Anime, Japanese

Anime Boston 2009: Three Beauties in Frilly Costumes on One Stage ~ Kalafina’s US Debut Performance

May 26, 2009 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Anime Boston 2009: Three Beauties in Frilly Costumes on One Stage ~ Kalafina’s US Debut Performanceon Twitter

Over the three day weekend, I was privileged and honored to see Kalafina’s US debut concert at the Anime Boston convention at the Hynes Convention Center. Although the Boston-based VGO was opening for Kalafina (we’ll be publishing impressions of the VGO performance in the coming days), I was more interested in hearing what songs Kalafina would be performing, given the fact this was their first concert outside of Japan.

Interestingly, as the VGO was clearing the stage, I noticed that there were no instruments being prepared for Kalafina. Considering the style of their music and the expense of travel, I can understand why this was, but I was hoping to see at least a few instruments up there, considering there are some themes that incorporate live instruments. What did this mean for the evenings performance?

Check out our impressions of the concert as well as a list of songs performed after the jump.

Once the stage was cleared, Wakana, Keiko, and Hikaru, the three members of Kalafina, were brought onstage. Their opening song was “oblivious.” This is a nice electronica based composition with hints of rock that features Hikaru on the main melody with both Keiko and Wakana in supporting roles. Keiko’s deeper voice really helped counter Hikaru’s airier vocals and Wakana’s operatic style added some great harmony as well. It was a fantastic way to start up the concert. The next theme definitely kept up the stage energy, with Keiko really rocking the stage on this one! Entitled “Mata Kaze ga Tsuyokunatta,” it was a nice rocking theme with some beautiful cello accents that really catered to Keiko’s alto style. The harmonizing of Wakana and Hikaru’s voice also added some nice depth.

Next up on the list is a favorite of mine, “love come down.” Despite its electronic nature, it manages to give off a Middle Eastern flair, and the combination of electronica and striking violin sections really help. Each of the vocalists got a chance to shine here and it was definitely one of the stronger vocal performances. After three exhilarating performances, they mellowed out a bit with “Lacrimosa,” a theme from their most recent single. As with “love come down,” each of the vocalists gets a chance to take the forefront of the vocals and the harmonizing support really helps to create a nice balance between the lead singer and the string accompaniment.

Another favorite of mine, “Natsu no Ringo,” was performed next. Unlike the electronic themes performed previously, this was a much more complex composition, full of Celtic influences. The vocals were also quite strong and it’s a real shame this one wasn’t performed with live instruments as it’s one of the most melodious and would have benefited greatly from live instrumental performances. The next two themes performed, “fairytale” and “ARIA,” were more simplistic and mellow in nature. As such, these themes really relied on the strength of the vocalists, and I really think they succeeded wonderfully her. The subtle electronica and strings used as the instrumental backing were nice, and the upbeat pace in the latter portions of “ARIA” definitely helped channel the energy of the concert.

The last three songs of the concert were “Ongaku,” “sprinter,” and “Kizuato.” The first theme is an upbeat electronic theme with hints of rock. Featuring Keiko as the main vocalist and a nice rave-like tempo, it really suits her voice perfectly. Wakana and Hikaru did a great job adding some gorgeous harmony sections. “sprinter” was another interesting performance. The theme itself has a definitely rock based to it, with some nice orchestral highlights. This is probably one of the better themes when it comes to the hearing all the vocalists quite clearly, whether in a supporting or active role. They really did a fantastic job on this one as well. “Kizuato” is my favorite Kalafina song and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t get to hear it as the concert went on. So, in a way, I was very glad that they ended the concert this way. This is probably due to the fact it reminds me of Xenosaga the most. It’s a nice moderately paced theme with a strong focus on guitar and strings. As with most of the performance, all three vocalists had great stage energy and the beauty of this piece was definitely brought to the forefront as they sang.

So alas, I heard my favorite song at the end of the concert, and was quite pleased. But wait, what’s this? As people were filing out, Kalafina came out on stage to perform an encore! But before that, they introduced their producer Yuki Kajiura. She talked a bit about the group and about how excited she was to be there. Then, out of nowhere, they brought out a keyboard for her and she started to play! Now, where was this during the real concert?! The two encore themes played were “Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku” and “Gloria.” Unlike the energetic closing, these two themes are much softer and simplistic in sound and while the former definitely features a much more robust soundscape in the original, the piano-only arrangement really let the singers demonstrate their vocal talents. It’s a very touching theme, but I somehow found the piano arrangement a bit more heartfelt than the original. “Gloria” was definitely a great way for Hikaru to shine. Like the original, this one was also piano only. It was a great way to end the encore as it was quite an uplifting theme.

So, in the end, the concert was very enjoyable. Although the concert could have used some live instrument performances, given the expenses, I can see why it wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately, it still sounded great and the energy onstage was fantastic. The crowd was pumped, standing up on more than one occasion, screaming like rabid fans, and for good reason! I kept myself composed, although I did want to scream hysterically at some points. It was a nice debut concert for Kalafina outside of Japan and I definitely hope they come back to the US. Perhaps, then, they’ll have some more music, and I might get a chance to see them perform live again.

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