When it was first announced last year that May’n would be doing another Budokan gig, I initially decided not to go. After all, I’d seen May’n live plenty of times before (4 times in 12 months at that point) and the last solo concert she did – 2009 Summer Concert LOVE & JOY – showed that she was trying to move ahead and establish herself solo career apart from her fame for Kanno’s Macross Frontier songs. The song split at LOVE & JOY was approx. 60% May’n songs and 40% Macross F songs. Now, while I don’t mind some of May’ns original stuff, I vastly prefer her Macross songs, so at that point I decided not to go to any more of her solo gigs.
But then something happened – Universal Bunny came out. As a sheer Sheryl Nome experience, May’n and Kanno blew my socks off with Universal Bunny. I liked every damn song on the album and knew that…sigh… I had to see them performed live.
The problem was that ticket sales had long since ended and only a handful of tickets were appearing for auction, most reaching the $100 mark or higher. After a few unsuccessful bids I managed to score some stage-side tickets for about $70. These are directly to the side of the stage meaning that you have a profile shot of the singer most of the time and the acoustics tend to be rather unbalanced at best. But due to this they were cheaper, so I grabbed them. And so, off I went to see May’n yet again.
The announcement of the Budokan concert had caused a bit of a stir among the fan community. Performing there with Megumi Nakajima and Yoko Kanno for the Macross F Tour was one thing, but doing it alone? Only 2 years since her debut as May’n? And after the series broadcast had long since finished? Could she actually pull it off?
You betcha she did. The BIG WAAAAVE Concert was possible the ultimate performance a May’n fan could hope for. In fact it was possibly too good, since this time I’m CONVINCED that I’ll never need to see a May’n concert again.
First of all, I have to make one thing clear – stageside seating kinda sucks. The sound quality isn’t the greatest. Having said that, the wings of the stage came practically up to the railing in front of us and May’n went out of her way to make sure that people in the side seats didn’t feel left out. She ran up to say hello to each side at least 5 times during the concert, often mid-song, and at one point to do the 3-2-1 portion of ‘What ‘bout my Star?’ with us. Id say there were about 5 people between my seat and May’n during these instances. Heck, even people with center arena seats didn’t get that close. When May’n wasn’t visiting one of the wings, we often had dancers there as well. All in all, it definitely made for a more personal and somewhat different experience.
I began to get some idea of how full the concert would be when I stopped by the merchandise shop on my way into the hall. Literally EVERYTHING was sold out – even the concert pamphlets! Upon entering the Budokan, it was clear that concerns of the fans were unwarranted – it was absolutely PACKED. The hall can hold approx 14000 people for sports events and while I’m not sure exactly how many can squeeze into it when configured for a concert, I’d say we easily had 8000~10000 people there. The only area with any seats was the family and guests reserved area on the 1st floor. Or as, I call it, the Dead Zone – since it’s usually comprised of record company executives who don’t really want to be there.
And so, approx. 15 mins later than scheduled, the concert started….with one heck of a bang as May’n jumped out of a hole in the stage and launched immediately into Universal Bunny.
The set list that followed (with Macross Frontier songs are in bold) was:
01. Universal Bunny
02. Get Ready
03. What’bout my star?
05. h@e me? h@e you!
06. standing bird
07. Glorious Heart
08. Aenai toki
09. my teens,my tears
10. YOUR ROCK
11. Pink Monsoon
12. Let Me Be Myself
14. Diamond Crevasse
19. Northern Cross
20. Kimi shini tamou koto nakare
21. Welcome To My Fanclub’s Night!!～Styles ver.～
22. Iteza Gogo Kuji Don’t be late
23. Deep Breathing (10~12 piece string accompaniment)
So in all, of 23 songs, 11 were Macross Frontier. May’n did the majority of Universal Bunny aand May’n Styles albums, as well as half of May’n Street. The only songs I was surprised to see missing in action were the Sheryl version of Aimo and Tenshi ni Nachatta from Universal Bunny/Pink Monsoon single as well as Why?, Blue and Kiss wo choudai from the May’n Street album. It was also a little steange that May’n chose to do my teens, my tears – a song she wrote to commemorate her last year of being 19 and sang at her final concert (LOVE & JOY) before turning 20.
Overall it was a very good mix although, as a Macross fan, I would’ve liked it if the Macross songs were mixed a little more evenly with her original stuff. As far as the Macross songs go, Universal and Obelisk sounded terrific live, as did Pink Monsoon, although this is the fourth time May’n has performed Pink Monsoon live (twice at the Macross Crossover and once on tv) whereas it was the first time for all the other Univeral Bunny material. Older fan favourites such as What ‘bout my Star?, Lion and Northern Cross also got an enthusiastic response from the audience. From among her original songs I’d place XYZ and May’n Space at the top of the list; both being energetic poppy numbers that really got the crowd moving.
I’m not sure that May’ns dancing has improved any, but she was a lot more active during BIG WAAAAVE than I’ve ever seen her on stage in the past. She really seems to have gotten used to performing live and is definitely more relaxed, if no less energetic. She had dancers on-stage with her during the majority of songs, with a grand total of 22 dancers at once (plus the band) for Welcome to My Fanclub’s Night!! The addition of some pretty loud (not to mention HOT from where I was sitting!) pyrotechnics here and there also kept the atmosphere pumping throughout most of the show.
The final song, Deep Breathing, was somewhat of a departure from May’ns normal image and saw her dressed in a ball gown on an elevated podium with a string orchestra backing her (8 violins and 2 cellos from what I could count).
The concert clocked in at approx. 2hrs and 45 minutes – pretty amazing for an artist as young in both career and age as May’n is. Personally I’d say it was indisputably the definitive May’n concert, covering the best of both her Macross and original songs. As such I was very happy I changed my mind and decided to go.
But the best news for those who couldn’t make it is that the concert will be released on DVD on May 28th by Flying Dog Records. No word on whether a Bluray is in the works as well (considering the label, I’d say Bluray is unlikely), but keep an eye on Amazon for preorders soon!