Another crazy long weekend abroad. Despite what I’ve always said,
I love this band, but not that much.
Believe you me, if I could attend every single gig of theirs, I would. However, this trip to see SCANDAL (twice) in Ōsaka was somewhat the pinnacle of all the shows I’ve gone to watch. Someone once said, it ain’t the quantity but the quality. To prove this point, I’ve even written about this. As a band that seems to play a very limited number of deep cuts (if at all) at their album-promoting tours, the more discerning SCANDAL fan should take a step back before hitting that buy button. For all 28 (or whatever it is for that tour) venues.
I was somewhat cashing in on a few older cuts of their material for this 感謝祭 (Thanksgiving) tour of four cities (Nagoya, Ōsaka, Sapporo and Tōkyō) celebrating their tenth year since their debut on a major label, and to my delight the band had alluded to delving into their archives of material to provide what they described a really solid set list. Prior to flying to Ōsaka, photos and blurbs from the two Nagoya shows were out on soc media. The stage looked good, lights and LED backdrop included. One thing I was trying to block off was the set list which could be found (but thankfully hidden) on the SCANDAL HEAVEN forum – so, that was pretty easy to avoid.
I’ve never seen them at a ZEPP venue before, which is pretty much a medium-sized venue probably in the same category as the Hammersmith Apollo or Brixton Academy, but more modern. Come to think of it I have only yet to see them perform in a ライブハウス (live house, pretty much a Japanese club). As for seeing the lasses perform in an arena (well, the Nippon Budōkan should fit the bill I guess) and hall shows – got those boxes ticked!
First off on Saturday, I met up with Ikimaru who handed me my tix for both days. After a quick lunch in Shinsaibashi, we met up with Mitsuko-san at Dotonbori and left for Sakurajima on the train. The venue was by the sea, not that we would be queuing with the sea breeze in our hair like. Met up with Oli, and then Jas and Matt who just came back from the merch stand. The merch queue was a bit daunting length-wise, and as I had my merch sorted out (thanks, mate), I wasn’t too bothered.
Prior to standing at our assigned queues (we had to queue according to ticket number, and mine was like 1117), Ikimaru gave us all a quick briefing on how to get as close to the stage (like 4th – 6th row) even with tix with crap numbers. By the time the 1000+ tix holders reached the main doors, 15-odd minutes had passed and it wasn’t that bad of a wait. Matt and I headed to the frontmost entrance at stage left nearest to the front and we were comfortably at the 6th row already, thanks to the barriers typically present in a Japan music venue. By this time, we saw Ikimaru, Mitsuko and Jas nearby. And if everything went well, people would push in when the gig starts so that should get us to where we wanted to be.
The LED backdrop only had the lightning SCANDAL logo whilst the PA was blaring a random playlist that included material from Foo Fighters. Come 7 PM sharp (an hour earlier on Sunday) the lights went down and the LED buzzed with static and began to show previous album covers to the beat of techno. Nothing like a bit of boom-tish to start a show, yo. And right enough, Matt and I were pushed to where the rest of us were. Result! So using this technique the next time I watch a ZEPP gig in Japan. Even at row 5 or 6, the view was superb as we were somewhat tall-ish compared to the general population present in the venue that night.
The lasses came out from stage right and RINA stood on the raised platform pretty much right in front of us. It was way better on Sunday – just about a metre or so from my vantage position on front row. Oh yes, the ticket was number 21 on Sunday. No messin’. MAMI, HARU and TOMOMI followed suit and pretty much at this time, they were mere silhouettes onstage with a raging red LED background. MAMI’s Strat began to howl from feedback and they kicked the set off with DOLL.
Ever since SCEU2016 I saw an intensity in their performances. These nights were no different. And they were loud as fuck. On the second night, I was listening to both the FOH mix and MAMI’s own Bogner 4×12’s. Intense! The evening’s momentum kept going as they went through the songs – Flashback, Kagerō (a deep-ish cut considering – although they did play this for the 47 Prefecture tour due to its inclusion in the SCANDAL best of… double album). MAMI then got on her lil’ platform and began raking a steel slide on her Gibson Les Paul somewhat seductively, with lips partly ope… I mean, she began the opening notes to Electric Girl. The second towel song within barely 20 minutes of the show. And talking about loud, the punters at Ōsaka weren’t messing about either. After LOVE SURVIVE, they had the first MC and the first thing HARU said was how scary (怖い / kowai) it sounded like from where they were, despite having in ear monitors on. My mega elementary nihon go was such that I couldn’t really understand most of what they were chatting about – but that was what the MC sounded like. Them chatting among themselves, and to/with the audience. An oasis of calm in between the hard core intensity.
The next song was a major surprise and if I am right, a song which they last played live prolly like during that 2012 show at Yoyogi. Pinheel effing Surfer. And no, it didn’t sound weedy live. I wasn’t sure if the keyboard fills were played or not but it sounded like guitars/bass/drums purely on that tune. Girl power song or not, dance away, people of Ōsaka. Koisuru was a great treat after that, suffice to say if I were to type that we were going mental, I’d be typing that for almost every song performed that night. I’m one for not adapting to convention at Japanese gigs. Yeah, I’d go with the flow with some of the more obvious ones like mawashite-ing during DOLL or jumping at the right moment during the SCANDAL BABY choruses. I prolly looked like this strutting my, err.. stuff on Saturday night to Koisuru Universe.
From my vantage point, especially on night two, I had full view of the missus. She was all over the stage at times doing her stuff, and the beauty of it was seeing her occasionally doing bum notes or even phrases. To the point where my face was like babe, what the eff was that, in an endearing way of course. She wasn’t the only one – HARU sang funny at times and there was this bit when RINA rushed in a tad during Flashback. I loved seeing all that – didn’t pay good money to see lipsync-ing robots.
Back to MAMI being up close and almost personal – got to see her amps. Not just the one that is facing the crowd, but two more Bogner Ecstasies standing perpendicular to the main half stack at the back. MAMI’s tone was lush – a tad grittier than her Marshall but not mega high gain like a Mesa Triple Rect. Nice to see her moving her game up a tad. HARU had her usual SHINOS and 5150 half stacks (with the 5150 cab facing to the back) and TOMOMI providing the low ends on her Fender. RINA’s Pearl kit seemed to be the same as she had for HONEY – still red all around.
Sparkling was a pleasant surprise – the first time I’ve seen this deep cut from BABY ACTION live. The intensity was still there as they waded through a diverse range of material, which included the less annoying nihon-go version of Your song, ending the segment with STANDARD, making this my fifth and sixth time seeing this live, all in Japan interestingly enough. The next MC was a long-ish one which led to HARU pretty much doing a monologue over strummed chords on her white/gold signature Tele. The gist of this was along the lines of how long they have come in ten years, and how they would want to go on for a long time despite not knowing what the future holds. I daresay there was not a peep in the house, and you could feel the emotion stirring among the fans and the lasses themselves. The chord strums then blended onto the intro to Chiisana Honō. Absolutely beautiful. On the first night, HARU was being a tad playful and did several chord strums before starting the “electric version” of Sisters, something they had been doing at about the HONEY Japan/Asia tours if I am not mistaken. During this gentler mid-section of the set, MAMI played a sonic grey Fender Shawbucker Tele Deluxe with a light blue/white monogrammed strap. Whether this was HARU’s guitar from 2017 or MAMI’s own, I have no idea. I did like the neck pup tone on the solo of Sisters. HARU later announced that they had been writing over the summer and would like the audience to check out a new song, the title of which was to remain a secret for now. The song starts with a rocking MAMI guitar riff, and the whole song had an added punkish vibe to it. I thought this was pretty good, provided they retain the raw feeling to the song that all of us experienced. Looking forward to seeing whether this would be an upcoming single from the new record.
They played some stuff from HONEY (yup, me being emo again during OVER on night one). This was like the third act within the main set, and they were not letting up with the intensity. FREEDOM FIGHTERS was superb, another new one for me live. RINA playing hard on this was a sight to behold, despite her somewhat dainty persona she’d usually portray on her social media. HARU then shouted:
The opening riffs to the live version of TMO was enough to make everyone go apeshit. Yup, throw them crutches and do the granddad techno. TMO still gets me every single time. Looking at the fans’ response to this tune made me wonder if this was a reason why SHCB’s cover version did pretty well on YouTube… I can only wonder of course. They ended the main set with Shunkan. It’s okay. I’ll, err… allow it.
Whilst waiting for the encore, there were a few enkoru shouts especially on night two, which died out in a less than spectacular fashion. If I remembered correctly the first shouts of enkoru on night one came out so late, that it went one for a few times and the lasses reappeared with their 感謝祭 and Feedback! tees. On night one, SCANDAL played Awanai and Image on night two, followed by another treat from the BEST★SCANDAL album – SAKURA Goodbye! It felt like they were bringing back ’em shiroten days. And what better way to end the night but with SCANDAL BABY. On night one, the missus and TOMOMI did the teasing bit on a ticklish HARU during the second verse for a pretty while, starting from Happy ending… all the way til the Oh yeah! bit just before MAMI rushed to do her solo. And we did the
with much aplomb as per usual. The lasses then took a bow and grouped together at the three raised platforms to say goodbye to all, with Platform Syndrome playing in the background. On night two, only my red tee was visible in the photo, with RINA’s cro… I mean, hips slap bang covering my face. Oh, well.
MAMI threw one pick which went over my head (what’s new) but TOMOMI threw a few on the other side. And off they went at stage right. The LED screen began to show photos taken of the band during the performance, although I wasn’t too sure if it was of the night’s show or of the previous ones in Nagoya. Night two felt strange as the show ended at 7 PM due to the 5 PM start, which was fine as I had to leave sharpish to meet a friend. But on the first night, there was time to visit the merch stand for some leftover stuff to buy. Missing the merch stand on night two meant I missed getting the backstage pass for 11.11.18. Let’s hope it will be made available at the online store once the tour ends. We trooped off tired, hungry but happy… and off we went to Dotonbori for some well-deserved nosh up.
Remember when I said this was the pinnacle of all the SCANDAL gigs I’ve ever been to? When it’s being there with a bunch of likeminded mates, you’ll never go far wrong. Here’s to the next whatever tour in Japan, peeps.
ZEPP Ōsaka Bayside 10-11.11.18 set: DOLL / Flashback No. 5 / カゲロウ / エレクトリックガール / LOVE SURVIVE / MC I / ピンヒールサーファー / 恋するユニバース / Sparkling / 太陽スキャンダラス / Your song / STANDARD / MC II / ちいさなほのお / Sisters / MC III / Untitled / MC IV / プラットホームシンドローム / Over / FREEDOM FIGHTERS / テイクミーアウト / 瞬間センチメンタル // 会わないつもりの、元気でね (Day 1) | Image (Day 2) / SAKURAグッバイ / SCANDAL BABY
All photos of both Ōsaka shows from the band’s official social media.
I can only afford the pedal version.