Many thanks to Roo Garden for sharing these tidbits & her personal thoughts with us!
The venue, Niigata Lots, is a small live house with the bar counter outside of the performance area. The audience was seated one seat apart with around eleven people per row from A to K. Compared to the Okayama venue, it felt more spacious and comfortable with the higher ceiling and spacing. Not stools but seats with backs too! Despite the open vibe, distance from last row to the stage seemed shorter. The lighting setup also felt brighter. Matching the fine weather that day, it was a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere.
I felt so blessed that I managed to get tickets given how small the capacity was. Only around 120 of us with some no-shows. The sound quality and lighting were so on point too. For the morning show, I couldn’t help smiling seeing Kiiyan grinning at Zuka san during his Nichijo Horizon solo like, “Zuka san is in mint condition, today. Look at him go.” And when the tempo was too fast in some song, Zuka san was just belting the guitar (in a good way, of course).
My admiration for Zuka san just grows over the years. All the live dvds I lived on cut his random MCs, they never include the little shows where both are just relaxed and adorable.
For the Niigata morning show, there was a sense of tension, however. At first, I thought they were a bit nervous because it’s the start of the second half of the tour. They also needed to be mindful not to go over time and overexert because there was the Night show too. Kiiyan was very focused on his singing and I could hear him making efforts to put little technical details. The projection and tone were fantastic. In hindsight perhaps some of the intensity came from the pain he was suffering.
Zuka san’s Frog song was fun to watch. During the Night show, he started with really funky layers for the looper demo but still ended with the Frog song. The audience was dying from not laugh out loud. Due to corona, we weren’t allowed to speak or make sounds. Nor were we meant to move that much. But compared to the previous shows and especially during the Night show, we were all a bit slack and more people were grooving to the songs more.
Kiiyan and Zuka were also more carefree during the Night show. Things were a bit rough at times but it was thrilling seeing them powering on. Except for Delight Song, the other songs were close to their original style in terms of tempo. There was so much energy in their performances and in their talks too. With small shows, you can never predict what might pop up in the MCs. Didn’t expect Zuka to talk so much about electric guitar at an acoustic show! It was really sweet seeing him being the guitar maniac he is. Kiiyan was jiggling his right leg a lot but overall grooving and dancing while on his seat. Every now and then he would take the mic off the stand and lean forward between the stand and music stand to engage with the audience. The music stands blocked a good amount of their bodies. My seat for the Night show was very nice so I like to imagine I caught Kiiyan’s eyes. The reality was the stage lighting was roasting them so it was probably difficult for them to see much of the audience.
Playing off each other both in music and talk. Sometimes I felt they didn’t care that much about getting the tempo right but preferred to enjoy the moment and go with the flow. For Modern Strange Cowboy, Kiiyan was even egging Zuka san to up the speed a bit! Have some mercy Kiiyan and think about Zuka san’s fingers.
It sounded like they had a selection of local gourmet which they enjoyed isolated from each other. Niigata city is well known for a number of things like Heki soba, sauce pork cutlet, and bus terminal curry (apparently the curry produced by their bus company (?) is really good). My own trip outside of the shows was very uneventful, unfortunately. I hope to have time to enjoy the local food and scenery next time I go there.
今より先を gets to me every time. Love that song since its release for the 10th anniversary. For them to use it again for their 15th during this time feels special. Niigata was the end of the acoustic tour for me because I couldn’t get tickets for Kanazawa and Hiroshima. To be able to get 4 out of 6 was extremely lucky already so I definitely was glad to join for Kiiyan’s birthday and then see them again on a personally significant date. They also released news of FC shows for their anniversary in November. The first part is a talk event with the second part acoustic show with support members. Most likely they will record that properly and release a dvd or blu-ray. I hope they at least include some footage from this small tour.