After an absence of more than a year and a half, Akira "Qu-cy" Kushida's "Kimi Mo Solo De Utau-zo!" made its grand return at new home Shibuya Club Crawl last Sunday, welcomed by 50 fan entrants and a slew of spectators.
|Unlike its past 15 editions, this 16th Utau-zo was held at an honest-to-gosh live house, on a raised stage with professional lighting and sound. After years of encouraging fans to sing, Qu-cy wanted to give us the chance to find out what it's like to perform up on stage--and he set a primo example when opening the event with a Kinnikuman/ Jiban/ Xabungle/ Gavan/ Sunvulcan medley.|
|To determine the order of performers, we'd drawn numbered slips of paper before the start. Once the event was underway, as one person sang at center stage, Kushida-san listened attentively at the right (he also emceed for the show's first half), while the next two entrants sat in chairs on the left, finding their chosen songs' lyrics in the provided songbooks. Songs were limited to the first two verses, with a two-shot photo of the entrant and Qu-cy taken between verses.|
|I drew number 4, so headed up onto the stage mind-fryingly soon after the start. I'd translated the second verse of my song, "Kinnikuman Sensation," into singable English, and snuck my page of hand-scrawled lyrics into the lyric book immediately beneath the song's Japanese lyrics while on deck. Come my turn, the first verse flew by, Qu-cy came over and we got our photo taken, and then I showed him the page of English lyrics--"Is it okay if I do a special version of verse 2?" He took a look, and then grinned, "Go for it!"|
|So up on that stage, with the lights changing and flashing, and with the crowd roaring their "Da-da-da!" and "Sensation!" parts, and with my mind in a deliriously happy whirl...I went for it!
After that, with worries out of the way in record time, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show. There were so many superb performances! And talk about diverse--from a striking five-man rendition of "Time Diver," to a pure-genius "Sono Na wa Gaiking the Great" with a pair of chest-mounted red headlights suddenly revealed to invoke Gaiking's eyes, to a startling "Shippuu Xabungle" with the first verse delivered in a heavy overcoat and the second in a mighty brief black negligee underneath!
|At the halfway point, special guests Kenta Satou and Shocker OH!NO! arrived. Shocker served as emcee for the rest of the event, and got the chance to sing too, belting out "Fight! Sunvulcan Robo." (His Nyarome shirt is a tribute to Fujio Akatsuka, creator of "Tensai Bakabon" and "Osomatsu-kun," who passed away on August 2.)|
|Kenta Satou, Red Turbo himself, delivered a memorable "Kousoku Sentai Turboranger" before launching into a lively "1tasu 2tasu Sunvulcan." (Behind him you can see the Utau-zo happi coat; it's a tradition for each first-time entrant to sign it.)|
|Clocking in at about 5 1/2 hours (a few previous editions topped 8 hours), Utau-zo! Vol. 16 came to a high-energy close with Qu-cy's performances of "Kinnikuman Go Fight!", "Uchuu Keiji Gavan," and "Taiyou Sentai Sunvulcan." Afterwards, stationed on the stairway to the exit, he spoke with each entrant and shook our hands as he saw us off. A classy finish for a fantastic event!