Morning Musume. ’17 Spring Concert Tour ~THE INSPIRATION!~

The final day of Morning Musume’s Spring 2017 tour was broadcast live on BT-S, and you can watch it at HelloProjectVideos at Dailymotion (in five parts), or download it in a variety of resolutions from aidoru-online.

The strong opening performance of “BRAND NEW MORNING” sets a bold  tone: Kaga and Yokoyama walk on stage to dramatic music in  white hooded robes, looking like extras in a BABYMETAL show. As their dramatic intro music climaxes, the girls throw off their robes, and the lights go down. The crowd cheers, then two spotlights illuminate Kaga and Yokoyama, now in their BNM outfits, at either side of the stage holding MM ’17 flags up high, as the opening chords of “BRAND NEW MORNING” play. The synth fanfare begins, and the crowd goes ape-shit. A video screen rises, revealing the rest of the group, and it’s fucking on, yo. It’s a strong, stirring performance of BNM featuring some of the best vocals I’ve heard from MM in ages, and the choreo is on point. The message sent is very clear: It’s a NEW ERA, BITCHES.

And it’s promptly belied by the rest of the concert.

“WE ARE BRAND NEW MORNING! Check out our two new members! The future is NOW! We’re not your Mother’s Morning Musume, we’re YOUR Morning Musume! Now kick back and dig while we do it to you in your eardrums with an eleven-minute, five-song medley of tracks that date back to before half of us were in the group, and one that was released before three of us were born!” And this theme mostly continues for two hours.

It’s a pretty cleverly arranged medley, though, featuring One•Two•Three, Souda! We’re ALIVE, Help me!!, Ren’ai Hunter, and Ren’ai Revolution 21. I am not a fan of H!P medleys, because they’re usually poorly arranged song-salads with clunky transitions, and just overall a lazy way to pack more songs into a concert. This, thankfully, is a skillfully arranged, well-crafted singular entity that happens to mix five great MM songs. It’s more e pluribus unum and less song salad.

It begins with the crowd-pleasing One•Two•Three, and after the first chorus,  Riho’s chopped Woah-oh woah-ohhh’s continue over the intro to Help Me!!, until the girls launch into… Souda! We’re ALIVE. Souda! starts over a minimal arrangement of a beat with subdued synth-chords and bass. Themes from all three songs continue throughout Souda! and, finally, into Help Me!!. The Ren’ai Hunter x Ren’ai Revolution 21 section plays out in a similar fashion. It’s incredible. It’s eleven minutes of “where the fuck has this been for lo these many years?”, and the girls all make it through no worse for wear (except for Sato – more on that later).

There are two medleys here, and honestly, they are the highlights of the concert for me. The second is more conventional, but still quite good. The transitions are well thought out for the first few songs, and there are a few cool choreo surprises, including the some tutting. Tutting! It kicks off with a new harder arrangement of HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN? that is, as the kids say, hella tight. Ayumi is the feature here, and she kills it on this. KILLS. IT. I wouldn’t mind a studio version of this. Really, everyone sounds great here, which is crazy since it’s a song that’s really easy for the girls to sound silly on. The bad part is you only get half of this fresh arrangement of an older, classic album track. The good part is, you only get half the song, so no one has to embarrass herself doing Yossie’s weird vocal… “thing” at the second music drop-out. My absolute favorite part of show, though, was “TOP!” in the second medley. The interplay of the video with the choreo for that was some really creative shit. More of this, please.

Overall, not my favorite set list ever, although it’s at least interesting. A decent number of album tracks and B-sides, and surprisingly few songs from the current post-Sayu era. I could’ve done without Morning Coffee, though.

The singing is unexpectedly good, almost universally. I feel like I’ve been saying this more frequently, so maybe it shouldn’t be unexpected anymore. Did they hire a new voice coach, or are they just working on their vocals more, because the results don’t lie: they really are a lot better than they were even a year ago. Kudo’s improvement is especially stark (just in time for graduation, woo hoo!) Kaga and Yokoyama are rough, but not hopeless, and even Haga is finally progressing. Sakura has been improving ever since I started saying that she had plateaued, lol. She sounds better than ever and, unlike Takahashi and Fujimoto, she doesn’t fade that much throughout the course of the concert. I think she’s finally turning into the singer we all hoped she would become when she joined.

Oh yeah, that video drama with Kudo, Miki and Ayumi they played during the MC is priceless. Whoever came up with that deserves a cookie. (Edit– I’m told that Haga, who narrated the drama on-stage, was responsible for this. It’s like she’s going out of her way to make me like her.)

About Sato: Her back forced her to miss a couple of songs in the middle of the concert. It was most noticeable during Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari, as the entire group sang her solo. You could tell something was wrong during the first half of the concert, though, because she really looked out of it. It took a couple of songs for her to get into it again after she returned, too, but by the end she looked fine.

FULL SETLIST:

BRAND NEW MORNING
Medley

  • One•Two•Three (Updated)
  • Souda! We’re ALIVE + Help me!! (Remix)
  • Ren’ai Hunter + Ren’ai Revolution 21 (Remix)

SONGS
Sou ja nai
Ai no Gundan
MC
Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai
Sexy Cat no Enzetsu
Tokyo to Iu Katasumi
MC
Silver no Udedokei – Fukumura Mizuki, Yokoyama Reina (with Ikuta Erina, Kaga Kaede as rappers)
Give me Love – 10th Gen, 13th Gen
Please! Jiyuu no Tobira – 11th Gen, 12th Gen, 13th Gen
Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari (’17 Ver.) (without Sato Masaki)
Loving you forever (without Sato Masaki)
MC
Morning Coffee
Medley

  • HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN? ~Nihon wa Donna Kanji Dekka?~
  • TOP!
  • Wakuteka Take a chance (Updated)
  • Ikimasshoi!
  • Moonlight night ~Tsukiyo no Ban da yo~
  • What is LOVE?

MC
Seishun Say A-HA
Kimi no Kawari wa Iyashinai
Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke
MC
Inspiration!
Encore
Jealousy Jealousy
MC
Happy Daisakusen
Bravo!

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