A large, diverse group of fans was packed tightly, though comfortably, into the Shinjuku ReNY venue on April 12th for the A9 (formerly Alice Nine) IDEAL HORIZON LIVE. Small chandeliers hung from the ceiling, shining brightly down on the fans waiting below. As the band took to the stage, the lights dimmed and then extinguished, only to be replaced by an array of colorful and vibrant glowing. The glowing came from the light up bands that the fans wore around their wrists, with each color representing a different band member. White was for Shou (vocalist), red was for Hiroto (guitarist), black was for Tora (guitarist), purple was for Saga (bass), and pink was for Nao (drums). Many of the fans had a wristband for each member, which not only made for a sea of color in the darkness of the venue, but also demonstrated the loyalty and love the fans held for the band. The strong bond between A9 and their fans, as well as with each other, was something that popped up continuously throughout this particular live.

A9 opened the live with a song off of their new album IDEAL called IDEA. It had a steady thrumming beat throughout with moments of light, harmonious singing and heavy headbanging metal. The next song, MEMENTO, was another new one off of IDEAL and it picked up the momentum to make for a blood pumping, fast-paced listen. It was after these first two songs that Shou addressed the audience for the first time. He spoke about the new album, using a comfortable and friendly tone, with a smile on his face. The fans cheered and laughed and then the music started again.

The next few songs were older ones. The fans were familiar with the beats and lyrics, integrating hand movements, gestures, and shouts flawlessly. As the live progressed, the tracks played remained frantic in sound, invoking headbanging and jumping from the fans as well as the band. While playing high energy tracks, A9 often utilized the space of the stage surrounding them. They did not stay stationed to one spot and would move from one side of the stage to the other. They also showed camaraderie when they would play their instruments right next to each or back to back.

Between some of the songs there was playful chatting and banter between the band members and the audience. At one point Shou discussed the fans and their jumping with Hiroto. This, in turn, resulted in amusing interactions between the two and fan laughter. At yet another point, before the song 造花の代償 (Zouka no Daisho), Nao whipped out a white rose, which was then handed over to Shou, who proceeded to throw it into the audience. The transitions from singing to band-fan interactions and conversations were handled smoothly.

For roughly the first half of the concert the tracks were fast and heavy. Some of the songs, such as Zouka no Daisho contained a bit of a jazzy sound to them. As the live approached the mid-way point, the songs shifted to a slower, calmer pace such as with BLOSSOM. Before BLOSSOM was performed, Shou segued into it by first talking about the wristbands. He thanked the fans for having bought them, despite being expensive. He also talked to Hiroto about his red colored wristbands and to Nao about his pink colored ones. From there, Shou stated “Pink for cherry blossoms,” which worked as a lead-in to BLOSSOM and the songs mention of the national flower.

In the course of the live Shou spent equal amounts of time talking with each of the other band members. He discussed Lolita and other fashion styles with Tora and Saga. Then later in the live he had an interesting conversation with Nao, who had left his post by the drums. As Nao left the drums behind he put on a pair of Star Trek like sunglasses. He then joked around with Shou and the fans. The fans were amused by Nao’s antics. As the live entered the encore the band also discussed individual goods that they created/produced, which would be on sale. Some of the goods were I-phone cases and letter sets.

Equal amounts of time were also given to all of the band members when it came to their musical talents and skills. Many of the songs contained solo performances where Saga, Hiroto, Tora, and even Nao where given a moment to literally shine in the spotlight. The white light would shine on the band member performing their solo performance and with that light came the go ahead to jam. At one point during the live the music was being played so intensely that the air around the performers seemed to hum with a visible energy.

Though there were times when the music seemed to swallow up Shou’s singing and lyrics, those moments were few and far in-between. Overall, the visuals and audio were extremely polished. When the band members spoke with the fans, their speech was loud, clear, and easily understandable. Meanwhile, the visuals were varied and fitting to the tones and beats of the music. Most of the songs used regular lights of white, red, green, blue, and pink to set the mood. However, there were times when green laser lights or a disco ball affect was used as well. And the new song UNDEAD PARTY used screens that were displayed around the balcony of the venue to come to life with flashing lights and images to create a dance party atmosphere.

Appearance-wise the band wore mostly black, with the exception of Saga, who wore a white dress and black pants. There was no extreme use of make-up or outlandish hair-styles or outfits. The band, like the audio and visuals, looked very polished. During the encore, they all changed into slightly more relaxing and comfortable outfits, this time with all of them wearing black.

The change into more relaxing clothes made the encore section of the concert even more relaxed than the rest of the live had been. There had been moments throughout the live when Shou would have the fans sing some parts of the songs or when the fans would rush the stage or jump perfectly in unison. However, the performance of Akai Kazaguruma (Red Pinwheel) increased the sense of closeness and unity between the fans themselves and the band. This performance seemed to highlight the fun and easy nature of the live itself. For this track the fans sung large chunks of the lyrics, loudly and strongly, with little to no input from Shou himself, all while holding each other’s hands.

Between the songs Adam and Yami ni Chiru Sakura Shou told the audience. “We really are living.” And as the live came to its end, Shou thanked the audience for coming and for helping to make the live great. That “living” he mentioned earlier on could be felt in the clapping and cheers of the fans as the band left the stage.

SETLIST

  1. IDEA (Album 「IDEAL」)
  2. MEMENTO (Album 「IDEAL」)
  3. Spiegel (Mini Album「銀河ノヲト – Ginga no wo to」)
  4. 道化師 (Doukeshi, Clown) (Mini Album「銀河ノヲト – Ginga no wo to」)
  5. 九龍 (Kowloon) (Album 「ZEKKEISHOKU」)
  6. 造花の代償 (Zouka no Daisho) (Album 「IDEAL」)
  7. ハイカラなる輪舞曲 (Haikara naru Rinbukyoku) (EP 「ALICE IN WONDERLAND」)
  8. RED CARPET GOING ON (EP 「ALICE IN WONDERLAND」)
  9. BLOSSOM (EP 「LIGHT AND DARKNESS」 )
  10. ECHO (Album 「IDEAL」)
  11. The beautiful name (Album 「VANDALIZE」)
  12. RAINBOWS (Album 「VANDALIZE」)
  13. UNDEAD PARTY (Album 「IDEAL」
  14. Adam (Album 「IDEAL」)
  15. 闇ニ散ル桜 (Yami ni Chiru Sakura) (Album 「華想夢想紙 – Kasou Musou Shi」)
  16. 荊棘 (Keikyoku, Wild Rose) (Album 「IDEAL」)

ENCORE

  1. 朱い風車 (Akai Kazaguruma, Red Pinwheel) (EP 祇園盛者の鐘が鳴る – Gionshoja no Kane ga Naru)
  2. ONE (Album 「IDEAL」)
  3. 輪廻と一夜の物語 (Rinne to Ichiya no Monogatari) (Album 「IDEAL」)
  4. PRISMATIC (EP 「LIGHT AND DARKNESS」 )

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