The DVD is from the January 27, 2008 concert at Kawaguchi Lillia. I preordered this and watched it in early May and at least once since (was watching random songs, and eventually sat down and watched the whole thing). It’s been sitting as a draft since then because I wanted to do a full report with screencaps, but couldn’t get motivated for that; I may eventually do a longer review (track by track, with pictures), but this will just be an overall impression.
I liked this well enough, though I kind of regret paying full price for it; I don’t think it’s worth that much, and it’s already showing up for close to half price on ebay. I don’t like the front cover; he looks a bit smug; the back cover has individual member pictures along with the details. The DVD came with an eight-page booklet; the covers had a picture of the group on one side and the member names on the other, and there were two-page spreads of several pictures, a group shot and the track list, and an overhead shot and the credits. The extras included member interviews and a slideshow, which was all Hotei.
The performance itself sounded decent; I didn’t notice anything off musically (which means nothing, really, since I wouldn’t notice unless it was very bad); Hotei’s voice was a little off in a couple of places, but was fine otherwise, and there were a couple of instances of slightly off-key backing vocals. Any MCs were not included, though there was a long band introduction sequence. Many of the songs were rearranged to include solos from the various members. The energy level was decent (nobody looked bored, at least); the main part didn’t show much of the audience, but they were shown more in the encore and did seem to be enjoying themselves.
The stage was fairly small, with two levels: Ju-ken (bass) — Hotei (vocal/guitar) — Takuya (guitar) in the front and Steve Eto (percussion) — Tatsuya Nakamura (drums) — Ken Morioka (keyboards) on the higher level in the back. For the acoustic parts, most of the members came down to the front of the stage.
The camera annoyed me to no end; the main concert had too many artsy camera angles and effects (random body parts (not the parts playing instruments), focus on the person behind with a blurry part of a person in front, too much love for the overhead camera; I spent too much time trying to figure out what various pieces of equipment were and why Ju-ken seemed to have a black on white setlist while everyone else had green on black). The encore was more straightforward. I have a general issue with concert DVDs and solos; I would like to see the soloist, and they weren’t always shown.
This concert was billed as “Hotei and the Wanderers”; I (correctly) expected Hotei to get the majority of the screen time, but expected the others to be shown more-or-less equally. My biases may be influencing my perceptions of camera time per member, so this might not actually mean much; I am not anal-retentive enough to go back through and time the amount each member had on-camera. I was satisfied with the amount of Ju-ken (though more is always better) and Ken Morioka (though that may be because I don’t find keyboard players that interesting visually; a fan of his might have a different opinion), but was not satisfied with the rest. I was surprised that Takuya wasn’t on screen more. Steve Eto was not shown much, which was a severe disappointment; I wasn’t familiar with him, but I like watching percussionists in general and was looking forward to there being one.
Tatsuya Nakamura seemed to have his own camera, which was surprising; it seems that in general drummers are either ignored because they are just the drummer or have an abundance of camera time because they are stationary, but this also had two other members who were mostly stationary and on either side of him who didn’t have the time on camera he did. This was extremely obvious in the two songs that were performed with a three-piece band, and especially in the one where they were all in the front; the camera time was mostly split between Hotei and Nakamura. I didn’t mind watching him; he was enthusiastic and interesting to watch (and I have fallen in love with Losalios, and never would have heard them without this), but wish his time hadn’t been at the expense of others. One thing I did notice was that most of Nakamura’s screen time came from the camera on Morioka’s side; I don’t know if there was a technical reason for that, but it might also explain the lack of Steve Eto; it also seemed that the camera on Ju-ken was mostly from that side as well (when not from the front or overhead). It doesn’t explain why the camera seemed to be on Nakamura more than Morioka, though.
Members (profiles on Hotei’s site):
Everyone except Tatsuya Nakamura provided backing vocals; Morioka had the falsetto-ish backing vocals; Eto had the bass-ish ones (surprisingly; his speaking voice wasn’t that low).
- SPARKLING GUITAR
- FUNKY PUNKY
- 日々是上々 (hibi kore joujou — English chorus is just “It’s all right”, which is a very loose translation)
- ブラックカメレオン (Black Chameleon)
- レプリカント (Replicant) — Steve Eto started off with something that made an interesting noise and sparks
- BEAUTY&THE BEAST
- SLOW MOTION
- ANGEL WALTZ — not quite the start of the acoustic set, though Eto and Nakamura are in the front; I didn’t notice until I was looking through screencaps that a lot of it was sepia-toned for some reason
- RUSSIAN ROULETTE — three piece (Hotei, Nakamura, Ju-ken), with Nakamura in the front
- PERCUSSION SOLO — Steve Eto’s voice as the instrument; the visuals were Eto overlaid with clips of the other members performing
- バンビーナ (Bambina) — the actual start of the acoustic set
- スリル (Thrill)
- BAD FEELING — back to electric, everyone in their places
- WANDERERS — this had a long instrumental break, with Ju-ken on the (storage-type) drum Eto used in a previous song (and that he and Morioka were sitting on in the acoustic parts), Tatsuya on trumpet and at the keyboards, Hotei on Nakamura’s small drum kit in the front, and Morioka with a tambourine and Ju-ken’s mike; at one point he wandered off to the side and fell coming back.
- 幸せな日々 (shiawase na hibi – English chorus is Happy Days, which is close enough)
- BOY MEETS GIRL
- C’MON EVERYBODY — there was audience participation and interaction
- DIVING WITH MY CAR — Hotei solo with acoustic guitar; you could hear the audience singing along, and they sang the chorus and provided handclaps
- カラス (KARASU) — three piece (Hotei, Nakamura, Ju-ken); this was on Soul Sessions as vs. Tatsuya Nakamura
- やるだけやっちまえ！ (yarudake yacchimae!) — beforehand, the actual band introductions with solos: Nakamura is playing drums as the rest of band returns; there is a real drum solo; Steve Eto had a pipe and the drum from before and everyone else wincing as he hit it; Ju-ken; Morioka Ken; Takuya leapt off his monitor; this was his back cover picture
- BEAT SWEET
- DEAR MY LOVE — a slow love song to end the evening (the couples in the audience seemed to enjoy it); Takuya had the solos; during the solos, they gave all the members closeups; There was a little bit of talk and hugs and handshakes and introductions (Nakamura, Takuya, Morioka, Eto, Ju-ken, staff) and bows afterwards.
- バンドメンバー全員インタビュー — band member interviews, taken at Budokan before the tour final Feb. 9; Hotei would talk for a bit, and then all of the members, then Hotei, then members, etc.
- LIVE PHOTO SLIDE SHOW — Hotei only, though there were occasional others in the background