TM Revolution. Home Made Kazouku. Chiaki Ishikawa. Yoko Kanno. Each one of those artists could headline a convention in and of themselves, and this past summer Otakon featured all of them. Saturday’s headlining concert at the Baltimore Arena had Home Made Kazoku and TM Revolution doing full sets, while Sunday saw Chiaki Ishikawa and Yoko Kano doing solo performances in one of the main halls. Of the two shows Saturday’s was certainly louder and heavier on the spectacle as both acts brought a full-size, arena-filling performance, but the Sunday performance was no slouch either – how can you beat having Yoko Kanno doing a piano recital for you?
Due to inevitable scheduling conflicts I made it to Home Made Kazoku’s concert towards the end, but what I saw was a very high-energy performance. I managed to catch HOME SWEET HOME, Kimigaitakara, and Thank You!!. They seemed very very happy to be in Baltimore for Otakon and said they would be returning soon. After a brief break to reset the stage, TM Revolution came out at 5:30 PM on the dot and laid down a pretty rocking set. The stage show was very impressive as well.
TM Revolution switched between Japanese and English for his banter between songs and seemed very enthused to have come back to Otakon 10 years after his first appearance here. His backing band was very good and he was in excellent voice for the whole set, while several of his songs got some good sing-alongs going from the audience. After the first ten songs there was a brief break before he came back for a 2-song encore, with Home Made Kazoku joining in on the 2nd song, “Tomorrow Meets Resistance”.
This was the full TM Revolution set list:
- 1. Preserved Roses
- 2. FLAGS
- 3. Zips
- 4. Invoke
- 5. Save The One, Save the All
- 6. resonance
- 7. Naked arms
- 8. SWORD SUMMIT
- 9. ignited
- 10. HEART OF SWORD ~YOAKEMAE~
- Encore 1 – The party must go on
- Encore 2 – Tomorrow Meets Resistance (with HOME MADE KAZOKU)
Sunday’s show was quite a bit more intimate, or at least as intimate as one can be in a convention center hall. Compared to the Arena it certainly was smaller, and much more fitting to a solo vocalist and one person on a piano. Chiaki Ishikawa put on a very nice if somewhat short 4 song set, mostly music used as opening theme songs in anime, along with her keyboardist. Following her was, of course, the incomparable Yoko Kanno. Miss Kanno knew her audience quite well, starting off with Tank! from Cowboy Bebop before rolling through a sixteen song set. Among the highlights were several songs from the Kids on the Slope soundtrack, including Some Day My Prince Will Come and Appolon Blue as well as The Real Folk Blues and a reprise of Tank! at the very end of the concert. She also threw in a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner during one of the encores.
For the first part of the set it was just Miss Kanno and her rabbit ears (yes, you read that right) at her piano, but for the second half of the concert she stepped into the shadows for a little as she prepared the piano to be used as a kind of screen for video projections along with a larger screen on the stage behind the instrument. It made for a very unusual but quite stunning presentation in conjunction with her incomparable song book. At one point, one of the video projections made her piano look like a very long dog for one song. I’m not really sure why, but I suppose “why not?” is an equally good answer. The audience also joined in as best as one can during a piano concert, adding some extra emotion to several of the songs. Hopefully this will not be the last time we see Yoko Kanno live in America, as I would go see this show again in a heartbeat.
Yoko Kanno also had a message for everyone at the show.
“Thank you for not leaving me by myself on the stage. I was very happy we could make music together. To the people who were waiting for me, to the people who gave me this opportunity, to everyone I met through ‘piano me’, Thank you! – YOKO KANNO”
The full set list for Chiaki Ishikawa:
- 01. TW
- 02. Uninstall
- 03. Gyakko
- 04. Fukanzen Nenshow
The full set list for Yoko Kanno:
- Nomad Soul
- Innocent Green
- Resonance of the earth
- Gravity ～Baltimore special medley
- Apollon Blue
- Power of the Light
- Someday My Prince Will Come
- The Real Folk Blues
- Wo Qui Non Coin
- The Star Spangled Banner
- Tank! (reprise)