live report - 02.18.2015 19:01

On the final day of their album release tour, KAGERO brought us to the end of their landscape.

KAGERO is an instrumental jazz punk band. The members are Shiromizu Yū on bass, Sasaki "Ruppa" Ryū on sax, Kikuchi Chieko on piano and Hagiwara Tomomichi on drums. They’re an unconventional jazz quartet with an aggressive sound and live performances filled with overwhelming punk spirit. This unique sound has helped them break through the borders between jazz, punk and hardcore scenes and has drawn attention from music fans worldwide. So far, they have released four original studio albums and one re-recorded best-of album, KAGERO ZERO. They embarked on a US tour with their cover album Beast Meets West in tow in September 2013, and they held a release tour with seven shows in six cities to support their latest original studio album, KAGERO IV. On February 1st, KAGERO held their tour final at Shinjuku Loft.

It was the final day of the KAGERO IV release tour. KAGERO are already established and experienced enough to hold a one-man concert; in fact, they held a one-man concert on the first day of this tour at Shimokitazawa Shelter in Tokyo on November 7th, 2014, but they opted to close the tour with a joint show. The venue, Shinjuku Loft, has two stages and a lounge on the same floor. The band made full use of both stages, holding a festival where 15 artists performed every 30 minutes from 14:30 to 22:00. KAGERO, of course, took the stage last as the host.

After the lights were turned out, the audience cheered. The curtain rose and the SE began to play. Violently flashing lights revealed the instruments on the stage. The four members came onto the stage and, although the SE was still sounding, they each suddenly began to play their instruments. The bassist shouted to start the show.

Kikuchi played an introduction to OVERDRIVE on her piano. The venue echoed with Ruppa's sax. Kikuchi struck the keys without any hesitation. Shiromizu and Hagiwara created good vibrations through the rhythms of their bass and drums, and Ruppa developed sax sounds freely into them. The venue was packed, and the audience didn’t hesitate to dive into the groove that the band was creating. Ruppa played a high note that made it feel as if the music was rushing up and Shiromizu shouted with joy, the audience cheering along with him.

"You guys are tough," Shiromizu said, smiling. As you know, this event was running for over seven hours. Shiromizu may have been surprised by the audience's endurance, but the band never stopped performing, moving on to the next song quickly. Kikuchi's beautiful piano melody caught the audience's ears as she began to play the introduction of flower. The audience shouted with joy. The song has an indisputable vibration that makes you want to move, and the fans danced along to it happily. Shiromizu shouted, and Ruppa played a pleasant melody. Kikuchi's aggressive melody and powerful performance involved Shiromizu and Hagiwara's rhythms. Listeners who have grown accustomed to bands with vocals would likely enjoy the way that Ruppa's sax takes on the role of the vocals (main melody) in KAGERO's songs. After Ruppa finished "singing" flower with the sax, the other three members closed the song, each with superb timing, but the audience couldn't immediately wake up from joy of the music.

The band played sister, Pile Bunker and THE FOREST before Shiromizu addressed the audience again.

“Hi, we're KAGERO,” he said. “Thank you for joining this long event. We invited the best bands only for tonight. They were very cool. I think you might have painful or unsatisfying things going on in your lives, but I want to make this a time where you can forget those things. Thank you. The Spring Landscape.”

The music began calmly. It was a song created using the Japanese music scale where you could practically smell the ume blossoms’ scent and see cherry blossoms’ petals through the sounds. Ruppa played the sax softly. Shiromizu played a gentle melody silently. Kikuchi's performance was beautiful and comfortable. Hagiwara played silently but gently, involved with the piano, and all together they expressed a spring landscape in Japan. Ruppa expanded the landscape with the sax, Shiromizu's bass and Kikuchi's piano restored it bit by bit. Hagiwara made rippling waves with the drums, and the song was finished. The next song was sheepless, but feel alright, which was included in their re-recorded best-of album KAGERO ZERO. And then the show was over. The audience cheered and applauded the band members, and they disappeared from the stage. The audience, rightfully, called for an encore, and the band members came back at once.

Shiromizu spoke up again: “We don't have to depend on the media for support, because each of you are media nowadays. I want you to introduce us to your friends and come to shows - including our shows. Let's have fun together in the future. Thank you. We'll play the last song, CRY BABY!”

Shiromizu shouted the encore song title and Ruppa’s sax made joyful sounds. Next to his funky sax, Shiromizu, Kikuchi and Hagiwara created a punk world with their instruments. The sax rang out freely and joyfully. The piano was played beautifully and with complete conviction. The bass and drums were dynamic. Each member played with intensity and the audience's excitement reached its climax. After they finished their performance, the audience clapped and cheered loudly. The band members disappeared from the stage.

KAGERO are relentless performers. Their next step will be yet another tour, KAGERO Re-DRIVE tour, starting on February 17th in Nagoya. It will take them to seven cities in Japan before the final date on April 24th. The band is evangelizing the new age of jazz punk. Don't miss their future activities.

Set List:
2. flower
3. sister
4. Pile Bunker
6. The Spring Landscape
7. sheepless, but feel alright


You can watch the video for flower from KAGERO IV below:

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