With that, we bring you part two of J-Network’s Lantis Festival in Singapore coverage! Coming up next is certainly a treat for the ladies!
With the closure of Azusa Todokoro’s short but enjoyable segment, the video indicating a change in artiste played with a red checkered background indicating a high-energy performance. Upon hearing the name ‘Kensho Ono’, the female audience members began to cheer at the top of their lungs, bringing forth a new kind of energy to the stage.
Kensho emerged from the wings of the stage, clad in a white shirt with splattered paint all over the fabric and dark blue jeans. While his attire was simple, it reflected his youthful vibrancy and the animated nature of his performance. The chords for ‘TOUCH’, the leading song from his album Touch the Style played. Kensho gave it his all during the soulful pop-rock number, winning the hearts of the younger female audience members. Even his English lines were sung with perfect pronunciation! Following TOUCH was NEEDLESS TO SAY.
The powerful guitar chords provided a stark contrast to the slow verses sung by Kensho. While he had some visible difficulty hitting the high notes, he continued to give a commendable performance and swooned the young ladies! Truly a wonderful performer indeed! With the end of the song came his MC segment. Kensho conducted his session largely in English despite claiming that he was not very good at it.
K: Do you know Kuroku Tetsuya?
A: *intense cheering*
Upon the sheer mention of the very role that rocketed him to seiyuu stardom (as the titular character of Kuroku no Basket), the entire theatre was filled with massive cheering. Some even began to draw out his next two songs from there! It was also revealed that he just reached Singapore on the morning of his concert and had his photograph taken with the iconic Merlion. However, perhaps the main highlight of his emcee segment was an innocent pronunciation error.
K: I am a single and voice actor!
With the end of his emcee segment came a pleasant surprise! Kensho sang FUTURE LINE (フューチャーライン), which is a character song from Kuroku no Basket sung by Kuroku himself! While Kensho was visibly nervous at this point and made a few lyrical errors, fangirls were undeterred and found his performance absolutely adorable. Kensho may be new to the singing business but his youthful aura provided the concert with a fresh vigour. What better way to end his segment with perhaps his most iconic song?
Kensho’s segment ended with FANTASTIC TUNE, which was also used as the ending theme to the second season of Kuroku no Basket. It was also his debut song when he first signed onto the Lantis label as a recording artiste and is of great significance to the rookie singer. The powerful chords and upbeat drumming sent the fans drumming their penlights against the air or on the seats in front of them. Fans sang along to his signature “Keep it in my story” line, creating an interesting duet between his fans and himself! To top off his segment, Kensho attempted to do a back flip which certainly grabbed the attention of the audience members. It was definitely a memorable way to finish off his high-energy segment! With that, Kensho left the stage and it was time to make way for the next artiste.
NEEDLESS TO SAY (youtube link unavaliable)
The announcement of the next performer in the lineup for the night – Suzumura Kenichi, affectionably known by his fans as “SuzuKen” and easily identifiable by his characteristic blue artiste colour on the screen and the opening chords to his famed, familiar favourite debut single “INTENTION” (released in 2008) – saw the audience break into a spontaneous show of support. The cheering was audible enough so much so that the only other thing to shake the floor of the hall that night more was SuzuKen’s own powerful vocals which he demonstrated almost flawlessly as the audience was treated to some of his most iconic staple songs, amongst others Asunaro (あすなろ) and Shiroi Karasu (シロイカラス), the ending themes to two very popular anime series.
While the Singaporean fanbase is unfamiliar with his repertoire outside of anime songs, the ‘itsumo’ call during INTENTION caught on well with the audience members, completing the iconic startingof the chorus for him. Suzumura’s performance naturally stood out with his incredible vocal control and the arrangement of his setlist creating an almost synergistic flow between one song and the next. What was more memorable was that everyone of different ages and genders could be seen in full force enthusiastically joining in the performance.
Following the end of INTENTION, Suzumura proceeded with his emcee segment. Being his usual energetic self, Suzumura then stopped to introduce himself to the audience, saying “My weak point is English” to much amusement, and even telling those present that he loved chicken rice and enjoyed the warm climate in Singapore. One couldn’t help but notice the animated delivery in which he talked to those present and his continuous eye contact and unmistakeable smile which definitely played a part in making the audience feel at home and almost talking personally to him, rather than with him as a performer. The crowd saw live an extremely gifted performer who knew exactly how to read the pulse of those around him and use it to connect effortlessly with his audience.
Suzumura also performed two of his iconic Anisong numbers, Asunaro and Shiroi Karasu back to back with the unique visuals from Kamisama no Memochou and CODE:BREAKER being projected on the big screen. While both songs were vocally demanding with their hard rock vibes, he managed to execute them to perfection, hitting the high notes with absolute control over his technique. Aside from Choucho, JAM Project and Minori Chihara, he was definitely one of the most stable vocalists for the night. Some fangirls even invoked traditions from his Japanese concerts, changing the penlight colours to red and white for the respective songs! (Trivia: Suzumura’s guitarist for his solo concerts in Japan was also part of the in-house band for the night!)
What came afterwards could only be described as nothing short of spectacular. As a singer, song-writer and voice-actor, Suzumura is already known in and outside of Japan for possessing extraordinary vocal talent (he was ranked 3rd amongst popular male seiyuu-singers in a public poll) and writing highly original songs that bring out many unique and authentic themes, but one can only grasp the full experience of a Suzumura Kenichi performance from a first-hand vantage point. From up close, his speaking voice has the same powerful quality to it as his familiar singing voice, and he engaged the audience in a manner where they literally became a part of his performance, and not just a witness to it.
Suzumura then got the audience together in singing along during his subsequent two songs, the promotional single to his latest album (VESSEL) “SHIPS“, and AIUE Ongaku (あいうえおんがく), a recent personal concert favourite of his where he demonstrated his incredible talent at involving the crowd in a manner that could almost be said to “empower” them. His own physical coordination on stage was remarkable especially when combined with his masterful grasp of the occasional long notes and his vocal range, but seasoned observers would not be surprised: Suzumura is known for his boundless energy and positivity.
The most telling part of his performance was when he told the audience after bringing them through the steps for his sing-along component that “everything would work out”, and leaving it to his trust in the audience for it to actually work out. It did. This simple moment captured the essence of Suzumura Kenichi’s persona and how authentically it could be felt in every aspect of his performance – his secret is simply to be himself and to let his audience be itself and in doing so, he managed to win the night over and bring the audience alive too. Amongst others, Suzumura’s performance naturally assumed a life of its own. The end of his segment though, saw the audience wanting even more with some even calling out ‘mo ippai’ in hopes of him coming out to sing a few more songs.
Fans dying for more of Suzumura can look forward to his Manten Live happening in late May this year! He definitely left an unforgettable performance behind for this night and will definitely continue to do so in Shanghai and Taipei!
Photo credits to Lantis Official Facebook Page