Thursday, 20 January 2011

Super Great! Welcome To The Cheap Seats

I saw this on a truck ages ago but I didn't have enough time to stop and take a snap. While the guy was unaware sleeping behind the wheel, I stealthily moseyed up with my iPhone and took a quick one. Yay!

Apt to this title, I was feeling "super great" when on Monday I snapped up cheap tickets to both Sting's "Symphonicity" (17th Jan), and Mary J. Blige's "Music Saved My Life" (20th Jan) tour.

When Sting came to Japan last with the reformed Police, I was kicking myself for missing out on what would've likely been a last chance event. I've never seen him before live, and with an orchestra my interest was more than piqued.

The tickets were listed at 12,000 yen. I thought the orchestra was an interesting gimmick. Sting's material suits an orchestra quite well, particularly "Russians" and "Fields of Gold". The rockier songs made the orchestra seem a little redundant though. While the mix was extremely clear, I'm sure he could do a concert like this with keyboards filling out the sound perfectly well.

His singing was top notch. When singers that have been around as long as he has, you always wonder if they've lost the magic. Sting's still got it. His backing singer on the other hand, didn't quite "wow" me. She sang good enough, but her movements seemed a little overdramatic for me. Speaking of drama, did we REALLY need to have couple dancing for "When We Dance"? OK, I get it. Where's the cheese?

The guitarist pulled some great tone from his Les Pauls. Listening to the recordings I never suspected they were Gibsons.

Our seats were practically right at the back of the (legendary) Budokan (actually 2nd last seat). I shouldn't have expected that much for the price I paid. At times I looked at the stage and thought, "Is it really him down there?" He did an almost 3 hour set, so you can't say it wasn't worth it. Definitely a Symphonicity show to catch.
I have to say that before I bought the ticket, I wasn't a big fan of Mary J. Blige. In fact most R'n'B leaves me quite a bit "meh" with its sameness. Listening to her setlist before we went didn't change my mind on this. Her most recognisable classic song is "Family Affair", which undoubtably brought the house down.

Tonight she owned this crowd. Ms. Blige definitely knows how to work the room. If there wasn't a person moving, that person would not have a pulse. There was some serious booty shaking going on. Oh, and I loved her "lightsaber" mic stand. Very cool!

Unlike someone other R'n'B "acts", the tight backing band weren't hidden, and the backing dancers weren't onstage outstaying their welcome either.

I didn't get the chance to see Whitney Houston, but from what I've heard of her lacklustre performance, Mary J. has the well-deserved Queen's crown of R'n'B. She did short versions of a lot of the songs but her set was close to two hours, so I guess she had to do that to fit as much of her repertoire in!

The JCB Hall is a smaller room than the Budokan so our seats were much closer to the stage making it a much more satisfying experience. I didn't like how we were "obliged" (meaning "HAD TO") buy a 500 yen drink on entry. What's up with that? We didn't have to do that when we saw John Mayer in the same venue.

Check her out, even if you aren't a fan. This is a great show.