I think it was late 2011, when scouring the latest updates in Jpop, when I discovered Kana Nishino. Her singles always topped the charts, but like a lot of Jpop groups and artists, there wasn’t that much of an appeal to me, I was quick to judge her as dry and generic. I eventually did give her music a try, starting from songs from her third album, Thank You, Love.
So, yes, the day actually came: I have fallen in love with a Japanese pop star.
Kawaii enough for the camera to effortlessly adore her, and with a voice that only has micro-traces of that trademark commercial Jpop nasal singing, Kana delivers her best with her ballads. Her uptempo, urban-beat peppered songs work as well. I would probably like to see her occupy the same throne that Utada Hikaru once sat on, but I think she already has her own pedestal to pose in by now.
The news of her Hong Kong concert came late for me, but there was almost no hesitation to make ways on my end to take another southbound trip again. Besides, I needed to take a sidetrip to HMV, a place I regret not going to the last time I was there. Something about this Japanese music addiction does make you want to get the real albums.
Kanayan Tour Asia 2013
The seat I got wasn’t all too great, but I can clearly see Kana’s tiny frame anyhow, dancing, singing, making awkward, but ultimately adorable, attempts at speaking Cantonese.
When she started her first string of ballads, starting with Aitakute Aitakute, there was no more question in my mind that I made the right decision taking this trip. Without her dancers, without a background stage display, Kana finally took the form I could only imagine myself seeing in her concert DVDs: a gorgeous young woman singing, almost always lamenting, in yearning. Personal favorite Tatoe donna ni (refer to video that started this post) was performed early on, and though I knew it was one of her more vocally challenging songs, she owned every second of it.
Kana’s ‘party’ songs were condensed into long medleys, and the intermissions were made up of interesting soundscapes by her constant live companion, DJ Mass. I’m not one for costume changes, but knowing how Kana is almost doll-like with her album covers, publicity photos, magazine spreads, I’m only nitpicking here, since I can’t fully marvel at her presence from where I was.
The concert’s final song (from the encore) was Best Friend, and she even did a verse, a capella, in Cantonese.
Songs I wished was part of the setlist? Distance, which, like Perfume’s Baby Cruising Love from last year’s concert, was surprisingly not included.
Another one is the last track from her second album, To Love. This was a long shot, as it was not released as a single, but this was an easy favorite:
Nishino Kana – You are the one
Personally, things in life were just falling into place when I was presented with the chance to see someone I constantly listened to, and I am long past the mantra that teenage rock angst heals. A fellow Perfume fan, who was kind enough to show me around Hong Kong that weekend, pointed out a cameraman who was shooting fan messages intended for Kana, right after the concert. I thought for a second, but decided, as exepected, not to even consider.
In retrospect, maybe I should have. Putting away the novelty of my race (only Filipino at the gig? most probably), and my efforts to see her (amidst the pig river massacre? bird flu scare?), I could’ve gotten away with a brief confession of love for her music, and for her.