MORRIE 'Now I Here Eternity - Half Century of Flesh' at Akasaka Blitz

live report - 04.15.2014 20:01

MORRIE celebrates his 50th anniversary at Akasaka Blitz, joined by members of DEAD END, Kiyoharu and SUGIZO.

On March 4th, MORRIE celebrated his birthday, this time at Akasaka Blitz. Last time the concert was held in Shibuya O-WEST and Kiyoharu joined him for a few songs. The report for that year can be found here. This year Kiyoharu is back, and he’s not alone. SUGIZO is joining the party too, along with the members of MORRIE’s band DEAD END.

MORRIE put out three solo albums in the 90s, and in 2005 a best-of compilation called Ectoplasm was released. This evening will be filled with songs from these three albums and a range of musical styles. The wide variety of instruments on the stage, including violin, saxophone, tambourine, electric and acoustic guitar and keyboards that can produce a wide variety of sounds will give each song a unique ambience.

The fans are waiting patiently, as the show starts later than announced. Half an hour later the lights dim and the support musicians walk onstage. Bassist FIRE, violinist Heather Paauwe, drummer Shimoda Takeo, keyboardist Takeyuki Hatano, saxophonist yukarie and guitarist Yutaka Aoki walk to their areas of the stage and get ready. MORRIE joins them as they start their first song.

A distinct cowbell rhythm starts off the second song, the melody accompanying it creating a Latin-American feel—a much more upbeat one than the first. Paauwe plays her violin gracefully and produces high-pitched melodies that contrast with MORRIE’s deep voice in an interesting way. Paradox continues this upbeat and funky feel. Standing on either side of MORRIE, the guitarist and saxophonist highlight the song with their interaction and both ace their powerful and skilful solos. Not only is yukarie a great saxophonist, she also plays an array of other instruments throughout the show and provides the backing vocals, and she knows exactly how to give the vocals that extra force.

They continue on with energetic songs for a bit longer, and as they begin Inu, the audience finally stirs, moving their hands in the air as MORRIE sings. The song is powerful but it feels short as in no time it’s over and they continue on with more slow, emotional and soft songs. MORRIE stands, once again, with his acoustic guitar in his hands, and starts playing soft sweet chords that fill the venue. The words "Riding the night" repeat and hang in the air.

The electric guitar breaks through the softness, making the end of the song loud and heavy with the help of the drummer, who hits the double pedal. The song quiets down at the end, and sadness fills the air as MORRIE finishes the last lines in a high-pitched and sensitive way.

As the songs pass by, the impressive variety of MORRIE's work begins to show. Slow, slightly melancholic songs mix with upbeat, funky and more intense rock tracks, and the ever-changing instruments produce a diverse mix of genres and styles. FIRE starts pounding on his bass, SEX Setsudan kicks in, and Yutaka Aoki goes wild on the guitar, spinning around and holding his instrument up in the air. Meanwhile, MORRIE holds his arms open wide, the backing vocals screaming "SEX Setsudan" and getting the fans' hands up in the air.

After a short break, SUGIZO enters the stage and takes his place next to MORRIE, who has an acoustic guitar out. Cosmos no naka ni starts with only the two of them playing, SUGIZO producing short scratching noises on the violin while the MORRIE plays softly on the guitar. The support artists join them and add to the dramatic feel of the song. Paauwe’s smooth playing style complements SUGIZO’s extravagant way of handling his instrument and the two violins add extra layering to the song.

SUGIZO switches to guitar in the second song, his signature sound matching well with the mood of the music and yukarie’s saxophone skills. MORRIE and SUGIZO stand shoulder to shoulder and then back to back, singing and playing. The bassist, drummer and guitarist get their moments in the spotlight, playing quick solos, before SUGIZO's screeching guitar ends the song and he leaves the stage.

Kiyoharu, who is not only active as a solo artist but also with the bands SADS and KUROYUME, is welcomed to the stage. He congratulates MORRIE before they start The Godsend, making a duet of the song. Their vocal styles differ, but create a unique sound when joined. Kiyoharu slings an arm around MORRIE while they sing, giving the song an amiable ambience. The second song is a funky one and they continue their duet. yukarie returns, standing between them and delivering another amazing solo. She retreats after finishing it and both vocalists complete the song while singing a capella. Kiyoharu ends singing on his knees in front of the frontman, who thanks his guest. They hug before Kiyoharu leaves the stage. The set is closed with a breathtaking melancholic piece that shows off the screeching and shredding sounds of the guitar and also the power of MORRIE’s screams. The contrast between the loud and soft parts emphasizes the emotion of the song.

HEAVEN is the first song of the encore. Three chairs are placed on the stage, and MORRIE and his two guests each take a seat. SUGIZO has an acoustic guitar out this time. CRAZY COOL JOE and YOU from DEAD END also join the three men, grabbing their instruments and playing along. Both Kiyoharu and SUGIZO are thanked and hugged before they leave the stage once again and MORRIE stands with his DEAD END bandmates. They get the audience going again with CRAZY 49, a DEAD END song. The catchy rock tune and long guitar solo soon have the fans' hands up in the air.

After a total of 26 songs, the show is over. MORRIE and his fellow musicians gather to the front of the stage and take a bow before his guests return with a birthday cake. The lights dim as he blows out five candles, one for each decade, and then all of the musicians leave the stage. MORRIE's Now I Here Eternity was a great birthday live, and many fans are eagerly awaiting what the next year will bring.

Set List:

1. Kanki e
2. Icarus
3. Paradox
4. Saru no yume
5. Panikku no me
6. Shisen no kairaku
7. Inu
8. Ano hito ni au
9. Riding the Night
10. Killing me Beautiful
11. Unchained
12. Disquieting Muse
13. Stranger
14. Hunt
15. SEX Setsudan
16. Cosmos no naka ni (with SUGIZO)
17. Memai o aishite yume o miyo (with SUGIZO)
18. The Godsend (with Kiyoharu)
19. Hakai shiyou (with Kiyoharu)
20. Nagame no ii anata
21. Farusu yo towa ni
22. Koko de wa nai doko ka

23. HEAVEN (with DEAD END, Kiyoharu, and SUGIZO)
24. CRASH 49 (with DEAD END)
25. Yume utsutsu
26. Ato wa no to nare yama to nare
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