With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, May 05, 2017

Godzilla Legend - Music of Akira Ifukube - live performance at Japan Society NY reviewed

Special guests Charan-Po-Rantan and Makigami Koichi (center) performed in Godzilla Legend—Music of Akira Ifukube at Japan Society on April 28, 2017. The concert was conceived and arranged by Inoue Makoto (far left) and performed by the band Hikashu and other special guest musicians. Photo by Ayumi Sakamoto. 

Last Friday, April 28th, I had the extremely good fortune of having a press seat at Japan Society's presentation of Godzilla Legend - Music of Akira Ifukube, a live performance by the innovative and talented Japanese band Hikashu, which was founded in 1978, and several guest artists.

The Godzilla Legend project leader was Inoue Makoto, a founding member of Hikashu, who plays synthesizer. Although he left the group in 1991 to pursue other projects, he still performs with them for the Godzilla Legend concerts. He arranged several Ifukube compositions for Hikashu's debut concert and has been involved in several other Ifukube-related projects, as well as serving as score manager on the Shin Godzilla film (2016). At Friday night's performance, he also provided brief introductions to the event's six sections.

The current members of Hikashu include:

- Makigami Koichi (vocals, theremin, gong); a co-founder and now the current leader of Hikashu
- Mita Freeman (lead guitar)
- Sakaide Masami (bass guitar)
- Shimizu Kazuto (piano, synthesizer)
- Sato Masaharu (drums)

Appearing as guest artists were:

- Tatsumi Kogoro (trumpet)
- Goto Atsushi (trombone)
- Yoshida Ryuichi (baritone sax)
- Charan-Po-Rantan, a sister duo comprising vocalists Momo and her older sister Koharu, the latter who also plays accordion

If you are familiar with Frank Zappa and his group the Mothers of Invention, and can imagine him as a Japanese musician in love with Ifukube's Godzilla music, you'll have some idea of what the performance was like. If I had to use one word to describe the evening, it would be "spectacular."

After performing the planned program of music from various Godzilla movies, including the 1954 original, Rodan (1956), Mothra (1961), and others, the band came back onstage for  two-number encore. A vocal number was followed by an incredible version of the original Godzilla theme that built to a rousing crescendo.

I didn't see anyone still in their seat after this final number ended, but if anyone was, I'm sure it must have been due to a medical infirmity.

It was one of the best concert's I've ever attended, and I've seen Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and other great musicians perform live.

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