Last June singer hitomitoi's new album "City Dive" was released on Billboard Japan Records. The album was produced by Cunimondo Takiguchi of city pops unit Ryūsenkei, with some tracks by Dorian and Kashif (aka Stringsburn). As soon as I had checked the video clip and album sampler on YouTube before the release, I knew this was going to be my summer album, and I was right! Plus, being released on Billboard's label, I assumed that a show at Billboard's Tokyo venue would be coming, and I was definitely going to that show.
Sunday September 2 was the day! hitomitoi played two shows in the same day, as goes Billboard's way. I went to the first starting at 16:30. Luckily a friend is a fan of hers, so I had company for my first time at this impressive jazz club located in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi. We had 1st floor reservations and got there early, we got a center table 2nd row from the stage!
The show had hitomitoi backed by Ryūsenkei. That would be pretty much the actual album right on stage. However the album was mostly programmed by Cunimondo, with some guitar and a few other instruments added here and there, so it must have been a big deal to recreate the songs with a full band. The back band had a keyboardist (Moog, Nord and Rhodes), bass, drums, percussion, sax/flute, guitar, plus Cunimondo on a shoulder-strapped microKORG.
The band appeared on stage and soon were recognized the first sounds of lead track "DIVE", also first on the album, and soon the singer appeared. Followed the album's 2nd song, "Galactic ni sasete" (Let me be galactic) in a slightly more upbeat version. Soon hitomitoi was showing hints of dancing once in a while.
Then was announced the first guest, Kashif (aka StringsBurn, of the Pan Pacific Playa crew), who played guitar and solos for two of the songs he arranged for the album, "Harbor Light" and "Summertime ni kuchizukete" (To kiss in summertime). Next followed the other guest, Dorian, who played some phrases live on his keyboard, and just lightly danced for the rest of "matenrō no koibito", a song he wrote and produced.
Followed "ningyo ni naritai" (I want to become a mermaid) and then Kashif was reinvited on stage for a wonderful duet on "Summer Breeze '86". Kashif has a really great voice that makes this song stand out on the album. Also this one had funny choreography where the two sometimes danced symmetrically. Awesome!
Next was waltz "Rainbow", and then two songs again featuring Kashif and Dorian, "koi wa omoi no mama" and "Glass ni ukabeta Nonchalant", the album's closing number. This completed a perfect set of all of the album's songs, in slightly shuffled order.
Set list: DIVE / Galactic ni sasete / Harbor Light (w/ Kashif) / Summertime ni kuchizukete (w/ Kashif) / matenrō no koibito (w/ Dorian) / ningyo ni naritai / Summer Breeze '86 (duet w/ Kashif) / Rainbow / koi wa omoi no mama (w/ Dorian & Kashif) / Glass ni ukabeta Nonchalant (w/ Kashif & Dorian)
There was also an encore of two songs, one of her older songs, "Weather Report", followed by a cover of Ryūsenkei. The black curtain at the back of the stage opened to reveal a 6 P.M. still light city view.
Talk during the show included a big announcement of a cover album, to be released in November part of the "Choice" series on Billboard Japan's label. This will again be produced by Cunimondo Takiguchi, so we can safely expect more of the same good city pops sounds, although this time instead of originals it will be all covers of foreign songs.
hitomitoi live schedule:
September 30 - "Beat Communist #11" w/ Nakatsuka Takeshi, SOUR, P.O.O ORCHeSTRA @ Shibuya JZ Brat
October 21 - hitomitoi "City Dive Tour" @ Yokohama Cruise
"DIVE" (from album "City Dive")