A guest article gladly received from Rosy Baltussen
My review will tell you about the 2 days of the Midsummer Great New Year Party 2020 ~ Heavenly Bridge of the amazing Wagakki Band!
On the 15th and 16th of August it was finally the big concert of Wagakki Band in the Yokohama Arena, a show which had been cancelled earlier this year because of the Covid-19 outbreak in Japan. The two shows have gone completely different than usually. Normally the Yokohama Arena can have a maximum of 17000 fans inside, but this time they went down to just 5000. Because of this decision they started to sell tickets for Livestream shows at Line for the Japanese fans. Since they were going to do a livestream, they decided to let the international fans enjoy as well and to stream it on Zaiko. I was the lucky one who could watch the live stream. In the two days there have been 35000 fans who have watched the shows online.
The show started on Saturday at 17.00 and Sunday at 16.00 with an incredibly beautiful video introduction of all 8 members, followed by a falling curtain with the band ready behind it to begin the first song. I had never seen them live, or even a show (only bits and pieces) and it felt so special to me, finally I could see them live! Of course I would have preferred to see them in Japan, but well….
It was a great start to the show, they really came in with a bang. The first song fitted perfectly after the opening clip they showed and the second song came in even bigger with lots of fire. Purple penlights were to be seen everywhere in the arena. Yuko even shouted a few times to their fans to wave the penlights as much as possible. It was really cool see all those small purple lights together.
A show of the Wagakki Band is amazingly diverse, they play a wide range of their songs. Some of their heavier rock songs, ballads, vocaloid/anime songs and some of their instrumental pieces. During the instrumental pieces they were accompanied by some of the most beautiful videos of Japanese nature and wildlife, which fitted perfectly by the overall setting.
Halfway through the show they even had a Wadaiko Drum Battle between Wasabi and Kurona (this was the only part of the show which was allowed to be filmed). Later in the show they treated us to a performance of singer Yuko, who made some awesome moves with her Katana blade and supported by instrumental music.
During the show there also were three MC’s who spoke to the fans about many things. Before the start of the encore they had something special to tell us. A few weeks before the show they asked fans to film a clip of themselves singing a part of ‘Akatsuki no Ito’. They combined lots of entries together and it sounded like all those fans singing together. They also filled the screen with tiny clips of the fans singing. It was almost one of the most emotional parts of the show. I was also the lucky one who was chosen to be part of this moment . I was so happy and surprised that on day one I instantly started to cry tears of happiness.
On the first day Yuko got emotional about the fact that they were standing there on that stage again for their fans. They said ‘we are going to give a show, and maybe it will be cancelled, and maybe not’. In the end it turned out amazing and they did stand there on that stage for us.
On the second day Yuko told her fans that she felt 90% uncomfortable the day before but that changed completely in just one day. She said it felt like she sang on a completely different stage, and it changed so fast because of the fans in front of them singing, clapping, waving their penlights. That was the magic to change her feeling. I must admit you could hear and see it, they were on fire the second day.
After the encore they came with the big surprise, their new song ‘Singin’ for’ and announcement of the new album in October this year. They also played the new music video on screen, so the fans who watched Day 1 were the first ones to enjoy the new song before the rest of the world. I was amazed by the song, it is so beautiful and powerful. It made me feel very happy that on the second day the band played the song live for their audience. This was around the same time the video would air on YouTube and other social media.
The show ended of course with their most famous song Senbonzakura, with a loud bang of fireworks. All of the band members kept waving and saying goodbye to the fans for quite some time, it was clear that they didn’t want to leave the stage. I mean, it was a show of more than 2 hours! I was amazed by the variety of entertainment we received. But in the end it was time for them to truly leave the stage and then to end everything the clip of Singin’ for was shown. Then the stage turned dark.
For me it was an amazing experience, I was so proud to be part of the show and to be able to see this performance. The tickets were not the cheapest but in my opinion it was worth every penny. The band really showed what they can do as musicians and performers; that they are truly original with their traditional Japanese instruments combined with the modern ones.
Thank you all for reading my review!
Wagakki Band consists of:
Vocals: Yuko Suzuhana
Tsugaru Shamisen: Beni Ninagawa
Koto: Kiyoshi Ibukuro
Wadaiko: Kurona Shakuhachi: Daisuke Kaminaga
New album Tokyo Singing will be out October 14th 2020
There will be different versions of the album available to purchase (CD+DVD/CD+Booklet/CD only)
For more information and to support Wagakki Band follow them at https://twitter.com/WagakkiBand or go to their website https://wagakkiband.com/
Pictures are made by: Keiko Tanabe