Vocals are usually what make or break concert experiences. In fact, I’m willing to go as far as to say that I’ve yet to enjoy a concert where the singing didn’t at least reach some level of acceptable technical competence – that is, where at least the majority of the notes being sung are in tune.
And then, along came Nirgilis.
Their entry was marked by grandeur. Minoru Kurihara and Yuki Inadera were the first to come on stage, setting the Club Nokia concert venue alight with an electronica beat which was then mixed in with Richard Strauss’s glorious “Also Sprach Zarathustra” to herald vocalist Acchu Iwata’s arrival. The whole atmosphere was electric, and if I hadn’t listened to Nirgilis’s music prior to attending the concert, my expectations would have been through the roof. But good thing it wasn’t because had I been expecting a lot from them, their first song, “Brand New Day,” would have brought it crashing down back to Earth.
Make no mistake about it, Acchu Iwata’s delivery of “Brand New Day” was very much wanting throughout. Her ability to hit the higher registers often fell flat and there were plenty of times during the concert where she’d resort to simply shouting the lyrics rather than actually singing them. Yuki Inadera, for her part was extremely energetic when banging out the rhythms on her pad, but her vocal delivery was fairly husky and it did not mesh cleanly with either the instrumentals or Acchu’s voice. These troubling signs indicated that this was a concert to forget.
Or was it? By all means, the vocal performances should have been a deal-killer, but there was something else afoot. As I watched the trio twist and dance their way about the stage, singing out of tune, it struck me just how raw the performance was. It would have been one thing had this rawness materialized in a limp sort of delivery, but no! Here be a raw, unbridled sort of passion! The energy that they exhibited was contagious, and they had very little trouble transmitting that spark unto the audience. It got to the point where the vocal component seemed almost a triviality.
During the course of the concert performance, Nirgilis displayed their sixth sense when it came to exciting the audience. Otherwise dull, repetitive songs like Birdy the Mighty Decode’s “Kiseki” and D.Gray-man’s “Snow Kiss” were given new life as they became far more energetic and engaging live through the addition of Acchu’s and Yuki’s movements on stage. Their performance of Deadman Wonderland’s “Shiny Shiny” was also far better than the studio album’s version purely through the way in which Acchu got the audience to perform a nifty hand motion that Nirgilis developed specifically for this concert during the chorus.
But the best illustration of their affinity for the audience came in through a call and response routine in which they fittingly went through a list of anime pop-culture items. It started innocuously enough; shouts of “Pokemon!” and “Pikachu” were followed by “Dragonball!” (with a side helping of “ORE WA GOKU” and “KAMEHAMEHA”), then “One Piece” (along with Luffy’s signature attack), “Bleach,” and, finally, some Space Invaders. Things then took an odd turn after that when Nirgilis concluded this segment by launching into a rousing cry of “SEX! SEX! SEX ON THE BEACH!” As out of left field as that rallying cry was, I couldn’t help but giggle at this display. The main thing to take away from this bout of silliness is that Nirgilis might not win any awards for vocals, but they sure have a certain cachet that makes their performances damn fun to watch.
For their last official song, Nirgilis performed the song that I had been looking most forward to: Eureka 7’s “Sakura.” Though this version lacked the awesome choral accompaniment of “Amazing Grace,” you could definitely hear the rhythmic structure underlying that famous piece when it was just the electronica on its own. Minoru Kurihara, the Nirgilis member in charge of the rhythms and mixing, also used this opportunity to bring his DJing skills to the fore by mixing in the famous opening lines of C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” to make this rendition a head-boppingly fun one.
Throughout the concert, the passion and genuine love for the musical performance that Nirgilis exhibited was what made them so captivating. For that, a lot of kudos should go to Minoru and his mixes for driving the concert’s energy level with his brash sound (I think I’m fully justified in labeling his mixes “wickedly awesome”) and to Acchu and Yuki for stirring the audience. In light of this performance component, the Club Nokia was an excellent venue for Nirgilis to showcase their sense of fun and their energy, both of which joined together wonderfully to allow performer and audience to feed off of each other, bringing about a virtuous, synergistic cycle that made this concert experience one that won’t be soon forgotten.