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Sheena Ringo & The Others Know: Impermanence at Tokyo International Forum Hall

22/05/2023 2023-05-22 02:00:00 JaME Author: Philkun Translator: LuCioLe

Sheena Ringo & The Others Know: Impermanence at Tokyo International Forum Hall

A trip through 25 years of Sheena Ringo's musical eclecticism.

© yoshiharu ota
On May 9th, at the International Forum Hall in Tokyo, some minutes before 6pm, a long queue of fans was waiting both inside and outside the huge building. The first of two back-to-back final dates from the lengthy 22-date Sheena Ringo 25th anniversary debut tour Sheena Ringo & The Others Know: Impermanence (Sheena Ringo to Kyatsura to Shiru Shogyoumujyou) was taking place inside the venue.

Of course, the two final dates of the tour had been sold out for quite some time. Some fans were wearing cosplay inspired by the artist's older songs, like the famous nurse featured in the music video for Instinct (Honnou), while others wore jackets or t-shirts from older tours. More than half of the fans were women, and the crowd featured people of all ages, mainly in their 20s and 30s. It was a melting pot of cultures and sub-cultures, with fans wearing everything from rock and punk fashion to kimonos and more formal attire. Even while Ringo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her debut, the number of fans following her career is still growing. After entering the Forum Hall, a long wait was required to access the goods. A special photoshoot area where fans could take a picture with the tour background was also prepared.

At 7pm, the hall was filled with people waiting for the show to start, with classical BGM playing. Then, with the first notes of the first song Gate of Hades, a cross hole appeared in a black screen highlighted by a stroboscope light behind the stage.

This strong start made a huge impact on the audience thanks to an intro using a backing track that paired Ringo’s voice with the Bulgarian Vanya Moneva Choir.

The end of the music was timed with the reveal of the stage. A more intimate space was shown, with a piano, accordion, guitar and double bass set up for I’ve got no mouth (Warewa Kuchinashi), a song originally written for Megumi Hayashibara. It contrasted sharply with the rocky To Rock Bottom (Donzokomade), where she easily displayed her high vocal range and her ability to hold notes for quite some time without any effort.

Almost everyone in the hall was already standing up despite the seats, while also moving the hand flag sold during this tour along to the rhythm of the music.

Removing her coat, Ringo revealed an all-white outfit that contrasted against the colored lights and the LED wall. The latter of these displayed Japanese designs and a dancer duo called SIS (SAKRA & CHINATSU), which accompanied Temporary Virgin (Karisome Otome), the theme song of the movie "Sakuran". This version kept the jazzy and funky touch contributed to the original by SOIL&"PIMP"SESSIONS, followed by To That Ocean Of Trees (Hashire wa Number) with another video in the back, showing a pink car and a license plate with "0417" written on it. Why "0417"? April 17th is considered Sheena’s day as "4-1-7" can be read as "shi-ichi-nana", or "shiina".

After an airport-style announcement, the drummer, Shun Ishikawa, who also works with artists such as QURULI and millennium parade, set a stronger and faster beat than the studio version, like an electro rhythm. As Ringo's vocalizations permeated the whole hall, it was as if the whole audience left this world to depart for hers.

There was a small break to breathe during la suite (Seishunno Tsuzuki), a song written for Mitsuki Takahata in the play "Houshoku Dokei". The duet between the piano and accordion supported the singer’s voice to create a romantic atmosphere, which was cut suddenly by a strong guitar note that brought on the start of Sake & Nondrinker (Sake To Geko), a cover of a Tokyo Jihen song from 2007. From the upper level of the hall, despite its huge size, one could feel the floor moving in rhythm with the audience and the artist.

There was another transition for Consciously (Ishiki), a song written in 2003 but recently remixed by Shinichi Osawa in 2022. The LED wall returned and, to replace the digital drumbeat, Ishikawa played an ecstatic tempo which created the feeling of being transported into a dance club. The unit SIS was also back again and the video featured another guest, Daoko, who took care of the rap part of the song. As the show progressed, Ringo continued to surprise the audience by juggling various genres.

Moving away from the danceable sound of the previous song, Ringo returned to rock with God, Nor Buddha (Kamisama Hotokesama). She covered herself with a red cape, then appeared dressed half in white and half in black.

During Off-Line (Tokyo), she showed all her power with her exceptional treble performance. She was like the mistress of her world, and nothing could stop her while she was accompanied by the lyrical flights of the piano by Masaki Hayashi and the double bass of Keisuke Torigoe.

The accordion of Yoshiaki Sato and the guitar of Yukio Nagashi were not forgotten by Ringo during Where's Heaven (Tengokue Yokoso). The song is comparable to a nostalgic ballad during the intro, but it then evolves into a soul vs rock duel between the guitar and the vocals. The myriad of emotions brought on by the track seemed to submerge the audience without becoming suffocating, and this feeling continued with Gate Of Living.

Without any real break, Ringo was then left alone at the grand piano to perform Ordinary Night (Onaji Yoru), probably the most emotional moment of the live. This part of the show served as a reminder that not only can she sing and play with talented support musicians, but as a composer and lyricist Ringo can send lavish messages directly to listeners' hearts through her voice like few people can, even if they do not understand her beautiful and subtle Japanese lyrics.

She continued to shuffle between a wide range of genres. Like she sings in Ma vie, Mes rêves, ~Kore ga Jinsei, Watashi no Jinsei~ (This is life, my life), she can do and perform whatever she wants like in her dreams because she always does it with heart and to touch the audience.

During the first small MC of the concert, she announced they will perform a new track, Je Suis Libre (Watashiwa Nekono Me). The punchy rock song will be released on May 24th.

For Fly Me To Heaven (Tengokue Yokoso), a song that is normally very cheerful, she sang only accompanied by the piano to give it a new airy feeling. For the second time during the set, she played a song written by another artist: Eternal Flame, which is known as Mune Ippainoai in Japan and was originally performed by The Bangles. Ringo changed her outfit once again, donning pajamas and holding a pillow in her arms, and then some staff members created a small black area where she changed into another astonishing white costume.

After she sang some other songs, there was a new surprise for the audience when she asked for the people who bought the glasses sold as goods to wear them. With fireworks displayed on the LED screen in the back, the glasses made wearers see apple logos in time with the Latin rhythm of the song No verao, as noites (Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri). Ringo's shows are always loaded with different surprises, and the audience is never able to predict what may happen until the real ending.

Taking up her guitar, she started Awakening (Ryokushu), a recent song from her band Tokyo Jihen. Calling out “Tokyo” to make the audience go crazy, she continued directly into NIPPON, the theme song for NHK's soccer-related programs in 2014. Finally, after 26 songs without any real break, all of the musicians left the stage. One might have expected the fans to be exhausted but they called and applauded for the musicians to come back on stage for several minutes.

Ringo returned after a short while and gave some thankful messages to the audience. She concluded the show with two last songs, starting with Feelings For My Motherland (Bokoku Joucho), which was performed with a special brass band and a happy arrangement, before, finally, she ended the show with the passionate The Invaluable (Ariamaru Tomi). During this seemingly sacred moment, it was like fans in attendance could look back on all the songs Ringo has created over the past 25 years and dream of those yet to come.

All the musicians and Ringo left the stage for real afterwards and a surprising staff credit video started to play on the LED screen in the back. The audience could hear an 8-bit version of Sid & Daydreams All Things Must Pass Mix, an older song from 1999, accompanied by a Famicom-like design.

From the start to the end of this show, every single detail was thought out like only Sheena Ringo knows how to do. Whatever might happen in the future, in her solo career or with Tokyo Jihen, it was clear from this show that people will never stop supporting her and enjoying this unstoppable and prolific Japanese artist, who deserves a big round of applause.

So thank you, Miss Sheena Ringo for this quarter of a century!

Set list

01. Gate Of Hades (Anoyono Mon)
02. I’ve got no mouth (Warewa Kuchinashi)
03. To Rock Bottom (Donzokomade)
04. Temporary Virgin (Karisome Otome)
05. To That Ocean Of Trees (Hashire wa Number)
06. Flight JL005 (JL005 Binde)
07. la suite (Seishunnotsuzuki)
08. Sake & Nondrinker (Sake To Geko)
09. Consciously (Ishiki)
10. God, Nor Buddha (Kamisama Hotokesama)
11. Off-Line (TOKYO)
12. Where's Heaven (Tengokue Yokoso)
13. Gate of Living (Torito Hebito Buta)
14. Ordinary Night (Onaji Yoru)
15. Ma Vie, Mes Rêves (Jinseiwa Yumedarake)
16. To Nirvana (Hotokedake Toho)
17. Je Suis Libre (Watashiwa Nekono Me)
18. Open Secret (Kouzenno Himitsu)
19. Fly Me To Heaven (Onnanoko wa Dare demo)
20. Eternal Flame (The Bangles cover)
21. Les Couleurs Chantent (Irohanihoheto)
22. Souffle de vie (Inochino Ibuki)
23. Toogood (Itookashi)
24. No verao, as noites (Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri)
25. Awakening (Ryokushu)


01. Feelings For My Motherland (Bokoku Joucho)
02. The Invaluable (Ariamaru Tomi)
Credit music. Sid & Daydreams All Things Must Pass Mix (Sid To Hakuchuumu)
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