Ever-changing lightstick colours and throngs of fans chanting along to high-tempo beats are clear-cut signs of a Japanese anime song (anisong) concert, generally only seen in Singapore during the I Love Anisong segment at the annual Anime Festival Asia (AFA) convention. Months before the convention is set to return this year, [email protected] played host to one of anisong’s most popular groups – this time, for a solo show.
While Japanese pop-rock duo GARNiDELiA (consisting of vocalist MARiA and sound producer toku) is no stranger to our shores, their stellacage Asia Tour 2019 ”響喜乱舞” (Kyoki Ranbu) show on 13 April was their first solo performance in Singapore as well as the only Southeast Asian tour stop, as remarked by MARiA.
“Since our [Singapore] debut five years ago at AFA, it has been our dream to perform here solo,” she said to the nearly sold-out concert hall. Clearly, fans had been waiting for this moment for a long time – VIP and VVIP tickets, which came with fan benefits such as a hi-touch session and autographed posters, were snapped up within a day, with only scant few general admission tickets left when the pair rolled into town.
And we reckon their popularity is well-deserved. From the start to end of the 90-minute set, petite powerhouse MARiA and the quiet but no less charismatic toku – both decked out in alternative Japanese outfit with hints of traditional elements – kept the crowd up on their feet with infectious earworms such as ‘Tougen Renka’, ‘Rebel Flag’ and ‘Pink Cat’.
It’s a testament to MARiA’s stage presence that all she needed throughout the performance were two backup dancers, who had followed the twosome through their Asian tour to cities like Hong Kong and Beijing. Effortlessly switching between dance props such as umbrellas and flags while belting out high notes song after song, the singer kept fans waving their light sticks (which they manually changed to match the stage lights and song vibes) in tandem to the Eurodance-style tracks throughout the entire night.
This isn’t to say that toku didn’t put out some impressive moves of his own. While the keyboardist in his signature wide-brim hat was mostly stationary during the dance parts, he also made his way to the front with a portable version to jam with MARiA during ‘G.R.N.D.’ – much to the excitement of concert-goers across the hall. His wordless piano key replies during MARiA’s talk-sets were particularly well-received, as the lead vocalist and their fans collectively agreed that he was “kawaii” (cute).
When the pair disappeared off-stage after what was to be their last song, the audience was not ready to let them go. Cries for an encore went on without pause for five minutes, before MARiA, toku and the dancers reappeared in casual clothes to perform the upbeat ‘Aikotoba’ and the banger that propelled them to the forefront of the anisong scene, ‘Gokuraku Jodou’. The duo led fans through a lovely fanchant practice that the crowd performed with great gusto all the way to the last note – a fitting send-off for GARNiDELiA’s first of many concerts to come.
Photo credits: Viola Kam (V’z Twinkle)