Two years after their previous performance in Singapore, SCANDAL brought back their rock back to the island nation’s stage as part of their international tour, ‘Hello World Tour 2015’, which showcases their best and most popular songs, together with the new hits from their latest album which was released in December last year – ‘HELLO WORLD’. This time round though, they were coming as part of the annual Japan Music Festival series of concerts.
On the day of the concert, queues had already begun to form three hours before the start of the concert, and much of the merchandise were already swiped from the counters with the T-shirts getting sold out by the time the doors opened! While everyone waited for the event venue to be opened for entry, the event staff brought out a large tapestry for the audience to leave their messages for the band in addition to the one brought over by the local fanclub.
Half an hour before the start of the concert, much of the audience had already taken their places before the unlit stage. A significant number of them were wearing merchandise from previous SCANDAL concerts and even sported the official muffler towels around their necks! From the T-shirts alone, it is evident that SCANDAL had been very busy for the past few months, giving their national tour in Japan across many prefectures and now, giving their all on a world tour. The audience itself was very cosmopolitan as well with some hailing all the way from Australia, Indonesia and some who have even flown over from Japan just to catch a glimpse of the girls in foreign soil! There was a sudden rise in tension as the clocked ticked closer to eight, while the final checks and tuning of the instruments onstage could be heard. As the eight o’clock mark approached, fans could no longer hold in their excitement and began to chant the band’s name!
Then, a segment of Duke Ellington’s jazz standard ‘Take the A Train’ suddenly began to play loudly in the speakers as the stage lit up brightly, with fog emerging from below. The crowd’s cheers went to a high as the members of SCANDAL went onstage, decked in their trademark casual outfits and slowly began to take their places while the jazz song continued to play. Then as the track softened, the drums shook the venue as the band threw themselves into the first song for the concert, ‘love in action’. The opening number alone already saw the audiences singing along to the ‘la-la-la-la’ segment of the song and already pumped up!
Quickly ending the first song with a loud ‘thank you!’ from the lead vocalist Haruna, the band erupted into the second song without pause. Perhaps in response to the band’s enthusiasm, the audience began to jump with the beat of ‘サティスファクション’ (Satisfaction), and others raised and clapped their hands in unison. They sang along to the ‘Woah-oh-oh’, as though they were completing the song for SCANDAL! With such an audience response for the mere beginning of the concert, it was evident that SCANDAL as a band had loads of charisma and were able to resonate with the audience using their own special charms. The song concluded with a powerful ‘yeah!’ and quickly transitioned into the next, with Haruna asking the audience to “clap your hands!”
And after the beat for the third song, ‘DOLL’, was established with the help of the audience, the band gave their all in the song and the jumped in excitement, sending wild tremors throughout the floor. This time round, towels were swung around by the audience members who were familiar with their concert traditions! As the song reached its climax, the guitarists started to clap along with the audience themselves, whilst the audience began to say ‘hey!’ along with the song’s accelerating beat. The song ended on a powerfully with a lot of snare, as the stage lights turned indigo.
After a few moments, the spotlights were turned on, and the band began to interact with the audience by beginning their MC segment with “Hi everyone, we’re SCANDAL from Japan” and asking the audience, “Singapore! Hey, what’s up?” The crowd burst into loud cheer in reply. Smiling, the guitarist and lead vocalist Haruna replied, “Very nice!” and asked, “皆楽しいんできている？” (Is everybody having fun?). And needless to say, everyone gave their reply in the form of a very loud cheer. Then, after Haruna said, “Alright, let’s try (this)!” the band rocked the stage with their fourth song, “瞬間センチメンタル” (Instant-Sentimental), which the ending theme to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and proved to be a familiar number to the Anisong fans present.
Throughout the whole of the fourth song, each of the band members seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, evident from the smiles on their faces as they brought each groove to the stage. Without rest, the fourth song ‘hi-hatted’ its way to the fifth – ‘SCANDAL BABY’.
What was rather notable during this song was how the audience shook rather gently when the band took it to its chorus. When the audience began to say ‘hey!’ to the beat of the song, the audience kept their silence for each of the band members to sing each part of the vocals. And as the fifth song came to its close, the hands of the audience stood raised in admiration while the stage sank into an indigo light with Haruna thanking the audience. With the heavy guitar riffs that are more or less a trademark of the band along with the crowd participation – a defining feature of any SCANDAL concert, it was no surprise why this song is a hit with the audience!
The crowd died down to a quiet as the hi-hat and bass gave a groovy start to the sixth song, ‘下弦の月’ (The Waning Moon) under the indigo light. Then as the overdrive guitar joined the two, the crowd burst into cheers in tandem with the multi-coloured lights which began to shine on stage. The band impressively rocked through the sixth song amidst the cheers of the audience, and ended awesomely with an overdrive. Everyone gave their silence as the indigo lights signalled a brief moment of respite which was quickly broken as the audience cheered for more.
Then the spotlights were thrown on, and Haruna addressed the audience again with a loud “Singapore!” remarking, “You were great!” and asking “How about more?” The crowd was thrown into another level of excitement upon this question which clearly conveyed their need for more SCANDAL.
And then perhaps, as to slightly cool the tension in the zone, Haruna told the audience, “It’s very hot…!” to which much of the audience laughed. She then went on to say in Japanese that it had been two years since they last performed in Singapore, and that they will be counting on the audience until the end. Then, moving on to introduce the members all of which remarked how long it had been since their last performance, and how great the audience was – with the lead bassist, Tomomi saying ‘最高です!’ ([you guys] are the best!). Then as the introductions ended with Haruna, she announced that they will, for the next segment of the concert, “bring (to the stage) some songs from HELLO WORLD” (The album that sparked off their national tour and world tour).
In the seventh song, ‘お願いナビゲーション’ (The Wished Navigation), the audience filled in the calls for the song in unison with the song’s beat. As the song reached its climatic conclusion, the flashing green lights on stage boosted the wondrous feel of the concluding overdrive and hi-hat grooves. And then with a ‘thank you’, the stage turned indigo.
After a momentary respite, the side-stick from the drums gave a neat start to the eighth song, ‘本を読む’ (Hon wo yomu) which the audience reacted to powerfully. Jumpy, exciting and all-around fun, the sound was complemented by the refreshing, flowing voice of guitarist Mami. The crowd’s cheers grew to a particular high when the guitar went into its groovy solo. And just like the way the song began, it ‘jumped’ into a powerful ending.
After a short interval of pause, the stage lights began to shine in reddish hues, and abruptly hurled the air into the cool sounding ‘缶ビール’ (Can Beer), this time led by Tomomi’s vocals. Much of the audience were ‘hey-ing’ to the rapid tempo of the exciting song as it climbed its powerful hooks. The song ended with an awe-inspiring guitar solo that shook the stage.
This time, as the stage lights turned indigo to signify a short water break for the band members, a climbing electronic beat began to play in the speakers. Barely visible in the indigo atmosphere was the drummer, Rina, moving away from the drums and picking up an electric guitar. As the audience saw this, they grew into a loud cheer in conjunction with the sounds of a clean guitar which began to play before the lights were on. Then the moment the spotlights were thrown on, the band was thrown into the rich harmony of the tenth song, ‘おやすみ’ (Good Night), which was led by the expressive vocals and the guitar solo of the drummer Rina. Much of the audience was awed and had their breath taken away during the clean guitar solo. And as the electric beat paved the way for the song’s close, the stage turned indigo yet again and the band retook their positions. During this interval, some of the members of the audience even shouted their praise for Rina’s skill in the guitar.
Before the next song, Haruna spoke to the audience, speaking in English, “[the] next song is a very precious song for us” and asking the audience, “please listen to your heart,” introducing the name of the next song, ‘Departure’ which began with a warm prelude that resembled the chimes of an orgel. During this song, the audience were rather united in the swinging of light sticks, perhaps expressing their collective respect for the band. While the song was relatively more melancholy compared to their other numbers which heavily touched on the themes of enjoyment and fun, it resonated well with the audience who were definitely moved by the fragile yet intense vocals of Haruna and Tomomi. The song came to its close neatly with a “thank you” said in Japanese.
Then quickly, the hi-hat made a brief transition to the start of the next song, ‘太陽と君が描くSTORY’ (The STORY drawn by the Sun and You) during which the guitarists began to clap with their arms raised high in the air. This song was a particularly riveting one, especially when the high chorus of the song was reached, during which the audience began to jump while their whipped about their light sticks which added to the colours of the iridescent lights that flashed from the stage. After this rather colourful performance, the indigo lights came on, only to be broken not even a second after by the start of the next song.
The thirteenth song for the concert, ‘夜明けの流星群’ (The Dawn’s Meteor Shower), made for a refreshing entry, given the way it kept the tension high as the vocals flowed seamlessly from one band member to another. Not to mention, the bass and hi-hat created a superbly rad ending to the tune which was wrapped up with a loud “thank you”.
And just like before, the band quickly made its way to the next song, ‘Your song’, starting from the drums. During this number, the audience joined the band in the songs with their loud ‘woah-ing’. SCANDAL even prepared a segment for the audience to be part of the song, with the drummer keeping the beat with her hi-hat as Haruna held out the mike for the audience. The audience was definitely unified as a single force in this segment, giving it their all to SCANDAL. When Haruna said “Only your voice! Motto motto!”, the audience did so and their unified voices as they repeated the ‘woah’ showed no signs of exhaustion. It made for an interesting duet between SCANDAL and their audience members, once again proving that the girls have a way with the crowd! And then smoothly, the band went back to their jam which wrapped up the song neatly with a groovy bass ending.
At the end of this song, the concert began to go into a really fast pace, with almost no intervals in between songs. And perhaps, reacting to this breakneck overdrive, the floor shook with immense excitement in conjunction with the next song, ‘image’. In the middle of this song, the guitarists and bassist began to come together to the centre of the stage as they expressively played their instruments. The band also tantalized the senses of the audience by protracting the end of the song further just when everyone thought the song was ending by steering the song back into its chorus one more time. And even when the song had finally approached its end, the drums persisted to its eventual close. Then, thanking the audience yet again, the members bowed to the audience, saying, “See you next time!” before taking a bow and moving off the stage.
But the audience had not had its fill. Desperately, as the stage lights turned indigo with no sign of them turning back to strobe yellow, the audience began to call for an encore by shouting in unison ‘アンコール!’ (Encore!) This united call lasted for minutes, even when the stage staff came up on stage to check on the instruments, as though the performance had already ended. But the audience persisted and sure enough, the spotlights were flipped on, and the members of SCANDAL re-appeared on stage to much applause and cheering.
Filled with emotion, Haruna addressed the audience, speaking quickly in Japanese, “thank you everyone for supporting us all this while!” and “we’ll definitely return to Singapore the next time!” Also in English that “it was hardcore” and in Japanese, “ヤバかった！” (It was terrific!), they introduced the next song, saying in Japanese that “it was raining yesterday” so (in English) “maybe you’ll like it!”
The song that they began, ‘Rainy’ was a rather remarkable and refreshing one, which displayed their widening scope of music that takes one step further ahead of the usual style of music that fans of SCANDAL are familiar with. Each member of the band could be seen to be very much ‘into’ the progression of the song which came to its amazing close as the drumming and strumming that could be seen under the bright spotlight protracted the end to the song.
And then the stage turned indigo one last time – and electronic beats started to play on the speakers, giving an almost galactic theme to the song from the introductory beats alone. The audience was asked to clap their hands along with the guitarists, and they did so, in the intoxicating rhythm of the electronic kicks and snares which prepared the band for their final song, ‘EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!’. Perhaps it was a given from the song title alone that it was a major crowd participation song. The atmosphere of the venue grew really heated during this song, and the members of the audience seemed to be drunk with the mood of the performance as they jumped and clapped along with the beat. Together with the audience, as the band sang ‘everybody say!’ the audience joined with their loud ‘yeah!’, adding on to the lists of songs by SCANDAL featuring their audience members! Powerfully, the song eventually ended with the drums, after which Haruna said to the audience, “thank you so much!”
Then, signifying the end of the concert, the members of SCANDAL came up together to the front of the stage and bowed, saying “皆本当にありがとう！” (Everyone, thank you very much!), after which the members were re-introduced once again, much to the pleasure of the audience who raised their arms and gave their feverish cheers of admiration. And as the re-introduction finally ended, the members of SCANDAL waved to the audience while saying “bye-bye” as they slowly moved off the stage. Despite their hectic schedule, the girls have exhibited limitless amounts of energy in their gig here in Singapore along with intense musical stamina! While the sound system could have been fine-tuned, the girls’ energy shone through and their contagious joy filled the venue!
The performance of SCANDAL truly left a powerful and lasting impression for fans in Singapore, and will almost surely do the same, if not better in Taiwan, USA, Mexico, and Hong Kong, where they will be giving their performances for the rest of May this year! Here’s hoping that they will make their return again!
SCANDAL HELLO WORLD Singapore Set List
- love in action
- SCANDAL BABY
- Your song
- EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!
~ Kuuin and Astrid
Translations by Kuuin
Photographs courtesy of Japan Music Festival’s Official Facebook Page