May 3rd, 2008.  Sky: cloudy.  Humidity: high with 60% chance of rain.  Though the weather was less than ideal, my mood wasn’t dampened by the drizzling rain, and I believed the 4,000 people who had gathered at the Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan for MERRY’s “Many Merry Days FINAL” weren’t going to let the rain stop them from being excited. 

This was going to be the biggest one-man live MERRY had ever performed, and sheep-lovers from all over Japan had came together to celebrate this remarkable day in MERRY’s history.

Having miscalculated the travel time from the center of Tokyo to Yokohama and unable to find the live hall despite asking several locals, I arrived a mere 10 minutes before the start of the show.  With a few minutes to spare, I worked my way over to the merchandise booth, and checked out the mostly sold-out merchandise, which included the special “Midnight Shangrila” single that was only to be sold at this particular live. 

As I held my copy of the CD and finally settled down in my seat, a second floor seat right behind the arena, the lights darkened and the screen projector started playing a static interlude against an orchestral track.  Then, a collage of videos from all of MERRY’s past singles: “Violet Harenchi,” “Dekiai no Suisou,” “Kubitsuri Rondo,” “Ringo to Uso,” “Sayonara Rain,” “Calling,” “Blind Romance,” “Saihate no Parade,” “Sweet Powder,” “Komorebi ga Boku wo Sagashiteru…,” and their newest single, “Tozasareta Rakuen.”  The live had officially started right at the proposed starting time, usual to Japanese concerts.

The tension built as the video played, and finally the words “Many Merry Days Final” brought an explosive cheer from the crowd.  Live feed from backstage shows the members of the band gathered in a circle with NERO prepping the others; the members seemed serious and nervous at the same time.  Finally, the band put their right hands together and shouted a war cry that prepared them for the biggest battle they had ever faced.

At last, the members appeared onto the stage to a cheering crowd: GARA, sporting a fashionable purple coat; YUU in a black leather jacket and red tie; KENICHI wearing all black; TETSU and NERO both wearing attires consisting of black, white, and purple.  After getting into their set positions, they started playing their newest, special limited single, “Midnight Shangrila,” a fast tempo track filled with powerful rhythm. 

The members, having performed their last show just a few days ago, seemed to be filled with energy and excitement.  GARA climbed unto the ever-present school desk and washed the audience over with his emotional yet powerful voice.  The song picks up speed at the end, and “sweet powder” starts immediately after the last note strikes.  GARA pushes away the microphone stand and did a cat-like dance, scratching the air, as YUU sings as the backup vocal in the flashing rainbow lights.  Covered by a hot pink light, the band started the intro to “Meisai no Shinshi” and head banged together.  GARA and YUU took turns to sing the chorus part, and the song ended with GARA’s crazed laughter.  NERO stood up while playing the steady drum beat of “Charlie;” KENICHI and TETSU jammed together while YUU ran around the stage and GARA made shrieking noises.  They were definitely excited beyond words.

The lights went off at the end of the song, and the fans started screaming.  The members took a short break onstage to catch their breaths and intake water.  After a short while, NERO started playing first and the spotlight was on him.  Then KENICHI started playing, it appeared that KENICHI was the lead guitar for “Saihate no Parade,” understandable since he was the composer for this song.  To a heated up hall, GARA took off his purple coat to reveal a red shirt, rolled on the stage floor a bit, lied down on the desk, got up and climbed up and down the desk repeated.  I was amazed by how much energy he had, as he climbed up the scaffolding set up on either sides of the stage during “Atama ga Zakuro” and head banged seven feet above the stage.  Fortunately the steel frames were very stable and he came down safely eventually and they started playing the danceable “Haraiso,” which TETSU head banged to. 

During the second interval, the whistling track of “Sasurai Rhapsody” played, then GARA started singing “la la la’s” to the melody, even after the music had stopped.  The hall reverberated with GARA’s lone voice and the fans listened quietly and savored the moment.  Then GARA turned his back to the audience and to a passionate red backdrop, they started playing “Utagoe Kissa ‘Moderne’” at a slightly slower tempo than the album track.  GARA magically produced a black hat with a purple feather on it, and at the end of the song he removed the hat and took a bow.  The next song was one of the more jazzy songs of MERRY: “Hinodechou, Machikado Tsunderera ~2nd Platform Chapter~.” 

At the end, the lights went off again, and GARA started singing “Sayonara Ame (Rain)” solo to a darkened stage with minimal lighting, with a background of a projected water puddle stirred by raindrops.  Then dim yellow lights came on to shine on each member from underneath them, and everyone started playing.  YUU’s solo was captivating and reflective of the melancholy meaning of the song.  For this special evening, GARA even improvised some unheard lyrics to this song. 

In the next song, “Bluesy Night,” the band was joined by the Girl’s Jazz Group, a group they had performed with together a few years back.  Consisted of trumpets, trombone, and saxophone, their performance really kicked the song up another notch.  The saxophonist also played a smooth and relaxed solo, which transitioned into NERO’s drum solo, played in the big band style.  Then, a string of texts appeared on the backdrop: “Sorry for the sudden notice, but we have some questions for you; please answer with your hands by gesturing O or X.”  Extremely intrigued, I started jotting down the questions as they appeared (let’s see if you could get them right!):

Q. 1: Is NERO’s dream to be a politician in the future?

Q. 2: When NERO started playing music in a band, was he the vocalist?

Q. 3: The reason that NERO decided to take off his glasses is because he wants you (the fans) to see more of his expression?

Q. 4: I love you all a whole bunch?!

After the correct answer to the last question (double circles, by the way) disappeared from the screen, NERO stood up and started talking: “That last question was a bit embarrassing, but I do mean it.  Do you people in the back feel it too??” “Let’s go!  Shout your loudest!” and when the fans yelled, he was unsatisfied by the volume and said “That will not be enough today; let it reach my heart!!!”  To which the fans yelled as loud as they could until NERO was satisfied. 

Once the backdrop rose, TETSU reemerges onto the stage and climbs onto the desk, and did a stimulating bass solo.  YUU and KENICHI came out next, followed by GARA who, using his scarf as a rope, started jumping rope with the scarf and fell to the ground.  They went on to perform “PLTC” with a tremendous amount of energy, and TETSU even waved at the fans.  KENICHI and YUU switched sides to cover more audience, meanwhile GARA had taken off his top and put on suspenders.  The next two songs were “Aikokuni ~Masurao~” and “Lost Generation,” two upbeat tracks filled with action as GARA managed to fly kick the mic stand, and did a seizure-like dance. 

NERO once again picked up the microphone after the interlude instrumental track, and excitedly expressed his emotions after having toured 46 cities and prefectures throughout Japan, and lastly said “There’s no turning back, we will give you all we’ve got!”  As soon as the first beat to “Japanese Modernist” started, flame throwers shoot upward from the stage in accordance to the rhythm, making the already heated stadium even hotter.  Dyed by the orange flames, the audience sang in unison during the chorus and their eager voices echoed through the entire hall.   “Oriental BL Circus,” another head-banging track, and “Mousou Rendez-vous” followed, where the audience jumped as high as they could and the second floor shook when they landed. 

Time always fly by fast when you’re having fun.  Before I knew it, it was the last official song on the setlist – “Tozasareta Rakuen,” an upbeat track that is a blend of soft melodies and hard beats.  KENICHI and TETSU got together again to jam, and GARA paused singing to yell out “Yokohama!”  The song ended at last and the members took off from the stage at 6:50pm.

After about ten minutes of encore-call, the lights darkened again and the members reemerged for their first encore session.  The first song was “nameless night ~ namonaki yoru~” where at first only GARA and YUU were singing/playing.  Then the lights lit up and the others join them for the chorus part; at the end, it was back down to YUU again.  Next was “Calling,” one of my first MERRY songs, which was very emotional and filled with longing, made more so with GARA’s dramatic performance as he dropped to the floor at the end of the song.

A few more minutes passed as the fans continued to cheer through second encore-call.  The members reappeared again with MERRY t-shirts except for GARA, and started to play “Kigeki no Taboo,” the coupling track to “Tozasareta Rakuen,” a catchy and seductive track, followed by the heavier “Toroketeru,” coupling track to “Midnight Shangrila.”  When the song ended, NERO picked up the mic and said “Well done you guys!  Get the new CD and enjoy it home!  When I listen to it, I think about you all.  We have decided to do a show in Okinawa on July 15th to really cover all the prefectures in Japan.  After that, we will be doing the MERRY SONIC ’08 Retrock Festival, a three day event to be held in September.  The first date at Nanba Hatch (9/14) will be produced by GARA; second date will be Nagoya Diamond Hall (9/15), produced by YUU, KENICHI, and TETSU; the last date will be at Hibiya Yagai Daiongaku-dou, produced by me, NERO.  Even if some of you cannot come and I won’t see you, you guys are all in my heart.”  Needless to say the joyful fans were excited beyond words.

The next track “Violet Harenchi” took the audience to another high; the members of MERRY were definitely giving themselves all out, GARA went back to the steel bars and rubbed himself against it.  These were just such fun songs that one just couldn’t help but to dance and to wish that that moment would last just a little bit longer. 

The members exited for the third time and when they reappeared, GARA went for the mic but instead of singing, he started to talk: “Thank you all [for coming today].  Since I didn’t do calligraphy today, I will introduce the members:  First, this is the guy I’ve known for the longest – NERO; he really talks a lot.  I’m probably the only one who can sing in front of him.  TETSU, the guy who’s always playing quietly next to me.  KENICHI, he’s from the same prefecture as me, and his arrival completed MERRY.  YUU, without this guy MERRY wouldn’t exist.  At last, myself, GARA, I am the one who put together the band.  Now we will perform the last song of the night with all our might; we will try not to cry… “Karappo na Uta – Final Cut.  Thanks from our hearts.”

The fans were teary and happy at the same time, and grateful for this opportunity to hear GARA give one of his rare speeches.  They had little time to calm down, though, as the soft intro to the song exploded into a thousand silver tapes falling from the ceiling and the song took off.  The fans sang in perfect unison, at first with YUU, then it was just the audience singing a cappella with NERO on drums, then it was complete a cappella.  The audience’s clear voice was in perfect rhythm and they were singing this song of hope with their hearts.  The band members stood together and NERO started conducting, and YUU played the basic chords to the song.  After yelling “Shiawaseda!!” (I’m happy/It’s happiness!”) GARA jumped onto the drum platform, and YUU lied down on the floor, as if he wanted to stay in this moment forever.  The sentimental and nostalgic melody rang throughout the stadium, and the audience’s voices were filled with hope and determination.

Finally, the song came to an end.  YUU took on the microphone and started to talk, but was only able to say “After touring Japan…. Oh heck.  Thank you all!!” before breaking down and trying to prevent himself from crying.  After an emotional moment, NERO managed to say “This [tour] would not have possible without you guys and the staff.  We are really appreciative of our staff and all of you… I don’t want to cry out so this is all I will say.  Thank you!!” 

It was hard to see their faces from where I was sitting, but it was obvious that all the members had a tear or two in their eyes, as they looked back on their adventurous journey, not just on this tour, but from the day the band formed.  Needless to say they should be extremely proud of themselves, of how they’ve grown into an unique band with their own style.  The touched feelings, the supporting cheers of the fans, and the tears shed this day would definitely be one of their most valuable treasures.  For those of you who have yet to listen to MERRY’s music, it is never too late to start doing so now, as I am sure the brave, sensible sheep of MERRY will show you a colorfully painted world of retrock.


1. Midnight Shangrila

2. sweet powder

3. Meisai no Shinshi

4. Charlie

5. Saihate no Parade

6. Atama ga zakuro

7. Haraiso

8. Utagoe Kissa "Moderne"

9. Hinodechou, Machikado Tsunderera ~2ban ho-mu hen~

10. Sayonara Ame (Rain)

11. Bluesy night

NerorhythmDr. SOLO

12. PLTC

13. Aikoku ni ~ Masurao~

14. Lost Generation

15. Japanese Modernist

16. Oriental BL Circus

17. Mousou rendez-vous

18. Tozasareta Rakuen



nameless night~namonaki yoru~




Kigeki no taboo


Violet Harenchi



Karappona uta




Live Report by Christina