In response to the success of the musical Iyaounashi Ni earlier in 2015, Only Love Hurts (Formerly: Omokage Lucky Hole, AKA O.L.H.) held their first–and only–full-fledged concert of 2015 on June 27th. Titled O.L.H. plays Iyaounashi Ni, the group put on live performances of nearly all of the songs used in the musical.
But first, the opening act. O.L.H. shows typically open with a warm-up musical act, but this time proved to be quite different, with hilarious results. As the stage lit up, a young woman in completely normal clothing appeared in front of the audience. Aside from the fact that she was called Nakamura Ai, I had not read much about her prior to the show. I was immediately skeptical of her routine as she opened up with a series of self-depreciating jokes about how she’s not well known–things along the lines of, “Thanks for being nice and clapping!” But as her routine progressed, her genius began to come forth. The thing is, she’s not really an idol or anything–she’s just a weird standup comedian. She also happens to be a DJ on Japan’s BAYFM radio station–a frequency near and dear to my heart which used to lull me to sleep with its setlist of nostalgic tunes in the early days of my time in Japan. But I digress.
As her routine got into full speed, she started to claim that she was a magical girl, which lead to her shooting imaginary beams from her breasts and crotch, all while shouting onomatopoeia that translated to “squirrrrt, squirrrrrrrrrrrrt.” Transitioning to a set of sarcastic celebrity impressions, her act would climax with some very special magic.
The first part of the magic act was based around a simple disappearing-handkerchief routine, but each time–without any prompt from the audience–she would exclaim, “What do you mean it didn’t actually disappear? You say I’m hiding it in my (article of clothing)? Do I have take off my (article of clothing) to prove it to you?” She would continue to do this until she was down to her undies, where she would strip off her panties to reveal… another pair of panties–this time loud and pink.
She moved onto card tricks for the second half of the magic act with the band’s shy and nerdy guitarist Tecchan while maintaining the rich stream of innuendo. Bubbling with nervous laughs, Tecchan was forced to recite magic chants mere syllables off from Japanese vulgarities. When he mispronounced one word, Nakamura commanded him to say it again properly. She ended up in only her undies once again, with Tecchan nervously pulling his selected card out from her panties to close off the act.
Following Nakamura’s 15-minute opening act, O.L.H. took to the stage. The show being O.L.H. plays Iyaounashi Ni, the group went through a bulk of the songs featured in the musical with a few exceptions. For a huge fanboy like me, what this meant was that the band played a number of songs they hadn’t performed at all in recent years–songs I had not seen live before.
Among these was Hitorigurashi no Hostess ga Hajimete Shinbun wo Totta, one of the band’s tunes dating back to when they first formed–it’s on their first indie CD release, Melo. The song has a heavy R&B guitar and bass backing that sets an appropriately skeezy tone, mixed with a smokey trumpet to solidify the flavor. Tecchan’s guitar would come in with spooky riffs at just the right times, and took the lead mid-way with a quiet and poignant solo, followed by a smokey trumpet section by Ozawa to bring the song back to its initial grime.
Another treat was a trombone-driven rendition of Annani Hantai Shiteta Otousan ni Beer wo Tsugarete. Sasuke’s hot skills took center stage, with the trombone’s airy yet assertive tones giving the song both new gravity and despair. aCky unfortunately had another one of his old man moments, singing a later verse too early–a realization made clear to everyone with a resounding “AH!” exclaimed on his part. Don’t worry aCky, that’s what we all like about you.
Other rare songs included Omisoshiru Attamete Nomina Ne and Oranda Hanayome. The former was a straightforward performance of what is a slow-moving ballad, but the latter proved to be a fresh take on what originally appeared on the Ongaku Girai album back in 1999. With ska-accented horns and a funky beat, the band breathed new air into a song about a man and his dutch wife.
There wasn’t much opportunity for MCing inside of the rather dense setlist–which still didn’t cover the full breadth of the musical–but aCky made the absolute most of the limited time, proving once again the true danger of the notorious O.L.H. MC.
He started by taking a keen interest in the types of people present, “Usually we only have subcultural pieces of crap attending these shows, but look at these guys–there are normal people here today! This is a high-class affair, guys.” However, to follow up, he offered the following rough bit of truth, “By the way, Furuta Arata and Koizumi Kyoko (famous actors who appeared in Iyaounashi Ni) won’t be here today, so I suggest you leave now to save time. Most of you will probably leave when you see what we’re actually all about anyway.” He went on to recount a tale of one Iyaounashi Ni performance that pushed out a normal theatergoer before it even started. “In one performance someone just came because they liked the cast, but when they heard our songs coming through the speakers before the show, they just up and left.” Between all the talking and singing, old man aCky was quite visibly tried as the concert reached its conclusion.
While this report is a half a year late, it is somewhat apropos that I use it to kick off 2016. With the exception of their free concert at Tower Records in early 2015, this was the band’s only real concert of last year. Their site remains without updates since, and their Twitter has been silent. It seems as if they have gone back into their ritual hiding, which could mean there’s something new on the horizon, or they’re just stuck for band members, again. Either way, while there may well be nothing in the pot, I eagerly look forward to whatever they may be cooking.