Even though only three months passed since the release of the successful LEVEL3, this short period of time seemed long enough due to the huge hype floating around this long anticipated 4th Tour in Dome LEVEL3, completely based on the girls new album not only for simple promotional matter, but also (and mainly) for anartistic purpose in its creation process. The strong Techno influences of the new Perfume album fused with last year’s showcases of cutting edge technologies created by Perfume Team and Rhizomatiks’s member Daito Manabe and long time artistic director Kazuaki Seki made the expectations for these concerts go high.
During last December, I’ve been one of the lucky international fans who could go to Japan and attend both the Christmas Eve and Christmas shows in a beautifully illuminated Tokyo Dome City. There have been many unforgettable moments, between fans literally coming from all over the world, and friendly Japanese fans who welcomed everyone in the best possible way. An unmissable event that I, as many other fans, decided to attend because it was clear that these shows would have been a once in a lifetime experience… And we were right.
As usual the waiting for the concert itself is still an event on its own, and me and my group composed by international fans decide to make an early appearance in front of the Tokyo Dome at 9am, in order to buy stocks (literally) of merchandise before they go sold out. At our arrival there are at least 50 fans already lining up for the goods, and after a short wait the stands open, with the staff handling the situation without problems and in complete order. After getting some of the beautiful merchandise (the black T-shirt and the pamphlet are definitely the highlights of the catalogue), we start walking around the huge area of Tokyo Dome City, which I already visited two years ago, now enriched by the beautiful Christmas illuminations that alone are worth the visit to this great centre.
It’s 11am and it’s time for another queue, this time for Daito Manabe’s 3D Perfume Scan System. Thanks to the efficiency of the staff and the overall organization the queue takes only about 20 minutes, and we’re ready inside the stand to take a “picture” of ourselves, that can be later viewed on a screen outside. It’s obviously something way more sophisticated than a picture, but I’ll explain everything about it at the right time. After that, all the queues needed are over for me, and with the ticket in my pocket there’s nothing else left to do but wait. And as usual, the waiting for a Perfume concert is anything but boring!
Around lunch time most of the fans arrive, and in this moment we start to see the first cosplayers and groups of fans posing and taking pictures, and the atmosphere starts to get pretty hot.
I take pictures with many cosplayers, some of them seriously impressive, and talk to them in a pretty limited English, but it’s not a real problem when it’s the good atmosphere and passion that fill the air that is talking. The hours pass by, and as the sky gets darker and ready for the sunset, the gates of the most famous venue in Japan open, two hours before the beginning of the show.
I salute all my friends and take a couple of more group pictures to not forget these magic moments, and with the ticket in my hand, I grab my new LEVEL3 bag and walk inside the Tokyo Dome.
Inside the Dome
I’m immediately welcomed by a well prepared staff that kindly indicates the way to my block; For the first day of the concert, I’ve been lucky enough to get an Arena seat, next to the right platform known between the fans as the “Nocchi side”. I walk through corridors and finally I get inside the venue, and here’s where I truly realize how incredible this concert will be. Right in front of me there are fifty thousand Perfume fans, all waiting for the girls to begin their show, clapping and screaming for them: I’m literally stunned by this view.
But It’s still pretty early, so I just sit down and take a bottle of green tea and start to look at the stage: Three disconnected platforms are ahead of a huge stage completely occupied by a white, giant sphere, obviously referring to the concept of their global expansion and to the opening track of their LEVEL3 album, Enter the Sphere. It’s a fascinating yet mysterious object, that I honestly can’t imagine how it’s gonna work. Between fans taking their seats close to me and people searching for theirs, all the rows start to be complete, and between a Chocola BB CM and another, finally, the lights turn off and everything is ready for the most magic Christmas of our lives.
The silence fills the venue, and as all the 50.000 fans inside the Tokyo Dome frantically wait, the introduction of the concert finally begins, and the role of the Sphere is soon revealed; The projection mapping that we’ve seen on the girls dresses so far, is now proposed in huge dimensions on the surface of the Sphere. It’s a visual and audio exhibition, and the Sphere literally takes life as the projection touches the surface of this white, huge piece of stage; It’s Team Perfume’s art direction at its best, and the result is absolutely stunning, exceeding the expectations as usual and taking the real Near Futuristic Techno-pop concept back to life.
The lights turn off again, and it’s time for the music to begin, and Enter the Sphere fits this role perfectly in every possible way as thestrong electronic synth breaks the silence and the crowd explodes in screams of joy, followed by a hypnotizing showcase made oflights, lasers and projection mapping. The performance continues, and when the first verse of the song kicks in, the lights reveal our girls at the top of the sphere in front of everyone at the highest point of Tokyo Dome, and also of their career; You can’t get higher than this, in any meaning.
As the verse finishes it’s time for the girls to go back inside the sphere, and the instrumental goes on in its extended version. Giant balloons emerge from each of the tree platforms ahead, becoming spheres that then reveal the girls’ presence, dancing to the loved and already classic Global Website theme. It’s a stunning showcase of cutting edge technology, talent and pure audiovisual goodness, framed by the 50,000 screaming fans filling the magic place that is Tokyo Dome. Something that has to be lived in first person to understand.
The song is over but there’s no time to relax; The lights turn off, Spring of Life (Album-mix) starts, continuing the beatstorm began byEnter the Sphere, and as the upbeat and cheerful chorus explodes the Tokyo Dome goes on fire, and the synchronization of the girls in executing the choreography despite the distance between each member (especially during the main bridge) is impressive as usual.
The three girls disappear from the stage, and now the Sphere is starting to open, revealing the girls again on the central stage as the melancholic notes of Magic of Love (album-mix) begin to resound inside the Dome, finally revealing the huge dimensions of the main stage. Once the song is over, the girls can finally take a breath and talk to the numerous fans in front of them for the first MC of the concert, cheerfully welcoming us with a huge smile on their faces.
After a 20 minutes talk to the fans, the girls get ready for another round of songs, and this time the sexy 80’s beat of 1mm starts this new set of songs, featuring real time lyrics on the huge screens covering the central stage of the Tokyo Dome. After the promotional single for LEVEL3, it’s time for the lovely Clockwork to get its first live appearance, featuring a nice and charismatic choreography as highlight, featuring graphics on the screens that perfectly follow the concept and the mood of the song, something that all the fans are gonna love once this concert gets released. After moving our arms as clocks, surprisingly it’s the turn of Point, B-side of the Spending all my Time single that finally gets a minimal yet appropriated choreography. Now our girls are singing from elevated platforms that then connects all the parts of the stage, previously disconnected; As a performance overall, it’s been one of the most surprising and definitely one of the nicest of the entire show. After another MC on the main stage, the mesmerizing Furikaeru to Iru Yo finally takes its spot, with a lovely choreography that well fits the song as usual.
But it’s now time to forget about calm and relaxing songs, cause the upcoming and central part of the concert is gonna blow minds. Literally.
The Perfect Beatstorm
The girls leave the stage, and now the beat introducing Sleeping Beauty kicks in, for an interlude that will show on screen one of the usual animations, this time enriched by Rhizomatiks’ amazing 3D Scan System that finally reveals its role. Indeed, every person that queued and took part to the scan shooting has been listed, and two random fans out of the list are literally picked up by the girls (on screen), and while they’re viewable in their 3D scan mode at first, after they are literally framed by the cameras and show on the huge screens. How? Simple. Before taking the scans, each fan had to show its ticket that got “scanned” as well. In this way, both your image and the number of the seat signed in your ticket are linked. Simply genial.
The Sleeping Beauty interlude finishes, but it was only the beginning of the huge beastorm that will come ahead and also one of the most awaited moments by all the fans, which is Party Maker. Describing this performance by words is difficult due to its complexity: The girls are on the main stage, on different levels, rocking a new choregraphy between elevators and cutting edge technology, obviously framed by the usual synchronization not only between themselves, but also with the screens showing the always amazing animations created by Kazuaki Seki. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s a performance that definitely MUST be seen to fully understand. Surely one of the high peaks of the whole concert, that you will have the chance to enjoy in a future video release.
But it’s still not time to get our breath back, because now, in the central platform ahead our girls appear as the well known Spending all my Time (album-mix) notes hit our ears (Kashiyuka’s entrance in this performance is impressive), and as the beat after the intro begins the projection mapping hits their outfits, and it’s the Cannes Lions and World Tour 2nd stunning performance all over again, buteven better. We’ve learned to love this choreography fused with Projection Mapping, but no matter how many items you see it, it’ll always be a jaw-dropping exhibition. Not even the time for the girls to take a breath, and for the fans to stop screaming and headbanging that it’s suddenly time to go back in time and jump at the rythm of the eternal classic Computer City; While the girls dance, I take a look around and literally see 50.000 fans going completely wild as they sing and jump with a huge smile on their faces. Seeing all of these fans moving at the same time it’s incredible and part of the overall experience of the concert.
Finally, after such a hardcore fragment of concert, it’s really time for the girls to take their breath back and relax with all of us by talking and drinking some water. What they just did was an extremely intensive, but definitely amazing round of songs that made all the supporters of their most Techno side more than satisfied, showing once again how these girls can handle such an intensive routine thanks to years and years of experience: The result is impressive. Now the girls stand still at the central platform, and after the third MC, it’s time to jump again thanks to the eternal classic Electro World, and the atmosphere gets even hotter as all the fans jump screaming “Hey!” to the techno beat and the immortal electric guitar riff.
It’s time to continue with the old classics, and as Jenny Wa Gokigen Nanamae begins, our girls jump on the Perfume Wagon (that’s how I love to call it) and start their road to get a closer look at the Tokyo Dome crowd while singing and throwing signed balls to the screaming fans, all of this in lovely and extremely cute Chirstmas dresses. As usual, once reached the central part of the Tokyo Dome, the Perfume Wagon stops and the girls perform another classic from the Triangle era, which is One Room Disco; Seeing Perfume performing this song in Christmas outfits is definitely a unique experience, and I personally felt really lucky in seeing it live right in front of my eyes: Cuteness overload. But there’s no time to waste, and after a short and funny interlude, it’s now time for Mirai no Museum, that perfectly fits the Christmas mood and the overall atmosphere created by the two previous songs; Definitely the perfect timing for this song, wisely inserted in the right moment of the concert and making it more enjoyable than ever.
Santa! Santa! Santa!
It’s P.T.A. Corner time! A-chan gives the best of her comedian skills as usual, literally trolling (to use a famous internet word) 50,000 people making them act like Santa Claus, Deers and Snowmen; I can say without a doubt that this was definitely the funniest moment in the whole concert, thanks to the girls’ charisma and the genuine smiles on their faces that could make anyone instantly happy; Not only talented performers, but also great entertainers as usual.
The last segment of the show features some classics from Complete Best to LEVEL3, beginning with Daijobanai and its killer fast dance, the immortal masterpiece Polyrythm (that never fails to make me emotional), the classic Chocolate Disco in its 2012-mix version and the lovely MY COLOR, featuring thousands of hands raised to the sky following the already classic 1-2-3 movements. Moments of great unity and fun.
This well selected set of classics from all their discography prepares us for the beautiful final of this performance, and after a short break, the girls appear on stage on three different platforms, wearing wonderful angel-like white dresses. As a soft wind gently moves their dresses, the last track of the album Dreamland begins. It’s a moment of peace, and the dreamy feel of the song fills the entire Dome, vibrating in the heart of each of the fifty thousand fans. It’s pure magic, happiness for having lived such an amazing experience, but also melancholy for it to be over.
The song reaches the end, the three angels reach the central stage and the Sphere slowly begins to close: The dreaming melody is over, and the stage is now back at its original look. The Dome gets filled with the applauses and the screams of all the fans, now more than ever united as big family, and a final writing is projected on the Sphere…
“See You Next Live”
With these words, our girls salute all the fans that in this night experienced not only one of the most professional, entertaining and funny shows that the Japanese music industry can offer, but also a once in a lifetime experience. I felt and still feel extremely lucky for having being part of these two unforgettable nights, made special by everyone: The girls, the Perfume Team, the Tokyo Dome, and of course all the amazing fans of the Perfume fandom.
I get outside of the Tokyo Dome in just five minutes despite the endless stream of people, reaching my friends that are already waiting outside the venue. The Christmas illuminations light up the square in front of the Dome, and with our hearts full of joy, we start to walk towards the station. While walking we can see many fans from all over the world smiling and happily talking about their personal experience inside the Tokyo Dome. Everything looks like a Dream, but it’s beautiful reality in front of our eyes, a moment that we wish it could never end.
Though, for us It’s now time to celebrate with good friends, Perfume music, and beer, remembering what has been and probably will always be the biggest concert of our lives, not only in terms of dimensions, but of personal achievement.
Music is passion, and passion knows no borders, and these three girls united more people from all over the world than they could ever imagine.
Perfume 4th Tour in Dome LEVEL3 @ Tokyo Dome – Setlist:
01. Enter the Sphere (extended mix)
02. Spring of Life (Album-mix)
03. Magic of Love (Album-mix)
07. Furikaeru to Iru yo
08. Sleeping Beauty (Interlude – Rhizomatiks 3D Scan System showcase)
09. Party Maker
10. Spending all my time (Album-mix)
11. Computer City
12. Electro World
13. Jenny Wa Gokigen Nanamae
14. One Room Disco
15. Mirai no Museum
– P.T.A. Corner
18. Chocolate Disco (2012-Mix)
19. My Color
A very special thanks to all the friends that I had the pleasure to meet in this incredible adventure. I’ll see you again soon. Love you!