Kouki’s Solo Tour Final in Kobe
Following the departure of drummer Minase in September, Kouki of D=OUT embarked on his own adventure in the form of his first solo tour, making stops in Fukuoka, Tokyo, Sendai, and Nagoya before holding the final show at Kobe Mersey Beat on November 2. The initial show had sold out so quickly after its announcement that an additional afternoon performance was added. Similar to his previous solo endeavor on his birthday in 2013, Kouki put his own twist on the D=OUT songs that he had chosen for the night and also mixed in a short karaoke session to make quite the memorable show.
With D=OUT’s standard introductory “FESTA” serving to get the crowd pumped up, Kouki stepped out onto the small stage to energetic cheers, starting the show with the lively “Shangrila.” Fans dutifully clapped along and swayed to the beat as the vocalist worked the front into a frenzy, following up with a prompting for everyone to get rowdy for “Goku.” Despite the tight space, the crowd put their all into dancing from side-to-side as well as the various rounds of headbanging. These were tempered by moments of calm when Kouki wasn’t growling or drawling out the lyrics, allowing a few breathers before continuing. The energy for “Satellite TV” was a more subdued one, shown in short bursts of jumping or waving hands to the steady bass notes as the vocalist staunchly sang along.
“I’m home!” Kouki called out after a round of cheers, receiving shouts of, “Welcome home!” in return. “Thank you for coming today to my first solo tour final, it’s been a while since I’ve played here (in Kobe).” The vocalist also gave words of encouragement for everyone to do their best with the various choreography despite the limited space. “Although it’s tight, please enjoy yourselves until the end. For now, please listen.” Jazzy tunes overtook the stage as Kouki presented a special combined medley of “Myoujou Orion” and “ONE,” the vocalist’s light voice creating a calming atmosphere as fans clapped along. There was hardly a noticeable transition between the lyrics as Kouki smoothly blended the positive messages into a solid standalone composition with his crooning vocals.
Before introducing the next song, Kouki took the time to reassure fans that even though he had been on a solo tour, there were things that he still wished to do with D=OUT. Additionally, the other members had the determination to continue their activities and grow, so there need not be any worry for D=OUT. “There are some things only one person can do, as well as things that one cannot do by themselves. Please remember this.” A drummed backing introduced the yet-unreleased “Watashi no iru wa,” the melody and lyrics spinning a tale of a continuing journey signified by the lights becoming brighter as the song continued. At its conclusion, Kouki gave a whispered, “Thank you,” cueing a round of encouraging applause before he moved back to take up his acoustic guitar. Without the aid of a microphone, “Sei ni shigamitsuku” was especially moving as Kouki’s raw voice in combination with the acoustic guitar created a moving performance. Kouki even displayed his talent in a capella for a verse before polishing it off with an expressive guitar outro.
In similar fashion to his previous solo shows, Kouki cheerfully announced that it was “Karaoke time!” as he placed his guitar back on its stand. This special section of the show was particularly enjoyable for all as it gave Kouki a chance to showcase a few of his favorite songs from other artists, not all of them strictly visual kei. The first was a song Kouki proclaimed was one of his favorites growing up before transitioning to a particularly infamous VK number with a cheeky, “There are some songs that are inexplicably popular in the visual kei world. Everyone should definitely know this one as well!” Following was another popular song that was so favored by Kouki that he had no need for the lyrics monitor as he performed. Each performance carried the air of a well-versed cover with plenty of crowd interaction, as opposed to a giant karaoke room like one may expect from the section title.
As the karaoke equipment was removed, Kouki thanked his attentive crowd and sought their impressions so far, receiving cheerful affirmations that he was putting on an enjoyable show. “Hey, I can switch to Kansai-ben (Kansai area dialect), can’t I?” he asked before repeated a summary of his previous words in his native dialect, keeping it up for the following riling cries, to the amusement of the crowd. The tall vocalist continued to charm the crowd in a mischievous manner before turning back to match the front row’s energy when the festival-like intro notes of “Tachikaze yokochou” rang out. Following a moment of air guitar during the main solo, Kouki called out for the crowd to keep bringing their best as towels were twirled about. The playful atmosphere continued with the cheerful “Hikou shoujo,” upbeat melodies in combination with Kouki’s ever-present enthusiasm energizing the crowd to continue to dance and sing along.
Much like the title implies, “DANCE NUMBER” transformed the space into a club of eager dancers, responding to Kouki’s calls of the signature lines, varying from the standard “Disco Fever, yeah!” to “D=OUT Fever!” and even an impish “Kouki Fever!” thrown into the mix. Injecting some aggression until the end of the main set with “Kimon,” rapidly flashing lights highlighted the frantic pace as hair and fists flew about everywhere. In response to the heat, Kouki made a show of emptying his water bottle on himself before extending the last verse into exhausting rounds of violent headbanging that oversaw the destruction of many hairstyles, including Kouki’s ponytail extension.
For the encore, Kouki emerged after a change of outfit and promptly expressed his delight at noticing one of the few—possibly even sole—male fans in the crowd for that day. This resulted in the vocalist enthusiastically hopping into the crowd during “Entenka,” in order to experience a D=OUT live from a fan’s perspective. He did his best in singing out from the middle of the crowd as everyone danced along to the energetic beat. So energetic was it, in fact, that Kouki ended up stripping off his jacket once he clambered back onstage. “Are D=OUT lives really always that hot?” He queried jokingly. “Also, someone kept hitting me in the face with their towel, who was that?” Fortunately, it was clear that the anger he expressed was good-natured, drawing more chuckles from the attendees.
The clapping and calm intro of “Song for you” signaled a moment for everyone to cool down as Kouki steadily crooned into his microphone, swaying along to the beat. However, the serenity of the song was lost at times as the vocalist pulled a number of goofy faces while strolling about the small stage. However, he invited his fans to add their voices to the remainder of the track, grinning as the voices mixed harmoniously. “Strawberry” sent energy rocketing skywards once more as Kouki switched to a choppy, almost rap style of singing, gesturing for the crowd to get pumped up once more. A brief lull in pace served as a moment of reflection before the stage once more became lost in rapidly flashing lights.
Despite the lack of handheld fans customarily present for the song, the audience followed the corresponding choreography for “MUSIC NIPPON” to the best of their ability, clapping along and jumping as Kouki prompted them to. As with many of the songs performed earlier, this one also had set periods of headbanging during the verses, with Kouki adding in deep growls that led into the rapid and catchy chorus.
“The tour has come to the end. I’ve been able to create many good memories, so I am truly grateful. Thank you so much!” Kouki then took the time to share his thoughts of D=OUT’s future and plans of future concerts, putting emphasis on the immense amounts of planning the members were involved in. “The four of us as D=OUT are going to keep putting all of our power into our activities, so everyone please definitely continue supporting us.” Turning the talk to their previous tour final that marked the departure of Minase, Kouki shared information of the DVD that was to be released, as well as some of his memories of his bandmate. “Actually, let’s check on Minase now, shall we? I guess I could give him a call now. He might be a bit busy, and he has his own pace, but we’ll see what happens.” Kouki then gestured for his phone to be brought to the stage. With a few tweaks and arrangement of the microphone, the crowd was able to hear the exchange as Minase picked up, to everyone’s surprise and delight. After some playful banter between the two, Kouki invited the former drummer to join the show, however due to circumstances such as location and time, Minase had to express his regrets of being unable to make it but ended the conversation with wishing everyone well and hoping for their continued fun.
The unique performance ended with a favorite in “Hana Saka Beauty.” Insisting that all attendees’ voices be heard had everyone singing along heartily. Kouki turned the extra microphone to the audience as he sang to further their involvement. The guitar was brought out for the last verse, rounding out the night with rounds of energetic strums and claps before the vocalist expressed his heartfelt gratitude once more, departing the stage with a grin after commemorative group photos were taken.
As an additional show of thanks, members of the fan club were invited to stay for a special live section during which they were able to record audio using their phones to take away as additional memorabilia. In the more casual and intimate setting, Kouki performed two specially written songs accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, sharing a few stories in between for good measure. As the session finished, the crowd gave a wholehearted round of applause before filing out with excited grins in anticipation for whatever else Kouki and the rest of D=OUT might have in store for them in the coming months.
Many may have the impression that vocalists have it easy in creating a solo act, but in fact, it can be a difficult task for those who lack something—be it solitary stage presence or creativity in song creation. The vocalist of D=OUT has nothing to worry about as he proved he has the charisma and enthusiasm to fill the various livehouses he visited on his short journey, leaving his mark on the different cities. With the announcement of an upcoming full solo project under the stage name Hanazakura Kouki and a single coming out in February, fans have much to look forward to in 2015 from both D=OUT and from Kouki himself.
- Satellite TV
- Myoujou Orion-ONE (JAZZ medley)
- Watashi no iru wa
- Sei ni shigamitsuku
- Karaoke session song #1
- Karaoke session song #2
- Karaoke session song #3
- Tachikaze yokochou
- Hikou shoujo
- DANCE NUMBER
- Song for you
- MUSIC NIPPON
- Hana Saka Beauty
There are 33 photos in this visual kei exclusive.