Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

This and That (New Year’s Edition)

Posted in Change is Bad,J-Pop,Music by bourdaghs on the January 3rd, 2012

Happy New Year to you! Here’s hoping 2012 brings us all peace and joy.

As the traumatic year 2011 wound down in Japan, there were any number of notable music events. Rock veterans Moonriders ended their thirty-five year run with a rooftop concert in Shinjuku, holding the Beatles’ legendary “Let It Be” rooftop performance in London very much in mind. Leader Suzuki Keiichi even ended the set by asking, ala John Lennon, if the group had passed the audition. Here’s a nice Japanese-language report, complete with photographs, from the Asahi newspaper.

As always, we welcomed in the new year by watching NHK’s annual musical extravaganza, “Kohaku Uta Gassen.” Among the highlights in my mind were Shiina Ringo’s set (“Carnation” and “Onna no ko wa dare demo”); the borderline political remarks by the all-star indies rock combo Inawashirokos, who before performing their “I Love You & I Need You Fukushima” declared that “nothing is finished yet,” obliquely referring to Prime Minister Noda’s mendacious declaration a couple of weeks earlier that the nuclear disaster was now under control; and Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi’s chilling performance in a live remote from the playground of a devastated school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Tendo Yoshimi turned in a nice Misora Hibari tribute, as well, while the K-Pop representatives (KARA and Shojo Jidai) acquitted themselves nicely. Lady Gaga contributed video of a nifty performance from New York. Here’s the full line-up of performers from the show.

Over the break, we were also able to watch the DVD I picked up in Sendai last month of Kuwata Keisuke’s remarkable September 10 and 11 concerts in Sendai. The shows were held in the Sekisui Heim Super Arena–a facility that served for several months as an emergency morgue for victims of the March 11 tsunami. Kuwata chose to come to Tohoku to launch his first national tour since receiving cancer treatment, and it is clear from the DVD that the concerts were cathartic experiences for both performers and audience. Proceeds from the DVD will be donated to the Japan Red Cross.

Let me leave you with the promotional video for Inawashirokos’s charity single, “I Love You & I Need Your Fukushima,” featuring 47 famous actors and actresses (one from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures) singing along with the band in a message of support for the stricken prefecture. What a year it was….

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