“Best na heidi. Tour Final” Says it All
“Hold nothing back!”
The cover of heidi.’s very first mini album, doukoku, appeared on a screen masking the stage, followed by all past releases as well as some of the band’s most iconic photo spreads. The projections faded, replaced by the silhouettes of the band and a couple of solid drum beats kicked “Hakuchuumu” into high gear. When the screen dropped, excitement mounted and bodies jumped all the harder, slowing only for the rainy-day verse, hazy lights sprinkled down on the stage as though through breaks in unseen thunderclouds.
It was a dramatic start to the highly anticipated March 20 heidi. tour final. The mission for the evening turned out to be “hold nothing back”: a sentiment that became clear throughout heidi.’s unstoppable performance at Shibuya O-East.
The crowd jumped as if splashing through puddles and the exciting edge of the stormy “Hakuchuumu” carried into the bright atmosphere of “Hello!” The response was instantaneous, voices rising to shout into the off-beats of the guitar line while on drums, Kiri’s arms flew from cymbal to cymbal in wild cross-slashes. “Thank you!” cried the vocalist, cueing “Yuuyake to Kodomo.” Hands beat out the opening then the central portion of the crowd roiled in an agitated mosh as guitar chimed in. The chorus burned a burnished orange, parodying the sunset of the lyrics and title. During the first deep riff of the evening, Kohsuke bent low with his bass, knees buckling into each rhythmic pulse. Slipping into an aggressive growl, Yoshihiko screamed a play on the lyrics, “Can you feel it, East!?”
“Welcome to our tour final. This is heidi.! We came through fourteen shows but this is the final so let’s go at it with everything! Can you do that?” The answer came with “Hyururi,” the crowd pre-empting Yoshihiko’s cry for fists, pumping vigorously as they shouted over the top of the music. Despite the cool, airy theme of the lyrics, there was heat in the music, guitar-lines smoldering under the light vocals. Nao’s solo was punctuated with shouts but sound chimed smoothly over the voices as the guitarist’s fingers wavered moodily on the strings.
“This is a song we have many memories tied to,” Yoshihiko explained over the music. “Please enjoy it. ‘Machikado Bojou.’” His vocal tone took a different attitude for the piece, lighter, though tightened with tension in the dramatic moments of the story. If “Machikado Bojou” was groovy, “Twilight Town” one-upped it in the first moments of gripping rhythm from bass and drum, brimming with energy and sass.
On that high, heidi. pulled out the Summer show-stopper, “Natsu Ichizu.” The white haze of the lights and lazy growl of the music painted the scene of a scorching Japanese mid-summer. The tempo alternatively slowed to a sluggish pulse and raced off, taking heartbeats along with it. “Synchro” followed in another flawless tweak of the mood, Yoshihiko grinning brightly as his head swayed from side to side along with the crowd’s swinging arms and Nao bounced tirelessly, physically embodying the spring in the music. The number was so friendly and familiar that the crowd’s grins radiated warmth as Yoshihiko let fly with improvised vocalizations for that extra touch of feeling.
The following round of ballads was perfectly timed to the emotional upheaval. “Yasashii Uta” began beautifully, Yoshihiko’s voice carrying over the musical rolling and crashing like waves cresting and breaking on the shore. The emotional performance gave way to a moody roll of drums announced “Ganbou,” a number that turned the livehouse into a sexy lounge environment with lazily whispering cymbals, languid bass and shortly plucked guitar. Yoshihiko leaned on the mic stand, swaying nonchalantly. Out of nowhere, the pace picked up and careened to a reckless, angry finish. The guitar shifted into the dull, repetitive tones of “Ennui.” Drums rattled in after a few languidly sung measures, speeding up into the chorus. The false lull “Ennui” began with ended in a showy cymbal roll that rang out from a whited-out stage.
The lights focused on Yoshihiko whose voiced floated upon the opening of “Rem.” The downtime was at an end when he lashed out to the heavy rush of guitar and bass while the crowd hurled themselves forward. “Gekkou Showtime” had them shouting for their worth, arms flying throughout the intro as Yoshihiko bent down, mic extended. Basing his shout on the lyrics, Yoshihiko cried, “Let’s meet again!”
“Are you having fun, East? You’re all making great expressions. Already, we’re at the tour final,” Yoshihiko began. “I don’t want it to end, though. This tour is the first time we’ve gone at every live full-steam, not even considering the next day if there were two in a row. We were able to play all the songs from our Best album and more and treated every song as special. In these five years, we were able to release our Best album and get through this tour thanks to all of you. My emcees have even gotten better!” he announced, lightening the mood. “I’ve been doing radio, so talking is kind of fun now. DJ Yoshihiko has come a long way, huh? Now, as I said, we’re going full-steam, are you ready? Let’s go with the new song! ‘Monochrome Gradation.’”
The crowd was more than ready to jump and the funky song spurred them along. The chorus melody had a bluesy swagger, vocally driven but with addictive rhythm. The tune and catchy lyrics promised to remain in the memory long after the last chords faded even upon first hearing. Then things became aggressive. “Urusai” sped in, drums sprinting and bass twanging as heads flew, only broken up by shouts and fists pummeling the air. Yoshihiko screamed out parts of the chorus, once tame in comparison to the wild verses. He complimented the crowd’s spirit, pressing right on into “Sentimental.” “BAKA NI NARE!” came the scream, inspiring the crowd to get crazy and sending them moshing for their lives. “Stay with me!” Yoshihiko screamed, taking the lyrics out of context. When the crowd sang, he praised, “That was amazing! Do it again!” and the instruments quieted to a stop for the fans’ voices to rise.
“Omaesan” brought on more of the same, verses light and playful though the drums were tense. “Thank you so much, East. It feels so good, I want to strip!” Yoshihiko joked when the music came to a dead stop. “I’m thrilled for today. I’m sure we’ll be able to meet again soon, but until then, I want you to remember these five words I’m about to set East ringing with…” The final “Omaesan!” was dragged out in the vowels and punctuated with a cry of “Go East!” urging the crowd to mosh to the finish.
“Come on… Nao,” Yoshihiko hinted, giving away “Utakata.” Bright blues and purples swirled with white over stage and house, turning the number into a party. When it was over, the vocalist’s eyes flicked over the crowd. “Thank you so much for today,” he said. “This next song will be the last, but I intend to sing it with everything I have, so please listen to ‘Sono Yukue’” A touch of delay blanketed the mic, giving the gentle song an eerie sensitivity. As the number drew on, the hopefulness developed a taut edge, Yoshihiko growling words out of strong emotion. By the time the number finished, his shoulders shook with silent tears, still trembling after he bent back to yell out a “Thank you!!”
When the band returned, Yoshihiko skipped in belatedly with an apologetic grin. “Thank you for the encore! I love you all and that’s my true feelings!” He went on to announce heidi.’s 6th anniversary live to be held on June 3 at Shinjuku Blaze as well as a brand new album and tour for the summer of 2012.
Elation was at a peak when Yoshihiko miclessly screamed out “Maria!” Bass and guitar burned up the air and the crowd went wild. Kohsuke jumped around like a cowboy on a bull, one hand in the air until Yoshihiko grabbed him from behind, bringing the mic up to his lips for a shout-out. “Synchro” was a rapid affair, the band’s input intense as Yoshihiko fell to his knees and Nao sauntered up behind, the vocalist singing up to him.
“Let’s become one!” The traditional words pre-empted “Parade,” everyone jumping and clapping for the final, cheerful song. “Thank you so much for today. Now move your bodies!” Yoshihiko demanded. The passionate high-notes of the song had Yoshihiko’s well-used voice breaking yet it only added to the euphoria. He finished with arms spread dramatically, a playful grin undermining the gesture.
Before long, heidi. was back. “Thank you for the encore. I think my alcohol is going to taste great tonight,” Yoshihiko joked. Thanking the crowd one by one, the members each took the mic. “Since we’re all having so much fun,” Yoshihiko finished, summing up the general consensus, “Let’s pull out all the stops!” “Mukuro” sent hair flying, not a stationary head in sight. Clean-sung without effects on the mic, the piece was still heavy yet with a fresh atmosphere that continued in “Tsuta tsuta.” The vocalist threw notes around for fun, roughing it up and crooning warmly, while fans’ splayed palms rapidly beat the air in time with the rocket-fueled drums.
The band’s gratitude for the successful tour and powerful final was a palpable presence as they bid farewell with sparkling grins. The night could not have been any more action-packed yet no gimmicks marred the satisfying flow of the music. In one explosive performance, heidi. achieved their promise to hold nothing back, proving that genuine heart and good music are all a band needs to captivate a crowd.
- Yuuyake to Kodomo
- Machikado Bojou
- Twilight Town
- Natsu Ichizu
- Yasashii Uta
- Gekkou Showtime
- Monochrome Gradation
- Sono Yukue
- Tsuta Tsuta