Trying a new format to better condense? I say this every time but had I? I guess this is the product review format of event review, because, “producer” is just a “T” short from “product”? It’s just the usual ranting, though.
Million Live, after all the ups and downs, is now entering its 10th year and they decided to have a 4-stop tour, spanning from April this year until February 2024. Act 1 (or the first stop) was at the SSA on the 22nd and 23rd. Act 2 will be at Port Messe Nagoya Exhibition Hall on July 29-30th. Act 3 will be at the West Japan General Exhibition Center in Kitakyushu on November 4-5th. The final act, Act 4, will be at K Arena Yokohama on February 24-25th. K Arena opens for business in September this year so that would be interesting to see. I’ll try to go to another stop, but no promises.
Here’s the crux of Act 1. They wanted to drop “first” to “fourth” with the 37-color promotional material and outfits. They wanted us to remember first, second, third and fourth. But they didn’t do Welcome this entire weekend… It’s a mixed bag as an old-timer. Heart full, eyes clear, mind on fire–just like what 4th did to me.
But, has everything worked out in time?
THE IDOLM@STER Million Live 10th Tour Act-1 H@PPY 4 YOU!
- Nostalgic and hype old songs, some that are rarely performed
- Some updated performances are better than old performances
- Live stream available to oversea viewers, and even direct merch sales to overseas
- Missing some key old songs
- Could be overly emotional and not hype enough, especially for day 2
- Lacking calls for the first calls-OK show since covid
Omonomono Score: 7.5
A song-by-song walkthrough is, as usual, provided by AP Kasshi. Day 1 here and day 2 here. Pardon me as I continue to repeat some of the same points. By the way he’s got a flower stand at the show too!
In normal Million Live fashion, each day’s show is broken into blocks with an intro segment at the start and a wrap-up segment plus encore at the end. The cast each day got to do a brief line in the beginning, and also in Million Live fashion there were some messing-up on day 1’s intro segment.
Each of the main blocks are a mix of solo songs and group songs. What’s key here is that the LTD songs had original members, and we got some juicy takes from Melody in scape and Dreamscape. There was the long-due Roco Kokoro ga Kaeru Basho. We didn’t get things like Decided, though. I think it’s a perspective of old Ps who were into the “live” part but throughout the show, we had a fair share of hits and misses. It’s just that all the hits were on the “emotional” side and not the hype side…
A More Mature Production
Just as a segue on this topic, other than my old-timer eventer acquaintances complaining about the lack of inclusion of certain songs, as I can see this being mostly a personal preference, I also had a discussion with a relative newbie. Act-1 day 2 was his first ML-only concert and before the show we had a brief chat. He said he actually prefers Million over Shiny music because the music is more emotionally moving. Thinking back, this is a pretty solid observation. In a way Million Live has always been more “folk” than the other brands, with the type of performances and lyrics that tend to grace its stages. It’s not about a new malaise, but addressing the old ones in a new age. In that way, Act-1 played well into this hand.
I just think that the act of remembering the first 4 years of the series is nostalgic enough that we don’t need much more than whatever lovely tunes the LTP and LTH series have graced me. Personally I always adored the LTH series that cemented me as a ML P for all these years. That was when KOH really hit his stride starting from LTP13 onwards… As you can imagine, between Bitter Sweet and Suichuu Candy (but no dear… just adds to the list of odd song choices in this show) I was in a reverie for both shows.
It’s all just to say by the end of it, I long for the old times, but I also hate how I wasn’t able to emotionally let loose with the hype call songs like Happy Darling or Welcome. During day one, I think at least Pretty Dreamer, Shooting Star, Blue Symphony and Refrain Kiss with TSV hit that kind of high, which is why the complaints didn’t really roll in until day two. I am personally biased towards MPU, but Aikotoba wa Start Up! is the kind of song that sends a shiver down my spine every time, and it would never top Hatsuboshi Enbu’s rendition. The day 2 performance definitely left me with a mixed feeling, if really that was the right choice for this Greemas subunit. I mean, I get why it was done, but as someone who also follows 765Pro All Stars dearly (like most Greemas Ps), I don’t know if it was the best choice.
In short, while many songs on day 2’s roster are just as beloved and anticipated as day 1, the reaction to them are much more bitter-sweet and emotional and not as exciting as day 1. It’s definitely a setlist construction issue and a conscious choice to have that vibe on the second day, so I’m not sure it’s something I appreciate. While I love the slow hitters just as much, I wish they were just arranged differently or swapped out for other (equally) beloved choices that might fit better the overall mood. And again, it might only take 1-2 songs to make a big difference. Aile/Praline can’t handle all this weight by themselves, nor are they that kind of songs…
Another gem from Day One is the aforementioned Kokoro ga Kaeru Basho. This is a special song to me, especially during MOIW2015. ML is where the heart is for me! In Act-1 Day 1 we finally have the Roco performance…she is from LTP12 along with Yukiho, Momoko and Shizuru. This is the real revenge, and a real shame that it hasn’t happened until nearly ten years later. For a series whose live performances are known to have missing members in the songs that was still a big miss that was rectified.
That said, there were the usual goofed lines, in day one. Something about not only Haruka Yamazaki but even her usually-reliable cast mates. Fun to see Yuiton mess up for once. The Ariga-39 moment in 3rd gets a on-stage encore too. These absent-minded goofs are now a time-honored part of this series.
The physical stage was a bit of a mish-mash of 1st, 2nd and 3rd layout with the logos of 1-4 shows prominently featured on the stage. In reality the stage is probably closer to 9th’s in terms of positioning, with a big area up top in the middle, two side stages to the left and right, and the “ground” level extending out to the sides in each wing. There was no catwalk or center stage. What’s new this time is that the two side stages have curtains that comes down so the performers can go in it to start the next song without a break. All 4 stages are connected by steps. The main background is a big portrait-style display. The billboard-style, MILLION LIVE THE@TER sign from 1st makes an appearance on the top of that display also, which is a great touch. Official pics can be found at various press outlets, and of course in the live stream (international version on Stagecrowd).
Do people remember during 3rd live how all the stages were set up? The performers would walk up and down in predictable formation. There was the funky vertical box formations during Sirius which was neat, as well as Kimi dake no Kakera having Yucha do her sitting move. Having the stage set up for 10th Act-1 invoked that memory. It was also by far the best version of that song (even including my Suwa bias during 7th Reburn
OMG my tears they are not stopping). But the 10th stage was just less jank and more like a theater performance. The design was better despite cramming those silly tour logos in.
During 4th there was the funky elevator, which continued for a while until 5th and really, 6th also. If you have 36 people on stage at Nippon Budokan, it’s probably necessary to have that elevator in order to have some vertical movement for the performers to go around. Refrain Kiss reminded me how cool that could be! But it’s a bit more amusing with TSV and having those three doing the famous line. [By the way, that TSV Refrain Kiss was so impressive–imagine being C-maru and you have to do this song with Yukiyo! Was this the same Asshu who showed discouragement during 4th? Not to mention Tanechan finally getting to this performance.] Anyways, my point is, the staging during 10th Act-1 is smart, less complicated, less expensive (probably), and just as good. It also allowed performers to get staged between back-to-back songs, although they frequently didn’t do that. It’s a bit weird to me that Yucha would stand up and walk off stage after her solo, but it was what it was. (I guess it looked good on camera.)
For the first time that I’m aware, Million Live was able to work with Animate International to sell pre-order concert goods to some oversea countries. From what I could tell, it was only for the US, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Better than nothing, but I think they can easily do better. (Animate International has since also did the same for Shiny Color’s Wagamama na Mama). Personally I had already preordered from Asobistore before the announcement came out, but I did subsequently buy a few things from them. What’s more, the items got to my home before I departed for Japan to attend the show! That’s just an amusingly amazing feat that I wish was possible for more events and more people. [There was also a second round penlight-only preorder also from Animate International for Act-2, but it’s over now.]
What was there? At the keyaki hiroba space in front of the venue folks were lounging all day. There was this uh…air castle/obstacle course and bungee cord thing set up for families and kids also, which was amusing to see in this context.
I didn’t really walk around much but I saw the usual suspects. Circles of different producers for specific idols gathered. Setup for dolfies, custom nendo types, bicycle parts…it’s all over the place. Akane was on a tree. Minako P had a ladle. I don’t know, it could be quite wild out there. Jungle Party isn’t something written out of the thin air.
In old fashion, penlights actually sold out at the venue on day 1. I didn’t check the queues on day 2 but it was quite healthy on day 1, and lots of stuff sold out by the time I got done at around 2pm local time. There wasn’t a day-before presale, and before noon sales were conducted with lottery given out online two weeks earlier. Day 1 CD line was the longer of the two I think.
There is a video of all the flower stands out in the venue, via the (new?ish) official ML twitter. I contributed to the big Matsuri one, which meant I had to join some JP language Discord. Ps are evolving!
Back in the early Greemas days, Jungo et. al. had an issue with setlists as there were a lot of performers who didn’t, to put it shortly, and a lot of songs that had to be covered and reused because there, well, weren’t. In 2023 this is basically the opposite. Million Live has so many songs today, that we are dying for the old, overplayed songs from 2015. I think part of it is the collective trauma from COVID and related issues, but I sure do miss Welcome (and not just because of the noisy calls one can do with it).
I realize this is mostly my take. Newer Million Ps who are getting these sweet KOH vibe LTH masterpieces in the flesh in person for the first time will be there just to enjoy the moment. There’s nothing that can take that away from them. I think on those basis, Act-1 is a solid 8, but I still think they hit emo a bit too much on day 2 and could have had a better balance to appease the old-timers more. After all, it’s not like the newer Producers are going to enjoy those other hype songs any less.