After lining up for hours, fans of Japanese composer and pianist Yoko Kanno were let into the basement hall of the Baltimore Convention Center at noon on Sunday afternoon to be seated for a once-in-a-lifetime concert.
Yoko Kanno’s performance was opened by vocalist Chiaki Ishikawa who performed a short, yet pretty set of songs in Japanese. As she performed her second song, Uninstall, the audience grew still and captivated by her passionate vocals. Her set list was very short, and it seemed like there may have been technical problems with her microphone.
After a brief intermission, Yoko Kanno appeared on stage wearing a pair of black ears to wild cheering.
And then she started playing.
Her performance started out quickly with Tank!, the opening theme song to wildly popular anime Cowboy Bebop. The crowd cheered the moment she started playing. After several songs, she paused, and then lifted the top of the grand piano to reveal the rest of its white, fuzzy surface.
The piano’s surface became a canvas for visual effects projected from above. Soon, the visual effects exploded off the canvas as the music grew more tense, filling at first the stage, and then the entire room. By the end of the concert, it felt as though she could move the universe by her fingers alone.
She left to a standing ovation, one of many, which continued for two minutes until she came back to oblige the audience with three more encores.
After the performance, Yoko Kanno said: 「私をステージの上で一人にしないでくれてありがとう。 一緒に音楽できてうれしかった。 待っていてくれた方、この機会をくださった方、 piano meを通じて出会えたすべての皆さんに感謝します。」
English Translation: “Thank you for not leaving me by myself on the stage. I was very happy we could make music together. To the people who were waiting for me, to the people who gave me this opportunity, to everyone I met through ‘piano me’, Thank you!” – YOKO KANNO
Otakon 2013 happened August 9-11 at the Baltimore Convention Center in downtown Baltimore.
Chiaki Ishikawa’s Performance List
04. Fukanzen Nenshow
Yoko Kanno’s Performance List
Resonance of the earth
Gravity ～Baltimore special medley
Power of the Light
Someday My Prince Will Come
The Real Folk Blues
Wo Qui Non Coin
Star Spangled Banner