The set list at Tachikawa-shi was different from Atsugi by just one song, provided the set list that was published online was accurate. It kinda made sense that the girls played a same-ish set as they are playing to audiences from different localities every night, and it’ll only be a small percentage of fans that would be following them to the different venues night after night. In addition, there were certain aspects of the set which meant certain songs had to be played at a certain time (take Departure for one, which had a somewhat theatrical start to it live). Nevertheless, I was wondering what song they’d choose over STANDARD in the encore at the Maebashi show.
Maebashi is pretty far from Tōkyō and the journey was made bearable by taking the shinkansen. The shinkansen took 45 minutes to reach Takasaki (during which time I was able to stuff myself with bento I bought at Ueno JR eki as a late lunch), and then took the local Ryomo line train to Maebashi which took another 15 minutes. One thing I just love about this country is its connectivity and that I could use my Pasmo in Gunma! Fat chance of using the Oyster card in the likes of Hertfordshire.
The Beisia Hall was about 2 km away from the eki. We could easily leg it but we took a cab anyways to get there ASAP. Luckily, it was a good decision as the queue was somewhat long. And it was flippin’ freezing to boot (yay to HeatTech). I didn’t get to see Canta today, prolly because it was too cold outside to play, but from the various tweets, it looked like he was knocking about the place earlier.
We were at the Kitty Shop in Shibuya on Friday actually, where I snagged a few more merch. But seeing the merch stands again after entering the venue, I queued up to see if there are any last minute items I might just grab. And despite my earlier protestations, I bought the item that TIMO came up with – her canned biru (scented candle ain’t the translation to this item) and a large towel. Western gig goers will defo find this Japanese fascination with towels unusual!
The seats we got were way better (thank you Japan Post EMS for getting them to me in the nick of time) on row 18. There was a row of six seats in the column just next to us. I wondered if they were bought by fans who managed to snag better seats in the front, or they were bought by touts who failed to get buyers in time. It was a sold out show, but it certainly didn’t translate that way seat occupancy-wise.
The staff here at Beisia was very much stricter than the Tamashin RISURU. Members of the audience were told to completely switch their mobile phones off, hence there was no chance of surreptitiously snapping a shot whilst pretending to check Twitter! I have noted their set list from Tachikawa, and as to not sour the evening’s experience, I stashed my iPhone in my bag albeit a little reluctantly.
Being closer to the stage allowed us to see the component of their elaborate props which recreated the look of a bar with a mid-20th century charm. The main backdrop in the middle looked like a cross of multiple post-its with a map. A myriad of words are scribbled on each coloured patch. There were song titles like love in action and Departure, as well as random stuff (related to the tour nonetheless) like ‘UK, USA, JP… lalalalalalala’. Two chandeliers hung over each side of the stage. On stage left was a bar. The masutā was none other than Motchy, one of the band’s guitar techs, dressed in black complete with a black apron, who would be tuning MAMI’s guitars (there was another tech for TIMO and HARU, and he was also in the same barman garb) and doing a quick line check just before the girls get on stage. On the bar was a gramophone which serves a purpose you will read later in this post.
On stage right was the sofa where TIMO would chill on in the middle MC segment (and stand on in the encore hehe) with a coffee table, which had a globe, in front of it. Each third of the stage had ornate rugs (better viewed from the rafters as we did two nights’ before) on the floor.
TIMO’s backline was her usual Ashdown 500 EVO III head and cab although the cab was now in an enclosure along with other rack items, none of which I could make out. During the line check, her tech was actually using her Music Man Stingray! HARU had her Shinos combo on top of an added cab. To the left of the Shinos was another amp – the white EVH 5150 head and cab (the cab was placed on its side) which was featured in one of RINA’s blog posts. MAMI’s backline were her usual two Marshall half stacks, Funassyi-ed as per usual.
The house lights were dimmed and the red HELLO WORLD neon blinked and switched on as Motchy placed a record (prolly just an act, I dunno) and it “played” Duke Ellington’s Take The A-Train. So, the whole ambience had an old school 1940’s feel to it, and Sergio Mendes’ Mas que Nada wouldn’t really work for this tour I think. Like the previous show, MAMI, RINA, HARUNA, and TOMOMI sauntered onstage. MAMI was wearing an olive drab long coat, RINA was wearing a checked shirt similar to the one MAMI wore on the HW cover, whilst HARU wore the full HW cover shirt and jeans ensemble and TIMO wore a red top and black dungarees. They walked towards their instruments, and kicked off their Maebashi set with love in action.
For their first MC, HARU introduced the band to the Beisia Hall audience and said that this was their first show in Maebashi city – that much I could figure out. Heh. She went on about something else which probably alluded to something people in Gunma say in daily speak (I think). HARU then started of with part of a sentence and was greeted by a thunderous reply from the local audience. The girls were so enthralled, going sugoi!, whilst my friend and I were like, eeh?.
The girls kicked off the following segment with Shunkan. You know how MAMI and TIMO would go towards HARU in the middle of SCANDAL BABY? They tend to goof around in this segment of the song and tonight was no different, with them doing alternate kicking moves around HARU. HARU being the consummate pro just smiled and sang/played on unperturbed by her bandmates’s shenanigans.
I don’t know if this was due to us being closer to the stage but the atmosphere at Beisia Hall was amazing, and I dare say better than that at Tachikawa. Even the newer songs saw the audience pretty much doing their usual hand/arm gestures more in concert. I was well impressed. It did leave me with little room for ad lib mash potatoes, but I indulged in that anyway when the opportunity arose. Whilst not forgetting my fav move of air drumming, air bass string picking and guitar soloing were great alternatives when my right arm was a tad fatigued.
After Kagen was my fav bit – the chilling-by-the-bar MC. RINA headed to the bar and requested for oolong (tea) on the rocks. She then proceeded to comment how weird it was to order this even though she was already 23 years of age. TIMO at that time was comfortably seated on the couch at the other end and lifted a beer bottle reassuring RINA, “Well, I’ve only got Pocari Sweat in this one…” HARU commented that her skinny jeans were actually quite tight as it was in a kids’ size. I wondered if that was the reason why she remained standing (she was seated on the middle monitor at Tachikawa) during the MC.
One of the letters was from a girl who happened to sit in the front row right in front of TIMO. From what I could gather that apart from the local phrases (the call-and-response thing HARU did earlier) was this bit where people would stand at attention from their seats when one said 起立 「kiritsu」 and so forth. The letter may well be describing how they greeted their teachers in Gunma. Perhaps. I do know the next part would be 礼 「rei」 but this was not in the sequence. Anyhow, HARU tried it on the audience and we all stood up when she said kiritsu!, followed by the three other command words where only at the third one we bowed (the rei bit). Anyone reading here who is from Gunma – I’d love to hear from you.
Another piece of trivia was from someone in the rows behind us about how there are only three places in the world that produce Häagen-Dazs ice cream. The places are Tulare, CA in USA, Arras in France and Takasaki in Gunma. The girls were so bowled over (going eeehhhhh! a lot) for obvious reasons. At the end of the MC, HARU did the kiritsu! thing again with us as she noticed we were about to stand up for the second half of the main set.
They played their four one-man songs, and even then, I still could see RINA’s tentativeness with the guitar on おやすみ which made it so much more endearing to see. But in the last verse, her Tele was slung to the back and she had both hands on the mic stand singing her heart out. Naisu rock pose, RINA! MAMI was not short of her own rock guitar poses herself – how I wish gig photos were allowed! Unfortunately, they kicked off the encore with STANDARD yet again, but I wasn’t complaining as this is one kick ass song. And yup, TIMO went nuts on the couch. Again.
SCANDAL is no longer the band I knew when I first discovered them on YouTube those years ago, dancing with their guitars dressed in seifuku and dancing in the rain. Their image and sound have constantly evolved and I am glad that they are out of their ‘costumed’ phase. Their original sound were a tad more unpolished (in a good way) but really loud live. Despite their more commercial take on things these days, they still rock pretty hard and when they hit the road outside Japan, the theatrical elements seen in their Japan shows will not be there. This would be when fans can see the band in the rawer form, something that overseas SCANDAL fans should look forward to. また４月、みなさま。ロンドンに来ます！
And I’ll make sure the missus takes better care of her left wrist.
Beisia Cultural Hall, Maebashi, Gunma-ken 31.1.15 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!
That’s the colloquial Japanese way of going WTF.
By this time, I pretty much resigned to the fact this will be an identical set to Tachikawa’s.
The likelihood of which is, virtually nil.
I love them in their seifuku, but not too big on identical costumes like what they wore for the Singapore gigs in 2013.
This gig review was first published on 無秩序の胃 5.2.2015.