Saturday, October 10, 2009

Advantage Lucy & D.W. Nicols At The Que

I've been curious about a band called D.W. Nicols, mainly because of the name. It must refer to C.W. Nicol, the Wales-born writer and environmentalist, who lives up in the hills of Kurohime, Nagano Prefecture. After adventuring in the Arctic and Ethiopia, Nicol came to Japan to learn karate, wrote a book about whaling, befriended authors like the late Takeshi Kaiko, and is now a Japanese citizen. Are these guys fans? I tried to find an explanation of their name, but was unsuccessful.

D.W. Nicols was playing with advantage Lucy at the Que, so I had a chance to see them. A two-guy, two-girl quartet, they were unusual in that the girls made up the rhythm section, while the two guys took care of the guitars. Their overall sound was blues-rock and country-rock. The songs were well written, the playing skilled, and the lead vocalist guy had a good voice and was an engaging character. But, in spite of all that, they didn't leave a deep impression with me. Maybe it's because they're still a young band.

Advantage Lucy were great. They're an innovative band, always trying novel things, without sacrificing their melodious pop goodness—a new song they played that night used not one, but two melodicas! There's assurance in the way they perform, a product of a decade-plus career plus talent. Some of the old songs they played, like “Citrus”, “Kaze ni Azukete” and “Memai” I've listened to so many times that they feel like a part of my body. Hearing them played live reminds me they're part of me, the way its pumping makes me remember the heart, or the stomach asserts its presence after a great meal.

I heard Lucy vocalist Aiko say once that, although it may appear so, she doesn't actually cry during songs, because it ruins her voice, and she thinks about other things to avoid it. But now I'm not sure if she was being entirely honest. At the Que show, during those old songs, her eyes became noticeably red, even seen from the back of the crowd where I was. She has also said that she knows a melody that guitarist Ishizaka-san writes is good when it makes her cry.


During the two shows, at the front-center of the crowd was a petite Japanese man, who hopped manically during the shows, the height and speed of his jumps appearing to increase in line with his excitement level. He stood out in a relatively staid audience, and there must have been a few funny looks directed his way, but I liked the guy. I dreamed he didn't actually exist, but was some spirit of rock 'n' roll, absorbing the great music and becoming energized by it.

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