DENKOSEKKA, Its First Arena Tour – Billboard
Written by GRB on 22/06/2023
With 19,000 fans in attendance, this was YOASOBI’s largest-ever solo show — and it was also being broadcast live around the world. YOASOBI’s newest single, “Idol,” has broken countless records in the charts, and is maintaining tremendous momentum, even taking the number one spot on the Billboard’s Global Excl. U.S. chart. The Saitama Super Arena show was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience that power first-hand.
Watching the show, the first things that stood out to me were the bold presence of vocalist ikura and composer Ayase, and their solid performance. YOASOBI is a musical unit that produces music inspired by novels. Their big break came with an animated music video. Partly because they debuted during the pandemic, their first stage performance was an online show. They later began performing at shows and festivals with live audiences, but it wasn’t until this tour that they finally began to have normal shows where audiences shouted or sang along. They’re not a unit forged in the fires of frequent live shows. However, the indelible impression the show left me with was of the physical strength of the duo. The passionate vocals and performance, which the two threw themselves into with every fiber of their being, brought the whole arena together as one. Their show packed a tremendous punch.
At curtain time, laser light danced through the air and a four-on-the-floor beat and electro melody began ringing out through the venue. The set, suspended from the ceiling, rose up, and Ayase, ikura, and their band members appeared, dressed in yellow track suit-like costumes. “It’s time for YOASOBI to start things up!” declared ikura, and they launched into the first song of the night, “The Blessing.” The audience began chanting out the rhythm of the exciting electro number. They followed this up with their hit song “Into the Night.” ikura shouted “Get up and jump around!” and the audience’s energy suddenly reached fever pitch. When Ayase yelled “Let’s make this a night to remember!” and the band began performing “RGB,” the audience swung their towels above their heads. From the very start, the air was filled with excitement.
After some call & response between the band and the audience, YOASOBI shifted into the middle of their show, playing the songs “Seventeen,” “Mister,” “Umi No Manimani,” and “Suki Da” from their Hajimete no EP. Each of these songs was based on a story by a leading Japanese novelist, and the colorful visuals on the massive LED screen behind the band wove the aesthetics of each story.
Ayase then introduced the band — guitarist AssH, bassist Hikaru Yamamoto, keyboardist Zakuro Misohagi, and drummer Honogumo. He reflected on the tour, deep emotion in his voice as he recalled, “We’ve had lots of difficulties and struggles, but looking back, it was all fun. This experience has really been a tremendous support, and I’m truly happy that we’ve been able to make each new day a great one.”
ikura gave a moving speech to the crowd, expressing the joy and gratitude she felt as she realized one of her dreams. She recalled the first time she came to Saitama Super Arena, ten years ago, at the age of 13. She watched one of her very favorite musicians, Taylor Swift, from the very last row of the second floor stands. “I remember being amazed by just how moving music could be. I was moved, and at the same time, I thought about how much I wanted to stand on this same stage — how I wanted it to be my own voice that enveloped the crowd. And today, here I am!” She continued, “I want YOASOBI to be the kind of band that you dream about, and for us to keep putting on shows that are dreams come true for all of you, too!”
In the second half of the show, YOASOBI sang wistful ballads, starting with “Comet” and leading into “If I Could Draw Life.” The pop tune groove of “Haven’t” got the audience swaying and vibing. Then, after a quick introduction of the show’s merch and the staff, which provided a glimpse of the duo’s friendly and approachable personalities, Ayase and ikura performed a run of light, cute, popular songs: “Halzion,” “Haruka,” and “The Swallow.”
The show then headed towards its climax. Over the electro sound effects, ikura yelled out “Everyone, raise your voices and shout it out with me!” and launched into “Monster.” The audience’s fists pumped and their shouts filled the air as bright red lasers flittered across the arena. This was followed by “Blue,” and the whole audience lifted their voices together as the chorus rang out, “See what, see what, covered deep inside.” The show ended with a performance of “Adventure,” a rapturous closer that brought the whole audience together as one.
The audience began chanting for an encore, and Ayase, ikura, and the rest of the band took to the stage once again. The last song they played was “Idol.” During the intro, which had extended for the live set, ikura shouted out “Now let’s give it all we’ve got and dance till we drop!” and filled the arena with feverish excitement through the powerful song, switching between rapping and rapid-fire vocals. As silver confetti flittered through the air, ikura, a huge smile on her face, shouted “We are YOASOBI! Thank you!” took a deep bow, and left the stage.
The show was intense — the kind of show that leaves your heart racing with excitement even after it ends. For each and every one of the 19,000 people in the audience, it must have been like a dream coming true.
On August 5 and 6, YOASOBI will be performing at Head In The Clouds festival in Los Angeles. It is certain to show their unparalleled momentum and their tremendous potential as a live act.
—This article by Tomonori Shiba first appeared on Billboard Japan