If watching an artist’s PVs is what cements my fandom, watching recordings of their live shows is reserved for my top favorites. As the vast majority of my favorite musicians are Japanese and do not travel to the US to perform, DVDs are my only option. For some reason, I never seem to watch live performances when I’ve just gotten into an artist; it takes time before I get around to watching live performances.
The first Ayu concert I watched, if memory serves, was Countdown Live 2007-2008. What I got from watching her concert was that an Ayu show was more than just a concert, it was a production far beyond most live shows. Even when the costumes and performances bordered on the ridiculous, they were still very much worth watching for any Ayu fan.
Since I became an Ayu fan relatively late in her career, I haven’t seen most of her performances in order. Instead, I’ve gone mostly by my personal preferences for the songs performed. As such, my favorite concerts — at least of the ones I’ve seen — are the MY STORY and (miss)understood tours. I am sure, however, that as I see more of her concerts and she performs more, I will enjoy them all the more.
I’ve actually found some of my favorite songs through Ayu’s performances. The first was “RAINBOW,” which I had never heard until I saw it performed and subsequently found it on A BALLADS. It’s not just new songs to me, though; sometimes I’ll find a new favorite through a performance. One that comes to mind is “until that Day…,” which I saw in the Secret tour. I had never paid much attention to it before, but after seeing it performed I found myself enjoying it more when I listened to Secret. (The same was true of “kiss o’ kill,” from the same performance.) Songs tend to run together when I listen to albums unless they all stand out, but being able to associate a performance with it helps a great deal.
Hey that person thinks as if he knew everything about me
Just after we smiled and talked a little together
A big mistake
Nee chotto hohoende kotoba o kawashita dake
Sonna n de marude subete wakatta you na ki ni
Natte ru soko no hito ookina machigai
until that Day...
Another great example is “snowy kiss,” from COUNTDOWN LIVE ~WAKE UP~ 2012-2013. I had heard the song on LOVE again, but I never paid much attention to it until watching the performance. Now, it’s one of my absolute favorite songs.
In a similar vein, sometimes performances of songs I love make me appreciate them all the more. In particular, the performance of "Humming 7/4" from the MY STORY tour was so entertaining to watch that I can’t listen to the song without recalling the attempts of Ayu’s backup dancers to teach the dance to the audience. (Plus the song is too infectious to resist.)
I still have a lot of Ayu's performances to acquire and watch, but I have no doubt that I'll enjoy them immensely and find new favorites in songs I've heard dozens of times. In a sense, they're a gift that keeps on giving in that I can enjoy them long after the lights have gone down for the night.
Will I ever see Ayu in concert myself? It’s possible, if unlikely. Trips to Japan don’t come cheap, and while seeing Ayu perform live in concert is something I’d love to kick off my bucket list, it’s also something I don’t consider a huge priority. Her concert recordings are spectacular, and each and every one I’ve watched has made me feel as though I’m in the place myself. For me, it’s enough.