sleepyhead, the solo project (and we mean solo) of Takeru (ex. SuG) has had fans in anticipation since its reveal in late January. Despite this being sleepyhead’s very first show, it managed to completely sell out TSUTAYA O-EAST in Shibuya with a capacity of over 1,300 people.
The stage set contained only the bare essentials: drums, a bass, a guitar, a manipulator booth, and a giant screen flanking the back of the stage. The lights went out and the screen portrayed a visual of a moon – a symbol that has been constant in sleepyhead’s development – that waxed into fullness. Blue lights focused on the audience as support members and a full dance team took the stage. Takeru took the stage last, clothed in black and silver, and incited mass cheering from the crowd.
The first track, Yamikumo, was a song that the audience was already familiar with thanks to its previous PV release. Dancers repeated the dance portrayed in the music video and all fans had their hands in the air, waving to the beat. Lasers tracked patterns like circles and crescent moons on the screen in the back and on the stage for an impressive visual performance.
“Though incomplete, I’ve made my return to the stage…in the end,” Takeru introduced the next song, Kekkyoku. The track’s lyrics were shown on the big screen, as well as a live feed of the current performance. Even fans that were standing in the back had a good opportunity to see what was going on.
“I won’t say, ‘I’m back.’ This is more of a, ‘Nice to meet you,'” Takeru started off one of his many revealing MC’s of the night. He thanked fans that waited for him to come back even though he never made any promises to come back in the first place. He talked about how he spent a lot of time just being unhappy, even though he knew somewhere in his heart that allowing himself to be that unhappy made him “the lamest” guy. So, he made the decision to be the happiest guy in the world. “Are you ready, Tokyo?” he rounded off the MC.
A female backup voice led into the next song, Meitei. SuG fans probably won’t be surprised by this statement, but the setlist over the next couple of songs (Meitei and Nettaiya) had a distinct hip hop and EDM feel, complete with backup dancers. Fans waved towels in the air for Nettaiya.
Takeru showed everyone a taste of his erotic side with WANT ME BACK. The frontman took up guitar, and two dancers with bunny ear masks flanked the left and right sides of the stage. A giant chain (pulled by two male dancers behind the stage) kept them from reaching Takeru directly no matter how hard they tried to get to him. With a rock and roll drumroll outro, the dancers fell to the floor.
“I’m more of a pervert than you thought, huh?” he said in his next MC. “Each [of the bunnies] have names, too: Love and Lust.” He changed the subject a bit and began talking about the significance of the date, March 17. He originally picked the day because it was a Saturday; it was only after the fact that he realized it was also the day of a new moon. He also noticed that one day prior, 11 years ago (March 16, 2007), at that very venue, was where SuG had their first solo show with their final lineup. He had taken his first real step as Takeru of SuG, and now he wanted to take his first step on this new journey.
“A lot happened over the past 6 months,” he said. He had no hopes and felt like he couldn’t do anything. But then he decided to start taking responsibility for how he felt and what he did and this was the result. If you’ve been following Takeru on Twitter, you’ll know he’s been pretty open and revealing about the process of starting up a solo project in the purest sense of the word – completely on his own (albeit with the generous help of many friends).
This turned out to be an emotional segue into a song he wrote to describe how he felt at that time, HOPELESS. The somber, ballad-like mood continued into HURT OF DELAY before the dramatic change to EDM/hip hop in Ato no Matsuri de. Takeru showed off his DJ skills and the dance team showed off their impressive choreography in Taikouteki Shinka. LAID BACK and Kyouen Souzou rounded off the set with smoke columns and the full dance team returning to the stage.
The members returned for the encore in sleepyhead T-shirts. He introduced the support members that joined him that day (Yuuya on drums, Shin on bass, and Kaoru on keyboard and manipulator). Before the encore began, Takeru reiterated to the crowd that the 10 years he spent with his best friends in SuG were extremely important to him, but also that he wanted to create something new together with fans and asked for their support.
Two songs (Meitei and Nettaiya) were repeated in the encore, albeit with more energy. Before the last song, Takeru delivered his most emotional and tearful MC. He opened up about how painful the end of his previous band was and how hard it was to move on and start over again. But he said that experience taught him that it was because of the pain of losing something that important that he was able to start up again. He wanted fans to not give up, no matter how painful or hard things get. A lot of people helped him get to this point, and he felt like he hadn’t been able to properly thank them. He thanked everyone for helping him to grow not only as a musician, but also as a human being.
The ballad-like feel of the last song, ALIVE, developed into a mix of EDM with a rock-sounding chorus. The lyrics on the screen talked about turning pain into hope. The song ended with a bright spotlight on Takeru. “Everyone, the moon is beautiful tonight, isn’t it?” he whispered, bringing the show to a close. The members left the stage and the words “see you next dream” appeared on the screen before fading away.
1. Yamikumo (闇雲)
2. Kekkyoku (結局)
3. Meitei (酩酊)
4. Nettaiya (熱帯夜)
5. WANT ME BACK
7. HURT OF DELAY
8. Ato no Matsuri de (アトノマツリデ)
9. Taikouteki Shinka (退行的進化)
10. LAID BACK
11. Kyouen Souzou (狂宴騒々)
EN-1. Meitei (酩酊)
EN-2. Nettaiya (熱帯夜)