Ayumi Hamasaki – Rock’n’Roll Circus Tour FINAL ~7days special~

April 25, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

CONCERT TOUR REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – Rock’n’Roll Circus Tour FINAL ~7days special~
Released:  April 20, 2011

~Setlist~
1. circus
2. THE introduction
3. Microphone
4. Last angel
5. About You
6. solitude
7. rainy day
8. BALLAD
9. MOON
10. Rimbaud
11. countdown
12. Memorial address
13. Virgin Road
14. Don’t look back
15. INSPIRE
16. Because of You
17. THE CABARET
18. Sexy little things
19. STEP you
20. Jump!
21. Lady Dynamite
22. until that Day…
23. SURREAL ~ evolution ~ SURREAL

~encore~
24. Humming 7/4
25. Boys & Girls
26. Sweet Season
27. SEVEN DAYS WAR

Rock’n’Roll Circus Tour FINAL ~7days special~ is the 26th live DVDand 22nd concert tour by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki. The DVD was released on April 20, 2011, on the same day as A 50 SINGLES ~LIVE SELECTION~. Both DVD’s were originally scheduled to be released on March 30, but they were postponed due to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Ayu kicks off her tour with a real circus act done by a freaky clown, and to me it seems a little bit out of place because Ayu is as professional as it can be and the clown comes of as an overenthousiastic amateur. I wonder who the poor guy is… He constantly wants the audience to clap and he tries to amuse them, they do the wave and suddenly we hear a clock ticking and some mysterious music begins. This is where the fun starts to take place, because the clown opens a trunk and starts to take out objects like a chair, an Ayumi flag, juggling balls, kind of like a Mary Poppins trick. Then, a creepy laugh announces more clowns coming out of the trunk onto the stage, and for the next couple of minutes they perform all kinds of typical stunts
After ten (long) minutes, the clowns get off the stage during THE introduction, the actual start of the show. The curtain rises, and a couple of robotic men and women perform a dance with torn Ayumi facial videos behind them. Those robots really give it a real kick here, awesome. The intro has been made longer, and even I can feel the tension behind my pc when the robots continue their dance and a giant circle screen comes down.
The first organ notes of Microphone come in, and here she comes! Ayu makes a grand entrance as the circle screen floats up again, and she’s sitting on a giant chair wearing a lovely black dress (have I seen it before in the PV for this song?), very edgy! The performance is very spectacular from beginning to end and the guitar solo in the bridge is even better on stage then on the album. The men who performs it looks very funny with his long hair, haha.
Last angel features some very… attractive (did I just say sexy?) acrobatic dancers! Wow… The act is quite spectacular with the dancers drawing most of the attention, especially one solo dancer performing very interesting tricks with a skipping rope. Ayu’s dress has lost the big skirt, now she wears a shorter version of it and it fits the song much better. Sometimes she has a hard time hitting some of the notes, but she pulled it off nicely.
Time for an older song now! About You is a song from the ‘MY STORY‘ album from 2004, and Ayu performs it better than the previous songs. She’s more in her element when she has a mic standard and closes her eyes while singing, sounds like she can concentrate better that way. The new adlibbing sections in the beginning and near the ending of the act are perfect, and I’ve never seen Ayu headbanging before XD The act closes with another lovely acrobat stunt with some heavy rock music played by Ayu’s band.
solitude is a very sad interlude, and a combination of both video and live performance. To me it looks like a sort of Romeo and Juliet story, people can’t find each other anywhere. But we do see the new dress Ayu put on after her previous performance, and it reminded me of a classical Alice in Wonderland ambience.

Ayumi receivs extra points for the hair and dress while singing rainy day, she looks lovely. And the dancers took the title of the song very literally, they wear rain coats and umbrella’s! The dramatic dance continues as Ayu vocally gets stronger and better by the minute, she performed this song with so much emotion in her voice it’s outstanding.
BALLAD was so striking, it really got to me even more than it did on the album. The entire act was pure drama, a real Romeo and Juliet story. Ayu and three dancers are featured, and while Ayu sings the song, the woman dancer commits suicide by stabbing herself (even her white dress is smuthered with blood) and the male dancer drinking poison, just like the famous couple from the English literature. Ayu is so adorable, she has a complete breakdown on the stage and she even cries for real! How good is that? She is actually a very good actress! This is an excellent performance, simply perfect.
Performing in a new cute pink dress, MOON isn’t as good as the previous track was. Maybe Ayu was still overcome by her emotions, but her singing wasn’t all that some of the time. It gets much better near the end, and even if it wouldn’t have gotten better, she would’ve still looked cute and flawless. She flies around the stage like a butterfly, and everything she does makes the song decent, it’s not too bad.
Three tribal drummers perform Rimbaud, a new interlude just for the show, and two of them perform on a trapeze! Later on, more join them and their yells make everything even more fun to look at, it’s a real show.
Ayu then returns in a brown leather-like dress with a crepe skirt and short hair again, ofcourse looking very beautiful. She also controls her voice much better and this makes countdown another good performance. Every time the chorus starts, flames come out of the stage like firework, making this act very spectacular. Ayu convinced me; she’s a real rock chick.
Then it’s time for an older song again, and Memorial address is very pretty. She performs it like she would on the album, her vocals are flawless this time. Great how she can made very big gestures and run around on the stage while still singing in the right key. Ayu leaves the stage.

Church bells, brides maides and organ music open Virgin Road, is this Ayu’s wedding or something? Apparently, because she performs the song in a big wedding dress! Including two bridesmaids to carry her superlong veil… Her voice is perfect here, she looks happy, she is smiling and she makes a wonderful bride (maybe a hint at what was coming up three months later…?)
On to the Middle East, with some really sexy male and female dancers dancing to a mysterious arabian tune. Obviously an introduction to Don’t look back, and a good one with spectacular video screens. Ayu comes onto the stage in a nice short dress with veils attached to it, and her vocal performance comes very close to the version on her studio album. The Middle Eastern theme makes the entire act very magical, all I need is a magic carpet for princess Jasmine, eeehr I mean Ayu XD
Funny thing they gave INSPIRE a Middle Eastern twist with the arabian dancers, never figured that kind of ambience with this heavy song. I think Ayumi is in her element by now, her vocals are very in control and I’m kinda aware of this because most people say her live performance turns worse every year. Well, judging on this, no freaking way. A dignified performance, very artistic and professional.
The veils are untached and Because Of You, another older song, is performed. By now, Ayu has adopted a more sexual look with her leather boots and short dress/shorts, she looks very fierce while performing this song (with vocals to match). The semi mic standard is a bit awkward though, but forgiven. Very spectacular with flashing lights, fireworks and a lot of kick-ass dancing.
THE CABARET takes us to a sort of LA showgirls theme, and the backup singers perform the song, which is quite unusual. But well, they have their time to shine now! And oh no… those freaky clowns again too…
And then they turn Ayu into a playboy bunny for Sexy little things, wtf? Well, at least she can act cute again after the sexyness of Because Of You for example, she even blows a kiss to the guitar soloist, how cute! And funny, his reaction made me laugh! She uses an old microphone to alter her voice at some points in the song, and it turned out great. Even with those cheesy clowns…

The quality of Ayu’s microphone is kinda bad since the previous song, but at least her voice is alright during STEP you, I just never thought she would ever perform it as a rabbit in a martini glass. I raised my eyebrow as soon as she started saying ‘Put your hands up’, and fucked up the lyrics in the bridge. Memo to Ayu: NEVER ‘cutify’ STEP you, it’s a tough song.
Oh my god, it ain’t Jump!, right? Oh fuck, it is. But: on a concert tour, it actually works because now we are allowed to jump on it! Just some male breakdancers…
But then… BOOM, Lady Dynamite. Could be Ayu’s newest nickname. She really rocked this song from beginning to end, wearing a leather jacket with spikes(?), a ribbon in her hair and a short skirt. Combination between cute and edgy, and it works! I always wanted to see this song performed live, and it didn’t disappoint me at all.
until that Day even features the vocoder, epic! And the dancing is wonderful from the very beginning, it looks very difficult to keep up with sometimes. This was also another great vocal performance by Ayumi, it seems like she can sing some of the older songs a bit better some times.
The last song from the original setlist is SURREAL ~ evolution ~ SURREAL, sounds like a mixture between SURREAL from the album Duty and evolution from I am… . In fact, she does perform both songs and she does a pretty good job while at it, it’s just that she fucked up big time in the hook to evolution. After that she goes right back to SURREAL again, quite an interesting setting to say the least. All the dancers are featured this time, to say goodbye to the audience. I love that guitar soloist guy XD Ofcourse at the end everyone bows and says goodbye…

But ofcourse there’s an encore! Humming 7/4 is another song I always wanted to see performed live, and it’s great to see everyone is wearing very casual clothes. This first encore song is a real party on stage and more and more people join in eventually. There was one point where I was really thinking if Ayu was lipsyncing this one because she sounded so good, but that thought is failure ofcourse.
Easter egg throwing with Ayu while she’s performing the older song Boys & Girls, how funny! She performs the rest of this song in the air, on a platform and she really sounds like she’s having fun. She needs the audience to sing along, because they all know the song ofcourse. Lovely act.
THIS is what I was waiting for: Sweet Season! I was already wondering why she performed the other songs from L in her show and not this one. Perfect for thanking your audience. And OMG, the entire audience is dancing along! That’s really epic. Ayumi herself did a great job singing this one, she would’ve disappointed me otherwise because this was one of the best songs from the latest era.
Now finally is explained to me why Ayu sang so damn out of key in the live version of SEVEN DAYS WAR on her latest album, she was actually crying! And as a matter of fact: EVERYONE is! The dancers are crying as well, even some of the men! I think this was their very last performance, and that’s why I forgive Ayu for sounding like this on her album. This was a very beautiful and touching way to end a concert tour, I was swept away by this performance, the group stood up as one. Incredible…!

This was the very first concert tour of Ayumi that I have seen, mostly because I can’t seem to find downloads anywhere. Luckily it’s on YouTube now, so I got the chance to experience it. And I’m quite glad I did, because I know I like a concert when I think to myself: “I wish I was right there among the audience…” I thought that to myself quite a few times while watching this, because I enjoyed every minute of it. Ayu is a very good performer, and if you ask me, she will never be beaten. She isn’t the Empress of J-Pop for nothing ofcourse. While only 8 of the 27 songs performed where actually from the album Rock’n’Roll Circus, I didn’t mind the new singles like MOON/blossom and L and some nostalgia (older songs) dropping in, it’s always good to see some past/present/future in a concert tour, and Ayu knows where she comes from, where she stands and what she wants for the future. I think I’m going to save money to buy this one on DVD!

Favorite performances: Microphone | BALLAD | Don’t look back | Because of You | Lady Dynamite | SEVEN DAYS WAR

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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