Koda Kumi – Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ [DVD Release]

December 31, 2008 at 5:18 am (Koda Kumi) (, )


In 2008, Koda Kumi embarked on the Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ Tour and delivered one heck of a show. One concert was released onto DVD, giving many of us the opportunity to see Kuu in action. From hot dancing to sweet and tearful moments to fun and cute Kuu moments, this DVD really shows how great Kumi not only as an artist but as a person.

Our first scene is the Opening Movie, introducing us to the first set of songs very nicely. In this little scene, a grandmother comes to read her granddaughter the story of Princess Kumi. One day, she meets a prince who comes by on a little boat and she falls in love at first sight. Kumi then goes to see the devil in order to plead that he spare the prince’s country. He agrees but only if she becomes a devil himself. Because she loves the prince and she becomes a devil, smoothly transitioning into the hot dark atmosphere of the next song.

The doors of the kingdom open and we see four male sorcerers conjuring up a spell. As the smoke transcends, the spell is activated and Kumi comes flying into the sky from underground and the music starts. She descends onto the stage, wearing a leopard print coat (matching her dancers’ outfits). As for the actual performance itself, it was a fantastic way to open up the tour. Her vocals are strong and smooth, matching the CD quality of the song. One thing that was a bit strange though was that she used a lower register for some of the lines on the chorus. It wasn’t bad and it probably would have been better if she stayed with the way that it was but it wasn’t bad by any means. I thought the dancing could have been a little better overall but then again, the PV for Under didn’t have much choreography so that was to be expected. That is for the part while she was singing. We get a nice little dance break that she newly adds to the performance to give it even more spark. During this part, her dancers and her all did a great job, really keeping in with the mood of the song. The set was absolutely fantastic for this song, featuring smoke and on the big screen at the back were bats and darkness and a woman with intense red lipstick to give it that devilish charm. Kumi’s performance of Under gets 5 stars and really is a memorable way to begin the tour.

Following is the second song on the setlist, FREAKY. Once again, Kuu delivers an energetic and fun performance of the song worthy of seeing. Because she was able to rely a little more on the backing track, the dancing was stepped up on this performance. Once again, we get a nice little dance breakdown and the stage goes darker so that only the dancers can really be seen. They did a really good job of bringing the energy and expertice needed to pull it off. Soon, Kumi is seen as she holds onto a rope-like thing that pulls her up onto the castle. She takes off the coat, revealing a blue Arabian style outfit and continues the performance. I liked how she continued to bring new and inventive ideas to the performances to make them more than just singing the song. One thing that I did really like about the set was that there was Kumi in a black outfit on that screen and she looked gorgeous here, portraying that dark element of this section of the tour. Once again, a 5 star performance that was very memorable.

Up next is the fan-favorite and always peppy song, キューティーハニー.  Because this performance is more of a sweet but quite flirtatious song, the dancers don new outfits to reflect that. Ditching the leopard coats, the girls now are adorned in hot black outfits and the guys are now shirtless and wearing black pants. As usual, her vocals were fantastic and there was not one mis-step in that department. One part that really stood out during this performance was the during the pure instrumental section following the first chorus, Kumi and the girl dancers do some really sexy dancing that is what this song is all about. Unfortunately, I found this performance to be a little bit of a let down. I remember back when the single first came out and around the time Butterfly came out, Kumi pulled off the performances of this song with perfection. I felt like there should have been more interaction with the guys like she used to do during those little moments of instrumentation before the chorus. Then we have another breakdown and it didn’t come off nearly as well as the others. Kumi shows us her pole dancing skills but just having this whole slow and mellow atmosphere doesn’t really fit in with the traditional sound of キューティーハニー. It was a nice idea but it just could have been executed better.

Well I didn’t expect there to be dancing in the next performance but I think it was well worth it for 秘密. The performance starts off with the dancers giving us a great little dance interlude that has a sort of ballet feel to it and there’s something about the dancing that tells a story like the song. As always, Kumi’s vocals were great, really telling the emotion of the song and you could tell from watching her that she was very happy as she smiled and waved to her fans. There isn’t much to say about this performance but it was absolutely wonderful, easily one of the best on the entire setlist. Again, the dancing was unexpected but very welcomed and it gave the song even more life than before.

She then performs the emotional love ballad, MORE. This performance is pretty simple as she stands and sings into a sparkling microphone that hangs from the sky. She delivered the song with emotional and beauty, just like on the CD so that was very impressive. Also having the fire burn behind her was a nice touch since it kind of solidified that romantic and intimate atmosphere that the song exutes. It’s a very well pulled off performance that really reflects the song’s meaning well.

Well I still think LAST ANGEL works better with both Kumi and Tohoshinki doing it together. Kumi should always do the first verse, the boys should always do the second verse and the third verse should be shared. That’s how a perfect performance would go in my eyes. It was by no means a bad performance because you could tell Kuu was having fun while she was doing it. Her smile was infectious and even the dancing was pretty good. It just felt weird not having Tohoshinki do the second verse. I did really like the Kumi on the back screen, who was wearing what she wore in the LAST ANGEL PV. That was a pretty good touch. Overall, it was an okay performance and she probably should have picked a different song to perform instead.

Next is the Interlude Movie 1, continuing the story from Opening Movie. In this segment, the prince frees Princess Kumi of the devil inside of her, returning her to her original beautiful state. The grandmother then says Princess Kumi embarks a journey herself, hoping that her song wil reach the prince.

Accompanied by a piano man, she rests on top of the piano for the great performance of 愛のうた. Dressed in a beautiful white gown and a matching white hat with what looks like a veil, she looked absolutely gorgeous and her actions actually make it feel kind of like the story of a song as if she’s looking for him but he’s nowhere to be found. As always, her vocals were great. The only complaint I have with this song was that during the chorus, when she sang the title of the song, she went softer on the last word rather than keeping the same power. On the one hand, it does have a certain fragility to it that communicates the song’s meaning but I think that the emotional presence of the song could have been expressed more had it been louder. One thing I will say about this song which made me adore this performance. While she sang the chorus, she had backing vocals and it’s hard to put my finger on why they make the song better but they just do. In fact, I think they should have had these backing vocals in the studio version of the song. Anyway, this was a fantastic performance, definitely one of the best of the entire night.

The performance for hands features Kumi and a guy dancing behind some smoke. However the guy is only an image so everytime she reaches for him, she can’t touch him or he disappears. I think this was an absolutely fantastic way to communicate the song visually and it made for one hell of a performance. This time, she stuck to the studio version in terms of vocals, managing to basically sound exactly like the song on the CD, which is very impressive. She wore the emotions on her face perfectly and the whole atomsphere of the song came to life before the audience’s eyes, which always signals a strong performance. Overall, she did a great job with this song and she should definitely be proud.

Truth be told, Someday has never been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s my least favorite song on BEST ~second session~ but something about this performance was very likeable for me and it even made me like the song a little more. It was probably because Kumi just looked so happy and excited while performing it, that it made me smile. Generally, this performance allowed Kumi to see her fans more close-up as she walked around the stage, holding the microphone to the audience allowing them the chance to sing along. I really enjoyed the performance of Someday and think it was a very sweet and memorable one.

Surprise Surprise, she performed ふたりで…, which is always a nice chance from its leading A-side partner. The performance of the song was pretty simple, just featuring Kumi sitting in a chair as she sang the song. Maybe it’s just me but the song sounded even more fragile and doll-like to me than it usually does. Her vocals were really nice although there was a little too much adlibbing. I thought this was an okay performance, nothing that was really amazing or anything.

Following that performance, a member from the audience would be brought up to the audience and he/she would get to choose 1 from 5 songs and Kumi would sing that song. Yuko was lucky enough to make the DVD and she chose the emotional love ballad, you. The thing I liked about this performance was that you could definitely tell Yuko was honored to be sitting beside Kumi and the emotions were on her face the entire time. Vocally, this was an absolutely fantastic performance as her vocals easily matched the clarity and smoothness of the CD version. The only thing about the performance that threw me off a little was that the song is a very sad and emotional ballad but when she was singing it, it just didn’t have that same emotional presence that makes the song so unforgettable. However, excluding that one nitpick, it was amazing.

I think the most uninteresting performance of the night was 奇跡. It definitely wasn’t a bad performance but there was just no significant change or any story that came alive while she was performing it. She just sand on the couch, accompanied by the one backup singer and the two musicians. Her vocals were great although I didn’t much care for the live sound of the song as opposed to the studio quality, where there really is a magical feeling that suits the lyrical atmosphere much better. And once again, there was too much vocalizing at the end.

WIND has never really gotten any particularly amazing performance since it mainly features Kumi singing to the audience with a smile on her face and the audience singing along with a melody in their hearts. This performance was no different. Her vocals were good but I didn’t like the backing vocals because they felt pretty un-necessary. Again, not a bad performance, just not a very interesting one.

The next installment of the little movie, Interlude Movie 2 follows, transitioning us from the ballad section of the tour. She awaits her prince to return for her but he never does. So then she decides to search for him. Before she can finish the story, the little girl falls asleep and the grandmother leaves. We then see the story unfold further as we come into the little girl’s dreams. Princess Kumi turns into a flash of light and enters the picture.

We’re then perfectly set up for the adorable performance of the always cute and catchy Wonderland. Kumi comes popping out from the stage, strapped to a harness so that it can look like she is running across the lit up screen behind her. It is very reminiscent of the PV for Wonderland, even featuring a dangerously similar outfit so that was nice. Her dancers come back as well, providing some very cute and girly dancing that will make the viewer smile. Kumi’s vocals were capturing here, sounding just like CD quality. I think this was a great way to start off the kawaii segment of the tour.

Having a performance of It’s A Small World as a part of the tour surprised me and I suppose it was a nice addition because it does really fit in with this section of the tour. In fact, this was probably the most adorable performance because the dancing was just so cute and fun and everybody had a smile on their face. Also, I think Kumi’s pronounciation was pretty good here since I could make out everything she was saying. I also really enjoyed the little rap section because it was cutte but it maintained that Kumi attitude that shines through. Even though I was initially hesistant to have It’s A Small World included on the DVD, I think it was a good idea.

I absolutely loved the peformance of 恋の魔法, mostly because the dancing was adorable and reflected the song’s meaning strongly. Admittedly, the part of the song when she sings “darling you’ll always be my baby,” features a dance that is very strange but cute nonetheless. During the first verse, there’s a cool part where the girls and a one boy have a little love tug of war as they pull a heart on the screen back and forth. That was a great idea because it provides a little spice to the performance. Then there is the part where she fires an arrow of love that hits the boy on the screen. Overall, a very cute and strong performance worth checking out.

Within the cute section, the best performance is easily the one of anytime. Even though the performance of the song is very simple, it’s very effective in communicating the meaning of the song. Kumi swings back and forth on a giant swing, just singing her heart out. I think because there is more of an emotional presence behind this song, it stands apart from all the other cute songs she performed. The strings of the swing were really pretty, adorned by beautiful flowers and the bubbles that surrounded the stage were fantastic as well. Certainly one of the best performances of the night and one that shows cute Kumi perfectly.

I love Run For Your Life and I’m glad she performed it. The performance was adorable, really telling a story similar to the lyrics of the song. Her vocals were on point and the dancing was funny and cute yet again. We also get to see another Kumi on the screen, this time dressed very casually and fashionably. There isn’t much to say about this performance that hasn’t already been said but it’s definitely worth checking out.

I didn’t expect Come Over to make it onto the setlist and it’s not a bad thing that it did. The performance wasn’t anything that you wouldn’t have seen from the previous cute songs. Vocals were good as always and the dancing was cute as always too. But she looked like she was having fun and no matter how many cute songs she could have gone through, if she is having a good time then the viewer will have a good time as well. One thing I will say about this live version of the song is there is a slight instrumental change during that little part right before the hook and even though it may not be much, it definitely stands out, to me at least.

Of course the closing number had to be the crowd-pleaser, girls. With the energy and excitement of the performance, there is no way you could forget this song. Kumi’s vocals were strong as always and she even switched it up a little bit on that small part before the chorus with her singing technique. Truthfully, I prefer the CD version but this one has more fun spirited energy pushing it. We have Koda Gumi on the screen dancing and the lovely little dancing with the bags to just make this a very catchy and enjoyable performance. In my opinion, a great way to close the tour.

But wait! She’s not done yet! Now we delve into the encore performance, beginning with the Single Medley. I think this was one of the best singing performances of the night as she brought together some of her best songs. Newly dressed in a big blue shirt, shorts and overalls, Kumi starts off with Shake It Up. Her vocals weren’t much like they were on the CD and the music sounded very different, nowhere as good. Well this part was okay but it could have been better. Next we move onto the addictive track. BUT. She never delivers a bad performance of this song and this one was no different. Great vocals and the dancing was enjoyable as well. Once again Kumi, fantastic job! Then she moves into the (extremely short) part of real Emotion. This part was so short, that it was really surprising but she did a nice job on it. Next comes the chorus of hit song, Butterfly. Vocally, she did a great job although it would have been nice to have some dancing too. Finally we come to Crazy 4 U. I am in love with this song and was disappointed she didn’t bust out the moves from the PV but I could tell she was enjoying herself throughout the entire thing and that mkaes me love the performance. Also, how badass was the last part of the medley when Kumi licked her finger and put it up in the air? Genius. I loved this medley and the only thing that sucked was that all these songs would have been great if they were performed in full. However this is the Kingdom Tour so the new songs do get the focus.

Up next was my favorite part of the entire tour: the Dance Battle. So the boys teamed up against the girls and each gender troupe did their own thing. In terms of the boys vs. the girls when they were dancing together, that round goes to the girls no question. They provided sexiness and sass as well as a strong dance routine which made them stand out. In addition, each individual dancer got their time to do their thing. For this round, the boys definitely outshined the girls as they got some real talent. Best goes to the guy before Kaichou (I couldn’t see his name), who came out doing flips! He absolutely killed it and definitely made you want to see him do more. Kaichou did a great job on the girls side and I think she was really good because she did more than just be sexy, she had an actual fluid routine. Now of course, this is Kuu’s Tour and she had to have her own dance solo. I’m not exactly sure why but I laughed when her name came up on the screen. She did deliver a solid routine though that showed off that sexiness and edginess perfectly. Plus I love how the sirens go off when she’s performing, signaling she’s about to turn up the heat even more. Overall this section was perfect and you definitely don’t want to miss this. The music that ran through was so addictive; I hope she releases it as a song or something sometime in the future.

The next encore performance is of Moon Crying. Her vocals were very strong here, portraying the sorrowful emotion of the song perfectly. The magic of the song on CD came to life here and that’s always a good thing. Not much to say but it was a very good performance.

Finally we come to the actual closing performance, of a Kuu favorite, walk. Of course it’s a concert staple so it’s no surprise that it comes as the last song although I wish she would swap it out for something different. It was a good performance but not one that I would’ve chosen to end with.

Concert DVD Ranking: A +

Live Tour 2008 ~Kingdom~ had a multitide of reasons why you should buy it. Kumi was sexy; she was cute; she was beautiful.  The only one nitpick I have with the concert as a whole was the choice of songs. After all, this is the Kingdom Tour so where were Introduction For Kingdom, 甘い罠 (how is there gonna be an Arabian inspired outfit but no Arabian song?) or even 愛証? It was kind of annoying to have so many good songs left out but aside from that, it was a very strong tour. If you wanna see Kumi bring the heat, then buy this DVD.

Top 5 Performances

01. Dance Battle

02. Single Medley: Shake It Up, BUT, real Emotion, Butterfly, Crazy 4 U

03.  愛のうた


05. anytime

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