Live Report Exclusive

“MORRIE's Solitude & KIYOHARU's Elegy” at Joe’s Pub, New York City

04/11/2019 2019-11-04 01:00:00 JaME 3740 views Author: Masa Sasaki

“MORRIE's Solitude & KIYOHARU's Elegy” at Joe’s Pub, New York City

A new door for Japanese music is opened globally from NYC.


© Tregallery
MORRIE released his new album Shining Wilderness this April, and he has been touring Japan with his new solo band since his last SOLITUDE show in New York City five months ago. On August 16th, he performed another show in NYC, this time with Kiyoharu joining him as a special opening act.

Fans gathered outside before the venue opened the doors and a long line formed after the opening. Compared to the intimate vibe the 99-seat Kraine Theater provided for MORRIE’s previous SOLITUDE shows, Joe's Pub had twice as many seats, as well as tables for dining, a full bar, a wider hall space and a higher ceiling. Every time a subway train passed by, it shook the floor beneath the audience and even the stage. This is a part of life in NYC.

Kiyoharu



Kiyoharu appeared on the stage dressed in a hat and a long shirt that said “You can’t sleep too” in Japanese. Considering his long trip from Japan and whether or not he had time to sleep during the flight, he seemed confident for his first performance in the United States.

Opening the show with Blank World from his 2017 acoustic album elegy, Kiyoharu presented his sensitive, dark, yet strong vocals to the audience. That song was followed by February, from his first solo album Poetry, which was released in 2004. The melancholic feeling of Kiyoharu's performance drew in the audience's attention.

The dark atmosphere and his pull on the audience only grew stronger with GENTLE DARKNESS and Rally, both also from the album elegy. After the slightly lighter tone of Charade from his 2018 album Night, Carmen's Poetry, Kiyoharu sang Alon. It was the only song of the night originally performed by his band KUROYUME, which won him a record deal with Toshiba EMI back in 1994. In fact, Kiyoharu has been celebrating the 25th anniversary of this debut with KUROYUME in Japan this year.

Kiyoharu ended his set with LAW'S from the elegy album. Sung over beautiful guitar chords, the chorus lyrics "Let me go" carried a strong and painful tone and expressed strong determination to move forward. It conjured the mental image of him walking over a road full of thorns.

Kiyoharu and his guitarist Hideyuki Ohashi performed all songs tightly while the light stand next to them shined in the audience’s eyes from the dimly lit stage. There was no need to enhance his performance with any extra tools. His voice, lyrics, mood and melancholic atmosphere are the focus points that make Kiyoharu most unique. These elements and his continuous work since the early 90s have proved that he has moved beyond the visual kei genre and is truly a one-of-a-kind singer.

A longer set with more songs is strongly desired, based on his solid performance and the audience’s reaction.

Set list

01. Blank World
02. February
03. GENTLE DARKNESS
04. Rally
05. Charade
06. Alon
07. LAW'S

MORRIE



MORRIE began his set with Burn The Twilight, a new song that fills the gap between his current self and the MORRIE likely in much of the audience's mind. For the fans that have listened to previously released songs, it is the MORRIE of the past. For MORRIE, new songs are the most relevant to his current self. This approach shows that MORRIE is an active live artist.

It was not entirely unpredictable for the audience to hear a new song as the opening for MORRIE's concert, because he did the same for the last SOLITUDE show in NYC. What made this occasion different was the lyrics—the song is one of the very few in his entire catalog that is sung completely in English. With this new song, it was clear that if MORRIE wanted to sing more in English, he could. Yet in his long career, he has focused on singing in his native tongue, which allows him to bring out the true power of the words from the bottom of his kotodama (“spirit of words” in Japanese).

During the set, MORRIE jokingly commented that most of his lyrics are in Japanese and international fans would not understand the meaning behind them. However, both MORRIE and his fans know that this kotodama reaches to their hearts directly and is beyond language. The divide between MORRIE and the audience dissolved as Falling, another unreleased song, followed.

One of the highlights of the night was the third song, The Setting Sun. There was a fly circling over MORRIE, but once he started playing this calm song, it disappeared. It was as if a creature from a lower realm was forced to fly away from a higher spiritual aura.

The next section went to lighter melodies and deeper lyrics as MORRIE performed Seeing You. This song from his 1995 album Shadow seems to have become a staple of his recent SOLITUDE shows.

Switching from an acoustic guitar to his vintage electric Fender Jaguar "Cherry Bomb", MORRIE played Sleep In The Sky from DEAD END's 1989 album ZERO. Echoes from MORRIE’s guitar pedal created a cosmic soundscape when combined with the colorful venue lighting. Following this track was a song prequel of the album ZERO, Heaven from DEAD END's 1988 album Shambara. These 24, 30 and 31-year-old songs are truly the proof of MORRIE's timeless creativity and uncompromising songwriting style.

The next song, From Netherworld, was performed for the first time in America. An official release for this new, or perhaps simply unreleased, song, along with recorded versions of Burn The Twilight and Falling, would likely help to satisfy international fans’ cravings, as MORRIE's SOLITUDE shows outside of Japan are quite rare. Fans who traveled a long distance and local fans both knew that the show was almost over when they heard the legendary guitar phrase of Serafine, one of the milestones of MORRIE's career.

The last song of the set was the title track from MORRIE’s latest solo album Shining Wilderness. Towards the end of the song, like a masterful performer, MORRIE's face began to resemble that of an ancient folklore teller. Then, as soon as the song’s last lyric "shisu" (“die” in Japanese) was pronounced, that demeanor vanished and MORRIE's regular face was back, as if the word and that persona were sucked into his mouth. It was absolutely stunning, almost like watching magic happen. MORRIE then thanked the audience and left the stage.

Fans witnessed such a fantastic performance that they keep clapping their hands and calling MORRIE's name. It was clear that they wanted to see more of both him and Kiyoharu.

After a few minutes, MORRIE came back to the stage and introduced Kiyoharu. They then played the song fans knew they would perform a duet of: The Godsend from DEAD END's 1987 major debut album Ghost of Romance. In 2013, Kiyoharu chose to sing this song for DEAD END's tribute album Song of Lunatics. Ever since then, this dark, somber, and lesser known song compared to other live staples from DEAD END's catalog has become an important link between the past and present in the visual kei scene.

Kiyoharu and MORRIE alternated singing verses while Hideyuki Ohashi's tight acoustic guitar kept the groove going on. They sang the chorus “Silent night So crazy night Silent night So crazy" together. Both MORRIE and Kiyoharu took turns for the outro and sang along for the finale.

Another encore call from the fans continued even after the staff started packing up the stage. The duet was so good that the audience wanted more, although it did not happen due to the venue's strict time policy. Perhaps they will have another occasion to hear more if Kiyoharu or MORRIE's solo band hold another show in NYC in the future.

In a globalized world where the number of tourists visiting Japan has hit an all-time high and is still growing, more and more international fans are traveling to Japan for their favorite artists. Generation crossover events happen often now in Tokyo. Although the level of performance based on talent, respect, friendship, and true human bonds between two artists as displayed by MORRIE and Kiyoharu is extremely rare. In fact, it may be the first time in history it was represented like this in the US for a global audience. From this show in NYC, MORRIE and Kiyoharu sang and struck new chords to the world, and it is clear that there are no more borders.

Set list

01. Burn The Twilight
02. Falling
03. The Setting Sun
04. Seeing you
05. Killing Me Beautiful
06. Sleep In The Sky
07. Heaven
08. From Netherworld
09. Serafine
10. Shining Wilderness

Encore

11. The Godsend
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Date Event Location
  
16/08/20192019-08-16
Concert
Kiyoharu, MORRIE
Joe's Pub
New York City, NY
USA

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