The news of a new Utada Hikaru album makes me immensely excited and in search of whether her live performance from her 2010 In The Flesh tour ever did surface – it did in 2013 and it’s a wonderful mixture of her English and Japanese work in a much more low-fi grubby pop setting.
The digital only release covers much of her This Is The One album, the same trio of Exodus songs she performed at Utada United and a selection of her Japanese work. The music when taken into a live context has more of a rock side to it because most of the keyboard synths are underpinned by a thick rough guitar that when not doing some awesome solos is power chording it to the max. The lower budget vibe and less expectation seems to let Utada be a little more relaxed over the two nights they’ve recorded and mashed together. In a weird twist though they’ve included both talking parts between the songs and she says nearly identical things each time she talks. It’s a minor annoyance in a lively show.
Personal highlights for me are the Passion/Sancutary combination where she flips languages like a pro, the gorgeous versions of Sakura Drops and Stay Gold, the anthemic Dirty Desire and how a bit of a band rearrangement transforms Me Muero into a song I now like way better. It just has more bounce! The Kremlin Dusk/You Make Me Want To Be A Man combo is also very powerful as always and segues into a rocking Placebo cover of “The Bitter End”. She’s clearly having a lot of fun and there is a real rock chick waiting to burst out of there when she wants to.
Sound wise, everything feels thick and full – the only slight issue being the backing vocals are quiet and sometimes when she’s singing alternate lines to the backing vocal track it sounds a bit empty in places. It also means we get some more instrumental sections.
However – for a rare English Hikki treat – this is perfect for fans to gobble up. I’d have loved some more Exodus stuff as that album is an alt-pop beauty – but what’s here is superb.
Recommended Track : Dirty Desire