Shiina Ringo 2018 – the tribute, the 20th anniversary, the Russia trip

2018Ringosexy5

How relevant Shiina Ringo exactly is in 2018? Some gave up, some chose Seiko Oomori, I largely listen to Ayano Kaneko now, though she’s someone completely different. Hence, my answer – Ringo continues to be fairly relevant on my playlist, but that’s about as much as I can say, other than that the opinions of the rest of Ringo fans community vary greatly.

This year marks Ringo’s 20th anniversary since she debuted in the music industry, and as such it came with a new tour, a tribute album, and oddly enough, she paid a visit to Mother Russia (?!). What can we make out of it all? Will an apple and a cat be replaced by the hammer and sickle? We can only speculate.

First things first. Back in May, a tribute record was released, entitled Adam to Eve no Ringo (アダムとイヴの林檎) – Adam and Eve’s Apple. I get it, how clever.

A wide range of well-established Japanese artists featured, including Utada Hikaru, Yosui Inoue, Kaela Kimura or Takao Tajima… Let me just say, I do think Ringo’s voice is idiosyncratic. In this context, it boils down to the fact that covering her songs and making them at least just as good is nigh impossible. And so, yeah, some of those tunes were murdered.

Refer to the list of main victims and offenders below.

*本能 (Honnou) – essential Ringo butchered by RHYMESTER. I dunno, maybe it’s my damn fault I like covers to be true to the original, but rapping seemed extremely excessive.

*すべりだい (Suberidai) – my beloved song butchered by 三浦大知 (Daichi Miura). AAAAH! Make him stop!

*幸福論 (Koufukuron) – my beloved song butchered, and turned into elevator music by Rekishi.

But what do I know. The new versions I actually enjoyed the most are 自由へ道連れ(Jiyuu e michizure) by 私立恵比寿中学 (Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku) – an idol girl group (it really works guys!) and Yosui Inoue’s Carnation which he completely Yosui-Inoued, like the badass timeless bard he is.

It’s alright, isn’t it?

I guess I just don’t understand the point of such releases. Maybe if you like the artists who do the covering the perception is different. One tribute that’s setting the bar for me is Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and I don’t see it getting topped in this century.

Long story short – listen to it once if you want, then just forget it. I surely did.

http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/product/UPCH-20485

In June, Japanese television station NHK decided to broadcast a program which would shine some light upon the culture of the country which organized FIFA World Cup this year.

So, Shiina Ringo was banded together with an acclaimed writer Kanako Nishi, and a choreographer MIKIKO (she worked with Perfume and BABYMETAL), and then the women flew on a trip to Saint Petersburg. The special show was entitled – Neko ni mata tabi ~ shinaringo MIKIKO nishi kanako Roshia o iku ~ (猫にまた旅~椎名林檎・MIKIKO・西加奈子 ロシアを行く~ – Another journey of the cat(?) – Shiina Ringo & co. go to Russia).

The three stars sightsee some local historical landmarks, visit an old cat lady, watch a balalaika band rehearsal (the band erupts into NIPPON at one point) and a ballet practice (some Japanese girls work there). Ringo, Nishi and MIKIKO also visit a modeling agency, and learn how to walk model-way, which was pretty awkward; much to the amusement of her friends, Ringo blurts out how one of the Russian models reminds her of Shutoku Mukai (Number Girl/ Zazen Boys).

Last two stops were Dostoyevsky museum, and a drop over at a Russian family’s home, (kiddos have proper Slav hairdos) where they enjoy cuisine and family singing.

Throughout the program, some of the Ringo’s songs are played, neko references constantly pop up, and there’s Japanese dubbing for Russian people talking – that’s Japanese television for ya.

Last but not least, WOWOW recently aired a cut version of May 17 Ringo’s show. From what I’ve seen, it does feel a lot like 2015 tour – maybe a bit less flashy? Some people complained about Ringo being not much into it, and I gotta agree, her peformance seemed kinda automated at times.

Setlist:

人生は思い通り(Jinsei wa omoidōri)

おいしい季節 (Oishi kisetsu)

色恋沙汰 (Irokoizata)

ギブス (Gips)

意識 (Ishiki)

JL005便で

少女ロボット (Shoujo Robot)

弁解ドビュッシー (Benkai Debussy)

浴室 (Yokushitsu)

薄ら氷心中 (Usurahi Shinjuu)

暗夜の心中立て (An’ya no shinjūdate)

眩暈 (Memai)

おとなの掟 (Otona no okite)

重金属製の女 (Heavy Metallic Girl)

静かなる逆襲 (Shizuka Naru Gyakushū)

華麗なる逆襲 (Karei Naru Gyakushū)

孤独のあかつき(Kodoku no Akatsuki)

自由へ道連れ (Jiyuu e michizure)

人生は夢だらけ (Jinsei wa Yume Darake)

I was pretty disappointed with the songs included in the cut. I’m not a fan of the opening 2 songs, especially Chiaki Kuriyama’s Oishi Kisetsu – the tune remains cringy, even when it’s Ringo singing it.

The swingy, jazzy arrangement on Irokoi was pretty decent though. Ringo would have to really try to ruin Gips for me, being one of the best songs in her catalogue, and I’m glad she didn’t experiment with it – enjoyable performance. Ishiki ain’t too shabby either.

One thing I have to mention though – up to this point, Ringo’s pretty much cosplaying as Eucliwood Hellscythe from Kore wa Zombie desu ka? anime, wearing a fucking knight armor and helmet. I mentioned some jazzy arrangements earlier, and Ringo’s dead serious during Gips, and that’s all the while wearing that crazy attire.

Clothes change comes with JL005.

Benkai Debussy rocks pretty hard, I like the horn section there, makes for a nice addition.

I love Yokushitsu, and usually Ringo from EXPO 08 appears before my eyes when I hear it. She looks pretty hot here, when she messes up her hair, wearing that yukata and nightwear.

She gets fairly emotional and all sultry during Usurahi Shinjuu and An’ya, rolling on the floor and stuff.

Ero Ringo

Memai is the tune I haven’t heard in a while, and back to the complaints I mentioned, it did feel out of place here, with Ringo not giving her best.

Otona is skippable, Metallic Girl was decent, Shizuka Naru at this point is just annoying, and I couldn’t give a damn about that SMAP’s song either.

My best compliment for Kodoku is that it sounds better here than on record, but it doesn’t say much. Say what you want, but I like Jiyuu. It’s a rocker song with a cool riff.

Jinsei wa Yume Darake closes the recording – I’m not really convinced regarding that song in general, but Ringo does put her voice to use in this one, and it’s a solid point of the concert.

Her vocal performance overall was pretty good, I don’t really remember any dreadful moments when her voice gave out.

I assume (I hope) the full concert had like 10 more songs, and I’m pretty sure there will be a dvd/blu-ray release soon.

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