SERAPH Premium Showcase 2.24.2019
SERAPH, the solo project of Shinya (DIR EN GREY) featuring artist Moa on piano and vocals, first began activities in Spring 2017. Nearly two years later, fans were invited to Shibuya Mt. RAINIER HALL to hear SERAPH’s songs live for the first time (and on Shinya’s birthday, no less!). Fans were advised to keep seated for the entire show, setting a completely different mood from all-standing DIR EN GREY shows. Those who know about SERAPH wouldn’t have been surprised, though, if they’d already listened to the project’s melodic, semi-orchestral music.
The stage was backed with a white screen, and all instruments and music stands—save Shinya’s drum set—were covered in white cloth. All of the members that day were covered from head to toe in white as well; the string ensemble in white dresses took their seats one by one. Moa and Shinya entered on a raised platform on the back of the stage, the former in a voluminous white gown and the latter in a white dress shirt and suit, with a single black glove.
On the white sheet and cloths on stage, video footage of dark clouds were accompanied by strings playing at a slow tempo for the first song of the night, Destino. Echoing and haunting vocals (on backtrack) entered next, followed by Moa’s entrance on piano and Shinya on drums. Blue spotlights and dramatic instrumentation gave Destino a dark feel, with images of statues on the screen giving it a sense of elegance. An interlude of low piano and bass drum was followed by a high and trilling violin solo before the song came to an abrupt end.
Shinya bade the crowd good evening and introduced Destino (Italian for “destiny”) as a song that Moa made in Italy. It was also used as the opening theme song for the Japanese movie Reigantantei Quartet. He then introduced the next song, Abyss, as a song about a forgotten city deep under the ocean. The resulting tune was a dark battle between piano and drums.
Sauveur, the third song in the set, was made when Moa was in France. The waltz inspired images of elegance, high class society, and luxury, with pretty vocals and strings. Visually, the stage was splattered with scenes of chandeliers, ballrooms, and soft yellow and red tones. Shinya kept a steady waltz beat with the drums.
Before the next song, Shinya talked a bit about preparation for the day’s show. He said it was almost like a puzzle trying to arrange all eight members (Shinya, Moa, two violinists, two violists, and two cellists) on Mt. RAINIER HALL’s stage, but he’d wanted to play at that specific venue for a long time. Then, he introduced perhaps the most musically diverse piece of the night, Uisce. Gaelic for “water,” the song tells a story of a people who live on the coastline of Ireland and experience both the sea’s beauty and wrath. An image of a beautiful sunset, soft piano, and vocals started off the song, almost like the gentle and soothing sound of ocean waves. When Shinya entered on drums, the stage was bathed in red light and dramatic strings changed the mood to a chaotic one. Gradually, the song returned to its original serenity, with drums becoming less pronounced and the addition of chimes.
“I don’t normally get nervous when I play drums, but I’m nervous tonight because I have to talk so much…” Shinya said. Then he introduced the song the crowd was perhaps most familiar with, Génesi. Though the song was released nearly two years ago, he explained that this was like its first unveiling, to which the audience applauded. The pretty and melodic song’s lyrics were displayed on the screen, with key words highlighted in English such as “outer space” and “dream” and “mountain” to set the mood.
Shinya thanked everyone for coming and said the next song, Kreis, was the final one. German for “circle,” the song is supposed to represent the connection of all things in nature and his wish to not harm nature. The drummer also said he wanted the crowd to sing along, “but you probably don’t know the words yet.” Clear vocals and piano introduced the song before drums and strings crashed in. The slow tempo and pronounced rhythm gave it a dramatic ballad feel, with bright tones and high strings. Images of mountains, flowers, and other beautiful scenes of natures filled the stage.
The last song came to another abrupt end, and then the name “SERAPH” was displayed on the back screen. The members of SERAPH made their exit as they came in, one by one, with Shinya waving to the crowd last.
Photos by Lestat C&M Project