Nomiya Maki's 30th anniversary concert

Text by Patrick Benny for Tokyo's Coolest Sound. Photos by Kasuga Miwa.

On Monday March 19, I went to Nomiya Maki's 30th anniversary concert held at O-East, coincidentally (?) almost the same place where was held Pizzicato Five's last concert 11 years ago. Back then the building was a larger venue called On Air East... time flies! Outside were a dozen large flower arrangements, and the venue's lobby was decorated with many festive paper lanterns, all adorning the name of people who collaborated with Maki.

The concert featured a full band of 8 musicians, led by Nakatsuka Takeshi on keyboards, also with musicians from Jabberloop, quasimode, Nona Reeves, Qypthone (etc.) on bass, guitar, drums, percussions, saxophone, trumpet and trombone! Screens on each side of the stage showed stylish photos with the words "Desperately Seeking Twiggy", the theme of the show. Tickets were sold out and the venue was full of fans and friends. DJing before the show was Groove Unchant. Oppositely to her "Looker" unit she's been active with last year, this show was to be mostly P5 songs!

The show started exactly at 19:00, and with the perfect song, "Tokyo wa yoru no 7ji" ("The night is still young"), warming up the audience at once! Maki wore a short pink dress that looked kind of like it was made of large feathers. She then sang "Happy Sad" and "minna waratta" ("They All Laughed"). Then Saeki Kenzō (Halmens, The Pearl Brothers) who organized the event came on stage to introduce Boogie The Machmotors, a band with which Maki toured a bit last year.

Maki had disappeared for a moment, and came back wearing a short purple dress. She sang "Motor Humming", a song she had sang chorus for with Halmens and that triggered the start of her solo career. This song also appeared on her first album "Pink no kokoro". The next song was "Twiggy Twiggy", the show's theme song, but in its original version from that same album.

Next was introduced another guest, Suzuki Keiichi (ex-Moonriders, and producer of "Pink no kokoro"). Maki sang "usagi to watashi" accompanied by his guitar only using many effects. Then it was time for a short set by Portable Rock, Maki's 80's techno-pop band. They played 3 songs: "Green Books", "Idol" and "Sweet Renaissance". That last song was recorded around 1991 but never saw the light until Maki's "30" album. This song and another one that appeared for the first time on Portable Rock's new album "Lost & Found" have lyrics written by Konishi Yasuharu. Maki explained that for her these songs are an important link between Portable Rock and Pizzicato Five.

There was a short break, again with DJ Groove Unchant, and we were in for the 2nd half of the show. Maki appeared wearing a black vinyl suit with a policeman-like hat, only her left glove was red. Songs that followed were "Triste", starting with a great sax solo, and then "Twiggy Twiggy" again but this time in a dance-y arrangement. Her hair/make-up artist Noboru for the last 15 years came on stage to talk a little and to deliver a Mondrian-pattern hat, and metamorphosing her outfit into a beautiful matching Mondrian sequin dress.

Then was introduced picopico artist Hyadain, who said he's Pizzicatomania like us in the audience. I wasn't familiar with him except for his track on "30", but he had a fun personality and a good voice too. They sang "Baby Portable Rock" using his backtrack but with the full band playing on top of it, that was great! Hyadain also got the whole audience to sing along "Arigato We Love You" (a cappella), which was a wonderful moment. Next up was Kaji Hideki, wearing his short pants and a tall hat, for "Message Song".

It was already time for the last song, "Sweet Soul Revue". At this time Maki wore a white dress with photos of her face printed all over it. The curtains then closed once, and we got to watch a Twiggy Twiggy video montage of her recitals. The audience clapped through asking for an encore.

Maki came back on stage with just guitarist Miyavi, a good-looking guy who explained that he's better known outside of Japan. Maki recalled seeing large posters of him when she went to Brazil, though she didn't know him at the time. Miyavi played "Superstar" accompanied just by drums, his unique slap style sounding very full. Great performance!

The band came back, with Miyavi still on stage, and another guest was announced, Bravo Komatsu who used to play guitar on stage with P5. They played a rocking arrangement of "Twiggy Twiggy" (again! but I'm sure no one was really tired of hearing it).

After a little break there was a second encore! The band played a live multi-layered mash-up of several P5 songs, I recognized "24 décembre", "The night is still young", "Twiggy Twiggy" and "Baby Portable Rock" in the mix. After a few minutes Maki came back on stage wearing a beautiful kimono printed with a black and white houndstooth check pattern! She announced the last song as her favorite P5 song, "Magic Carpet Ride"!

Maki walked 2 steps towards stage right, stopped and grinned, and walked small kimono steps to exit stage left That was a lovely ending to this wonderful show!

Portable Rock can be caught live on June 2 and 3 at Shibuya Club Crawl. Details will be announced soon.

Nomiya Maki also said she plans more shows in August, though further details haven't been announced yet. Watch Nomiya Maki's official news page.

Pizzicato Five "Twiggy Twiggy"

Tags: Boogie The Machmotors, Hyadain, KAJI Hideki, Miyavi, NAKATSUKA Takeshi, NOMIYA Maki, Portable Rock, SAEKI Kenzo, SUZUKI Keiichi (click for more info)

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