Thinking back on it now, it was atAkasaka BLITZ where HEAVENESE had the first show of 2014 (on February 25). The day before that concert, they gave an offering-to-God performance at Nogi Shrine, which is located near the venue. They also hosted HEAVENESE BRIDGE in a reception hall on the grounds of Nogi Shrine.
Two days prior to this Akasaka BLITZ performance, we took part in a panel discussion in Shizuoka.
The combination of music and a spoken message has become their distinct trait.
The day of the concert was beautiful and clear, yet quite cold with snow in the forecast for the Kanto region (although we didn't receive any in Tokyo).
We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of you who came despite your busy schedules at the end of the year.
Opening performance always starts with a narrated video clip.
This video illustrates the mystery of the spectacular event in history when the ancient Semites immigrated to Ancient Japan through the Silk Road. Following the narration, there was an imposing treasurebox descending from the sky. When the box was opened various colors of light burst forth. Then a scroll on which was recorded the ancient mystery floated up in the air and exploded, setting off this spectacular history entertainment show.
The setting of the show is that HEAVENESE would be a "storyteller" who would resolve the mystery of the Japanese spirit which has been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.
Up until this point they had done their normal opening sequence; however, this time, a new element was added.
From the left side of the stage HIDETOMO, the choreographer and the leader of our dance team"Araifumi", entered gracefully and from the right side of the stage HIROKO, HIDETOMO's lead student,walked in slowly and quietly. As HIDETOMO approached the center of the stage, he began gracefully dancing with the Japanese flag. Those of you who had come to our performance at the Tokyo International Forum two years ago might have recognized this scene. Yes, HIDETOMO was back again, dancing the sacred dance as AMATERASU-OKAMI who has been a guide for our nation.
It was here; our last performance of 2014 was about to begin.
The ninja acrobat team is lead by Tsukasa Kadota who delighted the audience with his stunning samurai swordsmanship, which perfectly complies with the samurai code.
Ninjas and samurai are often connected with war and death when in facta samurai would give up his own life for the sake of peace. Both ninjas and samurai were highly active behind the scenes to bring peace to the nation during last half of the 19th century. This element was expressed beautifully through the opening act,"Code of the Samurai".
Had the concert reached its climax already?
Under the watchful eye of the ninjas, the band members emerged from a huge treasure box and appeared on the stage wrapped in light. This was the same special effect produced at Roppongi Blue Theater in July, 2014. In the conjunction with the opening, the same imposing box shown in the video now appeared on the stage from which the vocalists emerged. What's this box have to do with anything? You'll find out the answer later.
Their definitive opening number, "ALL OF ME", was replaced with, "GET UP". "GET UP" is more exotic, funky and aggressive than "ALL OF ME". It starts with the dual shamisens giving it a Japanese feel. This time the guest rapper Sr. Gain was featured.
During the Japan tour, they played 3 shows in 4 days. Day 4 found them in Akasaka for the final performance of this leg of the tour. There are no more blind spots for them since they spent two weeks together in Israel the previous month.
A swelling of anticipation filled the venue that this would be the pinnacle performance of the year.
Moreover, they had Mr. Ogasawara from Team Labo, who directed the lighting through his comprehensive understanding of their production. Making full use of the powerful effects of light and sound, they captured Akasaka, like a bloodless coup of Oedo-Tokyo.
"Mighty Wind" has a rather extraneous sound for us since it is J-pop, but the theme of this song is about a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine, which is an age-old Japanese tradition.
The audience danced to the music as they fed on pictures of Ise Shrine and the lyrics that appeared on a large screen. There was unified spirit in the audience as if everyone was making a pilgrimage to Ise together.
This is a song about the strength and beauty of a Japanese woman who played an active role at the end of the Edo Era. While Marre was talking, all the female band members appeared on stage in new costumes. Without the dance unit"Araifumi", this performance of the song would not be what it is. The choreographer and leader of this dance group, HIDETOMO, has been striving for excellence in expressing the beauty of Japanese people through the combination of Japanese and Western style dance. Their partnership with HIDETOMO is indeed an indispensable addition to their performance.
HIDETOMO's lead student, HIROKO, supervised and choreographed this song, illuminating its charm.
The combination of interweaving lights glowing on folding screens, costumes anda specially-produced-video production enhancedthis glamorous performance whereelegance, grace and power were found. This song was the highlight of the first half of the concert.
Their two shamisen players emerged out of the atmosphere that"Rendezvous" had created and bathed the audience in the powerful sound of the Tsugaru shamisen. Dueling shamisens, the description acquired during the U.S. tour and produced by HIDETOMO, exploded into action. Their performance is being refined with each passing concert.
This was their defining song of 2014. It immerses the listener in the universal mystery and wonder of creation almost as if being lost in an imaginary world. One by one, each vocalist left the stage to the beat of the taiko and drums were replaced by two taiko players who took over the stage. The taiko's powerful sound expressed the passing of time.
The stage went black and the scene changed as the taiko continued to resound. Six ninjascommanded the small stage as they tirelessly hurled themselves about. This ninja show was done by the team "TADOTA" which was formed because of HEAVENESE. They illustrate the realm of Japanese spirit in movement with stealth and energy in which one false move could lead to disaster.
3N1 was created by our primary taiko player, Makoto.
Other than Makoto and Lue, the band members are not professional taiko players, yet for this song took hold of the taiko sticks and beat the taikos with all our might and soul. HEAVENESE is not a taiko group, but rumor has it that we could introduce themselves as an official taiko group. Perhaps...?
Could this have been their best comedy show yet?
During the Edo era, the literacy rate in Japan was the highest in the world. This is because Terakoya schools were all across the country. In this section, they introduced this Terakoya school culture through comedy. This is the sixth installment in this series.
The theme this time was magic.
As usual, the teacher walked into the classroom filled with misbehaving students. The teacher said, "We will study magic today. We have a special teacher from the U.S., Mr. Naka Goemon."
The magician, Mr. Naka, came out and performed magic at a gorgeous table.
One of the "students", Ryu (vocalist), said, "Let me see them" and abruptly took Mr. Naka's props, yet failed to discover the secret of the trick.
Following that, Iddi (bass) and Naoya (sax), tried to do magic which got a chuckle out of the audience along with applause.
Marre and Horiko (vocalist) joined them and did more magic by playing catch with light.
Perhaps this might open up a whole new avenue that we can explore.
Mr. Naka, a professional magician, levitated the table, startling the astonished audience. The ornery students gave him a big hand.
"Wait a minute! I can do that" said the class' teacher. He was about to do an over-the-top illusion and... it was great, but this is the end of the details we will share with you at this time.
We'll let you in on the rest of show some other time.
The magician is Tatsuya Naka. He comes to KBC regularly for HEAVENESE BRIDGE and is a wonderful supporter who understands our mission. By the way, the famous comedian, Magi Shinji's big ear was created by Mr. Naka.
During their U.S. tour, this song, sung by Kumiko, was highly acclaimed.
This well known song has been sung by many people across the globe, yet Kumiko, small in size sings it with unbelievable strength,unlike other Japanese singers. It was greatly praised, especially by African Americans.
We will never forget the excitement of the audience in Harlem, New York.
Moreover, embassy dignitaries from African counties also praised Kumiko, and said " Kumiko sings like an African."
They have unexpectedly developed a relationship with Israeli super star, Idan Raichel.
Idan's song, Mi'Ma'amakim which is extremely popular in Israel, integrates his heart for peace. Marre shared his experience in Israel and told the audience about the preciousness of peace. Israeli people could experience a terrorist attack at anytime. Marre's message for peace should be handed down from generation to generation. This is the very message they want to share with you after their experience in Israel. They have been portraying the integration of Japan and the West through their performances. This was a memorable moment since the Middle Eastern influence has now been added to their music.
Years after, Marre's song "Together" came back to life. As a youth, Marre wrote this song to express his determination and will for the future. Now, it has been reworked with new lyrics and music describing his passion for the nation as a grown man. This song has the same message that Marre has been advocating through HEAVENESE and HEAVENESE BRIDGE. This is in other words, "Together Chapter 2".
The founder and producer of HEAVENESE, Andrea Counch, passed away on January 8 this year.
This song produced by Andrea has an established reputation and one of their defining songs. It is a great combination of the essence of Japanese traditional music and Contemporary Gospel.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tokyo MX TV, which broadcasts in the Tokyo metropolitan area, supported this concert."The Place Before I Was Born" is their signature song and has been been featured onTokyo MX TV where it has becomea notable song.
The audience rose to their feet and stated singing "Anatani Kaerou (Return to You)" as had happened in Shizuoka just two days before. The chorus of this song has a special power to unify the audience in song.
Even if their band lineup changes, the heart and message will never change. Looking back over the history of HEAVENESE, they currently have the best combination of members who are focused on effective teamwork as paramont to success in creating a harmonious performance of Japanese spirited entertainment.
Shiela E. once said, "Your music is good because of your lifestyle."
As long as they don't forget this, no matter how big the venues become, they will never loose the radiance of their performance.
In the year 2014, best-yet live performance has been completed. 41 foreign dignitaries from 10 countries came to join us this time and no one left early.Once again, we express our heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tokyo MX TV, and all those who helped make this show possible.
It seemed to be the end, yet...
In responds to the people's cheers and applause at the curtain call, they slowly walked up the stairs in the center of the stage. Behind them was the box from the opening act. They were going back into the box.
The same box appeared on the screen and disappeared into outer space. In this box, it seems like the mystery of the message of HEAVENESE is hidden to be revealed later.
This ending was a Spielberg classproduction.
How was this unprecedented entertainment show unlike any movie, musical, or other live performance you have ever seen?
With this momentum we will descend upon the Kansai region in January, 2015.