Saturday, July 16, 2011

Alice Nine: Royal Straight Flash Tour Final

Live report of the last concert from alice nine's summer tour.

Everything began in front of the Kokusei Forum Hall A in central Tokyo with a meeting of cosplayers: Gradation period Shous greeted White Prayer period Toras, and a little further away, an elegant Saga dressed in the Kowloon single outfit throws himself in the arms of a sweet lolita. The meeting of the little groups is reminiscent of the atmosphere of a playground and the great contrast in fashion styles causes confused interest from passing tourists.

Eventually the crowd moved into the hall to purchase the special ROYAL STRAIGHT FLASH - alice nine tour 2007 scarf for the moment the band arrived on stage.
The hall filled quickly with fans awaiting the ending of alice nine's 2007 tour. As the lights went out a shiver of expectation ran through the hall, followed by enthusiastic cheering. An image of each member was projected on a large screen and the fans called out each member in turn. Eventually alice nine appeared on stage, taking hold of their instruments and launching into the first notes of JEWELS.

JEWELS is not really the cheeriest of alice nine’s songs. However, the infectious energy of the band brought the song to life and even Tora, who is usually calmer and more reserved, jumped around.

Shou stood at the back of the stage on a staircase that ran all the way from left to right on the stage. Shou's voice has improved in stability; the notes are long, clear and round, though still undeniably visual kei and, above all, typically Shou.

The live continued with a set of upbeat songs: Velvet, RED CARPET GOING ON and Rosario. The acoustics were exceptionally good and it was a real pleasure to listen to the band. During Rosario, little by little, Tora began to return to his normal, dreamy self, appearing as though he is in a world all his own, just bending over his guitar, his face gentle and grave.

13 began and Hiroto put all his energy into drawing in the audience by shouting a hoarse chant of "wai wai"'s. Of all the members he sought most to communicate with the audience. Perhaps this excess of enthusiasm caused him to break a guitar string because he immediately grabbed another guitar and continued playing into the next song, WHITE PRAYER, which is one of alice nine's more recent and sadder songs.

Corona followed, with a stripped down melody, which, unfortunately, highlighted some of Shou's vocal weaknesses. The crowd was ever attentive though, lending Shou their support. A peculiarity of alice nine is that the fans were there to support the band as much as they were to see and hear them. It is a little like supporting the sports teams at school and everything seems to revolve around a notion of friendship. In the end these weaknesses in Shou's voice are also sometimes what makes him unique and what we have learned to appreciate about him.

This quiet interlude was followed by Rouri no Ame, a new song that will be on their next single. It had a jammed and sincere chorus but felt held back by the nostalgic sound in the bridge. At the end of the song the band vanished and a music video was projected as a premiere. We regretted only being shown the instrumental recordings along with images of Shou singing silently. The clip promises, however, to be beautiful with a sense of tradition and alice nine fantasy.

This was followed by a strange casino themed interlude; slot machine fruit combinations scrolled until Nao and Saga were obtained before returning to the video. A few clips from TSUBASA were shown to introduce the return of the band and a solo by Tora.

A conversation between the band and the audience began before Shou announced Haikara naru rinbu kyoku. On stage there was suddenly a flurry of activity: Tora and Saga ran back and forth on the stage while the others jumped on the stairs. It was also during this song that Saga performed a bass solo, with much approval from the audience.

The melody of Stray Cat drew the fans in, jumping energetically, before taking a trip through the archives with songs like NINE HEADS RODEO SHOW and Yami ni chiru Sakura. This section ended with THE LAST EMPIRE. An explosion of guitars and fire works introduced this session of harder tunes that continued with DEAD SCHOOL SCREAMING during which the band and the audience head-banged. Solos gave each member his deserved moment of glory; Tora in particular seemed to be channeling Jimmy Hendrix, playing his guitar with his teeth.

alice nine took a short break to chat before launching into Blue Planet, a song very representative of the alice nine spirit. This was followed by Heisei juushichined shichigatsu nanoka where the audience was invited to sing "hoshi ga niji wo kakete anata no moto e tsuretette" and, as the band responded, silver confetti fell on the fans.

It was then time for the encore!

alice nine kicked off with FANTASY, an energetic song, followed by Hana Ichi Yaiba and Akai Kazaguruma from their first mini-album. It was a pleasure to see the choreography to Akai Kazaguruma and Gokusai Gokushiki Gokudouka (G3) once again.

As the end of the live drew near, nobody was surprised when Shunkashuutou was announced. It has been a tradition since their first one-man that this song be the last. The audience danced and sang with all their hearts, voices resonating through the Kokusei Forum.

The band spoke again with encouragement for the audience and then everyone reached to hold hands. On stage Nao, Saga, Tora, Hiroto and Shou held hands too. There was a final count-down and everyone jumped at risk of making the building collapse.

The tour closed with the impression that alice nine has come into its own. The warm atmosphere of their show went beyond that of the music and a young band full of enthusiasm, but also represented a poetic, fantasy universe full of friendship and tenderness. The feeling in the audience was one of bonding, from the first embrace in front of the hall to the last ROYAL STRAIGHT FLASH scarf raised to dry post-concert tears.

Set list
01. Jewels
03. Rosario
04. 13
06. Corona
07. Rouri no Ame

08. Rouri no Ame [PV]
10. TSUBASA [PV Extracts]

12. Bunretsu LE+DD Jinkaku
13. haikara naru rinbu kyoku
15. Yami ni chiru Sakura
18. Blue Planet
19. heisei juushichinen shichigatsu nanoka


21. Hana Ichi Yaiba
22. Akai Kazaguruma
23. Gokusai Gokushiki Gokudouka
24. Shunkashuutou
Thanks to Author; Shinyan

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