The following review comes from long-time SpeakerPODcast contributor, Richard. His excellent blog can be found here.
NO LIVE, NO MACROSS!!
or, “I Didn’t Think They were Going to Sing ‘Lion,’ but Then BAM! Second Encore!”
I was feeling seriously crappy (nice little summer cold) and the concert hall was a 90-minute train ride away. Moreover, when I got there, my phone battery died. There were THIRTEEN THOUSAND people here… how the hell was I gonna find Tochiro, since he had my ticket?
I arrived at a bit after two (the concert hall opened at three, show started at four), but most people had been there MUCH longer, since the merch tables opened at ten. By the time I got there, most everyone was wearing the “NO LIVE, NO MACROSS!” t-shirts, and had the towels around their necks.
Luckily, the Songstress Fairy and her friend saw me, and we ran into Save soon after that. We contacted Tochiro. He showed up and gave me my ticket (good for me and Renato), but had to hang back to meet up with someone (who never showed, apparently). The rest of us went to the exhibition hall, which was done up nicely. There was an absolutely massive long poster that showed pretty much EVERY Macross character, life-size (the Zentradi-size characters just had heads). There was a video display projected on the far wall showing openings and endings and clips from all of the shows, there was a food court (most of the food, I gotta admit, looked kinda nasty… I didn’t try anything), and there was the huge line for the merch. Oh and the place was totally packed and really, REALLY hot and humid.
Tochiro and Renato made their way down and we all went into the concert hall. It was a huge event space with folding chairs set up. Renato and I lucked out since our seats, while towards the back and far to the right, were on the aisle, so we had all the leg room we could want. The PA was broadcasting Macross songs one after another, including some odd choices, like “The Jingle Bells Have Been Lost” (Renato: “Well, that’s one song that’s not going to be performed tonight”). The stage itself was rather small, but there were three huge monitors on the back wall, one directly behind the stage, and one on either side of it.
At about 3:45 I decided to hit the restroom, and maybe get a bottle of water, but the line was so long that I gave up. 4:00 arrived, and…nothing. We waited longer. At 4:15 I decided, screw it, I’m getting some water. A lot of farcical running about later, I returned to the concert hall to find that the show had already started. Isn’t that always the way?
So yeah, first song was May’n performing “Aimo ~ Tori no Hito.” Then a new spotlight lit up on the stage and Yuuka Nanri (Mao Nome) came out and sang along.
Then the stage went dark again, and a video presentation announced the “First Stage”: May’n. She and her dancers came out and performed (not sure if I remember the correct order) “Gira Gira Summer,” “Universal Bunny,” “Liebe ~ The Light of Illusion” (from the Christmas album), “Diamond Crevasse” (I teared up a little then), and “Sagittarius 9PM Don’t be late.” She was into it and excited, and the performances were excellent. The arrangements were exactly the same as on the Frontier albums (unlike at the Yoko Kanno Super Dimension Tanabata a few years ago), which, for me, kept it from being mind-blowing, but it was still great.
Then the “next stage” was announced: Chie Kajiura. At this point, I was a little surprised. I was expecting May’n to perform with Megumi, and Chie with Fukuyama… not a succession of solo sets. Chie came out with her band, augmented by three horn players. She did (again, not sure if I remember the correct order…which is true for every singer) “Dakedo Baby,” “Plastics,” “Pillow Dream” (which was closer to the “Gift 25” arrangement, sounding a little like a horror movie soundtrack at the beginning), “GO (Song of Freedom),” and “My Friends.” Renato and I were really whooping it up for her, but not many other people seemed to be. I’m guessing that most of the audience hasn’t kept up with her current sound, and didn’t realize that the decidedly creepy vibe to her music is just something she does these days.
Then we got the first video presentation. A picture of Chibi-Klan showed up on the monitor and she started talking about seeing someone, handsome, with glasses… looks kinda familiar… and then Max shows up. They bantered back and forth for a while, and it was pretty funny (my favorite was when Klan said some kind of Magical Girl-type incantation and became Macro-Klan. Max paused and then said, “Beautiful…” Other characters joined in, including Global and Misa, and it was pretty good, if a little on the long side. They ended by asking who the newest “Utahime” is, which led to Haruka Chisuga coming out and singing “Planet Cradle.”
Then we got the “next stage”: Mari Iijima. One of her sons was playing guitar for her, and he had done new arrangements for all the songs, which sounded great. Closer to the original versions than the ones on “Mari Iijima Sings Lynn Minmay,” but with some added flair. She sang “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot,” “Zero-G Love,” “Sunset Beach,” “Shao Pai Long,” “An Angel’s Paints,” and “Do You Remember Love.” Her voice wobbled slightly once or twice, and the guitar was a little too loud, but overall, the set was a triumph.
The “Next Stage” was Megumi Nakajima, who probably talked the most out of any of the singers, thanking Macross and the fans for her career. She sang “Afterschool Overflow,” “Rainbow-Colored Bear Bear,” “Blue Aether,” “Hoshikira,” and “Interstellar Flight.” Again, she’s got the cute thing DOWN, and had the audience eating out her hand.
The “Next Stage,” of course, was Fukuyama, and he blew everyone away. “Planet Dance,” “Holy Lonely Light,” “Angel Voice,” “Dynamite Explosion,” and an amazing seven or eight minute version of “Totsugeki Love Heart.” There were a couple of guys in front of us who were bouncing up and down during the entire set. Really incredible set.
Then we all shouted for an encore for a while.
Soon we had the second video presentation, which was even longer than the first, and got a little more serious. All the characters (again, primarily Klan and Max, but also Isamu, Guld, Sharon, Basara, Mylene, Gamlin, Shin, Sara, Cathy, Alto, Ranka, Sheryl, Bobby, and Ozma… and maybe a couple others I’m forgetting) realized that they’re in a dream, but have figure out WHOSE dream it is before they can get out. Eventually, they realize that it’s Sheryl in her coma. The screen said, “Is it a dream?” as piano music started playing, and Yoko Kanno was revealed, to huge gasps from the audience. She did a piano medley of Macross music, including “Dogfighter,” “Arkan,” and “Mou Ichido Love You.” She ended with “Angel Voice.” As the screens pleaded “Let me hear your voice,” everyone started chanting “Wohhh, wohhhhh, woh…” over and over. She kept playing the piano, we kept chanting… an then she stopped. Then a new spotlight appeared and Akino Arai came out and sang “Voices.” After that Maya Sakamoto came out and sang a slow, lilting version of “Triangler.”
Then Klan and Max started talking again, and then the voice actors came out on stage. They continued to banter for a bit (Sho Hayami (Max) at one point asked the audience which Macross they saw first. I’d say the 7 fans shouted the loudest.. which was kind of a big “F*** YOU!!” to AgentONE and Duke Togo… Then Fukuyama and Chie came out and sang “Burning Fire” and “Virgin Story.” After that, May’n and Megumi came out and sang “Lion” and “Shooting Star.” Then Fukuyama and Chie joined them, and they all sang the Fire Bomber medley from FB7 (which was STUNNING). Finally, Mari came out and the five of them sang “Runner” together.
Then we got the final video presentation, inside Sheryl’s sleeping head, where Alto’s voice (sounding VERY desperate) asking for a response, and saying he would definitely be back. That also got gasps from the audience. The screen then showed the final lines of “Runner”: “Even now, I keep running toward the light that shines so far away.” And that was it.
By this point, it was almost 9:00… a nearly five-hour show. I (and, I think, everyone else) was drained, sweaty, and smelly… but also very, very happy.
EDIT: As an epilogue… on the train ride home, Renato and I (I was wearing my Sheryl T-shirt and holding the “No Live! No Macross!” pamphlet) were talking and I noticed a girl pointing her cell phone (which had a small figure of Ranka’s phone on it) at me, and then heard it take a picture. I mentioned this to Renato, but I’m not sure if he believed me. But then she snapped another picture. Renato turned to her and said, “You know, if a MAN takes a secret picture of a WOMAN, he could get arrested.” The girl nodded and looked like she wanted to vanish.