Buono!’s latest concert tour is underway, and for the first time ever, it will include a stop in the West.  Or actually, it may be more accurate to say that their tour is being interrupted by an overseas appearance.  The distinction may be significant… more about that later.

In any case, Western Buono! fans (like me) were sent into various states of happiness, excitement, and even euphoria by the announcement that they would be performing live in Paris on February 12, 2012.

(The announcement begins at 1:45 in the first video below)

As you can see, the girls are just as excited as we are.  I’ve heard that many Japanese are enchanted by the idea of going to Paris.  I’m sure Momoko, Miyabi, and Airi are anxiously looking forward to experiencing all the famous attractions of the City of Light… which is kind of ironic, because for us, they will be the attraction.  They are hoping to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe… while I am only hoping to see Airi, Miya, and Momo. (“Arc de Triomphe? Oh yeah, that’s cool I guess.  HEY, IS THAT AIRI OVER THERE?!!”)

The 800+ concert tickets sold out within a week (most of them on the first day.) Fans will be converging on Paris from all over Europe, and even some North American fans (like me) will be making the trip.  And of course, there will be a sizeable contingent of dedicated wota from Japan.  But even if you’re a Western fan who can’t be there, this event should make you happy, because it means that Buono! is taking its act on the road… and your area could be their next stop.

The concert date is rapidly approaching, and I am in full preparation mode.  Plane ticket and hotel reservations were bought and paid for weeks ago… I have acquired my green glowsticks (“Airi 4ever!”)… j’étudie le francais… and I am brushing up on the Buono! wota chants, with a little help from the girls themselves.

Also, to get an idea of what might be in store for us, I looked in on the Buono! lives that took place over the past weekend.  No, I wasn’t able to go to Japan and pop into Yokohama BLITZ in person.  But through the magic of modern technology, bootleg fan recordings usually become available all around the globe not too long after the girls walk off the stage.  These recordings vary in quality, but they generally give you an idea of what it might have been like to be there, if you were stuffed inside a backpack on the floor.  And I adore them, and am very thankful for them!

Another thank-you goes to the fan(s) in attendance who reported the set list, and described some of the concert happenings that could only be seen, and not heard.

I listened in full to the day concert from the 28th, and the night concert from the 29th, and also to portions of the other two concerts.  Here’s what I heard:

0. Opening

The opening sounds very dramatic, consisting of majestic organ music accompanied by several medium-size bells tolling (think church bells, rather than Big Ben or jingling telephones.)  Or, as the Google Translation of the barks.jp review put it, “Wrapped in a dark hall, move around a red light, and sound of the bells start ringing…”

1. Hatsukoi Cider

Accompanied live by Dolce.  (The band played live for the first five songs, then took a break during the middle of the concert while recorded music was used.  Dolce reappeared for the final segment of the concert.)

I think Hatsukoi Cider, Buono!’s latest single, is a terrific pop/rock song, and a great, exciting way to open the concert.

2. We are Buono!

3. Nakimushi Shounen

Two more solid songs in the classic Buono! style.  Terrific start.

MC

4. Rottara Rottara

5. Winter Story

MC

Another Buono! classic, followed by a great song that hasn’t been performed live nearly enough.  The topical lyric change was a nice touch: “I wish Merry Christmas for you! And a Happy Valentine for you!”  (Yeah, I know Christmas is long over, but oh well, that’s what the song is about.  At least they changed “New Year” to “Valentine”.)

I couldn’t understand much of what was going on in the MCs, but they were eliciting very enthusiastic audience reactions.

6. Medley consisting of excerpts from:

My Love

Minna Daisuki

Early Bird

Urahara

Koucha no Oishii Mise

Partenza Let’s Go!!!

Take It Easy

Garakuta no Yume

co・no・mi・chi

My Love

And now we have a medley.  Dictionary.com defines “medley” as “a piece of music combining tunes or passages from various sources.”  But they also have another definition: “mixture; hodgepodge; jumble.”  Unfortunately, I think this second definition is more applicable here.  This is a hodgepodge of short segments taken from each of those songs, and put together almost randomly.  I like most of those songs, but to chop them up and reassemble them into a Frankenstein monster just didn’t work for me.  I think they would have been better off performing one full song here, or maybe limiting the medley to longer portions of just two or three songs.

7. Kokoro no Tamago

MC

Nice to hear one of their more anime-styled songs.  And once again, the MC sounded like it was great fun for the audience.

8. OVER THE RAINBOW (Airi solo)

All I can say is WOW.  Airi delivered some of the best performances of the weekend right here.  This is my favorite:

You can tell she’s really been working hard on this.

9. I NEED YOU (Momoko solo)

That Airi performance is a tough act to follow, and I was nervous for Momoko.  It went a bit rough for her in the debut concert, but the rest of the time – especially on the evening of the 29th – she brought it!  I especially love her enthusiastic “Come On!” right before the chorus.

10. Shoushitsu Ten – Vanishing Point (Miyabi solo)

Miya’s best performances were on the 29th.  She seemed to be having some sort of issue on the 28th, with her voice cracking a few times throughout both concerts that day.

11. Internet Cupid

I was surprised to see this in the set list, since it’s kind of a stylistic orphan in Buono!’s catalog, and I thought we’d seen the last of it during the Hybrid Punch concerts.  But they dusted it off, updated it with some booming drum and bass, and it ended up sounding very good.  I suspect the vocals were prerecorded, because they just sound too perfect.  Either that, or they are doing some heavy-duty real-time processing on them.  But I think it makes sense to use recorded vocals here, in order to let them rest their voices after their solos, and before the series of demanding rock songs that will close out the show.  This is just speculation on my part, but if I found out for sure they were lip-synching here, I would not have a problem with it at all.

12. Honto no Jibun

MC

The song that started it all for Buono!  Always great to hear it live. Followed by another crowd-pleasing MC that has the girls dancing to Maru Maru Mori Mori.

13(day). 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou

13(night). Dreamin’ (BOΦWY cover)

Both solid, enjoyable rock songs.

MC (band intro)

14. Independent Girl

15. DEEP MIND

16. JUICY HE@RT

17. Bravo☆Bravo

18. Renai♥Rider

19. Warp!

The grand finale… six hard-rocking songs in a row to get everyone’s heart pumping!  Does it work?  Yes it does, even if the singing does venture too far into “shouting” at times.

-Encore-
20 Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

MC

21 Rock no Kamisama

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! of course features their adorable “going to sleep on each other’s shoulders and being woken up by an alarm clock” interlude.  And Rock no Kamisama is another classic Buono! pop/rock track about three girls trying their best to be the “sekai de ichiban rock ‘n roll girls!”  Which is a perfect way to end the show.

So the question now is: how much of this are we likely to see in Paris?  This brings me back to the issue of semantics that I began with.  Buono!’s current tour in Japan is titled “R•E•A•L” but you won’t find that nomenclature associated with the Paris concert in any official communication.

In fact, if you look on Hello!Project’s own website, you’ll see that the Paris date is not included in the list of “R•E•A•L” live shows, but instead is listed on its own separate page, where it is called simply “Buono! Live in パリ”.  And on the official goods that are exclusive to the Paris concert, the event is referred to as “Café Buono! in Paris”.  Furthermore, the “R•E•A•L” concerts are clocking in at around 1:55 in length (including the MCs and the pre-encore break) whereas the ticket for the Paris show (as well as the Facebook event created by the promoter) lists a duration of 90 minutes.

Of course, that may or may not be a rigid time limit; I have no idea what the concert production norms are in Paris.  Nevertheless, considering all this, we can’t simply assume that the Paris concert will be identical to the shows scheduled around it in Japan.

Still, I would think that the Paris set list will be drawn mainly from the “R•E•A•L” one, since those are the tracks they’ve been rehearsing and performing most recently, and many of their most popular songs are among them.  And at least we know Hatsukoi Cider and Rock no Kamisama are in (see Buono!’s wota chant training video above.)

If we start with the “R•E•A•L” set list, we’ll need to cut out about 25 minutes to fit it into the stated 90-minute time frame for Paris.  For example, we could cut Internet Cupid, the “cover” song (1/3 no Junjou / Dreamin’), and the God-awful medley, and rework the MCs, and that would do it:

1. Hatsukoi CIDER

2. We are Buono! ~Buono! no Theme

3. Nakimushi Shounen

MC

4. Rottara Rottara

5. -Winter Story-

6. Kokoro no Tamago

MC

7. OVER THE RAINBOW (Airi solo)

8. I Need You (Momoko solo)

9. Shoushitsu ten -Vanishing Point- (Miyabi Solo)

10. Honto no Jibun

MC

11. Independent Girl

12. DEEP MIND

13. Juicy He@rt

14. BRAVO☆BRAVO

15. Renai Rider

16. Warp!

-Encore-

17. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

MC

18. Rock no Kamisama

But of course, this is only one of many different possibilities.

The biggest unanswered question at this point is: will Dolce be making the trip with them?   As I write this on February 2, I have yet to see any official “yes” or “no” response to this question, which makes me think the answer is “no.”  I hope I’m wrong about this, but given that there has been no mention of them, and bearing in mind the extra expense it would entail, along with the fact that it’s the norm for idols to perform with recorded music anyway… I’m more than a little doubtful.

So the bottom line is:  don’t be surprised if the Paris concert is limited to 90 minutes, has a somewhat different set list than you were expecting, and does not include any live music.  But if you’re like me, as long as Momoko, Miyabi, and Airi are standing there in front of you, none of this will bother you too much!

Follow me on Twitter for my live updates from Paris.  And look for my full concert review right here on Selective Hearing.

À bientôt à Paris!