It felt like just yesterday, when the wave of J-Pop music had just hit Singapore.
This new, exciting genre of music featuring a language that I had until then, only heard briefly in anime, had hit mainstream popularity – and it was great.
Zap forward many years later, and here we are, getting several of the hottest acts in Japanese & Asian music in one event without having to leave the country. Yes, it’s definitely a good time to be a fan.
Attending the event with much abated breath, the sheer variety and diversity of the content at the event was apparent right from the get-go.
Local artiste, Stella Seah, started the event strongly with several songs in English and Mandarin. While relatively new to the scene, she certainly held her own, giving the show a strong start.
And what a start it was – Wagakki Band was up next, and even from their briefly en-shadowed silhouettes, I could tell we were in for something special.
From their first number, a cover of popular Vocaloid tune ‘Senbonzakura’, Wagakki Band made an explosive impact with their fusion of traditional Japanese & rock music as well as their stunning outfits. As soon as we had just gotten to know who they were however, their set was over, leaving us wanting more. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them again someday.
Aaron from Taiwan was up next and being one of the only Mandarin performers really made him stand out. Singing several of his tunes popularised by the dramas he had acted in, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic, evoking memories of when I used to watch such shows as a child.
Sonar Pocket boosted the energy levels back up with their infectious enthusiasm and crazy antics. Their excitement at having their first performance in Singapore was evident, as they jumped and bounded about the stage, even using an amusing Dance-Dance Revolution esque video that featured arrows guiding the audience on which direction to point at during one of their songs, ‘Sonar Pocket Disco’.
The ensuing screams from most of the females in the audience resonated throughout the theatre as GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE followed up right after.
Slick dance moves with high-gyration content? Punchy and catchy tunes? A huge team of good-looking, well-built men? Yup, this is a boyband alright – and they delivered what the fangirls wanted in spades.
m-flo hit the stage next, in what was possibly a dream come true for myself, having been a fan of them since their first album, ‘Planet Shining’, almost 15 years ago.
With Verbal’s emceeing working the crowd up to a storm and together with partner, DJ Taku, the duo rocked the house with a huge medley of tunes from their past albums. Featuring tunes mostly from ‘Square One’ until the recent ‘Future is Wow’, m-flo even invited Minami from CREAM on stage to sing a few tunes, finishing off with their hit collaboration, ‘All I Want is You’.
But the main event that most of the audience was here for was without a doubt, the ‘Empress of J-Pop’ herself, Ayumi Hamasaki.
Going wild with just the briefest of glimpses of her on stage, the energy levels skyrocketed as she opened with ‘Step You’, followed by ‘XOXO’ from her new album, ‘Colours’.
Featuring several outfit changes, Ayumi made sure to be as concise as possible with her content, delivering a good variety of songs old and new from her massive catalogue. ‘Step You’, ‘XOXO’ were joined by old favourites like ‘Memorial Address’, Love Song’, and ever-green classics like ‘Evolution’.
Coming back for an encore with ‘Boys & Girls’, Ayumi proved why she is regarded as one of J-Pop’s biggest icons ever – and the crowd was ever-eager to agree.
While the show itself wasn’t perfect – the transition between acts sometimes felt a little too long and made the crowd restless – as a first effort in Singapore, it was definitely above expectations.
Getting a good variety of artistes at one location is definitely something we’d want to see more of – here’s to an awesome 2015!
Sonar Pocket – RE:MAKE Photography
All other photos – Lenne Chai