I want to meet AND shuffle you! (First Concert Aitakatta) Part IA

Just click the thumbnails for my usual track-by-track review!

Screen-capture free version below…

First Concert Aitakatta!

Today I’m reviewing (Who am I kidding? Summarizing.) AKB’s first concert! I’m going all retro for a little while and splitting it into two posts. This is the first with all of the full group songs, and the next will be all of the units. Since this was released as two DVDs, the first being a ‘Normal ver.’ and the second being a ‘Shuffle ver.,’ I’m going to compare the different shuffle performances to one another in the second post.

00. Overture

As usual, tonight’s concert starts with the ‘Overture.’ What’s especially cute here is that they brought in a large scale replica of the Akihabara48 Theater’s signboard from about the enterance in the lobby at Don Quioxte. Behind it they have some sort of scrim used as a curtain to hid the stage for the entirety of the ‘Overture,’ and then both lift up to reveal the set-up.

01. PARTY ga Hajimaru yo

perfectly fitting song to start AKB’s first concert, ‘PARTY ga Hajimaru yo.’ I love that they tried to get this pretty much as close to the original Stage version as possible, complete with a pair of very life-like pillars (They even have the mirrors!) standing on either side of the girls. Though they are obstructing the audience’s view, this just makes the opening even more lifelike, and when they’re shoved away, it almost causes reason for celebration as now the whole auditorium can see the girls perform without any distractions.

The opening set’s costumes are color-coded by Team with pink with blue accents for Team A and yellow with green accents for Team K. They somehow managed to mix the traditional colorful plaids with some sort of plastic/PVC fabric to add some flashiness. This was definitely before AKB realized that sparkles and rhinestones have the same effect without losing a costume’s breathability. I like how they actually match a lot of the current AKB’s aesthetics and pretty much pioneer the concept of having a variety of costumes that are similar, but very much different from one another. It really adds interest to what they’re wearing, and this way you can tell which girl is which from far away much easier.

I love that third chorus with the girls on the two platforms. This is one of those songs where the choreography was rehearsed a ton and it really shows here.

W’sN? I am very glad that Natsuki got to be in the front for so much of ‘PARTY.’ She’s especially adorable during the bridge when the girls all strike a pose. She naturally goes for her catch phrases ‘N’ hand position, but this time with her microphone in her left hand, as she’s currently performing, and that’s the hand it needs to be in.

02. Dear My Teacher

By the end of ‘PARTY,’ the girls have traveled to their starting positions and go into the original transition for another fan favorite, albeit with double the usual amount of girls on stage. Instead of splitting up the Teams like they would do in a concert nowadays, in this concert all of the girls get to sing with the entire group merged into one formation. This allows some pretty cute choreography and interactions between girls of differing Teams. From what I can tell, most of the girls retain their original parts in the A1 and K1 versions, so for the most part it’s just double the voices singing at once.

I’d like a moment to mention the set for this concert: it reminds me of some sort of cafeteria of an all-girls private high school that specializes in magic. It’s all western and turn-of-the-century. I’m unsure of whether or not I like it, but it is interesting. The light-up columns in the back do kind of seem out of place, but I do like the functionality.

W’sN? The first section of the second verse has a very special surprise. In the Team K version, the first three lines are sung by Sayaka, Yuka, and Natsuki, and then a trio line to finish the phrase. That last line just so happens to be a great place to chant, and a reason why Natsuki has listed ‘Dear My Teacher’ as her favorite song. In the shuffle version especially you can hear “Ichi tasu Ni wa N Nacch!” It’s adorable, and also in the shuffle version she gets some screentime right there just in time to see her beaming.

03. Aitakatta

Now they perform their third single, and title song of the concert series, ‘Aitakatta.’ Here they depart their Stage version stagings and go into the single version used for the PV, with senbatsu on the main floor and the other third of the group on the two platforms above. What surprised me is that the girls in the back actually do get to sing. I would have guessed that they’d just have to dance and wave their hands around accordingly, but it looks like I was wrong.

W’sN? She’s in the back-ish. For the first half she’s on the first platform, but she switches to being the only girl in the middle of the steps for a bit, and later goes to the flat portion of the stage with the rest of the group. I love how she’s still getting a respectable amount of camera time, though.

17. Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru

After the units comes the next consecutive single, ‘Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru.’ Just like every performance of the song, only the senbatsu get to perform. (I’ll note that the Team A senbatsu have performed the song alone a few times at concerts and in A3. To date, the only other single that has been performed only by its senbatsu, or at least the same number of girls, is ‘Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou,’ the next single which was premiered in the First Tour 2007 concerts.)

Brand new costumes for this set of songs as well. The white shirt on top is pretty standard, with its plaid trim and mis-buttoned placket. It is possibly from the PV and/or from A3. The skirt is another story. It’s blood red with black lace accents and has a large gather that’s longer than the rest on the right side for the girls to swing around during the chorus. The boots seem to be from the PV/A3, too. I approve of these costumes, though I wouldn’t mind if they had two different reds for the skirts, as these look a little primary for my tastes.

The song begins with the majority of the background lifting off the floor to leave just the window frames and the lit metal columns that were behind the pillars. Now the stage looks much more ready for a concert rather than a musical.

W’sN? She’s not cool enough to sell her body… Yet.

18. Namida Uri no Shoujo

The stage goes black with a few side lights to allow the rest of AKB on stage. They’re wearing the same as the senbatsu, but instead of red, Team A is has blue and Team K has blue. Somehow I like these more. I also like how none of these girls are used in this song at all, but they still get to make an appearance and have more time on stage.

The Team K senbatsu move up to the first set of stairs (which were moved during the units), while Team A’s half steals the mainstage and perform thier closer for A3. I wish they would have allowed a litle more interaction here, as this looks especially silly during the rap. Team A senbatsu is going all out, and Team K senbatsu just kind of slides down before running off to the sides while Team A finishes the song.

W’sN? She’s in back-ish again. But at least she’s on stage.

19. Virgin Love

Finally a Team K group song! Everyone comes back on stage from depositing their shirts on the sides with pretty dresses on. Without those button-ups, we can really see the intent behind the ruffled side: a detail of a party dress. Also, it looks like there are a veriety of strap designs, similar to the A3 plaid dresses. Again, I love these costumes.

The song starts out with nine girls jumping on stage into a very fierce ‘V’ formation (for ‘Virgin Love’) while the rest dot the sides. It seems very stylish compared to the rest in this concert. The ‘V’ (as well as an ‘L’) is echoed throughout the choreography at the ends of the choruses.

I’m glad they combined the Teams again to create a more dynamic effect. I love Stage songs (or B-sides, here) staged in a way that AKB actually performs as one instead of two or three groups of singers. I love the whole Team idea, but when everyone’s on stage in coordinating outfits, I want everyone to work towards a common goal.

W’sN? Everywhere. But not in a great position for the most part.

20. Cinderella wa Damesarenai

Another Team K song, but this time it’s just a plain Stage song, which is something that isn’t often performed in concerts now.

The main stage is taken up by Team A’s top six senbatsu and then the main girls from K2, which means that Masuda isn’t included, but Kobayashi is. That’s right, a yellow dress is dancing around with the red ones. It looks kind of very weird. At least when they play with the lights enough it looks like Kana’s dress (and everything for that matter) is red.

While the non-’Cinderella’ girls make the backdrop, Team A’s super senbatsu take part in just about half of the lines that Team K’s ‘Cinderella’ girls sing. I’m not really sure how they decided they should distribute this one, but it seems a little forced. I see no reason why they couldn’t just bury all of Team A in the back like they did with Team K’s senbatsu in ‘Namida Uri.’ Whatever, though. A few Team K girls got solo lines, and so they’re sort of even with Team A from ‘Seifuku.’

W’sN? On one of the platforms, not really performing, similar to ‘Namida Uri.’

21. Aozora no Soba ni Ite

After an MC, the members come back with white sequined costumes to sing ‘Skirt, Hirari’’s B-side. I find it odd that we’ve seen these costumes so rarely. This is the only concert performance they’re used in, and otherwise I’ve just seen a total of one picture with five Team A girls at some sort of promotional event wearing them. And they’re kind of cute. Take off the ugly grey fabric, and I’d love them. I kind of want to think that they’re from Onyanko Club or something, as they’ve certainly got that vintage vibe about them.

W’sN? On stage right the majority of the time. With lots of camera time.

22. Skirt, Hirari

Finally ‘Skirt’ is performed. Team K’s five unit members from K1 perform on the top layer, while Team A’s Sukahira Seven are on the middle platform. The jean-wearers are all on the bottom in the front. It’s kind of a welcome change of pace to have the non-popular girls right up front.

I dislike how they’re using using the encore version of the song. That means that there aren’t any solo (or duet) lines, but just group lines with the original singers’ voices’ volume turned up a bit.

I’m unsure of my feelings on the encore costumes used here. Everyone has these white t-shirts with a plaid oval with negative space reading ‘mirror’ backwards (meaning you could read ‘mirror’ if you were looking in a mirror) printed on them. I have to wonder if this was supposed to be ironic or was originally a production mistake. Some of the girls have plaid shirts (or just fabric?) wrapped around their waists. Non-Sukahira Seven Team A and non-unit Team K members wear jeans, while the Seven wear a-line skirts and the unit wear fitted skirts. Another thing about those twelve being on top: the higher they are, the better the possibility there is for some up-skirt action. Maybe that was the reasoning there.

W’sN? On stage right again. Definitely not on a platform.

23. Sakura no Hanabiratachi

Now the first single of Akihabara48. They’ve certainly gone with the encore approach again this time, given the lack of microphone stands. There seems to be two different types of ‘Sakura,’ happy and sad. This time it’s happy, most likely because this isn’t some sort of official graduation concert.

As per usual there’s the paper/plastic cherry blossoms falling from the rafters for effect. They certainly aren’t using as many of these as they did streamers in ‘Aitakatta,’ as they aren’t having nearly as much trouble focusing the camera on the girls. And I find it funny that they didn’t stop falling by the end of the song.

W’sN? Everywhere.

24. AKB48

With AKB two-thirds of the way completed, they’re almost ready to perform a complete version of this song. In recent concerts whenever making ‘AKB,’ with bodies, (usually in ‘AKB Sanjou!’), they generally make each Team using its Team members, but in the bridge here, they actually used all of the girls for each letter. While obviously if they used the other approach, there wouldn’t be a ‘B,’ I think it’s nice that they joined forces once again.

Also in the bridge, they’re definitely yelling and attempting a chant. We don’t see that kind of thing nearly enough in concerts these days. With AKB48, there tends to be a too much focus on doing the same thing over and over, rather than varying it up a bit every once and a while to make thing special. The six-person ‘Koike’ in this concert was a step in the right direction, though. Too bad that idea hasn’t been used at all recently.

W’sN? Everywhere again.

25. Aitakatta

The first and only (Japanese), double encore was used in this concert with a repeat of ‘Aitakatta.’ This time the senbatsu members wear their costumes for the PV while non-senbatsu wear the ‘Seishun Girls’ costumes sans vests. It looks like the staging is identical to the performance earlier, but the girls can take a bit more liberties now that the show is coming to a close.

As a neat add-on, there are those balloons with heart-shaped balloons inside of them. The audience seems to be getting a kick out of pushing them on stage and trying to knock the senbatsu over.

W’sN? In the back. Where else?

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