While in the US of A before my return to Taipei, I found out that Natsukawa Miri, one of my favorite singers was holding a concert on January 17th in Taipei. I asked my friend V to go with me; and V was so generous that this ended up being a treat to me!!
We met up at the MRT station near my place, and then trained into the Eastern District of Taipei.
East Taipei has become quite the neuvo downtown. During my childhood years, Western Taipei was all the rage. I still remember Mom taking us to the bookstores or shopping arcades in Western Taipei. But now, with Taipei 101 (the tallest building in the world) located in Eastern Taipei, this area has become the more happening part of TPE, and it definitely exudes that worldly metropolitan feel. I almost did not recognize my way even though I worked around here for two years on assignment in the mid-90s. Thanks to V we found our way in no time whatsoever.
We walked briskly towards the Taipei Convention Center, which was where the concert was; but this being my first chance to go by Taipei 101 since my return, we stopped to snatch a few pictures. I can't really quite explain why a tall building makes me proud, but yes, I'm pretty darn proud that I'm standing looking right at the tallest building in the world, and it's right here in my hometown of Taipei, a short MRT ride away. It's an awesome sight at night, with all the lights on. I couldn't help glancing up at the building as I walked down the street!
At the Convention Center, we bypassed all the venders selling those glow-in-the-dark wands, rushed upstairs, got to our seats and eagerly awaited the start of the concert.
The singer we were there to see was Natsukwa Miri, who is a Japanese singer originally from Okinawa, Japan. She is from the Ishigaki Island, which is so close to Taiwan that on a good day supposedly one can see Taiwan from Ishigaki with bare eyes.
Natsukawa has a beautiful crystal-clear voice and she sings with such moving emotions that I fell in love with her songs the first time I heard her. She sings Japanese pop, folk songs, as well as songs from the islands of Okinawa. Cliche as it may be, I do like best the one song that is Natsukawa's claim to fame, that everyone else also likes, which is "Nada Sou Sou". This is a song written by my all-time-favorite Japanese folk song singer Moriyama Ryoko. I went to Moriyama Ryoko's concert in the Bay Area at Yoshi's a few years ago hoping she would sing this song. She sang many wonderful songs that day, but not this one. I could only listen to it on her CD. It's such a treat that I get to listen to Natsukawa sing this beautiful tune live--and I know she would. The song Nada Sou Sou was written by Moriyama in memory of her older brother who died at the young age of 23. It truly is a beautiful song and I never tire of listening to it.
The concert started pretty much on time and Natukawa's sweet voice filled the entire convention center. Everyone was quiet and mesmerized. When she finally sang Nada Sou Sou, it was so moving my friend V started crying!!
Natsukawa talked to the audience in between songs. She talked about how she liked Taiwan; introduced her newly wedded husband who is the drummer on stage; and talked about the songs and their meanings, and so on. One can tell she's a woman of very sweet but lively nature. The last few songs were Okinawan songs, and the Okinawans are known for their festive and fun-loving nature. Natsukawa got the entire audience of several thousand people to stand up and sing and dance with her to the Okinawan tunes. The singer told the audience to carry away and not worry about the person in the next seat looking at you funny...and the audience was really cooperative. As far as I could see the entire convention center was really into the Okinawan song and dance. What a sight!
After the concert, seeing that we were in the neighborhood, we went to the Grand Hyatt Hotel where I have many treasured memories because I spent so much time there back when I was living in Taipei. Had a few (too many...blush) drinks and some snacks at the Cheers bar and hopped into a taxi to get home, thus concluding a perfect evening.
Natsukawa Miri's website: http://www.rimirimi.jp/free/
Natsukawa sings Nadasousou: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2k1xfFxOk8&feature=related
Moriyama Ryoko sings Nadasousou: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXho3NK2CDw&feature=related