For years I have been dreaming of seeing Ayumi Hamasaki live in concert and I finally got my wish fulfilled. The last time she came to Singapore to perform was way back in 2002 during the MTV Asia Awards. I could only watch her from afar (on the red carpet) then as I did not have a ticket to the awards/performance. And now, on 18 October 2014, she performed as the top artiste for a-nation Singapore Premium Showcase.

It was a bit of a rush as I attended Jo’s wedding lunch just before the concert, but I reached the concert venue right on the dot. There were some fringe activities like an express manicure and hairstyling counter. Really wanted to do my hair for the specially printed ribbon, but there was no time for that. 🙁 Thank God, See Nga was there earlier to help me get the uchiwa. The rest of the concert goods were either too blah or too expensive.

The order of acts (with my comments for each) is as follows:

  1. Stella Seah
    A Singaporean newbie in the entertainment scene. Sang three songs including the theme song for Channel 8 drama, Missy 先生。She was the opening act for the concert.
  2. Wagakki Band
    Was rather impressed by them. The concept for the band is to mix Japanese traditional instruments and Western rock band instruments. Rather good blend of ‘East meets West’.
  3. Aaron Yan
    After Fahrenheit ceased to exist, Aaron Yan can arguably be the only member who is still going strong in the entertainment industry. I think Fahrenheit can be said to be the last Taiwan boyband I was crazy over. But somehow, I think after they went their separate ways, each member kind of changed..for the worse? I’m not really sure whether they did something to their faces, but Jiro Wang and Aaron Yan kind of look different. Also, Aaron Yan adopted this casanova cool guy image which irked me a little. He was known for his cute boyish looks in Fahrenheit so it was rather uncomfortable seeing him being all bad boy. Well, it could all be marketing, but I really don’t click with this image of his. Feels fake. *shrugs*
  4. Girls Award Fashion Show
    Very short fashion showcase for Lowry’s Farm. Famous model, Lena Fujii was the highlight of it. She was all bright and smiley…and also the only model who threw more than just the souvenir towel. She threw her hat and coat to the crowd too. Rather funny because a guy caught her coat. Wonder what would he do with it? Was a little surprised to see that she’s not that tall even as a model. Anyway, I would have taken more notice if they were modeling for Liz Lisa or Dip Drops (more cute girly clothing). Lowry’s Farm is alright but their clothing is not really something I would go for.
  5. Sonar Pocket
    Not too familiar with this band but they performed a fun song titled 「ソナポケ☆DISCO」。The song is now stuck in my head.
    Not too familiar with this dance/vocal group too. Haha, EXILE/EXILE TRIBE is too complicated. Too many members here and there. In short, EXILE is one group. GENERATIONS is another. And they are all under the family unit, EXILE TRIBE.
  7. M-Flo
    This was one of the two artistes I really wanted to see. Omg. M-Flo really rocked the house (or at least for the couple of rows at the front). They even did a small excerpt of my favourite song, Miss You. I was a little annoyed by the audience at this point. I kept seeing Verbal whisper something to Taku, and he was seen to be trying really hard to get the audience all high. I was a little puzzled and turned round. That’s when I saw a few rows of people just sitting in their seats, looking all bored. Hell, I know that most were there for Ayu, but what’s wrong with these people? These artistes are performing their best on stage, couldn’t you have the courtesy to at least cheer for them and look interested? Thought these people were plain rude.
  8. Ayumi Hamasaki
    What can I say? It was so obvious that everyone was there for her. Unlike the other artistes who only sang three to four songs, she sang double that number. And since she was the final act, she also got to perform the encore. Haha…I jokingly said to See Nga that it felt like it was her solo concert. The diva is known for her showy concerts and of course she did not stop short of bringing the same experience to this concert. I was so happy to see her perform, but more than that, I was happy to see her dancers, backup singers and band members especially guitarist Yoshi and bassist Enrique. These two have been with her since yonks ago.

    Her setlist:
    – Step you
    – XOXO
    – A Song for XX
    – Memorial Address
    – Love song
    – Lelio
    – Surreal~Evolution~Surreal mix
    – You & Me
    – How beautiful you are
    – Boys & Girls (encore song)

    She did not follow her setlist for the Japan a-nation concert. Would have preferred that setlist as it had more older songs which I’m more familiar with. I used to follow her music quite closely but sort of dropped off after the My Story album. Had to concentrate on studies then. Anyway, I’m glad that she sang Evolution, which is my favourite Ayu song.

    Gerald and I had a conversation about her just before the concert. He said that Ayu tend to go off-key in her recent concerts. (Gerald is a big Ayu fan who attends her concerts elsewhere in the world.) I told him that I would rather she go off-key than lip synch. I feel that for an artiste to sing live rather than lip synch is akin to sincerely wanting to connect with fans. Nobody is perfect, so even if the artiste goes off-key a little, it’s ok. Besides, we all know that Ayu has lost her hearing in one ear due to a health condition so it’s pretty awesome for her to sing live. We talked about her voice quality. It has changed significantly from being all shrill to a lower pitch. Some say it’s because of her health condition, I also think it’s just the maturing of her singing style as she ages. We also discussed the style of her songs. We agreed that we disliked her recent disco style craze for songs like XOXO and Lelio. In fact, Ayu reminded me of Madonna when she donned the leotard and danced around the pole. Erm…I kinda think it’s disgusting to try to act all sexy when you’re not a sweet young thing anymore. Not that I don’t think Ayu is fabulous and pretty, but I must say that she has matured a lot and therefore should be moving away from all the sexy/erotic dance moves. Oh well, that’s just my opinion.

Overall, I was impressed by all the artistes. They made an effort to speak English or Mandarin to connect with us, Singaporean fans.

As for the concert goods, didn’t find the stuff too fantastic so I only got myself the a-nation uchiwa which doubles up as a light stick. We only found out the next day that a light stick was included in the “goodie” bag that everyone had. Haha. I must say that I’m wow-ed by the light sticks of today. Battery operated so you can keep using it until it just conks out. So much more convenient than the disposable neon ones that last only for a day. The silver streamer is from the confetti pop at the end of the concert. It has the concert branding printed on it. So cool.

Besides the light stick in the goodie bag, there were a few flyers from the various sponsors. What caught my eye was this:

Omg! Ayu is following the footsteps of Perfume and having a global fanclub! So going to join it!

Now that I’ve seen Ayu live in concert, I would very much hope for AAA to come to Singapore. (It just might happen!)

4 thoughts on “AyuReady?

  1. Sounds like you had so much fun! I haven’t been to a huge concert in a long time, but they’re always exhausting by the end of the night. Ayumi Hamasaki is still touring?! That’s amazing. Good for her. I used to listen to her a decade ago, haven’t heard of any of the songs you listed, but I YouTubed some of them & you’re absolutely right: her voice has absolutely matured from shrill to a deeper sultry voice. I dig it. Good for her. As for the exotic dancing, eh who cares? She’s 36, not 56, she’s still quite young. I mean, she’s making tons of money doing what she loves to do & she probably wouldn’t be doing it if she weren’t having fun. If she had children, that would be kind of questionable, but again, shouldn’t really judge. To each their own!

  2. Congrats on fulfilling your wish of seeing Ayumi Hamasaki perform live! I’m a bit jealous that you got to see one of your dreams come true, hehe. From what it looks like, it almost seems like all the other performers were just an opening act for her. I don’t recognize most of the performers except for Aaron Yan! It’s a shame that he’s trying to adopt that cool guy image. I liked him a lot better being the baby of Fahrenheit, too. That light up fan actually looks like the perfect concert purchase. I imagine it can get pretty hot in there, haha.

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