Yes, I got suckered into forking out fifty bucks to stand at the concert. It’s all Kalafina’s fault I swear! I just couldn’t sleep at night anymore with all the disembodied voices in my head going “It’s Kalafina~~~~ KALAFINA~~~~” “They’re doing a live AT YOUR BACKYARD~~~~” “People are flying down to see them, you just need a 30 MINUTE bus ride~~~~” “You’re reallyyyy not gonna go~~~~?” “It’s friggin KALAFINA~~~~”
Alright alright I know already geez. And so I did. I went, I paid, I got starstruck, and now I’m back. And I’m just gonna take a moment here to attempt to pen some post-concert impressions while the memory is still fresh.
Of course, while the previous two paragraphs could gush about nothing but Kalafina, it really wasn’t a Kalafina concert so much as it was a concert with Kalafina. With AFA continuing their astounding trend of exponentially increasing their performer-count, we had five performing groups on Sunday night (they had five-ish more Saturday night but the only one I was interested in in there was LiSA so I didn’t fork out for that one). All in all I’d say I’m glad I got to
sit stand through the whole thing even though I was really mostly there for Kalafina (and even though the freakin event cameraman on the platform in front of me decided to remain standing and block me half the freakin time. AFA ASK YOUR STAFF TO CHILL AND SIT DOWN!!). Let me do a quick run through of the performers in their order of appearance.
Kanako Ito came on the stage first and was joined shortly by Chiyomaru Shikura with his guitar. She greeted the audience in the sort of halting but passable English that would be echoed by all her co-performers for the rest of the night, and then serenaded us with a string of songs from Steins Gate (at least she said, if I heard right, that she was gonna just do Steins Gate songs). Two overarching impressions: she’s a pretty good singer, and Steins Gate has some pretty good songs @_@ Nope I didn’t watch it, but I think I’m gonna have to go plough around for some of the soundtrack now. As she left the stage, some parts of the crowd began mounting a confused attempt at an encore-call that unfortunately didn’t gather enough momentum, likely because large parts of the crowd were somewhat clueless. A significant portion of the attendees were probably first-time concert-goers after all, which is a pity because I thought Kanako and Chiyomaru deserved the encore. It was a short but great performance.
Milky Holmes came up next, and, well, two impressions again. They were… cute. And the mics were maybe just a little too.. loud. Unfortunately I have 0% acquaintance with the anime or the game (think it was a game?) so there wasn’t much resonance for me. We still gamely cheered them through their quick performance though.
Then came Angela, and I think this was around the time the concert mood really started to sink in. We were hooting ourselves hoarse and waving our light-sticks till our arms were sore (yeah we got light-sticks! Light sticks ftw!). Funny thing was I didn’t know just about every song they performed too, but they were good songs. Either that or it was the live-concert stardust warping my senses, or it might have been vocalist Atsuko’s swoon-inducing vibrato. She was great, and a quick nod here to the AFA organizers for the quality of the stage and sound systems. It still wasn’t perfect – heavier pieces tended to saturate the speakers and echo jaggedly through the hall, but my, how far have we come since that very first live that was on the stage in the main convention area :) Crucially, the mic was great, and really allowed the singers to go to town with their powerful vocals.
Anyway Angela’s performance was fairly long, and there was a segment in between where they streamed the concert live to viewers via NicoNico and we got to wave our light-sticks at them. Guitarist Katsu even ran across the stage carrying strips with stuff like “キタ━━━(゜∀゜)━━━!!!!!” written on it in mimicry of the NicoNico commenting mechanism. And cute crowd-interaction stuff like these are what really made Angela’s performance for me. The vocalist taught us to call her “Atsuko Sensei” then made us all shriek “Katsu Oniichan~” at her guitarist, and as she sang Katsu actually leapt down the stage to do a running high five with the folks in the front row. When out of absolutely nowhere they suddenly broke into a cover of the legendary Cruel Angel Thesis, We. Went. Wild. Damn! And when they were finally done, a much more warmed-up crowd mounted a much more convincing encore-call, to which they responded, making them the only group to truly respond to an encore-call that night. Atsuko had tears in her eyes as she thanked us for the call, and they performed their debut song as the encore piece.
And then, after a breather, came Kalafina. What can I say, words failed me, they were amazing. They appeared as the darkened stage became gradually lit to the intro of the Madoka ED, then just erupted into song. Yes, they erupted into song, into that trio of entrancing voices with their contrasting texture and qualities doing their signature, twisting dance across the polyphonic vocal lines. Oh, and in case you’ve been wondering, you know all the operatic sections in their songs, especially in their Kara no Kyoukai numbers? They sing all of those. And they sang all of those. It was a sight to behold and a song to bewitch. Listening to them live, even more so than listening to them from a music player, makes you marvel at the unspeakable way their voices resonate. I hear they were put together by their legendary composer Yuki Kajiura. Well, that woman is a genius.
They did a fair selection of songs, including Sprinter and Oblivious from KnK, and Hikari no Senritsu, the Sora no Woto OP before leaving to our collective whines, lol. I had hoped that they would do one of their slower Kara no Kyoukai numbers, because, well, the sound system was such that slower, quieter emotive songs just sounded better, but it was a great and moving performance nonetheless. Sadly, they never answered our spirited encores :C
Finally came May’n, buchou herself, in her fourth AFA appearance. Her performance was not unlike her previous two that I saw. She was there with her very flaunty dancers flaunting her very impressive voice-work. Being the last in a line of distinguished vocalists to perform I thought really spoke to May’n’s amazing prowess as a singer. Listening to her and considering that most of the others had actually shown signs of fatigue near the end of their performance made me remember the early days of AFA where May’n held her own and still hit all the high notes on Northern Cross with gusto. As much as I wish her success in her more mainstream pieces, I still think her Sheryl Nome numbers are the ones that best bring out her strengths. This time though she only did one song from the series (MOTTEKE!). Well, she might have done something from the movie, but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t watched it yet :P The other songs were pretty nice as well though, especially her last song, which is a new single I believe. Brain something. I need to look that one up too :)
She, too, didn’t answer our encore :C I had been secretly hoping for an encore performance on the level of awesome of Fukuyama and May’n’s joint live couple years ago, but sadly it is not to be, and so the concert ended on a very slightly disappointing note for me.
I would still have liked the standing area to be free and fought for with patience and leg-muscle perseverance, but I guess the demand has really grown large enough to warrant such a sizable fee. The VIP sitting area now occupies half the large hall (those damn bourgeoisie… ), and even with the standing area costing 50 bucks we had to queue and stand and squeeze and fight for the better standing spots. But given the sheer quality of the performances, I guess that isn’t all that surprising. It was yet another great experience, and this was only the concert. Yes, I went to the con and a couple of stage events too, most notably to Chiwa Saitou‘s live-dubbing session. But that’s for another day, assuming I muster enough motivation to actually write another AFA post :)
Oh, and here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Those Japanese celebrities? They all eat frickin chicken rice when they come down here. ALL of them. Boggles the mind.