Scandal’s return to London proves an emotional night

It was an event three years in the making. Literally, for me, since I purchased my ticket to see Scandal in London way back at the start of 2020. Due to the pandemic, the concert was rescheduled first to October 2021 and then to September 2022. Each change came with raised expectations and a foreboding feeling that it might never happen.

On September 24, 2022, Scandal finally played to a sold-out crowd in the O2 Academy Islington, and it proved an emotional night for everyone involved.

Scandal pulls on heartstrings in London

Scandal's encore set

Right from the start, there was a charge to the air in the packed venue. Scandal is a band with a strong following all around the world, and it’s no different in London. Forgoing an opening act, Haruna, Tomomi, Rina, and Mami took the stage just after 8 pm and played almost non-stop for close to 90 minutes.

This was the third attempt to put on this concert. Originally, it was to celebrate Scandal’s 14th anniversary and to promote their 2020 album, Kiss from the Darkness. Of course, that was two years and a whole plague ago, so the setlist for this concert was very different from what we might have originally seen when we bought our tickets. Scandal gave fans a taste of what that tour would have looked like during a livestream back in 2020, but nothing can compare to seeing a band play live, so expectations were high. Even before we were able to file into the venue, the sense of excitement in the air was palpable.

Unsurprisingly, this concert featured many songs from Mirror, Scandal’s latest album which released earlier this year. It opened with the album’s title track, giving fans a chance to join in with chanting even if they didn’t know all the words in Japanese. Hearing the crowd taking part in this opening song was an emotional experience for me, and it seemed to strike a chord with the band as well.

Throughout the night, there were moments where the audience’s enthusiasm transcended any language barrier present. At times, the members, experienced and seasoned rockstars that they are, appeared caught off-guard by the energy in the room. If Scandal were worried about their fans’ reaction after not playing in the UK for six years, they needn’t have been.

Scandal concert Tomomi playing bass
Bassist Tomomi

Kiss from the Darkness also featured heavily in the setlist, with “Tonight”, “A.M.D.K. J.”, and “Saishuheiki, Kimi” all bringing a rebellious edge to Mirror’s contemporary feel. Classic Scandal songs were sprinkled throughout the night but certainly weren’t the focus for the band. Tracks like “Shunkan Sentimental” and “Image” showcased the depth of hits that the band has at their disposal, but two of the group’s biggest hits, 2006’s “Shoujo S” and 2009’s “Scandal Baby”, didn’t appear until the encore.

The message felt simple; despite their long history together, this is not a band that wants to rest on their past success. They are looking to the future to continue to build their legacy.

Everyone in the band took a turn providing lead vocals on songs throughout the night, including Rina singing the genre-defying “Kanojjo wa Wave” while also playing the drums. Transitions between songs were quick and relentless, punctuated by the occasional heart-to-heart with the audience. That connection, forged through over a decade and a half of music, was at the core of the concert. You could feel the affection between the band members, between Scandal and the audience, and, by the time the night drew to a close, there was love in the air between those in attendance.

Scandal concert Haruna singing

Few bands could come out with no opening act, confront a crowd that largely didn’t speak their language, and manage to instantly inject the venue with energy — but Scandal is one of the best bands on the planet; they can succeed where others might stumble. 16 years and ten studio albums into their career, and Scandal still feel as full of energy and effortlessly cool as they ever have.

As a concert on the tail end of a difficult tour where they had to cancel several of their American dates after three of their members caught COVID, this was a band that shows no signs of slowing down. I can only hope it doesn’t take another six years for them to play in the UK again.

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