Two white and naked mannequins look indifferently as the space in front of them fills with people. Between the two silent figures there is a curtain of glittery stripes and that is the set-up of the stage for EKSTASIS at Akasaka Blitz in Tokyo, the first and only concert of MORRIE since 1992. It is March 4, MORRIE’s birthday. There are five minutes to go, music starts playing, expectations rise. Everybody will have to wait some 20 minutes more, but it might not have mattered after this many years of waiting. The fans seem to move as one body, seem to feel or know of a unspoken etiquette. The musicians enter the stage one after the other and all are greeted with silence. Then there he is, MORRIE, in black pants and white shirt, a black long-jacket worn over it. Self-confident he enters the stage and is greeted with loud applause, with some enthusiasts shouting “Morrie!” here and there. It could have been a classical concert enfolding on stage, but the starting song 「Cosmos (Chaos) no naka ni 」decisively shatter that impression: We are at a rock concert, the darker kind.
The fans have waited long for the former vocalist of DEAD END to return on stage. After the band’s break-up in 1990, MORRIE had started his solo career, releasing three albums and five singles in the following five years. Then it got silent around him, he reappeared twice only for the blink of a second: First in 1999 for a project, then 2004, when he recorded guitar parts for a solo album of KIYOHARU (ex-KUROYUME, SADS). In 2006 he came back with CREATURE CREATURE, only to disappear again the next year.
And now it’s 2012, and MORRIE launches into 「Paradox」, his first single from 1990, with a thundering drum solo. The songs follow one after the other. The stage is shrouded in darkness, lit only by three columns of light, while Morrie plays a snow white guitar to the sound of 「Saru no yume」, exchanging it for an acoustic one in 「Panikku no me」. This was only the first bite. Teasing the crowd with the question, if he should continue, he serves the main dish often without audible break, weaving the songs together with the help of Saxophone, violin and keyboard generated sounds. MORRIE’s music is rather unusual. He sings with a great voice and full tone that might remind of BUCK-TICK’s vocalist Atsushi Sakurai or KIYOHARU and shows what inspiration he was in the 90s to the younger generation. MORRIE likes to create an eerie atmosphere, singing high and low, incorporating disturbing noises into dark ballads that are set off with piercing guitar riffs. Creeping up into the listener’s ears slowly, always surprising. He likes the experimental, combining jazzy sounds of the saxophone with dark rock parts, only to tear down everything to add the high pitch of a violin. But his compositions are never outgoing rock-songs and for all the power in them never lose this subdued atmosphere that is his trade-mark.
MORRIE is in visibly good form, prancing on stage with slow but somewhat fierce moves. Not inelegant, like a predator. He performs 「Inu」, his last single, dating back as far as 1995. But MORRIE apparently did not decide on this live performance to bathe in past glory. Next up is 「Chrysis」 – the introduction of a new song. The drums create a nearly oppressive beat, as MORRIE sings on the top of his lungs, with a full voice to the rock sound of his support member’s instruments. He earns approval – there is loud cheering coming from the audience that had been so well disciplined up until now. MORRIE would not disappoint, he announces 「Hunt」, a second unknown piece. It begins with strange sounds coming out of the vocalist’s throat, as bassist and guitarist work their instruments ferociously. This composition, too, is marked by abrupt changes in melody, ending surprisingly tender and ballad-like, bridging over to two more songs.
Then, chairs are brought onto stage. The audience cheers, they know who is coming now: Greet guitarist YOU in his bright pink shirt, and DEAD END’s bassist “Crazy” Cool-Joe, clad in leo-print and boot-cut jeans. Together they perform DEAD END’s 「Heaven」, for the first time in 20 years. The trio is joined by another heavyweight of Japan’s rock history, KIYOHARU enters the stage. He is unusually tight-lipped and unresponsive to MORRIE’s encouragement to say something - the stage belongs to its main act. But he surely does not hold back his voice, adding it during the quartett’s performance of 「Decoy」. MORRIE says it’s the last song, is there anybody believing him? Sure enough, You and “Crazy” Cool-Joe leave the stage, but KIYOHARU stays for a duet of 「Hakai shiyou」. Then he takes his leave as well, accompanied by the cheering of the fans. MORRIE is visibly satisfied - the last song turns into the last last with「Nagame no ii anata」 and then still one more, 「Memai o aishite yume o mita」. Then he exitsthe stage. The fans applaud. For a minute, maybe more, all is quiet - the invisible rules of the play guide its players. Then the ban is broken, shouts of encore demand more of the protagonist. MORRIE does not need to be asked for long; Three more songs are being granted, the show with the beautiful and slow ballad「Ato wa no to nare, yama to nare」. The END– And hopefully TO BE CONTINUED…
01．Cosmos (Chaos) no naka ni02．Paradox03．Saru no yume04．Panikku no me05．Chinmoku no himitsu06．Ikaros07．Ano hito ni au08．Inu09．Chrysis (New Song)10．SEX setsudan11．Koko de wa nai doko ka12．Hunt (New Song)13．Falsu yo eien ni14．Ijin15．Heaven16．Decoy17．Hakai shiyou18．Nagame no ii anata19．Memai o aishite yume o mita20．Kanki e21．Shisen no kairaku22．Ato wa no to nare yama to nare
Setlist for „EKSTASIS“
01. Cosmos (カオス)の中に02. パラドックス03. 猿の夢04. パニックの芽05. 沈黙の秘密06. イカロス07. あの人にあう08. 犬09. Chrysis（新曲）10. SEX切断11. ここではないどこか12. Hunt (新曲)13. ファルスよ永遠に14. 異人15. Heaven16. Decoy17. 破壊しよう18. 眺めのいいあなた19. 眩暈を愛して夢を見たENCORE
20. 歓喜へ21. 視線の快楽(1901)22. あとは野となれ山となれ
gt:Yutaka Aoki (unkie, downy)bass: FIREkeyboard: Takeyuki Hatanosax & chorus: yukarieviolin: Heather Paauwedrums: Hiroshi Sasabuchi (Tokyo Shoegazer, ex-Plastic Tree)