ayumi hamasaki ~POWER of MUSIC~ 2011 (5/28)

by Aprilis on June 1, 2011 · 6 comments · AddThis

Ayumi Hamasaki’s 2011 concert tour, originally named ayumi hamasaki ARENA TOUR 2011 A ~HOTEL Love songs~, was changed to ayumi hamasaki ~POWER of MUSIC~ 2011 after the natural disaster that strike Eastern Japan in March. This isn’t the first time that Ayu had made sudden changes because of an unexpected event. Back in 2001, Ayu had the design for the album I am… all planned out. But after the 911 event, she opted for a more simple version that we see today. The new concert theme and tour goods are a big indication that Ayu really wants to reach to everyone through her music. Whether they are people that were affected by the disaster in March, the people who had reached to help, and international fans from all over the world.

The stage for the show was very simple, almost too simple for Ayu’s standard. There was a walkway that connects the backstage to the main stage which was circular and positioned at the centre of the arena. The main stage can be seen as a circle that is made up of 3 rings. The centre circle has the ability to move above and below stage level, this was mainly used by Ayu to enter the stage. The ring around the centre piece is simply a part of the stage, it doesn’t rise or move. The second ring, is a revolving pathway that was used by the dancers and Ayu to give the audience equal attention. The band and a mini orchestra are positioned around the main stage, at the most outer ring.

Even before the arena went dark everyone in the audience had already pulled out the tour uchiwa (traditional Japanese round fan) and glow sticks, brightening the concert hall in a sea of pink. The concert started with the dancers entering the arena, each holding a glowing ball that looked a lot like a planet. As the curtains rose, Ayu was standing in the centre ready to dazzle the crowd with the first song, forgiveness. She dazzle the crowd alright as the smallest movement from her made the crowd go crazy.

A MC session followed, and for the first few minutes Ayu kept sipping her drink from a plastic bottle between talks like she was just having coffee with a friend. If any other artist did that, I’ll immediately bash out how unprofessional it was to do that. But when Ayu did it, it’s just so cute I can’t help but laugh it off. She then attempted a short a capella of MOON with her backup singers but she messed up and had to stop midway through. They made another attempt and managed to get through it beautifully. After that the full band joined in again as blossom was performed.

From here onward, the concert was divided into different “themes”. Each time a new theme began, the title was shown on the big screen. I’ve written down the set list in accordance with the theme that it falls under.

The set list for the 5/28 concert was as follow:

1) forgiveness
MC
- Introduction
- MOON a capella
2) blossom

Relax
3) BLUE BIRD
4) monochrome
5) fairyland

Pain
- Dancer introduction (their names were shown on the screen and each got some solo time)
6) A Song for XX
7) M
8) NEVER EVER

Imagine
9) walking proud
10) part of Me
11) Moments

Smile
- Carnival style music with performance by 3 of the dancers.

Change
12) vogue
13) Far away
14) SEASONS

Joy!
- Dancers and Ayu interact with the audience through clapping, chants and dances.
15) Bold & Delicious

Cheer!!
16) Mirrorcle World
17) evolution
18) Boys & Girls

To Be Free
19) Born To Be…
- Ayu introduces the orchestra, band, dancers and thanks everyone for attending the concert.

Remember (encore)
- VTR with a piano acoustic version of Daybreak playing in the background.
20) A Song is born

Ayu’s concerts are famous for its spectacular show quality with lot of costume changes and high budget stage setups. Although this time around there was no flashy costumes or stage, a lot of details and surprises made it a very delightful concert. Take the Smile theme for example: instead of getting a performance from Ayu,3 of the dancers took the stage as circus clowns and performed numerous aerobic and mime acts. It was very random, but an enlightening and entertaining act that everyone in the audience enjoyed. The clowns made a return to the stage along with the other dancers for the Joy! theme. They challenged the audience to a few rounds of rhythm clapping game. After awhile, Ayu reappeared on stage and joined in the fun. The clapping quickly turned into a chanting game with Ayu as lead. And let me tell you, Ayu wasn’t shy in getting everyone to chant her name and replied with “thank you” and a big sweet smile.

To some people the set list might be a disappointment because there isn’t many songs from the Love songs album. But I absolutely love this set list because it’s a dream come true to hear the live version of some of the older songs like M and SEASONS. Not to mention I finally had the chance to participate in the Boys & Girls shouting match and sing along to evolution with Ayu. I also like how a lot of the songs were rearranged beautifully, just like the MY STORY Classical album. It made each of these songs more interesting and it really goes back to the theme of the concert: the power of music (how the arrangement of a song) can change things.

Ayu's final message to the audience for the night.
The encore, Remember, was well thought out. As the dancers greeted the audience and slowly made their way to the main stage from the walkway, Daybreak was being played in the background. A special video began to play on the screen, showing the love that everyone was sending to Japan and the victims of the recent disaster. The video was a collection of photos from fans all over the world: each one was reaching out their hands toward the sky. As the photos were shown one after another, a subtext explained that we all live under the same sky. If there was any doubt why Ayu decided to set up the entire concert with such simplicity entirely with the disaster in mind, the encore portion definitely cleared things up. As the video came to an end, Ayu appeared at the centre of the stage in a white tour t-shirt matched with a pair of white shorts and boots. Towards the end of A Song is born, it’s clear that Ayu been crying uncontrollably as her face was filled with tears. But she still managed to finish the song beautifully till the very last note.

To be honest, I was wary about attending this concert at first. Ayu was the first Japanese artist I fell in love with, and this was the first time I was seeing her live. I do enjoy her new materials but I still prefer some of her older and dare I say it, more classic songs. And not to mention there are a lot of times when I find myself complaining about how she over does it with her vocal, especially on TV and in concert performances. But I am really glad I decided to attend this concert in the end. It seems Ayu is one of those artists that sound a lot better when heard live. And who knows, part of that might have to do with her stage presence, something that can’t be explained or felt through a monitor or stereo. I’m also kind of glad she changed the tour title and theme because while ~HOTEL Love songs~ might had more glamour costumes and stage, I probably wouldn’t had enjoyed it as much on a musical level.

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About the author

Aprilis was first introduced to the world of J-Pop through Ayumi Hamasaki's music. Through Ayu's music she was exposed to and fell in love with other J-Pop acts such as Ai Otsuka and Hello! Project. She is currently living in Japan and enjoying every moment of it.

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Recommended Reading – June 3, 2011 | International Wota UNITED STATES
June 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

scavenger December 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I totally agree with you. I like ayu’s older, more classic, songs because to me they reach out to you even better than her new ones and I am happy to see a concert of hers that has a setlist like this one, where there are more of her older songs. (big fan of trauma and the para para dance! I did that in class once and everybody was laughing but I still enjoyed it)

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单翼天使の悲伤 August 12, 2011 at 7:57 am

很爱很爱她

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Michiru July 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Thanks so much for the revieww!
I had planned on attending this concert live myself, but after the 3/11 incident in Japan had to cancel my trip. The change of tour theme cannot be more appropriate. Ayu’s music has always been a power in my life- and I continue to support Queen Ayu overseas!!

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comer para perder grasa June 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

I look forward to excellent artist dvd, congratulations on the post I loved

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Rinoa June 4, 2011 at 5:19 am

Thanks Aprillis for a very interesting review. I must admit I was very surprised to see that Ayu was doing such a simplistic concert when she is well known for her extravagance but in this situation it is more than understandable and appropriate. I am glad that it was still an enjoyable experience and look forward to seeing it on DVD!

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