This concert came on a separate disc with the newly-issued Kobushi Factory debut album, “Kobushi Sono Ichi.” It was recorded on July 19, 2016 at the Otodama Sea Studio, a ramshackle structure on the beach with a small makeshift stage and a crowd capacity of only a couple hundred.
It’s 90 minutes of high energy, eight teenage girls on an extended sugar high. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. They worked up a sweat by the end of the second song (with 16 more to go) and they just get wetter as they go on. Thankfully, they’re wearing comfortable clothing—shorts and light tops, sports jerseys at the beginning and much lighter tops after the fifth song, changing again only for the two-song encore when they come out in baseball shirts and caps for a baseball-themed song.
They do ten of their own songs, including two of my favorites of theirs, “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan” and “Sakura Night Fever.” But they also open with the one that’s my least favorite of their songs so far, “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro,” the Brazilian-themed one they did for the Summer Olympics. Maybe I don’t like the Brazilian style or it could simply be my irrational lifelong hatred of the Olympics, the source of which is clouded in the deep fog of my subconscious. In addition to their own songs, they do five Berryz Kobo songs, two Melon Kinenbi songs (including “This is Unmei,” which they’ve done before), and one H!P Mobekimasu song.
I like their renditions of the Berryz songs, especially “Maji Bomber!!” and “Rival,” neither of which I liked much when Berryz sang them. But these girls do them with a raw power that Berryz had been too polished to achieve by the time they did these songs. Seeing these girls in their casual summer outfits rip into these songs with such gusto constitutes the kind of spectacle that we don’t see in other H!P concerts.
What astounds me is that they keep up the energy level for 90 straight minutes. Yes, they sweat a lot, but they keep going.
Thankfully, there are water bottles at the edge of the stage behind the speakers for them.
All the girls excel in this performance, but my top favorites in the group remain Ayano Hamaura and Rei Inoue. Their vocals are pleasing throughout and despite the sweat and frenzied activity, they remain composed. This is how real stars perform.
Minami Nomura is all elbows, knees and chin and never lets up. (Is she the skinniest girl in H!P or what?) She is absolutely on fire here...and is the third of my favorites. I always thought she resembled Saki Ogawa, a former S/mileage member, but Ogawa never took it to this level.
The other girls deserve shout-outs.
Group leader Ayaka Hirose:
The concert is so relentless that I wanted to take a break to listen to something softer and milder, a Baroque string quartet or something...
On the new album, the girls have calmer, slower paced songs, e.g. “Survivor,” and I wish they’d inserted one of them into the middle of this concert, but then I suspect their energy level would have gone down and might not have come back up for the next fast song. I guess the idea is to keep them pumped up for 90 minutes and let them—and the audience—take a break when it’s over.
I highly recommend this concert, especially if you're a fan of this group, but you might want to take a sedative first. It can leave one jittery by the end.