February 2nd is a very special day that a lot of people tend to forget. It’s the birthday of Mylene Jenius, 7th daughter of the most awesome couple ever to pilot a pair of Valkries, Maximilian Jenius and Milia Fallyna Jenius. She is possibly also the first character in a Macross series to make fans of the original feel guilty and somewhat ashamed of themselves when they realised that they were watching jailbait. And what the hell is it with Mikimoto putting the letter L in so many characters names?
Well, fortunately, someone out there didn’t forget Mylene’s birthday this year, and that someone would be Chie Kajiura. With her kids now old enough to give her a bit more time, Chie has noticeably become more and more active in her music over the past 2 years. Back in early 2010, she decided she wanted to do something special for Mylene’s birthday the following year. After getting all the necessary approvals from Big West, as well as getting not only Tomo Sakurai, but also Haruhiko Mikimoto and Hidetaka Tenjin involved, she started the 6-month process of planning and practicing for what was to be a 2-event tribute to all things Mylene, spanning both Tokyo and Osaka – W Mylene Night.
For those not up to speed with their Japanese, ‘W’ is pronounced ‘daburu’ and is often used as a substitute for the word ‘double.’ A double cheeseburger at McDonalds, for example, is often written as ‘W cheeseburger.’ So the pun behind the name ‘W Mylene Night’ was that we were going to get double Mylenes in that both Chie and Tomo would be performing.
Now, I’d seen Chie on stage before, but had never seen Tomo do so (the only time I’d even seen her was as she disappeared up a flight of steps at a Chie gig last year – with MacrossWorld regular Gubaba close on her heels!) and didn’t want to miss the chance to see the two of them onstage together.
Ok, I take that back – Tomo HAD appeared at the Macross Crossover Live along with Nobutoshi Canna to sing Light the Light, but that was only one song, and she was only one of four people singing at the time.
This was potentially the Mylene version of the Fukujin Tengoku concert (Yoshiki Fukuyama and Nubutoshu Fukuyama) back in late 2008 (the double DVD is well worth picking up) so I intended to do my best to go.
The Tokyo performance was to be held at Morph Tokyo, and would be a regular concert, while the Osaka one would be a dinner show with themed Macross food. Having just recently travelled to Kyoto for the Macross Frontier Christmas concert, I decided to focus on getting into the Tokyo one, despite the Osaka one having food decorated with GUBABA.
Actually, I was in Australia for work when I read about W Mylene Night on Chie’s blog in October. When tics went on sale in November I was in the US on yet another trip, so I was forced to fall back to my last possible resort. This was an emergency. I called Adrian. And begged.
Fortunately, his Ticket-Fu seemed to be on par with my own (quite a formidable feat!) and so when February rolled around we found ourselves (along with a friend from Australia whom I’d kept in the dark about the whole thing until an hour or so beforehand) lined up around the side of Morph Tokyo.
The place was tiny. My ticket was number 122 which even at smaller concerts is usually a fairly decent spot, but Morph was so tiny that this put me pretty much in the middle. The venues website lists their full standing capacity as being 250 people, although I’d say we exceeded this since every square inch of the place was packed. I pity anyone who felt the call of nature during the concert because they weren’t going anywhere. On the good side, no matter where you were the stage was ridiculously close.
As usual, I tried to get a few shots inside to get a sense of scale and atmosphere. The rest of the pics accompanying this report however are from Chie’s blog.
A large, drop-down screen the size of a wall covered the stage while the artists were getting ready.
Once the lights dimmed, Dakedo Baby and My Friends were played on screen with their accompanying animation from Macross 7.
Then, a pink Valkyrie drawn just for the event by Tenjin scrolled down the screen. Chie’s name was written on one wing, Tomo’s on the other. It was very…pink.
The screen then retracted to reveal Chie, Tomo, a drummer, guitarist and bass guitarist.
The first set consisted of just two songs – both done as duets:
(1) Do You Remember Love? (duet)
(2) Fall (duet)
Tomo was definitely the scene stealer – she was in full idol mode and was obviously intending to enjoy every last moment of it. Twirling around in a mini skirt and big white boots, she was in stark contrast to Chie who was dressed, as is her habit, entirely in black (it sort of reminded me of the contrast between the two Nana’s in Nana – another anime with great music).
These two songs were followed by some chit-chat. Despite rehearsing for 6 months, it appeared as though neither Chie nor Tomo had decided what they were going to talk about and the conversation meandered all over the place, albeit in a fun way. Tomo’s cheeriness worked well with Chie’s more somber tone. It had been a long time since I’d seen a real seiyuu idol do their thing on stage (and when I say ‘real’ I mean of the 1980’s-1910’s vintage). I’d forgotten how infectious such genkiness could be.
They discussed their last three ‘dates’ – times they had gotten together to hang out before the concert. Chie, of course, had forgotten about most of them – like myself, remembering dates isnt her strong point and Tomo had a lot of fun playing with that fact, much to everyone’s amusement.
Tomo’s solo set followed. I must admit, before the concert it was her solo stuff that I was most concerned about. Sure, she could sing, but not with the same power or intensity as Chie. And what songs would she sing? Would we miss out on Chie versions of some Mylene songs?
My concerns were addressed in a way I hadn’t (but in hindsight, probably should’ve) expected – Tomo focused on covers of Minmay songs:
(3) My Boyfriend’s a Pilot (私の彼はパイロット)
(4) Sunset Beach
(5) Love Drifts Away (愛は流れる)
(6) My Beautiful Place
(7) Anata e no Love Song (あなたへのLOVE SONG)
(8) Angel Paints (天使の絵の具)
Another thing I had apparently forgotten was just how damn well Tomo could pull off a Minmay cover. While it pains me to admit it, she can actually do a lot of these songs better than Mari Iijima can these days (‘better’ in this case meaning closer to the original versions). ‘My Boyfriend’s a Pilot’ was a particular standout. Poppy and fast, Tomo totally made the song her own. And the crowd was totally into it.
Another chat followed – Tomo only this time. Surprisingly, it seems as though she is quite the technophobe – she started using the internet just to prepare for the concert (looking up which songs were popular among the fans, etc). She also stumbled across a fan list of her top three performances – and was delighted to see Mylene ranked at number 1. She had also practiced by singing whenever she could, sometimes at home but more often (since houses in Japan are small and insulation tends to be thin) in the car. One day she was singing while waiting for the lights to change at an intersection when she noticed the driver of the car next to her was looking over at her. Freaking out a bit, she turned around and pretended to talk to the passengers in the back of the car – except that there wasn’t actually anyone else in the car with her ^^;
Tomo then called Chie back onto the stage for another duet:
This was another great take on an old classic – while Tomo sang the lions share of the verses, Chie sang a little too, as well as doing the chorus.
More talking followed, with Chie taking requests from the crowd for Mylene lines that they wanted to hear Tomo recite (BASARA!!!! was the fan favourite).
Chie then started her solo set:
(10) Ready GO.
(12) Kimi ni todoke (君に届け→)
(13) PILLOW DREAM
(14) LOVE IT
(15) REMEMBER 16
(16) GO (自由な唄)
Chie was in fine form as always, although she missed a line once or twice (at least she didn’t flub the same song THREE times in a row like Fukuyama did at JAM Project Symphony later that week). The surprise song of the set was, far and away, Remember 16, since it was an acoustic version. Yes, that’s right – an acoustic Mylene version. And it worked perfectly. I asked Chie afterwards (via Twitter) whether she might consider doing a full acoustic covers album. She replied, non-committedly, that she enjoyed doing acoustic songs. On a side note, while there were only 3 or 4 of us there this time, the venue was so small that she was still able to pick the (now infamous?) Gaijin Butai (Foreigner Brigade) in the crowd.
Tomo then came back on stage for a final duet that got the whole room jumping….
(17) Dakedo baby! (だけど ベイビー!)
After this everyone left the stage for 5 mins while allowing the crowd to start up their chant for the obligatory encore. And while short, it was an interesting one. Mainly because Chie and Tomo pulled out the one song I never thought I’d ever get to hear performed live:
(18) Friends～jikuu wo koete (時空を越えて)～
This Macross 15th Anniversary song was originally a Tomo Sakurai-Mari Iijima duet and, much like the recent 25th Anniversary single (Iki wo shiteiru, kanjiteriu) was performed once at 15th Anniversary event and hadn’t really surfaced since. Of course, I would have liked to hear Mari do the song again, but having Chie and Tomo do it was the next best thing. The crowd seemed just as surprised as I was when the first few notes of the song began.
A final talk followed, with Chie commenting that, with all the love the crowd had expressed for Mylene, she wouldn’t be surprised if she was actually born in real life once 2031 rolled around. Tomo was less than enthused by this idea because if the real Mylene was born, then she and Chie wouldnt be needed anymore!
Chie calmed her down by reminding her that this wouldn’t be a problem – since they would both probably be dead anyway. Ah yes – you can always trust Chie to dampen the mood, hehehe. Besides which, looking at the average Japanese life span, I would actually expect both women to be alive and kickin’ in 2031. Can you imagine what a rockin’ grandma Chie would make with that hair?!? She also apologised for holding the concert in the middle of the week, but noted that Feb, 2 would fall on a Friday night in 2012 and a Saturday night in 2013 – so we could be in for a few more Mylene tributes in the years to come 🙂
Judging by the songs that preceded it, the final song of W Mylene Night was pretty much a given:
(19) MY FRIENDS
Tomo was still jumping around the way she had been when the concert started two and a half hours earlier and between them, the ‘W’ Mylenes finished the gig in style – as they left the stage the retractable screen lowered, and displayed a new Mikimoto illustration of Mylene in knee-high brown boots, a school sweater and glasses.
A meet and greet was held afterwards for anyone who purchased a concert hoodie. These came in black and pink and, unfortunately, by the time I got to the merchandise table after the concert, the black ones were long gone. Sorry Chie – I love you, but I’m not going to wear pink for you. That’s just going too far!
Overall the concert was fun, although it was nowhere near the event that the Fukuyama/Canna concert had been. For starters, the venue was ridiculously small and tickets had sold out months in advance. There was no room for multiple cameras, although a single camera did live-stream the whole show (although this was only announced the day beforehand so I was unaware until afterwards) – still, a DVD release is probably looking pretty unlikely at this point. Musically, the Minmay covers were an unexpected surprise (in a good way) and the acoustic rendition of ‘Remember 16’ and duet of ‘Friends’ were worth the price of admission alone for any Macross fan. Personally I felt that splitting Chie and Tomo into separate sets for most of the night was a missed opportunity – I was hoping for more of a mash-up of the two – and the band, while capable, was insufficient. Drums, guitar and bass were not enough to cover many of the songs so recordings were often mixed in with them. Tomo was pretty much doing karaoke for one or two of her Minmay covers. Still, the chance to see both performers on the same stage was one I wouldn’t have missed for anything (even if it DID mean waking Adrian up in the middle of the night) and the positives of the concert far outweighed the negatives.
(On a side note, Chie has already announced her next concert in May, and fanclub members who won tickets were able to pick them up on the night – she even autographed them personally in advance.)