Hikaru Utada hunts bitches on her Wild life tour


With Wild life being Hikaru Utada's final performances before her self exile from music, everything had to be done right. And Hikaru Utada did not dissapoint. From the epic opening cinematic which showed Kuma chan plumetting to earth from outer space, only to be revealed as Hikaru Utada - fans knew they'd be in for a night they wouldn't forget. And if that didn't get the heart of a fan fluttering; she kicked off the gig with "Goodbye happiness". Hikaru's good. She knows what we want. And she certainly gave it with Wild life.

Hikaru's Wild life tour follows the overall feel of her previous tours. Most notably her Utada united tour. Big open stage. Musicisans clearly visible. No backing singers. A frilly ass outfit. Flashing lights. And complete re-arrangements of some of our favourite songs.

Hikaru opening the set with "Goodbye happiness" was a surprise, as I was so sure it'd be the song she'd close with. "Goodbye happiness" has quickly become a Hikaru classic. Not only is it a great song, but it has a ridiculously catchy (soon to be iconic) vocal riff and a bloody good music video. The roar from the crowd as the song started was just a small indication of how much love the song has from fans. Hikaru's debut performance of "Goodbye happiness" sounded seriously shaky to the point where I wondered how she'd make it through the song. But oddly enough, she nailed the middle 8 section, which is where I thought she'd either struggle or rely on a backing track to assist her. The song then mixed into one of my favourite Hikaru songs "Travelling", which she nailed to bitches foreheads. The music video is probably one of Hikaru's only music videos where she exudes a deliberate air of 'sex' about her. And at certain points in the performance, she was every part the seductress. Beckoning with her finger and strutting around the stage - holding the audience in the palm of her hand. Both songs were made better by not only featuring the original karaoke's, but the band overlaying it with instrumentations and wonderfully arranged orchestrations.


The setlist was great. Featuring all of the songs you know and love, as well as some surprises. Heart station's "Take 5" was a complete surprise. I was hoping for "Fight the blues" too, but nope. Oddly there were no songs from Distance. But the set list didn't feel as though it had holes in it as a result. "Can you keep a secret" would have been nice though.

Of all the performances, "Colors" and "Letters" were the ones that struck me. The songs were completely stripped down to just live violins and cello's. They were stunning to the point they left me cold and almost had tears well in my eyes. The arrangements were f**king amazing.

And for fans of "Passion", if you thought you couldn't love the song anymore; wait until you hear the Wild life version of it. The live arrangements kicked ass! The same goes for you fellow "Beautiful world" fans. Because the Wild life version rocked so good, that I can no longer listen to the Heart station version.

The brilliant thing about Wild life was that you could tell Hikaru set about ensuring fans got everything from her on that stage. She made herself accessible and both vulnerable by opting for a circular central stage. Such a simple decision and setup made you realize how fearless a performer Hikaru Utada is. She managed to mix subtle stage spectacles with a real sense of intimacy and rawness. Her stripped down performances which punctuated the early stages of the gig were spectacular and really moving. I can't stress how amazing her performance of "Colors" and "Letters" were, and her acoustic cover of John Lennon's "Across the Universe" was really something.


Vocally Hikaru sounded great. There were moments her vocals strained. But the great thing about Hikaru Utada is that these moments occur on her studio recordings and are not edited or omitted. It adds a real sense of grounding to her songs. So when it happens live, you tend not to flinch or think Oh shit, bitch f**ked up a note. It's nothing. No big deal. Hikaru writes and arranges songs which are vocally challenging for her to do live, but she does them anyway. Not once did she duck out of singing a particular note or re-arrange a song in a different key to make notes easier for her to hit. She just ploughed through. "Blue" was tipping the edge slightly and had Hikaru hits a couple of notes I can only describe as f**king awful. But it was a small blip on an otherwise spot on gig.

I always love hearing Hikaru perform songs from First love, because she sounds so much stronger vocally now than she did back then. Many of First love's songs seemed a bit vocally premature for her at the time, because she sounds pretty awful on most of that album. So it's great to hear "First love", "Automatic" and "Time will tell" sound so aurally pleasing now that Hikaru's vocals are at a level where she can do the songs the upmost justice.


Hikaru's Wild life tour was the perfect way to go with a bang. Everything was on point. The set list, the outfits, the set and Hikaru's interactions with the audience. It was emotional at times watching Hikaru perform, because you really got this feeling that it was going to be her last time. Her performance of "Time will tell" was especially moving, as you could see by the end of the song she was almost fighting back tears. Hopefully we will get a DVD of this tour as it was a joy to watch. I'd also love a Wild life 2010 album. Because so many of the songs took on a completely different form to their studio recorded counterparts and sounded better for it.

10 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you didn't mention the live rendtion of hymmne al amour. I thought it was A LOT better than the studio version. Overall the concert was good; she sang most of the songs well, but on a few of the songs her vocals were slightly off, and blue was GOD AWFUL. But since it is a difficult song to sing, and it was mid way through the concert I don't think she did so bac. On Particularly the more upbeat songs her voice sounded a little off, which I found odd because on the stripped down songs her voice was perfect!

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  2. Her performance of "Hymne à l'amour" was really nice. And I agree, it was better than the studio version. It was much more in keeping with Édith Piaf's version wasn't it? But when it came to the stripped down numbers, for me it was all about "Colors" and "Letters" - which I was still sprung from when Hikaru's performance of "Hymne à l'amour" rolled around. The way it got put down on those two songs just overshadowed everything else. Ah, those strings... *drops to the floor and has convulsions at the sound*

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  3. You're right it sounded almost identical to Edith's version. I couldn't agree with you more. In my opinion, her voice was at it's best during colors and letters. I REALLY like the live rendtion of colors. It had so much emotion, and I prefer it to the studio version.It was similar to what she did during her Utada United tour, but her voice was a lot better this time around. As matter of fact all the performaces that had pianos and strings sounded better to me. Sakura Drops, Stay Gold, Can't wait til christmas, and First Love were all near perfection.

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  4. I agree,the arrangements of the songs were in most cases a lot better than the ones on CD. I also loved the cozy atmosphere of the whole show.
    However,I still thought Hikaru'd better get herself a proper vocal training...I personally think that as wonderful a song-writer she is,with all these great songs,she lacks professionalism as a singer,vocalist. Even - say - Jennifer Lopez,whose voice is far from beautiful and original,sings better live than Utada,and that's because she gets professional training. Hikaru,this you should change,seriously...

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  5. @hal WHAT???? Jennifer Lopez sings better live??? I can't believe you just said that. She sounds awful half the time live. Hikaru does not need vocal training! Although some of the performances during this concert weren't great, you could tell that something was wrong with her. She lacked energy, and it was the performances that required her to move around that sounded bad. Her voice was near perfection on most of the songs. Also, have you heard past lives from her? For example, the be my last orchestra live? That was flawless and beautiful. Probably her best live to date, and it made me have so much more respect for her as a singer. Jennifer is talentless when it comes to singing, and even her acting isn't all that great.

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  6. I know,I know.JLo isn't a great singer(nor a talented actress)and I'm not a fan of hers...but I saw one world tour in which she had a perfectly trained,stable vocal performance.Maybe it was just that one time,I'm not sure(like I said,I'm not a fan).
    But hey,Hikki seriously lacks vocal technique...I've seen many of her concerts and that's why I'm so sure about it;)(and I should know because I train vocalists). As much as I love her music...
    Sure,she does have some good performances occasionally(like the orchestral version of "Be My Last")and a beautiful voice (itself).But technically,she sings like an amateur,for most part -which is surprising,considering all the possibilities of training she must have.
    All this doesn't mean that she can't move people's hearts with her voice.It's just from the professional point of view.
    And BTW,I'm not trying to discredit your posts or anything,I'm actually quite fond of them:)

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  7. LMFAO J! I was thinking about the exact same video! @Hal every star has their off days! I Stand for hikaru, and I know when she sings god awful, and during these performance there were a couple of times where she was seriously off; however, if you know the kind of person that hikaru is (based on interviews) she is nothing like these other "diva's" that seem so guarded and afraid to mess up. Hikaru does whatever the f*ck she wants, and people love her for it. You may say that she seems "un-professional", but that's what I love about her. She goes against the grain, and puts out music of substance. She's a breath of fresh air in world where it seems as though most stars are manufactured. EVERY STAR has their off days. In fact, most stars now sound terrible live. I could list them, but the list would be endless. I think compared to most singers she sounds great live.

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  8. Okay,you have a point with Jennifer Lopez.Like I said,I only saw one concert in which she sounded well trained,maybe that was her first tour.Dunno.
    Anyway...
    I'm not criticising Hikaru as an artist,like I said before,I like her songs.But I'm really surprised at how people think she's a great singer.Most modern pop stars sound terrible live? That isn't a good argument to support Hikaru.It's like saying "I know Hikaru sings bad but so do all the others".
    She has talent,but is still an amateur regarding vocal technique whether all the other stars are terrible or not.You should accept the fact that some people may see (or hear)it that way.And I am not the only one.

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  9. I enjoyed watching a live concert in my pajamas :) And I especially liked that it was her concert since this was the first time I had even heard of Ustream anyway. But I agree, she does need vocal training. It's not about being a Diva, it's about being a professional and wanting to do your best for your audience and yourself. She hit several flat notes ok, that's the truth. When you consider the level that she's at as a writer, letting that other important aspect of her performance slide is rather perplexing. I think if she really worked at using her voice correctly it might even open her up creatively. Proper training would protect her vocal cords too. And not smoking would also be a good idea. :0

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