo, RINA kinda drifted back (they were like in a line onstage – a right sight to behold) towards her kit. That aside, as a non-guitarist to finally deliver this as good as she did, I was well impressed. Oh yeah, the drums for this was done by programming. Like it is on the record. To anyone who remembered that TV show where Kishidan’s Shō was suggesting a strong sutairu (style) image for SCANDAL, I think they are going in this direction themselves with not much prompting.
They had a chilled out MC sesh next. RINA sat at the bar (complete with a masutā – what they call the barman in Japan) on stage right. MAMI was content standing behind her mic in front of her two Marshall half stacks. HARU sat on her central monitor with a few letters in her hand. TIMO was on the couch on stage right with a, umm… bottle. If I got this right from reading it somewhere, fans from each of the cities SCANDAL is touring send in info of interest regarding the city. This was when I got a little lost due to my (very) sketchy knowledge of 日本語. I tried to pick up a few words and my friend did the same, so we were trying to figure things as this part of the gig went along. In one of the letters, a member of the audience named Tatsuya described that he proposed to his kōhai and she said yes. RINA went on the sing part to a SCANDAL song the title of which escapes me. They then congratulated the husband/wife-to be in concert, and then got all of us in the audience to join in a hearty kekkon omedetō with them. I know there was to be no photos/video, but if those two got to record this moment for posterity it would’ve been so cool.
The Christmassy Winter Story was next, and pretty apt for the season. The stage darkened for the start of the next song. The background lit up and you see silhouettes of people walking, as you would at an airport. Yup – Depācha was this one. Gosh, more air drumming for me. And this time it was nice to be able to do the big one-armed coordinated wave move. Hahaha. I actually suck at this – you should see me at the Perfume gig in London last year. Another STANDARD fare came up next – 会わない. Everyone was right pumped up with this rocker.
サティスファクション reminded me so much of the 2013 gig in Singapore and another oldie Hello!Hello! from TEMPTATION BOX was a nice touch to this HELLO WORLD-strong set. The were bits to this which was so towel worthy I twirled anyway. Haha. We were brought back to the HELLO WORLD zone to end the main set, starting with the Pokemontastic 夜明け. Your song was a right crowd pleaser and my voice was almost gone for this one during the long WHOOOOAH bits in the chorus. The set ended with Image, the converse of how the songs are listed in the record. Apart from the rampant fist pumping to RINA’s drumbeat, I was singing out MAMI’s short guitar solo well. Until she bent the G on the 18th fret. Not very pretty.
They left the stage and a few of us started the en-ko-ru chant. After five minutes, they got back onstage with their tour tees on. MAMI and TIMO wore the one with the sleeping girl, RINA was in the white with sukyandaru katakana and HARU the black HELLO WORLD one.
SCANDAL after the show at Tachikawa. Photo from RINA’s blog.
And guess what. They played STANDARD. Flippin’ ‘eck. I didn’t know about everyone else but I went mental on this one. TIMO was standing on the couch on stage right rocking like a bad ass. My fav bit? Screaming during the bit when TIMO did the same. Yup. I screamed. Like a girl. HAHAHAHA. They did another MC which felt (sounded) like they were happy to be in Tachikawa and thanked all for coming to see them. HARU then actually the song they were about to play, this time the last track from HELLO WORLD, Place of life. After that mellowness, it was time to end the set with gusto. EVERYBODY SAY YEAH! Man, all of us was so pumped up even the 50-year old next to us was jumping in time. I need my knees checking.
Sadly, the show had to end. HARU reintroduced her bandmates again to the Tachikawa crowd. And they walked off stage waving to all with 夜明け playing on the PA, as all of us waved our goodbyes too. The entire set was two and a half hours, a far cry from my limited experience of seeing them playing live in Singapore two years ago. We were still reliving the experience of being at the show as walked back to the eki in the cold night air, ignoring izakaya touts on the way.
And I will be seeing this again tomorrow night. I hope the trains will be OK with all this snow. Heh.
Tamashin RISURU Hall, Tachikawa, Tōkyō-to 29.1.15 set: love in action / OVER DRIVE / DOLL / MC I / 瞬間センチメンタル / SCANDAL BABY / お願いナビゲーション / 下弦の月 / MC II / Graduation / 本を読む / 缶ビール / おやすみ / MC III / Winter story / Departure / 会わないつもりの、元気でね / サティスファクション / Hello!Hello! / 夜明けの流星群 / Your song / Image // [Encore] STANDARD / MC IV / Place of life / EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!
Or perhaps I could interest you in RINA’s cushion cover. *koffkoff* I have a bad feeling I might buy the… never mind.
What they wore onstage (thanks to CLUB SCANDAL):
This blog entry will come back to haunt me some day. You’ll see.
This gig review was written on a wintry morning in a Nishi-shinjuku hotel room and was first published on 無秩序の胃 30.1.2015.