Thursday, October 14, 2004
Hartfield's First Solo Show, At The Shelter
The rain has finally stopped. A cool autumn breeze is blowing outside. I’m drinking a beer at a soccer bar in Shimokitazawa called Palazzo, and Velvet Underground is playing in the background. And I’ve just been to the historic first solo live show of Tokyo rock quartet Hartfield.
Doing a one-band show for the first time is a rite of passage for Japanese bands, a sign that a group is becoming successful. Fans come to the show en masse to celebrate. True to form, the small but prestigious Shelter was packed tonight with Hartfield fans, who were a jovial bunch.
Hartfield's Komine and Kagawa.
Hartfield hit the stage about 7:30 and played two joyful hours. They’re a good-looking band. Particularly striking is guitarist Yukari Tanaka, a long-haired Japanese woman who wears a white dress and plays a pale Flying V guitar.
Their sound reminds me of My Bloody Valentine – the same combination of feedback and distortion (singer and guitarist Takateru Kagawa uses about a dozen effect pedals) and catchy melodies. And like My Bloody Valentine, a guy, Kagawa, and a girl, Tanaka, share the singing duties. I love such duets because they have the potential to create gorgeous music, and Hartfield’s two do.
Tonight, for this special occasion, there was a treat: we got to listen to what might be called Hartfield Unplugged. Like the MTV show, for two songs Hartfield went acoustic, and they sounded wonderful.
When Hartfield’s sound was stripped of amplified, feedback-laden electric noise, what was left was straightforward, satisfying music. Without feedback, you could clearly hear what strong, pretty voices Kagawa and Tanaka have.
Not that they should become a folk music group or something... Every night they play a rock show they have thrilling moments that make it worth going to shows.
The two songs they played during the Unplugged session were ‘Merchen’ and ‘My Christiana’ from their mini-album L.I.B.R.A. (which I figured out recently means ‘Leave It Before Ruins Again').