T.M. Revolution, the long-standing solo project of Takanori Nishikawa, made an official re-appearance at Otakon’s 20th Anniversary celebration back in August, and Shattered-Tranquility.net was there to document the highest highs!
When people hear T.M. Revolution, three things come to mind: longevity, versatility, and energy, and rightly so. In the 24th year of his career, T.M. Revolution hopped on a flight across the planet, taking a rare invitation to return to Otakon, the east coast’s largest anime and Japanese pop culture convention, for their 20th anniversary in Baltimore, MD. T.M. Revolution had previously performed at the 10th anniversary of the convention, back in 2003 when attendance was 17,000 – appropriately, half of the 34,000 of attendees seen in August of this year.
To accommodate for growing interest, musical guests T.M. Revolution, along with hip-hop trio HOME MADE KAZOKU, lit up the stage – not at the Baltimore Convention Center – but at nearby 1st Mariner Arena, with a max capacity of 10,000. And this relocation was clearly necessary, as the arena and first tier were brimming with fans, some of whom had eagerly awaited T.M. Revolution’s return, others who had come for HOME MADE KAZOKU, and still others who were entirely uninitiated to the phenomenon that is Japanese rock. Although seating for the event didn’t begin until 3:00 PM Saturday afternoon, fans were (formally) allowed to queue outside the venue as early as noon, although some fans were waiting even earlier.HOME MADE KAZOKU opened up the concert with familiar, high-energy, up-tempo beats and rhythms that got the crowd roaring. The screens flanking the stage reminded the audience which songs were featured in which anime series, though the action seemed superfluous as the fans recognized songs like “FREEDOM” and “Shonen Heart” from the introductions alone. HOME MADE KAZOKU’s MCs, at times cheeky (like Micro “accidentally” enticing the crowd to yell “F— yeah!,” apologizing to the kids in the audience, and then doing it again) and at times heartfelt (Kuro and Micro’s solemn reminder of the importance of being a worldwide family in the wake of Japan’s great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011) made sure every fan left that evening feeling that, “no matter what, we are one big family.”
As soon as HOME MADE KAZOKU departed from the stage, fans were already reeling, unable to contain the excitement that HOME MADE KAZOKU helped stir up. Well before T.M. Revolution emerged, while the crowd was impatiently waiting for the set change behind the dropped curtain, the videos streaming on the side screens were enough to elicit screams and applause and chants of “T-M-R.” When T.M. Revolution did finally appear – flanked by bright green lasers, to the boisterous sound of fans clapping, rhythmically, summoning him to the stage – with nary a hint of hesitation, he dove right into “Preserved Roses,” a well-executed backing track compensating for the absence of duet-partner Nana Mizuki.
Even though Miss Mizuki was nowhere to be seen, T.M. Revolution made up for her absence with such ferocity and intensity that one wonders if a show featuring the both of them would lead to him inadvertently overshadowing her. Such is this man’s presence and power.T.M. Revolution soon established a pattern of rapid-fire segues from song to song, demonstrating a stamina unmatched by performers half his age, as he smoothly and swiftly transitioned from “FLAGS” to “Zips” to Mobile Suit Gundam SEED theme “Invoke“. The only suggestion that the performance ever wore on him would come as the vocalist began to gradually peel off the numerous layers of his costume – first the sweeping, pleated overskirt, then his heavy black fur stole, and eventually his battle vest to reveal a gender-bending halter top that emphasized the rippling shoulders and back of a man whose performances rival sports tourneys in their demand for athleticism and endurance. Fastened at the hip of his final battle kilt, two black tails swung wildly in conjunction with T.M. Revolution’s at-time-erratic motions – either a fashion statement, or a subtle attempt to fit in with the Otakon crowd.
As T.M. Revolution chased light and sound around stage – from dead center to the nose of the catwalk to the farthest edges of the flanks – he held a smile six miles wide, showing that as much as the fans enjoyed seeing him, he enjoyed performing for them. Even when he would headbang, during heavier songs like “Save The One, Save The All,” that smile was hard-pressed to abandon his face – the mark of an artist who can’t help but love his art.
During his MCs, T.M. Revolution repeatedly extolled the crowd for how “great” and “awesome” they were, eventually – finally out of breath – observing that, in the ten year wake of his last performance, “things changed a lot, but you guys never changed.” He took the opportunity to remind the audience that he has a new job title as anime ambassador of Japan and that he would need their help to help bring Japanese pop culture to the rest of the world, a request the audience was eager to acquiesce.
And with that, following a brief, metallic intro, he whipped right into “resonance.” As if newly propped up by a second wind, the breathlessness of the previous MC left not a hint of its presence once he began to perform. As he traveled to and fro on stage, he leapt in the air with the strength and agility of a gazelle, catching impressive air for a man of admittedly modest height.His performance so energized the crowd that the moment he retreated from stage following “HEART OF SWORD ~YOAKEMAE~“, the audience was already chanting for an encore. And in a surprising display of obedience, rather than dragging out the encore call, T.M. Revolution and his band came right back out. Now sporting matching t-shirts (the still-beaming vocalist standing out in black among his comrades’ white), the band returned to stage promptly as the clock struck 6:30. Upon finishing the first encore song – the very appropriate “The party must go on” – T.M. Revolution coyly asked for permission to go on, asking the crowd, “Can I sing one more song?”
For the last song, T.M. Revolution pulled HOME MADE KAZOKU on stage once more, and the two artists performed, jointly and seamlessly, “Tomorrow Meets Resistance.” Despite clashing genres, the two emcees and DJ melded fantastically well into one of T.M. Revolution’s enduring classics, and, perhaps best of all, they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company on stage. As the song ended and the confetti cannons blasted a colorful rain of paper over the crowd, the energy of everybody in the stadium reached a zenith. T.M. Revolution courteously introduced all of his band members, as well as the two emcees and DJ of HOME MADE KAZOKU, as they all made their farewell messages of gratitude and promises to return.
As fans rushed the stage and reached out to high-five and shake the hands of their idols, T.M. Revolution took one final moment to capitalize on the fan service opportunity, pulling his tour shirt over his face, where it seemed to get stuck for a bit longer than anticipated (to much amusement). The two bands, bound by a musical esprit de corps, exited the stage, and the lights quickly came up, but fans remained with their arms outstretched, grasping at the lingering outlines as the experience impressed into a new lifelong memory.
Aug 10, 2013 (SAT) T.M. Revolution at Otakon’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
First Mariner Arena, Baltimore, MD
1. Preserved Roses
5. Save The One, Save the All
7. Naked arms
8. SWORD SUMMIT
10. HEART OF SWORD ~YOAKEMAE~
En 1 The party must go on
En 2 Tomorrow Meets Resistance (with HOME MADE KAZOKU)
Tags: T.M. Revolution