Only Love Hurts (ex-Omokage Lucky Hole) made their first appearance of 2015 in a very understated fashion. After their big show in October, the band came out of hiding with low-key acoustic show in the middle of Shinjuku’s Tower Records.
The stage was tiny, and surrounded by loud displays for more popular acts like Perfume (I can dig it) and Sekai no Owari (This, not so much). I arrived about 20 minutes early, and the immediate area was already bustling with fans, with roughly 70 people in total gathering in the end. A man with slicked back hair and a nice suit–looking as if he walked straight out of the 1950s–appeared next to the stage to announce the momentary commencement of the show. The selections from ~Greatest Hits~ that had been playing in the background faded, and the band made their appearance. Being an acoustic concert in a small space, the band was at half-capacity with only six members–keyboard, Cajón, acoustic guitar, sax, chorus, and aCky.
aCky stepped upon the stage backed by the tango riff from Senaka Moyou, and with a “let’s go!” the band immediately launched into the set which was composed of Pachinko, Onaji Tokoro De, Compass, Beer, and Koushien.
I had initially set my expectations low for a free OLH show with the band at half-strength, but they did a stunning job of modifying their compositions for the format, resulting in really interesting takes on their well-known tunes. The inclusion of the keyboard and sax helped the songs retain their swagger, and matched against the Cajón and guitar, the whole set had a slight Bossa Nova twist to it.
Songs with more subdued compositions–Onaji Tokoro De, Compass, Beer–fared very well in the acoustic format. The low-key backing allowed for the vocals to stand out, carrying the songs’ drama in a fresh way. Okamotsu’s sax played a big role in the show, more or less filling in for what is typically an entire horn section. She also performed during all the instrumental breaks, once again adding a new–at times Bossa Nova-esque–flavor the songs. Fast songs like Pachinko and Koushien worked fine matched to the acoustic backing, but without the band’s full compliment, they lacked their edge.
The band made the most of the venue, playing off of it during songs and MC sections. During the morbid Pachinko, aCky would chime in after particularly grizzly lyrics with, “THIS IS LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, PEOPLE!” He would then point upwards to non-existent balcony seats and say, “C’mon, people in the balcony!” He greeted the audience with, “good afternoon, we’re Sekai no Owari,” mocking the displays for the band of the same name surrounding the stage.
During the call and response routine, aCky berated the audience for not cheering loud enough, “There’s no way the Oshmans downstairs can hear you!” Later on, aCky made everyone say “moral harassment”–Japanese-English that means “verbal abuse”–and referenced Lupin’s voice actor, in light of reports of Kurita Kanichi not being very nice to his wife. Acknowledging that they were performing in a public place in the middle of the day, the band made attempts–at times hilariously obvious–to keep the routines clean. During one performance, aCky made a reference to “grass,” but would later on go on say, “you know, like grass in the park or something.” Sharp pokes were also made at the audience, “Thank you all for being here during another busy end to the financial year–but of course none of you have anything to do with that since you’re here today, right?” And of course, the band made reference to the incessant inquires about their new name, “Only Love Hurts–people usually ask us why we changed the name–and we’re sick of hearing it, please stop.”
The show then closed as it opened–with the tango riff from Senaka Moyou–and the event transitioned to an autograph session. I got to meet face to face with aCky for the first time in a while, and he had this to say to me, “You know that Analog Housou thing you write? Keep doing that! Take us global, man!”
Well I try, albeit always two or three months late.
And on that note, the band has another concert–this time with the full compliment of members–at the end of this month, so you can look forward to a review of that some time in August or September.