Morancolic, Soan Birthday Bash!

Live Report

by Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted June 30, 2011

Moran are certainly no newcomers to the VK scene, but in spite of unfortunate circumstances that forced a change in the band’s line-up, they’ve come out on top. The recent Moran is spunky, sweet, sexy, smooth, and ready to take on the wider world audience.

Attending drummer Soan’s Moracholic Birthday celebration, ROKKYUU was impressed by the line-up of Boogieman, Hana Shounen Baddies, (v)Neu, and Duel Jewel who gathered for the festivities. Of course, the headliner of the evening was none other than Moran with a passionate performance.

Cheers accompanied the birthday boy, Soan, to his drum kit, continuing to greet support bassist Shingo and guitarist Sizna who, despite being the newest member of the band, has easily settled into the hearts of Moran’s long-established fans. The three musicians jammed together, setting the atmosphere with some ambient sounds before jazzing it up. Vocalist Hitomi zipped onstage with impeccable timing to add his smoky voice to the brief mix of “Onaji yami no naka de” which he wrapped up with a yell. “I want to join music, darkness and everything together with words,” he stated, turning the originally wordless tune of “Manicure” into a physical story long before the lyrics came in sweet and gentle. The beautiful melody was a fitting start to the set, the vocalist’s smooth, gentle vocal style swiftly growing harsh with the story’s demand. As he sang, highlighted in a spotlight, Soan’s dramatic slashes could be seen in the shadow behind, creating a powerful image. Despite the melancholy tune, Sizna’s energy was irresistible, the guitarist whirling with vigorous expressions to express the feeling he poured into the music.

“Breakfast on Monday” couldn’t have contrasted the opening number any more drastically with its groovy, exciting music. While Sizna swung from side to side with his guitar, Hitomi yelled a “Three two one, jump!” and began dancing around with his mic stand for lack of a cane and top hat. The trippy number was full of giant, toothy grins from the guitarist which seemed to infect the other members, even Soan dipping his head in synchronization with the side-stepping members through the instrumental. Sizna then kicked off “Kekkan no Detail” with a swingin’ guitar solo. The recent number, while entertaining on CD, turned out to be even more entertaining live. Even the usually morose Hitomi couldn’t keep a natural smile from his lips between lines. He was constantly dancing about and keeping the crowd mesmerized.

“It’s the second day!” Hitomi exclaimed. “You know, yesterday, in the dressing room, something really annoying happened. Right here above my mouth… I got bitten by a mosquito. It really pissed me off! I generally love animals, but I realized that I hate bugs to death! Going to hell would be better. Anyway, that would be fine, but… it’s two days, right? Today I was bitten here.” Amid gales of laughter and applause, Hitomi pointed to the corner of his mouth. “Just how many bites does it want to lay around my lips? Well, I suppose it’s lucky it didn’t bite my actual lip. This is bad enough, but it would be horrible to have a bug bite you on the lip. I’m sure that anyone here who really loves bugs is getting pissed off right now but I just can’t deal with them. After all, cats and all can catch diseases from mosquitoes… So bugs are wholly and completely my enemy. In fact, Soan was also bitten today. Where were you bitten, Soan?” Leaning around his kit, Soan stuck out his left wrist, looking bashful as he pointed out the spot. “On your wrist, huh? What the hell… Not around your lips?”

“Nope,” Soan replied. “Sorry.”

“Maybe if you had a little more color they might go for your face,” Hitomi suggested.

“Okay, I’ll learn from you and display a little more color,” Soan agreed. By now, the crowd were laughing quite heartily but the punch line was yet to come.

“How about you, Sizna?” asked Hitomi. “You did? You got bitten?” The guitarist showed off his pecs. “Oh, you did, too! On the chest, in fact! Aren’t we all getting done in too easily? If this was all the doing of the same damn bug it must be getting pretty fat by now. What about Shingo?” The support bassist alone seemed to have escaped from the mosquito’s binge. “Despite it all isn’t that a bit lonely? …We got a little off track there, but as it’s the second day, we’re going to charge on ahead with different songs from yesterday. Since there’s no third day tomorrow, don’t worry about saving any energy, got it!?”

““Sea of fingers!”” Even after the long, loose breather, the number quickly re-established the band’s credentials. “Break it down, Sizna!” Keeping up the funk, Sizna danced while Shingo punctuated Hitomi’s lyric-driven verse with shouts. The deep, sexy tone to the song was only exacerbated by the band’s energy, Hitomi literally bouncing between lines while Soan poked his tongue out at the crowd. “How strange. I can’t seem to hear you,” Hitomi complained flatly during the instrumental. As he and Sizna yelled up a storm, the crowd pushed themselves even harder to ensure that their voices would reach the vocalist’s evidently failing ears. The final instrumental was a free-for-all, Soan grimacing at the drums as if threatening them to obey his every whim while Shingo grinned cutely, fingers attacking the tough strings of his bass.

“Who hasn’t given their all yet?” One yell came from near the back off the house. “Really now, there’s no way it could be only one of you. None of you have truly given ‘your best’ yet, right Shingo?” The bassist replied with a strum of agreement. “Shingo hasn’t given his all, has he? There’s more to Shingo, I think…” The statement resulted in a slamming bass solo. “This is great! Soan, give it your all. Go for it!” The drummer responded with a heart-felt riff that had girls whooping and simpering in pleasure. “Sizna! Do your best!” Hitomi yelled at the guitarist who was already bouncing in anticipation. “Now… Where’s your best!?” Hitomi aimed at the crowd, letting them prove themselves with a series of passionate yells that would leave both he and the fans voiceless before the end of the night. “Let’s all go all out! You want to rampage, right? Right here, right now… Come on!” “Star gazer” began with a sweet intro that let the crowd dance around like grinning idiots before sobering up in the verse. Only bass and drums kept up the intensity which then exploded in the chorus. Hitomi’s big gestures and Soan’s endless grins drove the crowd on and on until the vocalist, faced away and bent down, soberly muttered “Let it all go.” Even the band mixed and moshed about the stage to mirror the chaotic crowd, enjoying the final number to the very fullest. With a kiss to his hand transferred to hi-fives with the fans in front, Hitomi walked off before the final chords, eventually followed by his fellow members.

Amid the encore demand, the curtain was closed and used as a projection screen, introducing the jazzy new “Triple A side single” Tricolor followed by a music video preview with shots of each of the band members synched to heart beats for the finish. Giggles resounded for only a moment before the encore chimed in with “Benizashi,” the band dancing around like mad during the intro, their energy barely restrained during the verse before being released in full in the outtro as Hitomi carried and tossed about his mic stand like a cutlass.

“The song we just performed is the music video song from Tricolor called “Benizashi.” It will be on sale on July 20 but… it might be… pre-sold from about the beginning of July? Sorry, I’m not too knowledgeable on the band’s business. Usually Soan knows what’s going on. Soan and Sizna know everything and then Shingo and then I seem to be the least knowledgeable. Since these two dependable guys are about, I seem to get lazy. A couple of days ago, they reminded me about ’tomorrow’s’ plans.”(Meaning the first of the two lives.) “I have no memory of our schedule. Well, I’m getting caught up. Anyway, the three songs for July are, well, the one you just heard has that kind of feeling but the remaining songs are called “Haruka no ao” and “White Out” and they’re all totally different. “Haruka no ao” was written by Soan and is quite a wonderful ballad. “White Out” was written by Sizna and is a rather aggressive song, right?” Having completely ignored the discussion so far, Sizna was surprised to be addressed, Hitomi filling him in with impressive patience. “Anyway, we’re really proud of them, so you can look forward to it! Now, I want to thoroughly enjoy this last song with all of you, okay? It’s gotten very hot, so let’s submerse ourselves.”

“Tsuki no nai Seaside,” washed in red with glow-rings flashing throughout the house, began deep and sexy, turning into a festival in the chorus as the crowd jumped and Sizna jokingly screeched a high harmony in response to Hitomi’s melody. The painful sound somehow lured a new element of fun out of the usually more intense number, altering it into an exciting finish for the night. “Thank you!” Hitomi cried, sweat flying as he flicked his head with the air of a collie-dog satisfied after a good run in the park.

The crowd’s yells seemed to genuinely touch the band, and after abandoning their yells for Soan in favor of Hitomi, they successfully drew the vocalist back to his mic. “Hitomi-!” he said, mimicking their yells. “I’m wavering,” he confessed. “Should we wrap it up on this note… or do another song? Sizna, what do you think? How do you feel right now?” Closing in for a whispered answer, Hitomi laughed in earnest. “I want you to share that with the crowd,” he encouraged, still chuckling.

mou choi!” (Bit more) the guitarist sang in a cartoonish voice.

“Bit more what, eh?” Hitomi teased.

Soan pitched in with a passable impression of the guitarist. “A little more? What will we do more of, Sizna? Please tell me, Sizna.”

“Make my heart beat, heart beat!” Sizna responded. “Heart beat, heart beat!” he continued, the crowd eventually picking up the cry. “Soan, heart beat! Shingo, heart beat! Hitomi’s heart beat! Hitomi, you ready?”

“I’m ready!” the vocalist cried, putting an end to the games. “Of course I am! That’s not the question. The question is whether you all are ready? Amid that half-hearted crap, what we’re asking is, can you go on!? If we’re gonna do this, we do it at full strength! If you can’t give me that, I’ll end this here! Got it? Come at me with everything! Let’s enjoy the party with all our hearts.”

With that splendid introduction to “Party Monster,” how could anyone not enjoy the last, wild number? Red and purple strobes lit the frantically moshing crowd while Sizna watched like a hawk, eyes spread wide open so as not to miss a thing. He and Shingo moshed across the stage even as the guitarist sucked on a pick like a pacifier before tossing it to the wolves. In the instrumental, the total blackout was pre-empted by a hundred colorful glowing lights glinting from raised fingers. Hitomi’s laid-back voice then penetrated the darkness before he screamed out, Sizna echoing the cry, and refractions from a disco ball fell across the stage. In that crazy screech of a voice, Sizna chirped along with the crowd’s yells of “Party Monster! Party Monster!”

“Bang your heads! You still got anything in you? Go on!” Hitomi prompted. A speedy jam began with Soan’s wild drumming, the crowd head-banging passionately to the quick riff. Hitomi fell to his knees and when he rose, his shirt was ripped half open, butterfly tattoo displayed to the world. After another round, the vocalist was stumbling like a drunkard, seeming totally done in. However, Soan wasn’t satisfied. “One more and Hitomi will have to lose the shirt,” he teased to the crowd’s delight. Given no choice but to match the enthusiasm of the rampaging fans, Hitomi gave in for one final bout. As Soan shouted his thanks to the crowd, Shingo crept off, soon followed by a bowing Sizna and then the birthday boy stepped out from behind the drum kit, grinning like a maniac for his final farewell. Clambering up from the floor, Hitomi stumbled to Sizna’s mic, looking half dead. He left after the statement, “I’m wrecked. No idea what’s going on. It feels so great I could never quit performing,” accompanied by yells with a tinge of sentiment for the emotional words.

On that exhausted, thoroughly satisfied note, Moran closed the deal on a fantastic show.

Happy Birthday, Soan.

Set List

  1. Onaji yami no naka de
  2. Manicure
  3. Breakfast on Monday
  4. Kekkan no Detail
  5. Sea of fingers
  6. Star gazer

Encore

  1. Benizashi
  2. Konya, tsuki no nai kaigan de
  3. Party Monster

Now that’s how you celebrate a birthday and Moran never fail to commemorate each occasion so be sure to mark each date down in your diary with the note “Get tickets early!”

VK Exclusive

There are 46 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Mio Nagasaki is a freelance photographer lending her time, skills, and love for the genre to ROKKYUU Magazine.

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Your Comments

  1. satsuki

    Thank you for such a detailed live report! Bitter reality means I won’t get to go to Japan for any concerts anytime soon, but this report (and the amazing pictures) gave me a taste of what this band is like live. Moran has been through some rough times, and I hope this year is the start of some good things for them. Thanks again!