Tokyo Diva Fes 2014
Last night I attended a live showcase concert of female singers entitled “Diva Fes”. I believe and am pretty certain the event is the brainchild of Japanese singer Silva. Silva has a long running event series in Tokyo called “The Essentials of Diva” in which she is the resident singer at each one. "Diva Fes" was like the large scale, all-star version of The "Essentials of Diva". Always the event is held on a Thursday night so I’ve been hard up about going because to say the least, it’s not a going out type of night for me for many reasons even though I always wanted to go.
I was familiar with Silva’s voice and fell in love with it prior to this as she was a guest singer at "End of the Year Party: Fiesta de Color”, an end of the year party I co-organized at the end of 2012 in the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. Not only was Silva singing at last night’s event, but my close friend Monique was also on the billing. I’ve had too many incentives to go this time and not miss. This was the big one.
I can’t necessarily say it was a flawless show but overall it was great and I thoroughly enjoyed. The things I liked the most about this show was the venue, presentation, and atmosphere. "Diva Fes" was held at a live house (a term coined by Japanese for a venue where only live music is performed) called Shibuya Duo Music Exchange, and that place has a fantastic sound system and the acoustics are great for shows like this. The intro videos that came on before each singers' stage appearance was very clean and smooth sounding. Those introduction videos helped to set the mood and present the theme of the show in a clear way. The people that attended were from a large demographic pool. The singers themselves appeared as if they were aged between 30 to 45, so it brought in a crowd that ranged anywhere from late 20’s to early 60’s, men and women. The guests seemed big on the whole diva show concept.
Just prejudging the show from the flyer I received. When you see the six girls on the front, all of which are Japanese with the exception of one black Jamaican, you get a sense that the big outside force, the foreigner is the special guest headliner of the show. That wasn’t the case at all. My friend Monique Dehaney who goes by simply the name Monique, was in fact the opener. I found out the day of the event via a Facebook message from her, that she was a last addition to the show roster so she was set to go on first with a limited time of about 10 minutes. She did get to receive some more stage time at the end when all six divas took the stage to close out the show with two group songs, “(You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman” and “One Love”. Monique was awesome through and through.
One of my criticisms (not a show killer for me, just a small quibble) about the show were the song selections by some of the singers. They for the most part were all Japanese, and many had sung some covers of English songs. You can see where I am going with this. When they sang in Japanese it sounded great, but not being native speakers of English, when they sang in English it sounded like good karaoke at best. Silva was OK, and one other singer, Sakura, sounded superb in English. The remaining girls, coming from a westerners perspective, it didn’t sound all that impressive. Growing up on good quality western music I felt like attempting some of these songs shouldn’t have been done. The last diva to go on Yuki Koyanagi, somehow seemed like she was the headliner of the show, I don’t know if she was officially or not. She was a big draw for the audience and had a big fan base there. Unfortunately two of the songs she sang in English, “I Want You Back” and “Real Love” I just wasn’t feeling it. I really hate to sound so disagreeable about her performance because the majority Japanese attendees appeared to have enjoyed it, just not me.
I’m going to close on this note. Again I don’t mean to make it sound like it was a bad show by any means because of any statements I make that appear to be of dissatisfaction. It's just nitpicking is all and everyone did well. Not to make it sound like the girls aren’t talented because they are. It’s hard being a critic when myself and the hundred plus people in attendance can’t sound remotely close to any of them or better. Really they were good girls and I would attend again. And when I do attend again, what would be lovely would be to see Monique be apart of it again. This is not coming from bias. She deserved her place on that stage and I’d like to know she got a second opportunity with some much well needed extended play time. I mean, she just came out with her debut album and have been all over Japanese TV as of late. Appearing in the limelight she would be a great select to come back for a second time. On the show as a whole, I got the concept and I really understood. It’s a great idea. At a time when Japan is flooded with cheesy pop music from people who can’t sing worth a lick, it’s refreshing to have a show organized like this featuring some of Japan’s best with crème de la crème powerful voices. Silva really carved out a good niche market with this one. I applaud the show and the girls.