Concerts / Events
[Exclusive] Berryz Koubou live at Sakura Con 2011 in Seattle!
On April 23rd, 2011, Berryz Koubou of Hello! Project held their U.S. debut concert at Sakura Con 2011 in Seattle, Washington.
The concert for the most part started on time, but with lots of restrictions and boundaries placed on the fans, as staff members of the Con were very strict about places in line and what fans could and could not do during the concert.
The fans that attended the concert seemed to range from little kids to grown adults, though the majority seemed to be young adults. Additionally, it appeared that a lot of Japanese fans had flown in from Japan just to see Berryz Koubou perform here at Sakura Con. In general, there were a lot more men than women at this concert, likely because of the inclusion of the idol group.
The concert promptly started at 7:00 PM as scheduled, with an introductory video featuring several clips of the members from various shows and music videos. When each member’s photo popped up with their names, fans went crazy, screaming names and calls for them. As soon as the video ended, a short pause took place as fog machines began to fill the stage with white fog.
The stage was set up with three main screens, two of which were on the side of the stage. Those were used to show close up shots of the members during their performance, and the middle screen featured the Sakura Con logo for the whole entire concert.
As the concert hall lights began to dim, the audience began to cheer frantically. The screens dimmed down from the Sakura Con logo to a video slideshow of photos from the Tohoku Earthquake that hit Japan in March. The members of Berryz Koubou did the voiceovers for the video in Japanese explaining the situation in Japan, and giving thanks for the support from the American people. The video, along with the pictures, had English subtitles for those that had trouble understanding their Japanese.
As soon as the video montage was finished, the members of Berryz Koubou walked onto stage opening with their cover of the song, “Ai wa Katsu”. This song is a charity cover song sung by Up Front Agency’s earthquake relief group. Berryz Koubou stood in one line singing the song, as the two side screens showed the music video for this cover song done by everyone at Up Front Agency.
As soon as the first song was finished, they immediately introduced themselves in English to everyone. The fans seemed to have been impressed with this, as they cheered every time a member finished introducing herself. After introducing themselves, the group jumped right into their set list.
They performed a lot of songs that ranged from older fan favorites such as “Special Generation”, to newer songs from their new album, such as “Heroine ni Narou”. They all had good dance beats, enough to have fans dancing the choreography along with the members. They portrayed a good array of upbeat, happy songs that were very cheery. Although they didn’t do any ballad-type songs, the happy songs were enough to keep the crowd going.
After singing three songs, Berryz Koubou took a MC break to interact with the crowd a little bit. Although their MC portions were in Japanese, the crowd seemed to enjoy the fact that they were talking and interacting with them.
The members spent some time talking about their impressions of Seattle. They discussed how surprised they were with how many hills Seattle has and that everyone has a smile on. They also spent some time sharing their experiences taking photos by the Space Needle and going to Safeco Field to buy some Mariners merchandise.
Member Sudo Maasa explained her unique experience going to Subway, having to use gestures and body language to say she only wanted a half sandwich instead of a foot-long sandwich. Tsugunaga Momoko also commented that the Starbucks coffee in Seattle tasted very different. After spending some time talking about their initial reactions to Seattle, they jumped into another set of songs. They got the crowd up and going by clapping their hands and encouraging them to join in.
Throughout the concert, I got the impression that their performances were very well rehearsed. The girls definitely seemed comfortable on stage and seemed to have no nerves at all performing in front of an American audience that they’re not really familiar with. The lights changed along with the mood of the songs, but for the most part were ranging in really bright yellow, pinks, red and light blue colors. It definitely made them stand out and made them look very cute and fresh.
In the second MC portion, the members spent time teaching basic Japanese to the crowd. They spoke words like “Konnichiwa” and “Arigato” and asked the crowd to repeat after them. As they were doing that, member Tokunaga Chinami came on stage with a fish suit on. It was very comical moment when she came out and attempted to speak English to the crowd. After giving her little speech in English, she asked if everyone understood her English, and the crowd cheered for her.
After a nice comical moment and fun Japanese lesson, Berryz Koubou went on for another set of songs. During this portion, the girls went through a quick outfit change.
After their last set, they all lined up and each spent time thanking the crowd and expressing their wishes to come back to Seattle and to see everyone again. With a mix of basic English and Japanese, the girls did a great job in expressing their gratitude and wishes to the audience. They even made promises to be better at English the next time they make an appearance in the US. After this short MC section, the girls jumped into one last song for the crowd, and after the song, they left the stage saying thank you.
As soon as the girls left, the crowd immediately started an encore call by shouting, “Berryz is the best!” After a short while of this encore call, Berryz Koubou came back on stage singing one last song!
During this song, they went from one side of the stage to the other waving and bowing to all the fans that showed up to their concert that night. For one last time, the girls stood in one like holding hands on stage. They took one last bow together and started walking off stage. They continued to give thanks and gratitude to everyone until the very last moment we saw them on stage, and although the fans tried to go for another encore call, the Berryz Koubou live had come to an end.
Be sure to check out the Photo Gallery for the event!
Additionally, stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Berryz Koubou!
< Berryz Kobou Sakura Con 2011 Set List >
1. Ganbarou Nippon Ai wa Katsu
2. Special Generation
3. Heroine ni Narou ka
4. Shining Power
5. Piriri to Yukou
6. Happiness ~Koufuku Kangei~
7. Tsukiatteru no Kataomoi
8. Berry Fields
9. [Costume Change] CLAP!
10. Maji Bomber!
11. Icchoume Rock!
12. Otakebi Boy WAO!
Encore : All For One and One For All
Photography by: Kevin Chang
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