Going out with a hell of a bang, Sel’m tore down the walls of Shibuya O-West with a hard-hitting set that had fans in tears all the same. However, the band kept up a brave face, vocalist Tora admitting that a punishment game awaited any of the members who cried. Rather than an emotional occasion, Sel’m focused on giving the crowd something to remember the five-man cell by and they certainly succeeded.
Following the heavy opener of dusty doll, Tora cried, “Can you pour your souls into it for me?” The crowd responded with an almighty yell which continued into VOICE. While the number had the whole venue rocking out, it was Tora who won the award for enthusiasm, bounding all over the stage even as drummer MANJ” kept up a volley of comedic facial expression in the background, drastically mouthing the words. Warming steadily into their set, Sel’m had the crowd well fired up early on throughout the smouldering Daeki and screaming in excitement as the opening to crimson fish gave the song away. Deceptively calm on the surface, the instruments pressed on under the vocal line until guitarist Tsubaki made demonic faces at the crowd, tongue extended past his chin. The dangerous atmosphere only accelerated as Tora dangled the microphone, licking it like a cat with a canary before dropping it with a dull thud and an unsupported primal yell.
Cluttering the ballads with dramatic gesticulation, Tora proved that drama doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. His extended palms and smooth movements were pulled off with such practiced ease that the aesthetic performance was quite soothing, not to mention the vocals. MANJ”’s additional dramatics were also worth seeing as he leaned towards each cymbal, focusing exclusively on it as though it would shatter at the slightest touch. Perhaps most impressive was the a capella finish by Tora, fading out and softening with each repetition before the next head-banger took over with a vengeance.
The groovy tunes of False Valentine tapped into the soul of funk; jagged, rock-bound funk, but funk all the same. The smooth harmonic tones of the Tora/Tsubaki duet brought about a sense of melancholy to the scene with the knowledge that this night would see the last of the practiced vocal combination. Meanwhile, the mic stand became the personification of Tora’s ‘False Valentine’, alternatively brought close in desire and pushed away in anger.
Next came the impressive booms and crashes of MANJ”’s drum solo, although the performance was nothing quite so unsophisticated. Starting out with a deep, almost magical bass sound, the drummer kept up a constant rhythm to shifting background music culminating in the famous tones of the Hawaii Five-O theme song. The crowd yelled along throughout as MANJ” kept up a barrage of facial and bodily expression to entertain them (as if his drumming wasn’t doing a brilliant job of that already!) “Are you still alive, Tokyo?” he teased in completion. “The second half starts now!”
Hardly wild by musical nature, the atmosphere of JOKER was escalated by the over-enthusiasm of the returning members and Tora’s guttural vocal style. Then the vocalist called the whole crowd closer before announcing, “Jumping time!” barefaced eye brought out the monster in Tora with a booming growl that seemed at odds with his small frame and generally smooth voice. Nonetheless, it had a profound effect on the rampaging crowd.
An echo sounded as the mic ‘thunked’ upon the stand, pretty piano and deep bass sounding out. Last Scene brought the guitars in heavily before all but the bass dropped away for the gentler verse. Tora sung wordlessly over a powerful instrumental, the whole number a solid highlight to ground the varied set. Sniffles were heard from the crowd as Tora repeated the lyrics “mou sugu soba he” (I’ll soon be by your side) before whispering “goodbye” in repetition. However, the band wouldn’t allow any wallowing in sentiment, barging on with ARROWS. Despite the sense of melancholy in the sound, the faster pace brought spirits up all the way into Shin gigan. The strong jungle beat encouraged the crowd to yell full-voiced as much as Tora’s tactics, the whole house then jumping heavily to match the deepness of the vocalist’s unleashed, booming death voice in tandem with Tsubaki’s offset growls.
Hatred for you and Akatsuki finished the set on a strong note, Tora yelling in English, “Are you ready? LAST!” Both band and fans head-banged for their very lives and as they raised a massive yell, Tora interjected miclessly, his raw screams matching the sound of the crowd in passion if not volume. Then, as the band bid their thanks and made their exit, Tsubaki paused at Nagi’s mic for a warning: “Don’t go thinking it’s over,” he said.
The crowd had no such intentions, desperately bellowing for an encore. MANJ” was the first to return, clearing his throat dramatically, only to announce: “Nagi’s going to speak.” “There’s nothing to feel but sadness, but I’m thrilled to have you all here supporting us,” Nagi admitted. “I still remember when we first played here eight years ago but I’ll always remember tonight as well, so don’t you all forget.” Then MANJ” stepped in once more. “Next is Tora,” he announced to muted chuckles. The vocalist stepped forward, seeming subdued. “I think this scenery is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He explained about his recent personal dissatisfaction yet his sadness at leaving the band was evident. “I was very down about it all but I am grateful to be here today. Thank you. Let’s enjoy the remainder of Sel’m as it exists now. This is the first song we five wrote together. Please listen to Creature.”
The burst of sound startled the crowd for only a moment before they shook off the melancholy and invested themselves in the catchy, memorable number. Tora himself seemed pained during the instrumental, but pulled through to bring the song to a roaring close. The following silence heard a menagerie of sobs from fans not yet ready to let go. The energy continued throughout the encore with Choushou no tsuki and Waga, kono saihate de… before another desperate volley of shouts brought the band back for a second encore.
Thanking the crowd for the continuation, MANJ” at last addressed them for himself. “We’ve been here as Sel’m for a while, but-” On ran Tsubaki in a gold studded black cloak, tossing his hat to some lucky fan. Not one to go down without a fight, MANJ” suddenly surged forward and tossed three drum heads into the pit before running back to his mic and scolding the guitarist for the interruption. “-Please think of this as just another change,” he continued as if nothing had stemmed the flow of his serious monologue. We’re like a family and so it was a very painful choice, but I want you to think of it as another change in our history. We’re regarding today as a start, not a finish. Now,” he conceded, “Tsubaki’s going to speak.” “I just want you to know that I’m thankful and that you’re all like family to me. No matter what happens, our hearts are linked and that’s what I consider family to be. Thank you.” Lastly, MANJ” passed the baton to Takuma. “I haven’t planned anything to say. I’m very grateful to you all, but time is running out so let’s just move on, shall we?” With Tora’s cry of “Let’s go!” the crowd needed no more urging, Roid flaring up like a wall of music after the heartfelt speeches. As the bright chorus concluded, Tora once more challenged the feverish fans. “Can you go on?” Their unwavering response tugged at his heartstrings. “I love you!”
DEVA let the dogs loose, the whole band leaping all over the stage in big, moshing motions which the crowd did their best to emulate with limited room. The inherent bounce in the music proved too strong to deny, Tora dissolving into wracking spasms during the instrumental, shaking it down in a very real sense. “Will you listen?” he asked. “Will you listen to my final ‘Are you ready?’… Are you ready?” he then teased before launching the awaited yell of “ARE YOU READY? LAST!!!” The number was not only a fun, frenzied chance for the crowd to farewell Sel’m, but also an opportunity for Tora to prove his mettle, belting out a gorgeous note. One brief yell had the whole crowd screaming their lungs out in a rhythmic pounding of voice, then singing powerfully over the strong guitar and bass-line in Tora’s stead. Every last beat was exhibited through the vocalist’s body, the crowd going wild as towels, picks, bottles, drum sticks… anything vaguely aero-dynamic zoomed over heads and into hands.
Ensuring that he had the last word, Tsubaki lingered to yell to the crowd one emotional piece of English. “Family!”
Although Tora and Nagi will be following a new path after the jam packed final, the remaining three members have elected to work together towards a new goal. They’ve promised to be back soon, so don’t go lamenting just yet!
1. dusty doll
5. crimson fish
6. kumo nochi ame
9. Oriental Lilly
10. Erase the cast
11. False Valentine
12. (Drum Solo)
14. barefaced eye
15. Throw away misery
17. Last scene
19. shin gigan
20. CROSS COUNTER
22. Hatred for you
2. choushou no tsuki
3. ware, kono saihate de…
3. Road of judgement
Sel’m: The final act to the unknown world Chapter:00
live report - 13.06.2011 01:01
The Sel’m family gathered in its current incarnation one last time, resulting in such an incredible and explosive set that it will be sad indeed to see them come apart.
© reiko arakawa (zoisite)