Photos by Mai Nguyen
Japanese singer Akanishi Jin returned to the U.S. in November shortly after his first overseas performance this June (the You & Jin Tour, see APA's review here). On Tuesday November 16, Akanishi came back to Club Nokia at L.A. Live to give his second performance in Los Angeles, as part of his most recent Yellow Gold 3010 U.S. tour. Similar to his previous U.S. performance, the concert was held entirely in English, including 14 English-language songs that are mostly written and produced by the singer himself.
As a former lead vocal in the popular J-pop group KAT-TUN, Akanishi Jin helped the group achieve huge music success, both in their native Japan and in many other Asian countries. In July 2010, Akanishi departed from KAT-TUN to pursue a solo career. The Yellow Gold Tour 3010 is the first time that he performs as a solo artist, making him the first solo artist from the prestigious talent agency Johnny & Associates to perform in the U.S.
The concert opened with a video documenting Akanishi Jin's You & Jin Tour earlier this year. The video also included a short interview with Akanishi explaining the reason that he decided to return to America: "I have always been influenced by Western music a lot," he said, "and I want to take my music world-wide." Akanishi also mentioned that the concept of this tour is a "futuristic" theme -- which is why he named it the Yellow Gold Tour 3010.
The concert clearly demonstrated the singer's American influences. Different from his previous works as part of KAT-TUN, Akanishi's solo pieces were entirely performed in English, with a range of western music genres including rap, hip hop, and R&B. His costumes also reflected such influence: wearing a baggy hoodie and jeans, Akanishi took on a similar style to other contemporary American hip hop artists. Throughout the night, he also had a group of American backup dancers to accompany him on stage. The concert placed heavy focus on dance, dedicating a twenty-minute long session to "world dance" -- introducing the audience to different types of modern dance such as popping, locking, and hip hop. The only part of the concert with Japanese influence was the Samurai dance: a dancer dressed in samurai costume performing highly choreographed dance moves with a sword, telling a story of slaying a demon.
Throughout the concert, Akanishi Jin showcased his versatile vocal ability. He also interacted frequently with his dancers, evoking excited screams and cheers from the primarily female audience. He also made good use of the entire stage, moving around with his backup dancers to attend the audience at different sides of the stage, showing that he is confident and comfortable performing in front of any audience. A memorable and clever moment occurred during the intermission: after Akanishi exited the stage, it was displayed on the big screen that a camera was following the singer into the dressing room, discovering that he is texting on his phone. The screen then went black, and Akanishi's "texts" started appearing on the screen, asking the audience if they were having fun. This made it seem like the singer was interacting personally with the audience through the "text messages" on the screen, which stirred huge excitement among the crowd, closing the distance between star and fan.
However, Akanishi's performance did not achieve the same effect. Although showing his wide range of vocal ability, his voice was auto-tuned for the majority of the concert. While the auto-tune added effect to the music, it created a barrier between him and the audience, as the singer's vocals became processed, sounding less authentic. The audience could not hear his most natural voice that many would expect from a live performance.
Altogether, Akanishi Jin delivered a notable performance as a Japanese artist trying to break into the American market. He showcased his versatile music talent as a singer/songwriter and as a performer. However, the concert appeared to be very similar to the earlier You & Jin Tour, which might seem repetitive for fans who attended both performances. With Akanishi's popularity, we can expect a returning performance soon in the future, where he will hopefully bring us more excitement and surprises.
For more information about Akanishi Jin, go to his official website.