Facing an unseasonable bleak wind I made my way to SHIBUYA-AX.
The venue was already jammed with over 1,000 people. I noticed that many of them seemed to be in their twenties. It appeared that girls slightly outnumbered boys.
I took up my position near one of the farthest corners from the stage, with my unlucky ticket in hand. It read No. one thousand three hundred such-and-such. Admission to the floor had been allowed in order of this number. All seats had been removed for the night so as to invite as many fans as possible (I guess). Unfortunately, it was very hard for me to get a full view of the stage because the audience was too large for the capacity of the floor.
One thing I have to tell you: this was the very first time I witnessed Oni's performance live. I'm relatively new to her world.
A band of guitars, basses and drums, as well as a string quartet, and of course a Bösendorfer were onstage. I love the rich tones of this piano.
Oni appeared and sang.
1. Ryuseigun (Meteor Swarm)
"If you can't touch me, then I'm no use to you"
The moment I heard her voice, I was spellbound. It immediately touches the heartstrings of the audience.
"Shake me violently and tell me 'You have nothing to lose any longer'"
3. Gekko (Moonlight)
"I was condemned to this corrupt world / How do I live on such a field? / This can't be what I was born for"
4. Memai (Vertigo)
"Here I feel your arm, your voice, and your back / And the rain pelts on my arid ground"
5. BACK DOOR
"On this level road you enjoy a distant view / But you'll be lost in obscurity here / So break the window and go forward"
"Pieces of my blasted heart are scattered all over / I wonder since when I've become this weak"
This performance was breathtaking.
"Amid murmuring noise and with the key you've just taken in your hand / What can you cause to happen? / Can you make a flame with your sadness?"
Oni sat on a chair on the stage and sang this number. The long outro performed on Haketa's enthusiastic piano plunged into the next song without a break.
8. Tiger in my Love
"Even if you trample me underfoot and if there isn't a blank space, nothing can even touch this skin / And you will never see the tiger in my love"
This was the gem of the night. The beauty of the powerful portamento that soared! A rampant tigress roared. I was thrilled in admiration.
"All alone, I'm gonna turn into a mermaid / With my legs, I'm sure I can go to a paradise where a guy like you would be faded away / I don't care if you don't believe me"
The audience was invited to beat time with the hand. This should be most unusual with her concert. You ask me if we responded? Of course we did!
10. LITTLE BEAT RIFLE
"The beautiful light that disguises itself / You can immediately untie yourself"
In the middle of this song, Oni made another request to us. She said, "Everybody, join me and sing," and sang the phrase "Because God is watching you." So we followed her lead. She repeated the same phrase with its melody slightly changed. We followed again. After exchanging a few variations, she sang in a very high key that nobody could possibly imitate. It seemed to me that she chuckled triumphantly. (I'm not sure because I didn't have a good view of the stage.) This was a moment when her unexpected playfulness was revealed.
"I wished for the day when I could kick down my chair and leave the classroom"
In a rock taste. It was different from any other arrangement I had ever heard.
12. Koe (Voice)
"I still don't have a slightest idea where this road leads down to / All I know is that it would be sadder to stop here and lose sight of you"
Encore: Castle · imitation
"If I can go beyond myself with complete ugliness, I'd be willing to smear myself with mud over and over again"
Remarkably, there was nothing messy about her songs. In places she sang even better than we hear on her discs.
In addition to singing, Oni emceed for herself at intervals. "I'm sorry we're going to keep you standing," she said in a truly sympathetic tone. "I admit there isn't a single number that makes you rock, but I like the low-pitched sounds dominant (or the low temperature felt) throughout this album" (speaking of the latest album Sugar High).
Note: The Japanese words for "low pitch" and "low temperature" share the same pronunciation. I guess she meant the former.
On one occasion, Oni started talking by saying, "May I talk to you in tameguchi (very friendly, private tone as used when talking to a friend of one's own age)?"
Note: Japanese people have a general tendency to expect a formal and polite tone from a person speaking in public.
"The other day I saw one of my friends, also a singer, on television. I noticed she has come to look so good like an actress or a leopardess. And I, in contrast, look like a horseshoe crab! In fact, people say I'm like a beetle. I'm so jealous of her." This talk was immediately followed by a burst of laughter and disapproving calls from the audience, "Chii-chan, you look so sweet!"
Note: "Chii-chan" is an affectionate name for Chihiro, pronounced as chee-chun.
Since I had learned that she talks only curtly onstage, I was both surprised and amused. She said she was sorry for her poor talks but the fact was the other way around.
Bottom line: I enjoyed the intimate atmosphere and had a blissful time. Thank you, Chii-chan!
Copyright © 2003 Folia. All rights reserved.