Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Congrats, Swinging Popsicle, On 10 Years

A congrats to Swinging Popsicle for ten years of playing together, certainly not a short period of time, considering that the average lifespan of bands is usually as brief as a small mammal's. The trio played a sold-out show at the Shimokitazawa 440 to celebrate the decade mark.

What's the secret to keeping a band together so long? There's probably no one formula. A funny thing about Swinging Popsicle is they don't seem like a band that ever slept together in a stinky tour van somewhere—even if, in fact, they actually did at some point. They are some of the friendliest musicians you will ever meet, but at the same time there's a refreshing dryness about the three. It's hard to imagine them getting misty-eyed about the sweat and tears of the early years. They are three great musicians who come together for the music, but the rest of the time each leads his/her own life (guitarist Osamu Shimada has his own great band, for example, called The Caraway). They seem very Tokyo that way.

On stage at the 440 show, though, they talked about how it wasn't always smooth sailing, and vocalist Mineko Fujishima said how one time she told the others that she wanted to quit. She said that bassist Hironobu Hirata had replied, in an angered voice, 'Fujishima, that's unfair (zurui)!' Mineko said she couldn't see at the time what was 'unfair' about her decision, but, weeping, she'd thought it over, and eventually Swinging Popsicle overcame that crisis. Good thing too, because otherwise the world wouldn't have had their latest, outstanding album, Go On, or maybe their earlier albums either. Hirata said he didn't really know what he meant by 'unfair' in that case, it was just what popped in his head, but he's glad he said it because it did the trick.

Their show featured all their big hits, and a cheer went up every time a crowd favorite began. Steve of JapanFiles.com guest-played the keyboard for them, adding richness to their live sound. Toward the end two female dancers joined Mineko for a choreographed rendition of “Chocolate Soul Music” from their latest album. They also showed a short musical film featuring Mineko traveling in the U.S., and narrated in English by... yours truly.

No comments: