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Plastic Tree Major Debut 20th Anniversary Autumn Tour -- Osaka BIG CAT 2017.9.23
Date: 2017.10.03
 Concert 
Artist:   Plastic Tree  
Date of Concert: 2017.09.23
Plastic Tree just celebrated the 20 year anniversary since their major debut in 1997, and this foursome has yet to show any sign of slowing down. Their fall tour began in earnest in September, and the third stop on the tour was at Osaka's BIG CAT. This intimate venue is one the band hadn't been back to in about a year and some change, but you'd never know that from how well they worked the room and the gaggle of fans who went to see them.

The theme of the tour, rain and watching rain, was plastered all over the visuals throughout the show. Displayed on the screen behind the stage was a rainy day viewed through a window, and the sound of rain echoed around the venue as Ryutaro (vocals) came out, holding a red umbrella up over his head with his back turned toward the audience. The first song, "Ame Ni Utaeba" started up as Ryutaro spun the umbrella, closed it, and tucked it behind him. Those familiar with the band's music, which is rooted heavily in shoegaze, might recognize the song as a throwback to one of their earlier albums, "Traumerei".

The moody, low-key ambiance continued into the next song, "Kuchizuke", with Akira (guitar) donning a pair of headphones at the beginning. It's worth mentioning here that Akira is one hell of a guitarist -- the man uses a ton of pedals and even a Mac to manipulate his portions of songs, and does so wearing the face of a man that says 'not now, daddy's working'.

Things picked up a bit after that with the livelier "Zazafuri, Zazanari", which gave Ryutaro a chance to greet the audience with a series of playful 'yaya's instead of the usual hello, which the audience called back to him just as happily. He went on to say, "You guys have some serious energy, Osaka. Well, this is a rain-themed tour, so we specifically selected songs that fit that mood. Please look forward to the rain."

Next up was "Twice". Ryutaro got into this one, with lots of back and forth between him and the audience using simple body language. It was impressive to see how tuned in he was to his crowd. Tadashi (bass) had an impressive and heavy bass line in this song that he executed beautifully.

Ryutaro guided the crowd through some cute hand choreography during the next song, "Tetris", inbetween twirling around and punching the air. Even the stoic Akira cracked a smile at that point. The band followed with the complex, boppy tune "Fukuro", with the lyrics projected onto the screen behind the band members as if someone were typing them out as they were being sung. Tadashi got pumped up for this one, yelling into his mic to egg everybody on to shout back, which they did.

Now that he had everybody's attention, Tadashi decided he wanted to talk. "You guys really do have a lot of energy. I was a little worried since the typhoons this season have been so intense. Anyway, thanks to you guys we were able to reach our 20 year anniversary. Thank you so much. It's been a while since we've been here to BIG CAT." It was at that point that a fan called out the exact length of time it had been -- a year and a half. Ryutaro chimed in then to end Tadashi's little rant, playfully declaring, "That will be all." The crowd was very amused.

The mood lifted significantly with "Mizuiro Girlfriend", but then things slowed down again for Ryutaro to belt out a passionate rendition of "Aoi Tori". It was an excellent performance, and stood out during the show. Everybody was in sync, and Ryutaro did a big, sweeping bow as the song ended.

Kenken (drums) was invited to speak to the audience by Ryutaro at this point, and he did so with boy-like enthusiasm. "Wow, you guys really are energetic! Hey, did you now the 'autumn' in our tour name means fall?" They did. "The show has been pretty calm so far, but we're gonna get way hotter from here, guys." This earned him a big 'ooh' of anticipation. Ryutaro took over at that point, starting a bizarre call-and-repeat between himself and the crowd where he would say 'utopia' and the fans would say 'berry blue', or the reverse; he'd say 'berry blue' and they would all say 'utopia'. No one seemed entirely sure of what was going on, but that didn't stop anybody from enjoying his antics. Predictably, the next song was "Utopia Berry Blue", a really fun, dancey song with an almost 80s vibe to it.

The upbeat "Mime" followed, and despite that fact that Akira and Ryutaro nearly collided in the middle of the song when Ryutaro stepped back from the front of the stage while Akira was moving from center stage to stage left, the two laughed it off like it was something that happened all the time (and maybe it does). The energy was fantastic. Things calmed down again during "Kagee", with the following song "Aria" seeing the rare sight of Akira headbanging as the whole band got caught up in a really, really good rendition of a not-often-performed song. Another high point.

"Platform" came next, with "I Love You So" being launched into right after as Tadashi cried "1,2,3,4!" to start things up. Tadashi and Akira came to the front of the stage to bop together as they played, Ryutaro roaming around the stage like a wild man, as Kenken mouthed the lyrics behind them all. These guys still have fun together even after 20 years, and the atmosphere they manage to create together is infectious. Kenken goofed up the intro of "Ruisen Kairo" and had to give it a second go, but the band seemed unfazed. It was umbrella time again for the final song, "Uchuu Yuuei", the one Ryutaro opened over his head being black this time as they closed up the set with the sights and sounds of rain once again.

The fans had not had enough yet, though. After calling for an encore for only a few minutes, the band reemerged wearing tour tshirts and wide smiles. Ryutaro came to the mic to coyly ask, "Did you call for an encore?" Tadashi once again announced how fun he found the crowd's energy to be, then inexplicably launched into a small rant about having eaten takoyaki that day since they were in Osaka.

"Would you like to sing a song about takoyaki?" Ryutaro then asked him, seemingly out of the blue. Even more out of the blue, however, was the fact that Tadashi actually did launch into some odd little diddy about eating takoyaki as Ryutaro plucked out a fun little melody on his guitar. Words don't do this moment true justice. It was equal parts hilarious and equal parts confusing as hell, and just as fun.

Ryuataro said they'd be continuing the rain theme (as if there were any doubt) with the next song, "Gerbera". Once again the band appeared to be really connected to their audience, getting as close to the front row as possible. Ryutaro did a series of little bows to everyone before calling out "okini" (Kansaiben for 'welcome') and leaving the stage with the rest of the members.

That still wasn't the end, however. After another encore call, the band returned -- this time with beers in hand. Akira had the idea to hold the cans up to the microphones and open them, turning on an echo effect so the sound would reverberate dramatically around the room. It was a fun little effect, each member taking turns doing it. Kenken ended up spilling his all over the stage, and Tadashi admonished him for it. "It's all slippery now! That was so close to the speaker, too! That's dangerous!"

Now came perhaps the most peculiar part of the show -- stage shopping. Apparently a couple of fans had gifted the band with a little light-up Harry Potter wand and pair of matching character glasses from Universal Studios Japan (also in Osaka). One by one each member donned the glasses and used the toy wand to point to various pieces of merchandise pinned up on a large, roll-away pegboard to recommend to fans what they thought they ought to buy. This bizarre little presentation was dominated by the members being tattle-tales, outing their manager for telling them to please push the sticker sheets because they had loads of them to move. It was honestly hysterical, and peaked when Tadashi decided to smack one of the stickers on the back of his bass to further push just how cool the stickers were. The bit could have easily become weird and uncomfortable, but it wasn't at all, and was a really charming point in the show.

For some reason a bottle of wine was also brought out, and each member indulged in a glass as the interlude before the last song dragged on pleasantly. "Melancholic" was that last song, and the show concluded in the same warm, intimate atmosphere that it had built into.

Honestly, this band has no business being this much fun, this easy to interact with as an audience, and having this good a rapport with one another after 20 years. You'd think they would be somewhat sick of one another after so long, but no. They have amazing energy, are entertaining as hell, and you should see them if you have the chance. The tour final is on October 10th, in Tokyo, but they have Halloween and New Years shows coming up. Check out their homepage for more info.


SET LIST

01. ame ni utaeba
02. kuchizuke
03. zazafuri, zazanari
MC
04. twice
05. tetris
06. fukuro
MC
07. mizuiro girlfriend
08. aoi tori
MC
09. utopia berry blue
10. mime
11. kagee
12. aria
MC
13. platform
14. i love you so
15. ruisen kairo
MC
16. uchuu yuuei

EN1
01. 37℃
02. gerbera

EN2
01. melancholic
Author: M. Minikhiem
last update: 2017-10-04