MORRIE "SOLITUDE" at Kraine Theater, New York City

live report - 09.28.2017 20:01

MORRIE makes his first official performance in the USA an intimate and alluring one.

Legendary visual kei singer MORRIE of DEAD END, a late 80's band that reunited in 2009, and in more recent years of his solo band CREATURE CREATURE that features visual kei stars from 90's, is known to have been residing in New York City since the early 90's. Despite this known fact that's more than an urban myth in the visual kei community, his show at Kraine Theater on August 27th was his first official performance in the USA.

A cool evening breeze touches the skin as fans wait outside the venue in East Village. One can immediately sense a strong feeling of anticipation from them even though there's still half an hour to go.

The theater is dimly lit and cozy with seats going up from the stage at the bottom. New Wave-ish, dark music plays in the background. On stage are only two microphones — one for MORRIE's vocals and the other for his acoustic guitar — and many guitar pedals. Next to the gear is a stand for a glass of water, white wine and a small bowl probably for guitar picks. The setup is very simple and minimalistic on a stage colored all in black.

A few minutes after a brief introduction of the no photo and recording policy by theater staff at 8pm, the lights go out and focuses only on the stage. The fans start screaming. Finally, a man emerges from behind the stage wall. His visual kei hairstyle, eyeshadow, makeup, black jacket, black pants and strong gaze are all identical to the living visual kei legend's. Yes, it's undoubtedly MORRIE himself on stage.

MORRIE opens the show with Harukurue (Spring-Insane) from his most recent solo album HARDCORE REVERIE. "Aishite okure kowarerumade. Haruno yoru no yumeno yoni, (Love me till you're going crazy, like a dream in the Spring night)" he sings, as if the show itself is a time between a dream and reality. His lyrics are delivered with smooth electric guitar in arpeggio style. There are no drums, no bass, no other additional instruments — only MORRIE's voice and his guitar with simple lighting create a mysterious atmosphere.

The next song, Go Under from the same album, sounds very different from the recorded version. These first two songs at the show sound quite experimental with MORRIE's voice going high and low with added high-pitched screaming. These layers of different singing styles are definitely different from an ordinary singer-songwriter's show. They are very distinctive. This approach and MORRIE's goth look illuminated by lights make it seem like the viewer is watching more of a performing arts show in New York City rather than a music one.

After finishing from his 1992 album Romantic, All Too Romantic, MORRIE continues into Unchained from HARDCORE REVERIE. In this song, he demonstrates a complete mixture of delivering his poetic lyrics both in Japanese and English. Unlike many visual kei singers, his vocal performance doesn't weaken when he switches back and forth between languages.

Switching from Fender Jaguar to Gibson Les Paul, Riding the Night from HARDCORE REVERIE brings a softer side into a so far dark and hard set. This approach remains in the next song Seeing You, one of MORRIE's solo songs from the 1995 album Kage no kyoen / Banquet Of Shadows.

Switching back to the Jaguar, Sign from HARDCORE REVERIE is performed. SUGIZO from LUNA SEA had contributed a guitar solo for this song on the album. The next song's a surprise. It's Sleep in the Sky from DEAD END's last studio album ZERO before their breakup in 1990.

Switching from electric to acoustic guitar, MORRIE sings Disquieting Muse from his current album as if he has a different perception or understanding of the time in this universe. It brings to mind what MORRIE said during the show: "We were born with many possibilities. I could have become a scientist. Or I could have become a soldier. But I only became I. Do you understand this miracle?" This philosophical theme seems to be his lyrical inspirations through his most recent album Death is a Flower, released earlier this year with his band CREATURE CREATURE.

Another surprise song, God Monkey from MORRIE's post-reunion DEAD END album Metamorphosis, is played acoustically. It sounds very different from the band version, almost like a ballad. The chorus hook "sayonara" turns out to be very catchy with his acoustic guitar play.

Shortly after the song, MORRIE plays the intro guitar phrase of fan favorite Serafine from DEAD END's album ZERO. Immediately, the fans notice and start screaming. Answering to MORRIE's "Sing with me!", fans actually start singing the first word "itsudemo" (translates to "whenever" in Japanese). This surprises MORRIE. He stops playing the song and says, "It makes me a little shy." He starts playing the song again by himself this time. Many fans in the States had waited for nearly three decades for the song to be performed live by MORRIE.

He recalls, saying, "While recording Serafine in London, I saw the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 on TV. Later the same year, the Berlin Wall was destroyed and the Cold War ended. So did my band DEAD END. It was the year of ending in many ways." This is definitely a highlight of the show.

Warmed by the previous song, the chemistry between the fans and MORRIE increases toward the climax with Killing Me Beautiful from HARDCORE REVERIE. After adding in 1000 Dark Nights from CREATURE CREATURE's first album Light & Lust, the main set ends with Shining Wilderness, a previously unreleased new song.

The fans show their unending excitement with a standing ovation, their encore calls for one more song unceasing until MORRIE comes back on stage. Once again, MORRIE thanks the audience and starts Kage/Shadow from his 1995 solo album Kage no kyoen / Banquet Of Shadows. A soft acoustic tune gives way to end the night.

MORRIE introduces the last song of night, Heaven from DEAD END's 1988 album Shambara. For old school fans, this is a big treat. The vinyl version of the album was released in the United States through Metal Blade Records back in the 80's. For younger fans, they would recognize the song and album title as HYDE's favorite record that influenced him greatly in the beginning of his career with L'Arc~en~Ciel.

"You are my heaven," MORRIE declares, his voice echoing again and again with this phrase. It's at this moment that fans truly know the show is over.

MORRIE's SOLITUDE in New York City affirmed that he was way ahead of his time back in the 80's when there wasn't even the term "visual kei", and he still is far beyond any other singers and musicians in the scene who later emerged from himself. His background as a pioneer of the unique Japanese music genre visual kei is one of the important elements of himself. The entire show including his singing, guitar playing, songs, his appearance, his mind and atmosphere are so unique, though, that he leaps out of the genre. It makes total sense now that MORRIE left Japan in the early 90’s and evolved as an unique international artist in a melting pot called New York City. Thus, he sounded fresh and relevant to many young fans who came out to see this special, intimate show.

There's nobody like MORRIE and nowhere to find his true presence, but live. SOLITUDE has opened the door for both MORRIE and fans toward future live performances outside of Japan.

Set list

01. Harukurue/Spring-Insane
02. Go Under
03. Kanpeki na sora/Perfect Sky
04. Unchained
05. Riding The Night
06. Anohito ni au/Seeing You
07. Sign
08. Sleep In The Sky
09. Disquieting Muse
10. Shin-en/God Monkey
11. Serafine
12. Killing Me Beautiful
13. Sen no yami-yo ni/1000 Dark Nights
14. Hikaru kouya/Shining Wilderness


01. Kage/Shadow
02. Heaven
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MORRIE 08/27

New York, NY - United States of America
Kraine Theater
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