There are a lot of gigs that have been cancelled this year, but the one I was most looking forward to was Scandal performing in London the first weekend in September. With fourteen years in the industry and a large enough catalogue to fill multiple concerts, they are one of the biggest groups in JRock right now and look posed to stay that way for a long time.
So when it became clear the their London show wasn’t going to happen, I jumped at the chance to see their livestreamed concert on the 21st of August. It is the closest I’ll get to seeing one of my all-time favourite bands live for at least another year.
Scandal’s Kiss from the Darkness Livestream
Billed as a direct replication of the intended stageshow for their cancelled world tour, the Kiss from the Darkness stream was not just a promotion of their most recent album of the same name but also a celebration of fourteen years in the business for these Osaka natives. And for the most part it accomplished that very well. From the lighting to the sound to the energy on stage, it was a showcase of why Scandal has thrived for over a decade.
The setlist leaned heavily on songs from Kiss from the Darkness. Between the hard rock of A.M.D.K.J. to the poppy Tonight to the very garage-rock energy of Masterpiece, Scandal’s latest full album dominated the show. And for good reason, since I would argue that Kiss from the Darkness is their best yet.
Of course, with as deep a catalogue as Scandal has, there is no shortage of fantastic music to choose from. They couldn’t get away without playing 2010’s Shunkan Sentimental or 2018’s Take Me Out, though my favourite back-catalogue performance of the night was 2014’s Departure, which they turned into an intimate acoustic version right before our eyes. I think this was really brave and highlighted a desire to continue to surprise their fans even more than a decade into their career.
Sure, I was disappointed some of my personal favourites like Overdrive or Sisters didn’t make it onto the setlist, but considering how long Scandal have been together for fourteen years and put out an impressive nine studio albums in that time, even a full two-hour concert couldn’t contain all their music.
The show was recorded via multiple cameras and a lot of thought went into giving those watching online the best possible experience. Camera angles switched frequently to showcase each member of the band, giving views that wouldn’t have been possible at an in-person event. It felt like watching a DVD of a concert, edited to portray the band as effectively as possible. It made a change from other live events that have been recorded from a static camera or two, making this one of the more polished musical events I have seen in this lockdown summer.
The band even managed to capture a bit of the spontaneity that makes live music so magical, particularly when Tomomi and Mami flanked vocalist Haruna while wearing face shields. Seeing her struggle to keep from laughing at the two reminded us that there is a friendship at the heart of this group that keeps them going strong.
In all, it was a great show. The only thing missing was the live audience. Shifts in the set-up, normally done quickly while the venue is cheering, were slowed by the need for social distancing and eerily silent while things were moved around. I desperately wanted to be part of the crowd’s energy, lifting the band up and propelling them forward.
Still, even this wasn’t enough to dampen the experience for me. Which is good, because Scandal have already promised something special for next year to celebrate their fifteenth anniversary in the form of a big show in Osaka. Hopefully by then the world is a bit safer and we can enjoy this band’s music in person. I know I will certainly be looking out for their next live event to happen in the UK.
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