If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, I’ve started to dabble in live concerts (more specifically Japanese-based ones) since they’ve become more available to the foreign public. Whether that be actually going to a theater near me and enjoying it with fans alike or simply just watching one at home (…sometimes in the middle of the night due to time zones), not only have they been really fun to watch but it also has served as a learning experience for me. Believe it or not, watching a musical concert live is something I never really had the chance to indulge in, even before becoming a fan of Japanese music/idols/etc., so being able to experience this new sensation this past year was just eye-opening. I mean… when I watched a Love Live delayed viewing for the very first time, I was just stunned with all the penlight motions and call-and-responses everyone else was doing 😛
That being said, I recently got another chance to watch a concert from a group I’ve started to follow very closely.
About a day or so ago, music label Avex dropped a gigantic bomb of an announcement and released a few live concerts (in full length, by the way) on YouTube for a limited time. Included in those releases was the final performance of popular seiyuu idol group i☆Ris’s fifth live tour, which occurred on June 1st, 2019 at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo.
If you read my 2019 music roundup from a few months ago, you probably know that I’ve started to become a big fan of i☆Ris, their music, and members. I’ve always wanted to see what a live performance from them was like so yesterday (March 6th) was the absolute perfect opportunity to finally experience that. Plus, I’ve been insanely stressed out recently so this was a good thing to get my mind off of stuff.
And that is what this post is about. Pretty much I’ll be reviewing/giving my thoughts on the live concert, some things that stood out to me, and I’ll also be briefly discussing the recent trend of music labels distributing/streaming concerts online.
But first, here’s a quick “crash course” on i☆Ris.
Formed back in 2012 by music label Avex and voice talent firm 81Produce, i☆Ris is known to be a “seiyuu idol group”, combining anime voice acting with idol-related duties like singing and dancing. Consisting of six female idols in Serizawa Yuu, Akaneya Himika, Wakai Yuuki, Kubota Miyu, Shibuya Azuki, and their leader Yamakita Saki, the group has a major part in the popular idol franchise PriPara, where each member voices a main character from the cast and performs most of the songs featured in that series (both in the show and at occasional live concerts).
Alongside their involvement in the PriPara franchise, they have their own discography of music as well, consisting of four released albums and several singles with a brand new album coming out March 13th. A lot of their songs have also been featured as the opening and ending themes for various anime series such as Grimm Notes the Animation, Tejina-senpai, and Mahou Shoujo Site.
So yeah. They are quite a popular group, actually. Not only because of their involvement with PriPara and various anime but some of them also have other jobs within the otaku/entertainment industry such as Serizawa Yuu having her own solo musical career or Kubota Miyu being a part of the well-known Love Live franchise.
That being said, let’s talk about the concert itself!
The performance I watched, like I said, was the final concert in their fifth major live tour. It was held at the Nakano Sun Plaza, a small concert hall located in Nakano, Tokyo and actually, the venue this performance was held at was significant on it own, at least in my personal perspective. All the other concerts that I’ve watched were held in gigantic sports stadiums like the Tokyo Dome or Metlife Dome in Saitama, so seeing a group like i☆Ris perform in a much smaller environment like this one was certainly something interesting I observed. But we’ll get into that a bit later.
I’ll start with the most obvious aspect of a concert, that being the music itself. It didn’t take long for me to get familiar with the majority of i☆Ris’s music, given the great convenience of their discography being available on streaming services worldwide. So generally, the set list was recognizable to me and was an enjoyable mix of both old and newer tracks. Of course, they performed their more recent singles like “ULTIMATE☆MAGIC”, “Endless Notes”, and even a B-side with “Arienhodo Fever”. Other than that, the rest of the set list were older songs, ranging from their most popular singles to each member’s respective solo tracks. There were even a few songs that I never heard of before/forgot about, so having some of those in this set list like “Happy New World☆” and “Realize” allowed me to find some new gems.
As for the performance of the songs themselves, I believe all of the members did an excellent job. Like I said before, I’ve never seen i☆Ris perform live before but I was definitely impressed with how they did in this one. Obviously they’ve done concerts many, many times before but just to see it myself for the very first time was incredibly cool. Their vocals were very close compared to the studio versions (they sang most of their songs in a bit of a deeper tone than normal but that’s whatever lol) and while I didn’t exactly focus much on the choreography, I thought they did a nice job in that aspect for the most part.
The solo song performances from each member were also a highlight of the concert. I absolutely loved hearing each member of i☆Ris sing a few songs by themselves in some of their albums/compilations so me really enjoying them live was no surprise. Hearing Wakai Yuuki perform the absolutely hype “My Bright…” or Kubota Miyu have a blast while singing “Lovely Time”; each solo song performance was enjoyable in its own right.
And that’s kind of what I realized while watching this concert: how diverse their style of music is. i☆Ris is mainly known to be a “pop” group but at the same time, they have other songs that are completely different from their usual fun and bright style. I mean, listening to and watching the choreography of a more sensual-sounding song like “Baby…”; one of the greatest things about this group is their ability to sing in different styles if needed, and to hear their MUCH deeper voices in that song was just amazing.
As for the things in between songs such as MC sections and such, I didn’t exactly pay much attention to it due to me not being able to understand a lick of what they’re saying. I did, however, finally hear each of their “call-and-responses” and let’s just say Miyutan’s C&R was a very valuable thing I learned yesterday.
To go back to what I was saying about the venue, I mentioned it was significant because it was much smaller than what I have seen in the past. I’m so used to the gigantic crowds, stages that reach out to the middle of the venue, and even those tall cart things that allow the performers to go around the audience and wave at them and such. But I think having a smaller crowd like the one shown in this particular concert was a lot more… comfy in a way. It allowed the fans to see the ladies much closer and there was even one instance where the group ran up and down the aisles, greeting fans while performing a song. Not such an important detail regarding this concert but I just found the smaller environment to be an interesting thing. The lighting and stage production was nice to look at as well.
In conclusion, this was such an enjoyable concert to watch. I loved finally seeing this particular group perform and it was far from a disappointment. These six members made it such a fun and hyped performance with their amazing vocal and dance talent, as well as the song set list itself being an enjoyable compilation of their songs. But not only did I find it to be very fun but this was certainly a great learning experience as well. Being able to find new tracks from this group and even learn more about the members and their individual personalities/abilities made me appreciate them even more. (I can’t wait to listen to their new album! :D)
And all of that appreciation and enjoyment really wouldn’t be possible without Avex posting this concert for free. The recent trend of music labels and companies distributing live concerts of popular artists online, whether that be publishing it for a limited time or live-streaming it for everyone to watch; I believe this is a fantastic way for fans outside of Japan to experience these kinds of events for themselves. Not everyone has an extra $80+ to spend for a Blu-Ray of these live performances (or to even physically attend these concerts, for that matter) so for this kind of opportunity to happen is something special. I hope this generosity continues!
(Click here to watch the i☆Ris 5th Live Tour 2019 ～FEVER～ performance on YouTube, which will be available until March 31st)
Thanks for reading!! 😀