Saturday, February 06, 2016

Singapore Fans Welcome Eir Aoi Home with Intimate Concert


Ardent fans staged a warm homecoming for Eir Aoi earlier last month as she returned to Singapore for her "ROCK THE WORLD" 2015 world tour concert after more than a year's absence.

The show was very much theirs as it was hers, with the vivacious crowd heavily responsible for igniting the atmosphere. Armed with glowing lightsticks, they illuminated The Coliseum at Resorts World Sentosa in a sea of blue, the Japanese singer's characteristic colour throughout the one hour and forty minutes.

Resounding with cheers and screams throughout, the air was one of euphoria, with impassioned fans unable to contain their excitement, having had endured a long and arduous wait since last October, when the concert had been postponed due to the haze.

As soon as she appeared on the stage at the end of "Awakening", the intro track to her latest album, "D'AZUR", the audience surged with energy and broke out into fervid screams and cheers. Signalling the start of their long-awaited reunion, it set the atmosphere for the next 18 songs.

Wasting no time, she dived into "INNOCENCE", a powerful number that evoked many memories. The opening for worldwide phenomenon Sword Art Online was how the many, mostly anime fans in their teens or twenties in the audience had come to discover her, one of her earliest songs which charted her rise to prominence.

Magnificent in black, she sported a pair of black mini shorts and matching black leather boots, her usual casual attire. A striking presence on stage, she was constantly bolting from left to right and interacting with the audience, jumping along and even headbanging a little at times.

Taking a breather to wish everyone a happy new year, she tore through the trio of "Cynthia no Hikari", "Senkou Zenya" and "AURORA" next, all fast, invigorating songs which lent further energy to the impassioned crowd as they continued their inexorable climb towards fever pitch.

In addition to anisongs (anime songs), she also took to singing other tracks from the three albums and eleven singles to her name, "HaNaZaKaRi", "KASUMI" and "Kuroiuta". The songs which ranged in tempo and sound and demonstrated her wide vocal range and versatile voice.

In fact, the highlight of the night was unquestionably her soul-stirring rendition of "Kuroiuta", the lesser-known second track on her hit anisong single "Sirius". Singing her heart out with only white lights cast on her, it was a rare and sublime display of the oft-lively singer's softer and warmer side.

Even the effervescent concertgoers, suspending their zealous cheers, paused to relish the moment. Waving their lightsticks slowly and gently, they basked in her soothing and comforting vocals, letting the spotlight fall on her solely.

Halfway through the concert, during the electrifying electronic-heavy "Gladius", Eir exited the stage for a quick costume change as compatriot DJ Atsushi took the reins. "Singapore, let me see your hands up in the air! Are you ready to make some noise?" he shouted as he served up a galvanising live remix of the track.

If there was a gripe to be had, the absence of a live band might have been the only one. Having brought her entourage of talented musicians down for Anime Festival Asia 2014, some among the crowd were no doubt hopeful for a return, all the more so with this being her first full solo concert.

Looking fresh in a blue denim jacket and ripped mini denim skirt after the interlude, she kicked off the second half with newer singles "Genesis" and "Niji no Oto", theme songs from popular mecha anime "Aldnoah.Zero" anime and the "Extra Edition" special of Sword Art Online.

Roaring applause from the crowd followed as she performed another non-anime song, her latest single, "Shoegazer". Without a doubt, it was a song that many had been looking forward to hearing all night, judging from their fervour.

Swift and energetic with powerful electric guitar sounds, the song was decidedly different from most songs in the singer's repertoire. Produced by lead guitarist Hisashi of Japanese rock band GLAY, its refreshing sound complemented the songstress' dynamic voice well.

If the concert had proceeded as initially scheduled last year, fans would have missed the amazing performance as the song had only been released after the original date. In a way, the decision to postpone the concert bore certain positives such as that.

Saving the best for the last, the singer launched into a series of familiar hits next, "Sanbika" and "Sirius" from anime Kill la Kill and "Lapis Lazuli" from new anime Arslan Senki. Evidently fan favourites, the rousing high-energy songs reinvigorated the audience and had everyone swinging their lightsticks again.

Incredible as it was, she may have been just one woman but she was unstoppable. With her commanding stage presence, she was natural at capturing everyone's attention and delivering breathtaking performance after performance all by herself.

Capping the night, she topped it off with the explosive "Ignite", the RIAJ Gold-certified opening theme of Sword Art Online II. It was at this moment that crowd soared to fever pitch, with everyone's energy at the maximum, voices at the loudest, filled with glowing orange and blue lightsticks.

"I Love Singapore. Bye bye!" she greeted goodbye as she walked off the stage at the end of the song.

No sooner had she walked off did she return for the encore, a common fixture of many Japanese concerts recognisable to seasoned fans. Firing up the audience with the Singapore flag draped over her shoulder, she encouraged everyone to swing a towel in their hands as she started on "Cobalt Sky", her second single, a throwback to her early days as a singer.

Coming full circle, she rounded off the night with debut single "MEMORIA". Unlike the atmosphere at her "last" song, there was no cheering, rocking or wildness. It was a showcase of her vocal prowess, what made her what she is today.

Looking as if she was fighting to hold back tears at time, she managed to power through the final song as the appreciative audience watched in awe. Those tears never saw the light of the day, at least not in front of her supporters.

It was a reunion that both sides had been yearning for a long time. On that fateful night, Eir Aoi gave her all and her fans gave back in return. Ten months may pass, or another year, before their next meeting again, but they would cherish the unforgettable evening they had until their next encounter.

Photos by Sozo Pte Ltd

Eir Aoi World Tour 2015 – ROCK THE WORLD! – IN SINGAPORE Setlist
1. Awakening
3. Cynthia no Hikari
4. Senkou Zenya
6. HaNaZaKaRi
8. Kuroiuta
9. Gladius
10. Genesis
11. Niji no Oto
12. Shoegazer
13. Sanbika
14. Sirius
15. Lapis Lazuli
16. Ignite
17. Cobalt Sky