Magma Gigs in Japan 2001
Magma live in Tokyo 2001

I went to Tokyo to see 2 nights of Magma in Japan, at On Air West, Shibuya 30 & 31 May 2001.
On Air West has about a half size of On Air East (the venue Magma played for the first time in Japan 1998) and the hall was full of people as I forecasted. Over 300 (30 May) and over 400 (31 May) I estimate.

On 1st night the seats upstairs were for the authorized only (record company, promoters, press, some musicians, etc.) but on 2nd night a part was open to the public. This time we all must stand at the ground hall but the seats upstairs must stand the poor sound, so my choice was to stand all through the show and sing with them at the front line.

For the 2nd night a 3-girl-band called Ex-Girl played an opening act. In their set lists they sang an extract from "Rïah Sahïltaahk" a cappella, but all the audience were expecting and focusing on Magma, besides they must keep standing in a high density of crowd, some (including me) were anxious that they might miss the last train to return home. Generally the band wasn't welcome. But I think Ex-Girl themselves know they weren't. It's not the band but the promoter to be blamed. Any band in the world wouldn't be welcome that night. I hear in the closing party they again sang in front of Magma and were accepted with smiles and it makes me feel slight relief. To make an unnecessary addition Tatsuya Yoshida asks one of these girls to join Koenji Hyuakkei because KH is in need of female vocalist.

Magma was fantastic indeed. I felt a coherent vibrations of the hall (from both Magma and the audience) that took us higher and higher.(which I didn't in 1998)

Set list :
Theusz Hamtaahk
Wurdah Ïtah
(10 minutes break)
Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh
Untitled Ballad

Line up:

Christian Vander - Zebëhn Straïn dë Geustaah : drums, vocal
Stella Vander - Tauhd Zaïa : vocal, keyboard, percussions
Isabelle Feuillebois - Enör Zanhka : vocal, percussions
Antoine Paganotti - Wöss Këmkah : vocal, keyboard
Jean-Christophe Gamet - Maahn Gëhëhrn : vocal, percussions
James McGaw - Staiïss Ësslëhnt : guitar, keyboard, vocal
Emmanuel Borghi - Iüsz dëh Dzeuhr Ëmëhnëtt : keyboard
Philippe Bussonnet - Gehnohr Dügohnn : bass

There was no break between Theusz Hamtaahk and Wurdah Ïtah, which means they play continuously for 1 and a half hour. They are crazy !!! On 1st night Emmanuel's Fender lost one note while playing Theusz Hamtaahk and must be repaired on the spot. The engineer skillfully exchanged the parts and was highly applauded. (Thank you Mr Ohyama)
On 1st night Philippe accidentally broke one of his bass guitar string at the end of MDK solo part. He had no time to exchange his bass and went on. At last he completely played all the riff of Mëkanïk Zaïn !!! Along with his dynamic solo his stock rose explosively.

Christian often put intentional strange accents with many triplets, which made the rest of the band at a loss. But they successfully overcame it the next night! Christian seemed to play far more exciting on 2nd night. In Wurdah Ïtah he sang a bit himself and sent interjections to the vocalists while drumming. It's incredible that just like a conductor in an orchestra he always listened to every single note while himself doing the best to be a drummer.

On 2nd night in one part of Wurdah Ïtah vocalists and bassist lost synchronization. Christian, as it's a part without drums, with his arms folded, shook his head.
Regarding Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy as long as I saw the second night version is better than 1st. Far more tensional!

All members had their Kobaian name this time and after MDK they introduced themselves each other in Kobaian. On 2nd night Isabelle, though she must call "Tauhd Zaïa", without hesitation yelled "Stella" !. Both Magma and the audience burst into laughters.

When the untitled new ballad started, all suddenly got into silence making a contrast with the enthusiasm in Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy. Everyone held his breath till the last sound of reverberation disappeared. This is the same song as the one performed for the first time at Queen Elizabeth Hall 7 February 2000 and has been played intermittently as an encore. (Once there was a rumour that this song is called "Les Fenêtres Ouvrent (the Windows Open)" but the composer himself told me that it's still untitled). Christian sang the ascension slowly from the earth to the sky. The ballad is somewhat extended. In the latter half Christian sang as if he were a soprano saxophonist (both appearance and sound). I imagine if John Coltrane were there in Japan then he would play like that.

The audience consisted of various ages from old fans like me to youngsters (around 20) who had missed Magma in 1998. I'm sure Magma caught something confident. All the members except Antoine, whose grand father and mother are in Japan, were on the airplane in the afternoon 1 June.

I say again this is the second time Magma came to Japan. Slightly before his departure Christian said "Three years are too long. For me and the band one and a half year is the best."
May we see again next year!!

3 June 2001

1000 thanks to

Shigetoshi Miyamoto
for his report

and to
Hiroki Nishioka
for his photographs

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