PENICILLIN 20th COUNTDOWN MONTHLY LIVE Vol.13 – Indies Selection
For the final of their 20th anniversary special, COUNTDOWN MONTLY LIVE, PENICILLIN rocked Club CITTA with 24 songs in a retrospective of their indie period. O-JIRO, Chisato, and the support members Hiroki and Naomi came on stage to the SE “1999.” They kicked off the show with “God of grind” Chisato taking the honors with a feisty solo. HAKUEI made his entrance at last, shocking the crowd with a daring gothic outfit that gave him a crow-like appearance. The strong opening got the crowd moving, Chisato’s guitar flying wildly as he moved to the beat before a hot guitar solo took the song home.
Wasting no time, the band moved on to “Moonlight.” HAKUEI got rid of his hood, long black hair cascading down his face. Then, taking the forefront, guitar and bass welcomed “Quarter Doll.” All hell broke loose and hair went flying to the drums. HAKUEI set an example, headbanging fiercely, and the crowd followed.
Deep vocals marked “Brand New Lover,” the drums pounding heavily while fiery guitar took the lead with a passionate riff atop a sturdy bass line. “Welcome to the final! We are playing all our indies songs today and that means we have many songs ahead!” the vocalist explained. “We don’t know when we will play these songs again, so enjoy!”
“Miss Cool” was hot and contagious, jazzy piano getting HAKUEI to move smoothly. Bent over the guitar Chisato let his fingers fly, the bass joining in for a feisty battle to sturdy drums which played a smooth transition into “FIORE” where the funky beat acquired a darker tinge.
HAKUEI’s transitions from sweet to air-piercing vocals during “VANITY” were impressive, making it one of the night’s strongest pieces. HAKUEI’s voice started warm and sweet, the acoustic guitar and warm bass helping him set the mood for the mellow ballad. Red lights engulfed the stage, seeming to transport the hall to a fiery glow. As the song built up, Chisato moved from acoustic to electric, HAKUEI’s vocals fiercer as the song became more determined and demanding. The guitar’s cries mingled perfectly with the warm vocals, guitar speeding away as the song approached the end.
“Silent” was another strong number that revealed HAKUEI at his best, voice going from sweet to sharp with mastery. The piano in the background made a strong impact, speeding up with the guitar for the indomitable ballad. All went still for the haunting vocal solo, voice warm and hushing. Guitar cries pierced the air, the cold piano taking the song home as white lights engulfed the hall, reminiscent of the cold morning sun.
Contrary to its name “Tsumetai kaze” (cold wind) opened to a hot bass riff, the tone growing graver as the vocalist half sang, half growled to the fierce drums. “Wow, it has been a long time since we played these, hasn’t it?” The crowd showed their appreciation and HAKUEI continued. “It’s the first time you’ve played ‘Silent’ isn’t it Hiroki?” he revealed before passing the mic to the leader.
“Yeah! We want to congratulate ourselves!” Chisato said coolly and a loud “Fuu!” took the hall, accompanied by cheerful laughter. Unfazed by the crowd’s sweet teasing he continued, “We have done a great job, haven’t we?”
“We had many mellow songs, didn’t we?” HAKUEI continued.
“Well, we also have songs so fast that no one but O-JIRO can play!” the leader retorted. The emcee continued with nostalgic memories of the band’s early days. “I like that metal structure on the ceiling!” O-JIRO confessed, pointing at the huge star-shaped lighting fixture.
“It’s been there for ages!” Chisato agreed before pointing out that, “Many live houses we played at in those days don’t exist anymore!”
The vocalist and guitarist went on talking about a particular live where they had to come to Club CITTA from Osaka. “We used to drive everywhere those days. There were no bullet trains for us,” said Chisato.
“We did our makeup on the train,” HAKUEI added and exemplified the process.
“Those times, we had just a row of people coming to see us.” Chisato laughed, asking the audience, “Was anyone at that live we had here?” One arm rose and people gasped, the band obviously pleased.
“How old are you?” HAKUEI unabashedly asked her.
“The next song is a bit pop but we have good memories of it!” he said eventually. “Little Love Story” got the crowd waving with the vocalist, piano in the background and the guitar riffs topped perfectly with confident vocals. The following number, “Fish,” was stunning with only vocal sets to a dramatic piano. Warm and passionate vocals echoed through the hall for the tear-jerking lament. The number ended with half-growls and a questioning plea that had hair on the back of the neck standing on end. “I was lucky to find you but now I’m sorry I did… I can’t forget!” the words lingered on.
A series of heavy and fast numbers followed with “Masochist,” “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Eternity.” HAKUEI seemed like a wild animal, pacing and shaking to the beat. Drums roaring and guitars blasting, the band easily got the hall dancing.
The cute and jolly “Human Doll” preceded “X.X.X” with its dramatic piano opening followed by fast riffs and powerful drums. Up and down the beat went, from incredibly slow to impossibly fast. The fast and furious “Desire” got HAKUEI demanding more, banging the mic stand on the floor as he fired up the crowd. Arms wide open and mic stand reaching for the sky, the vocalist acquired a demonic appearance, pumping fists adding to the atmosphere. HAKUEI coupled cute smiles with fierce poses and wild dancing making for a very interesting sight, the audience not upset at all as he moved around, spitting water.
“Virginal” and “Chaos” followed in the same heavy fashion, HAKUEI stomping to O-JIRO’s fierce drumming. “It is really good to be able to stand on stage and sing! In our early days, we had many mellow songs, pop songs, and ballads. This one is from our last single as indies.” “Mother Goose” was warmly welcomed, Chisato sitting by the drums for the sweet number. A white veil of mist seemed to envelop the stage, dim lights helping to create a sorrowful atmosphere as the words “Sayonara” (Goodbye) left HAKUEI’s lips in a heart-splitting lament. The fast and fierce guitar riffs balanced perfectly with the melancholy vocals. The tone got fiercer still for “Melody” as pumping fists flashed to the beat.
HAKUEI was left alone onstage for the emcee, reminiscent of how PENICILLIN played with GLAY and Malice Mizer in the old days. “I wonder if they went to get tour T-Shirts?” The crowd seemed amused at the vocalist’s discomfort at being left alone on stage. “Anyone have any questions?” he asked casually and the hall laughed. “You, there.” He pointed to a fan who asked him what he had for breakfast. “Let’s see, I had curry, natto, rice…” Chisato and O-JIRO came to the rescue and it was now HAKUEI’s turn to leave. The two made announcements regarding the new album and upcoming tour. HAKUEI returned teased his bandmates, blaming “JIRO-san” for the “weird emcee filled with misunderstandings” and between laughs riled the hall for the final round.
The crowd moved wildly to the rock tune of “Fly.” O-JIRO punished the drums, fiercely setting the pace for thrashing heads. Moving constantly, HAKUEI half sang, half growled. “The next one is to express our love for all of you!” The vocals again stood out for the sweet “Kyoshi Kyoku.” Without the mic, HAKUEI tilted his head back slightly, singing with the crowd in a beautiful moment. The piano joined in, drums following as the lights came up, shining orange like the hopeful orange sun.
“Kawasaki, this is the last one!” pumping fists accompanied “Imitation Queen.” Lights went on and off like machineguns, distorted guitar riffs blasting loud and furious with the fast paced drums. To the crowd’s surprise, HAKUEI dived into the audience, a human mass rushing to him. It was the cherry on top of the anniversary cake for a blazing night and a tour filled with surprises that saw the band through twenty years on the road.
- Opening Music: 1999
- God of grind
- Quarter Doll
- Brand New Lover
- Miss Cool
- Tsumetai kaze
- Little Love Story
- Nightmare Before Christmas
- Human Doll
- Mother Goose
- Kyoshi Kyoku
- Imitation Queen