[LIVE REPORT] Kalafina Christmas Premium LIVE 2015 “Kalafina with Strings” in Osaka

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7. Musunde Hiraku
I’m not a big fan of the original song, due to the generic-sounding arrangement. So I enjoyed it far more with the strings accompaniment. The musicians did a great job of capturing the song’s uplifting mood. The vocals at the bridge were especially lovely.

8. ring your bell
This sounded much better than I expected! ring your bell has some great vocals and harmonies. As much as I love the original song, the lighter arrangement here allowed the vocals to come through more clearly. I liked how the accompaniment was minimal at first—only piano—with the strings only coming in as the song built up after the first chorus. I also particularly enjoyed Hikaru’s performance; she was powerful on her solos, and harmonised very nicely with Wakana.

9. Gogatsu no Mahou
Another song I was really looking forward to. It was pretty heavy on strings in the first place, so the arrangement wasn’t radically different, although the tempo seemed faster than the studio version. But I was still amazed at how great it sounded with live piano and strings. Hikaru was wonderful on her solos. Wakana was okay for the most part, but sounded like she was struggling just a little when holding long notes. Keiko was perfect, as she usually is.

MC
10. Gloria 
Great performance overall. No surprises in the arrangement. I loved that Hikaru’s vocals were more controlled, more measured compared to other live performances I’ve heard. The nuance when she sang “Anata ga aiseru…” was marvellous. Wakana sounded better here than in the previous song; her harmonies with Keiko were lovely.

11. Hokage
I really, really love this song, and I’d harboured a fierce desire to hear this live. And to my ears, they delivered perfectly. I feel especially fortunate that I could hear this with live piano and strings, with such great acoustics. The strings were exquisite, particularly during the instrumental. Wakana, as lead, was absolutely on point. Her singing was impassioned, yet incredibly nuanced. When she sang “Anata wa sotto warau…” I thought my heart would burst, it was so hauntingly beautiful.  And Keiko was incredible on lower harmony. You could hear the emotion in her voice—subtler than in Wakana’s, but still clearly present. And more of Hikaru’s impressive vocal control; her vocals complemented Wakana’s perfectly.

Amazing performance throughout. It took my breath away. Thank you so much, Kalafina.

12. Kimi no Gin no Niwa
This was…surprisingly fun. From what I know there are some darker undertones to this song (what with it being a tie-in for the Madoka Magica: Rebellion movie), and you could almost forget that, it sounded quite lighthearted. The vocals were still moving though.

13. Hikari Furu
Keiko’s voice. So deep, yet so warm and tender. So beautiful. (I am seriously running out of adjectives here, how else can I praise them?) Wakana sounded a little unsteady at first, but got much better as the song went on. When she hit the the high notes at “…hitomi wo tozashite…” I think I momentarily forgot to breathe, I was so captivated. Great performance on the harmonies too.

MC
14. Mahiru
I probably should have expected this song due to its piano-only arrangement. But it caught me by surprise, and I actually struggled to remember what it was called. It’s such a recent song.  Keiko was singing her opening solo a little higher than I liked, but otherwise she was fine. Hikaru and Wakana were great. Lovely performance of a lovely song.

15. Eden
This was fun! Decent performance overall but the Wakana/Keiko harmonies were particularly wonderful. The ladies hadn’t been moving around much, but here they came together, stood back-to-back facing the audience, and glided around in a circle throughout the song, with the occasional twirl here and there. In those dresses, they made a gorgeous scene. It worked especially well with a hall where they had the audience all around the stage. Highly enjoyable.

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This was probably taken during Eden. Photo from BARKS.

16. Yume no Daichi
This is another song that normally bores me a little. But I really liked the arrangement; the piano was very prominent, and the strings sounded wonderful here. Wakana really shone here. I think this is one of their better live performances of the song.

17. storia
Yay! This is a song I always enjoy listening to. I was worried that Hikaru might sound shrill, like she has in some performances. But she was amazing here, and very much in control of her voice. And the harmonies in the chorus~~gorgeous.

MC
18. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Wow. I never knew this song could sound so powerful. The tempo was quite slow. They only sang up to “Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year…” but the chorus was repeated a few times. The choruses were a blend of overlapping vocals and three-part harmonies, while the verse was in harmony. And the harmonies were so, so beautiful.

Wakana on upper harmony was INCREDIBLE. Yes, it was necessary to put that in caps. When they sang “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin…” with Wakana’s high notes it sounded as if an angelic choir had descended to convey heavenly blessings. Also, I completely understood that line when they sang it; their pronunciation was perfect here.

19. Jingle Bells
This was awesome! Very creative rearrangement. The rhythm was almost jazzy and they took some liberties with the melody too. I liked how some parts were soft and then the song rose again. The ladies encouraged the audience to clap along, but we could still hear them clearly. More wonderful harmonies here. Keiko’s range was used to great effect on lower harmony, she was hitting some very low notes. Hikaru took on a lighter, somewhat playful singing style on her solos (it reminded me a little of Marilyn Monroe’s style). I’ve never heard her sing like that before. She pulled it off marvelously, and it suited the song perfectly. Their pronunciation was great here too; they must have worked really hard on it.

I think Kalafina sought to challenge themselves with the rearrangements of these last two songs. And they did so well. It was such a joy to witness them demonstrate the extent of their abilities.

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