It was a dream that she had wanted to realise for four years and after those four years, she has finally arrived – not for a short segment but for her very own full-fledged solo concert! The two hours of intense partying were marked by immense crowd participation and emotional performances – a wonderful showcase of Koda Kumi’s 15 years as a singer. She performed a generous mix of songs from across different genres and different periods in her career as well!
The very moment the lights were dimmed, the house broke into applause and intense cheering. A countdown meter showcasing the years in which Koda Kumi had been singing for began to play until the KXVK logo was revealed. With intense lighting effects, Koda’s dance team of five were the first to hit the stage as visuals depicting a cityscape were played on the gigantic screen to an electrifying instrumental piece. The dance team were all clad in coats and shades, a sign of what might be coming for the audience! As the instrumental piece reached its peak, a fog screen enveloped the middle of the stage and as it disseminated, Koda Kumi stood in the middle of the stage, clad in a monochrome fur coat and eyes covered by bejewelled shades.
The catchy electric number, POP DIVA was the first item for the night! Electrifying and catchy, it was definitely an appropriate song to get the audience all pumped up! Halfway throughout the song, Koda and her dance team provided fanservice by opening their coats to a degree that allowed the audience members to see what they were wearing underneath. Koda herself sported a colourful patterned bikini top and a matching mini-skirt with her female dancers (Waka, Minami and Shouko) wearing something of a similar fashion while the male dancers (Achi and Oobo) were topless. It was then evident that she would be opening her concert with the sexy image that people know her best for.
They then moved straight into the next song, Mercedes and this time round, the sunglasses were off for Koda, as were the coats for the dance team. Just as energetic as the first number, Koda and her dance team continued to pump the audience up with their greatest party hits. The next song however took it to a whole new level once the crowd was truly warmed up. Accompanied by funky-retro comic visuals of Koda herself lip-syncing the lyrics on the giant screen to her own live singing in front of the audience, House Party saw the entire dance ensemble, including Koda herself dressed in very colourful costumes! Koda too removed her coat, revealing the full get-up of her bikini and skirt combination! The crowd screamed ‘party party’ whenever that chant came up during the song and during the appropriate parts, they even shouted ‘oh oh oh’! It most certainly was a visual spectacle and colourful performance!
Poppin’ love cocktail ft TEDDA, the first towel song of the night saw the crowd going wild as they traded in their penlights for the concert’s official muffler towels. The lyrics were creatively displayed on the screen, utilising both animation and letterism to make it visually pleasing while still readable for the audience members to catch on. The lyrics to the rap performed by the male vocals were also displayed on the screen! With this, non-Japanese speaking fans had the opportunity to sing along as well, inviting many screams from the audience addressing Koda’s visual appeal and energetic dance moves! Strobe lights marked the entry of IS THIS TRAP?. While it was relatively slower compared to her previous club hits, it was still notably catchy. No visuals accompanied it on the projector, giving the audience room to appreciate the intense choreography and Koda’s seductive alto voice. With the end of that song, she returned backstage for a quick costume change.
Even while Koda is not on stage, the concert continued to captivate its audience. A compilation video that showed highlights from her previous concerts played on the large screen, allowing her fans to see the magic of Koda Kumi’s concerts throughout her career! With effects ranging from an on-stage aquarium (with Koda swimming in it and emerging out of it wet to sing her song) to water fountains, it is understandable why Koda is dubbed the Queen of Live. The video also showed a Koda Kumi concert with a more simple get-up in a smaller concert hall and for this reporter, her personal favourite was the Kyoto-themed Japonesque concert with the elaborate kimono and moving moonbridge! The video ended with a snippet of Koda singing Walk of My Life as part of her recently concluded arena tour in Japan, clad in an elaborate sleeveless ballgown and hair accessory to complement her updo.
Cue Koda emerging from the wings of the stage dressed in that exact ballgown with the exact same hairstyle. When Koda had this costume on, her dance team was absent and she focused more on her vocally intensive songs, starting with 愛のうた (Ai no Uta). With her bejeweled microphone in hand, the slow and moving song captivated the audience members from the start with many swaying their arms to the music. Her final note, marked by a pronounced vibrato was particularly haunting. Fans had the chance to see yet another side of Koda when guitar riffs blasted from the speakers and she held a standing microphone in her hands. This time round, the lyrics were flashed on the screen and in English no less! A powerful rock song, Sometimes Dreams Come True was certainly different from the party hits and ballads that she had presented us throughout the night so far, showing a more daring side to Koda as well!
Then, the song that marked her 15th anniversary celebrations was performed. WALK OF MY LIFE with its inspirational and uplifting lyrics was given the due justice that it deserved, with Koda singing the song in Japanese while its English lyrics were flashed on the big screen. With this, the non-Japanese speakers were better able to understand the song better and appreciate its importance to her. Fans sang along to the lyrics as well in both languages, as though it was an anthem. Sung with intense power and emotion, it is no wonder why Koda chose this song to mark her 15 years as a singer. With that, she went back for another costume change.
Once again, the concert continued to entertain the audience! A man dressed in a white suit and white fedora hat emerged on stage as a video with a falling white feather played. With a perfectly timed tap on the screen, an invitation card was displayed on the screen, stating that a lucky fan would have the chance to come up on stage with Koda herself to play her favourite song! As the man searched around the audience for that one lucky person, the set-up for the segment, which was retained from her previous concert stops as part of her Walk of My Life Tour commenced. After much searching, a young woman was pulled out from the audience by concert staff. At the same time, Koda emerged from the stage wearing a sparkly, silver dress with a split to reveal her legs and her hair tied in a ponytail!
She invited her lucky fan to join her on the sofa and gave her first MC segment for the night. “It’s my first time performing solo in Singapore. Is it okay if I speak Japanese?” she asked. The audience responded with an enthusiastic “daijoubu!”, sending both Koda and her fan into laughter. The fan, browsed through the book and retained the special invitation card given to her and settled on the song Suki de, suki de, suki de. Another love ballad, the lyrics were displayed on the screen too but due to the impromptu selection, only the pre-romanised version was shown. Fans who could read Japanese or were familiar with the lyrics sang along to the iconic chorus. All this while, as Koda sang, she and the fan had close contact with each other. This would definitely be a moment in her life that she would never forget!
After the emotional ballad, Koda went on with Someday. More casual and almost jazzy, it had a bar song vibe, which contributed to the intimate feeling of the concert! Fans filled in the lines for Koda as she pointed at the audience a lot, drawing intense cheering from every corner of the hall. Compared to her previous songs, this song had a lot more clapping! The fans even filled in the ‘chuu chu chu’ line, transforming the performance into one featuring both Koda and the audience members! Following that was one of her recent hits! Not only is it a fan-favourite, it made music history too! Dance in the Rain was the first music video ever to use the Oculus Rift technology! The accompanying visuals made a return, featuring a dystopian landscape that is similar to the one in the music video. With its catchy beats and unforgettable chorus, fans were captivated by her deep voice and sang along. As the song left the bridge, the actual music video played on the screen, complete with scenes of Koda literally dancing in the rain and attracting a lot of applause! It is amazing how Koda can still pull this song off even without the choreography from the music video to accompany her soulful singing!
As she changed her costume once again, another compilation video was played and this time round, it highlighted the versatility of her career through her album history! Snippets of her music videos were played on the screen, showing just about every angle of Koda Kumi the artiste, going from sexy to cutesy to dramatic! Fans cheered when they heard their favourite songs and saw the respective music videos being played! It then ended with an announcement that her newest album, Summer of Love will be out soon! When the montage was over, Koda returned to stage with two of her female dancers, each of them clad in black leather outfits with the dancers wearing hot pants and Koda opting for a sarong.
Hurricane with its erratic pacing was a fun item! The actual music video was played on the screen during the performance! With the various English lyrics peppered throughout the song and the Japanese rap parts, it made for an infectious performance that had the crowd singing their hearts out! This reporter herself could not stop singing “blow you away” after the concert! As one of the most recent songs from her discography, will fans get to hear her earlier hits? Like it saw the return of her party beats on the stage and this time round, there was more attention shone on the choreography! While there were no pretty visuals to accompany this performance, the lighting capabilities of the Ground Theatre were maximised to its fullest. With impeccable timing, there was a heavy usage of silhouettes during the dance and the final pose struck met with much applause from the audience members!
Then the opening chants of ‘what can I do for you’ were played over the speakers. Video game fans and Koda’s longtime fans knew what was coming. real Emotion, an insert song from Final Fantasy X-2, saw the full dance team making a return on stage. One of her older songs in her discography, the crowd went wild, filling in the lyrics for Koda and performing the chants of ‘what can I do for you’ and ‘I can’t hear you’ for her! They even did a united chant of ‘hey’ during the instrumental parts! With her magnetic charm that was evident during the past fourteen songs, it was no surprise that she is considered the Queen of Live.
The screen was utilised once again and this time round, it was to give an introduction to the dance team! The introductions were done creatively too, using mugshots and wacky facial expressions to make an impression on the audience members. As each dancer came up, they showed their dancing capabilities by performing their solo moves and eventually during the group piece, a medley of dance genres which even included a hint of ballet!
When the screen changed to a red-tinted cityscape of Tokyo, the audience knew what was coming for them. Up next was TABOO, a song that touches on well, taboo themes that are seen as controversial in both Japan and Singapore. Following the theme of the music video which was set in a red-light district, red fresnel lights gave the dominant atmosphere during the song too. Koda and her dance team had a strong sense of uniformity as all were clad in the KXVK hoodie! Instead of the music fading out as per the recorded version of the song, it ended on a high note with strong synths.
Without pause, she went on to her next song which is more of a medley of BE MY BABY~LOADED. With its simple lyrics and exciting sound, fans partied along to the song, jumping on the spot and singing along! It was in one word: addictive, giving a summery feel with the tropical-themed visuals in the background. Furthermore, the crowd chants were provided on the screen! This performance was undoubtedly the epitome of crowd chanting with the alphabet recitation, screams of ‘let’s get loaded’, ’round’ and ‘down’ performed by the audience themselves! The obligatory towel song, LIFE so GOOD!! marked the end of the main segment of the concert. The audience did the ‘hey’ chants to the beat! Midway though the song though, Koda shouted that it would be the last song for the night. With that in mind, they went full force with their cheering and jumping! To end her main segment, Koda threw her muffler towel into the crowd! A lucky male fan caught the towel – a wonderful keepsake for the night!
Desiring more, the fans chanted ‘encore’ as the lights dimmed. They definitely wanted Koda to return on stage once more and to capture their hearts more! Sure enough, she emerged with her dance team, all clad in the Asia Tour T-shirt with Koda herself sporting a sunhat, a white variation of the shirt and letting her pastel-dyed hair loose.
For the encore, she gave her fans a medley of some of her best hits! Cutie Honey and Lady Go! saw colourful visuals being played on the screen, with the male fans going wild over her charismatic interactions with the audience and the females letting themselves join in the flow enthusiastically! When WIND’s short snippet was played, the dance team and Koda herself threw balls into the audience members! There was much hand-waving as well by the audience – both to participate in the segment and to catch one of the many balls that were thrown for the night I’ll be there and Butterfly were also included as part of the medley and for the last song of the medley which was LALALALALA, visuals of a rolling sky were played on the screen and once again, there was much arm waving and swaying. The audience sang the titular line after Koda, creating a wonderful duet between artiste and fans! With the end of that medley, the dance team retreated back-stage as Koda took to the stage for some parting words.
Speaking in English for the first few lines, she thanked the audience and asked them if they had fun, garnering enthusiastic responses from the crowd as they answered with a definite ‘yes’. She then asked if the audience was fine if she spoke Japanese from then on and was met with a heartening ‘daijoubu’! Thus, she commenced with the rest of the MC in Japanese. She then decided to get a grasp of the audience demographics, asking if there was anyone aged 40 and above and if there were any families in the crowd. She then told them that she hoped they enjoyed her time with her with much happiness as she was ‘so so happy’ that night as well.
When the piano instrumental sounded, it was time for Koda to give her own reflections of her fifteen years as a singer. An English translation was provided on the screen behind her, scrolling up as she made her announcement. While what she said was different from what was shown on the screen, the translations still did their job in providing a gist of what she said. Singapore was the final stop for her 15th anniversary concert tour and she wanted to deliver those words during the emcee and those melodies during her songs to unite people. Honest and hug-tugging, her confessions about the naysayers that everyone will encounter in life was met with some tears in the audience as they were able to relate with such experiences. “I hope you’ll be able to have the WALK OF YOUR LIFE that truly belongs to you,” she said. Seeing everyone’s smiles made her especially happy.
Halfway during the MC however, someone’s mobile phone sounded. Koda was taken aback. While the owner of the phone apologised, Koda laughed it off, stating that because this is a live venue, one cannot control the circumstances – which sent the entire hall roaring into laughter! Following that, she assured the audience members that she would sing more and more and that she would be close to the audience even after she flies off to Japan once more. With that, she dedicated her last song to ‘all those who hold big dreams close to their hearts’.
walk was noticeably more stripped down compared to its recorded version, with minimal accompanying instruments. Koda sang the song with so much emotion and passion that it got some of the audience members tearing up once more. With the uplifting lyrics telling the audience to ‘continue walking and singing’ despite the joy and sadness one would face in life. Eventually, Koda herself gave in and her voice cracked. She cried while singing, making use of the occasional instrumental breaks to dry her tears. For a moment, it seems as if everyone was feeling the same emotions that she felt. When the song ended, there was a brief moment of silence followed by immense applause. Koda told the audience that she loved them before going backstage once more as the lights dimmed.
A video montage was played filled with the questions and doubts that Koda confessed to having throughout her career. However, it eventually ended with the phrase ‘Walk of My Life’ being changed to ‘Walk of Your Life’, a clear message from Koda to her fans to take ownership of their own lives rather than let it be decided by others. With that, the house lights came back on. Just as people were about to pack up and leave the hall, Koda reappeared on stage again to deliver her final parting words to her audience! She told them to fulfill their dreams, no matter how many they have and no matter how big or small. The dance team joined her on stage and together, they gave one final bow. Koda took this opportunity to thank her fans once again and to say ‘I love you’. She waved at her fans as she walked back to the wings of the stage, officially bringing the night to an end.
With a carefully chosen setlist that encompassed her recent hits and older classics and of course, covered a wide range of genres that allowed people to see Koda Kumi beyond her club hits and R&B music, it definitely brought the fans along with her for the ‘walk of her life’. While the two hours passed by quickly, fans will definitely carry Koda’s words of inspiration for the rest of their lives and of course, the intense crowd experience that they had for two hours as well! One has to go to a Koda Kumi concert to understand why she’s regarded as the Queen of Live and indeed, even with the minimal stage set-up, her charisma and infectious energy shines through. Here’s hoping that her record company, avex, will continue to bring more artistes over to Singapore and that Koda will return once again!
All images courtesy of avex International Holdings Singapore Pte Ltd
This article will be updated with more official photographs when they are made available.