It’s considered a great feat for an idol group to stage a concert at the prestigious Nippon Budokan, let alone a solo artiste. Yet that’s exactly what Airi Suzuki did on July 9 2018, when she single-handledly brought 10,000 concertgoers to the huge arena. It has been four months since her first one-man live in March, and since then the former ℃-ute and Hello! Project member has performed concerts in Tokyo and Osaka and released her first solo album. It’s been a whirlwind of a time, but Suzuki showed no signs of slowing down as she unleashed a storm at the Suzuki Airi 1st LIVE～Do me a favor @ Nippon Budokan.
Or rather, Dudokan—Suzuki’s concert already made a stir even before it began when fans noticed that the sign had mistakenly spelled Budokan with a D. It quickly became a trending topic and even online news, and Suzuki playfully called out fans for teasing her famously poor pronunciation. The sign was later promptly corrected and replaced. It was an endearingly humorous slip-up, and everyone took it in stride.
Needless to say, the concert had no such incident. The highlight of the night was the impressive “chameleon” act that Suzuki pulled off by having 13 different costume changes, donning an entirely different costume for nearly every song.
Branding herself as a “15th year newcomer”, Suzuki showed the sheer amount of talent and star power that had brought her thus far to this stage. Thousands of penlights doused the arena in pink as fans waited, and when the lights dimmed a roar of anticipation rose.
“Do you know the real Airi Suzuki?” The VTR dropped this big question before the music boomed out into the audience. Suzuki herself flickered into being onstage, as lights and shadows danced across her. She jumped straight into the heart of the concert and kicked it off with “DISTANCE” from her solo album. Together with the dancers in the back, she started with a bang as fans brandished their penlights to the dance track. She immediately segued into the band number “Mikansei Girl”, getting the audience pumped up with a powerful melody, before launching into Be Your Love with its cool and sexy dance choreography. Here the band members were given the spotlight, each getting a snippet of introduction time before recalibrating the concert.
The music took on a bubbly, energetic beat. A colorful VTR appeared on screen, and a cartoon-like Suzuki on screen greeted the fans cheerfully as she asked everyone to let her hear their voices. Everyone eagerly let out their cheers, and the real Suzuki popped out of a giant candy box. She sang “Candy Box”, showering everyone with delight as she skipped around the stage filled with bright colors and giant candy. A few minutes ago she had been dancing sharply in a black rock outfit, but she had effortlessly transformed into pop colors and sugary sweetness in the span of a song.
The scenery changed, and this time fans watched Suzuki sing the soulful “Moment” under romantic streetlights in a feminine dress. The lights mellowed out together with the atmosphere as she perfectly played out a love story on stage. The next song “Iinjyanai” saw her in an elegant floor-length dress, as she delivered a soulful performance that soothed the audience’s hearts. Exuding maturity, the seasoned singer showed how much she had grown since the beginning of her idol days.
That said, when skilfully changed gears once again, she went back down memory lane with a nostalgic performance of “Ookina Ai de Motenashite” by ℃-ute. It was like watching young Suzuki all over again; she was every bit as fresh as she had been during the early days of her career. The fans danced along with her, perfectly mimicking the memorable gestures of the cute song.
The idol-like mood then gave way to an aggressive dance track, smoothly pulling the audience in for the ride. Going from sultry to stylish to sweet, the multifaceted Suzuki cycled through the different characters. She eventually paused to greet the fans in her first MC and welcome everyone to Budokan, Suzuki thanked them for coming to see her and in return promised to deliver her best performance that night. She promptly followed up on that promise, and dove back into the setlist with an original, unrecorded song. “Watashi no Migi Gawa” had her acting out a yakiniku date, as she cheerfully sang while ‘cooking’ meat on stage. By this point the fans were likely deep in love as they imagined themselves on a date with the charming Suzuki (even if she accidentally dropped the meat at one point).
She continued putting a smile on the fans’ faces, right up till her special live song “No Live, No Life!” where a quick YouTube-style VTR taught the important fan gestures and chants to go with the song. Everyone delivered right back to her, perfectly chanting to Airi’s energetic vocals. Having energized the audience, the music faded out—only to rise back up as Airi’s clear voice filled the entire arena with the iconic opening line of Buono!’s “Hatsukoi Cider”. This proved to fire up the venue even more, as deafening cheers met the legendary song.
And so Suzuki charged through the rest of the concert, marching straight into the center of the arena with a grand #DMAF flag. Power and confidence radiated off the idol veteran as she took the stage, flanked by her band members and pillars of smoke. It was a majestic scene, and one that both Suzuki and the audience fully embraced. During “Hikari no Hou e”, streamers burst out from the roof and showered the arena with shiny confetti, fully immersing it in Suzuki’s energy. The fans blew balloons and released them into the air, creating an thrillingly colorful spectacle. She concluded the main setlist with another performance of “start again”, before departing the stage and giving way to the thundering encore calls.
When Suzuki returned she swept the fans away with the emotional “#DMAF”, her steady voice thoroughly soaked in feelings of gratitude. Clad in her own tour T-shirt, she thanked the fans again and spoke about the journey towards her solo debut. “This is my start line”, she declared, and asked the fans to follow her on her new path. The hidden theme for this Budokan live had been ‘Chameleon’ and true to it, Suzuki had shown a multitude of different sides to her. Which one had been the fans’ favourite?
The encore concluded the concert in a rush of nostalgia, going back to her roots with her first solo song “Tsuugaku Vector” and giving a last shot of energy with “Yes! All my family”. Finally, she sang “Watashi no Soba de”, addressing each and every one of the fans with her sincere passion for singing. The night ended on a high note as Suzuki’s voice remained strong and powerful right till the very end. It left a cloud of promises and potential; there was more to come.
At that moment, a surprise announcement jumped onto the screen: a national live tour across 7 cities this fall. The curtain closed at Budokan, but Suzuki had already leaped on to the next step with the support of her fans behind her.
2. Mikansei Girl
3. Be Your Love
4. Candy Box
7. Ookina Ai de Motenashite
8. perfect timing
9. Tabun ne、
10. Good Night
11. Watashi no Migi Gawa
12. Kimi no Suki na Hito
13. No Live, No Life
14. Hatsukoi Cider
15. Independent Girl～Dokuritsu Joshi de Aru Tame ni
16. STORY(Airi Suzuki with SCANDAL)
17. Hikari no Hou e(Airi Suzuki with Akai Kouen)
18. start again
EN1. #DMAF(Airi Suzuki with SPICY CHOCOLATE)
EN2. Tsuugaku Vector
EN3.Yes! all my family
EN4. Watashi no Soba de
Airi Suzuki official site: http://www.airisuzuki-officialweb.com/
Airi Suzuki Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/airisuzukich/
Airi Suzuki blog: https://ameblo.jp/airisuzuki-officialblog
Airi Suzuki Twitter: https://twitter.com/airimania
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