|Mari Iijima||Biography||Discography||Flyer Gallery||Bulletin Board||Mari's Site|
Mari's concert was early Saturday afternoon, and was a stand-alone event, unlike previous cons where she performed at the masquerade. She was in the J-Pop panel on Sunday, and also had autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday. There was a Q & A panel scheduled for Friday, but it was cancelled. I didn't get to Baltimore until Saturday morning, so I would have missed it anyway.
She was also selling t-shirts and the Rain & Shine concert booklet at a table in the dealers' room. She was there to sign them at some times.
The Saturday autograph session was held right after her concert, and there was a rather long line. I got her autograph on The Classics, which I had bought a few weeks before at Bun-ka do--she hadn't seen that particular CD before (it had a pink label). I noticed a fair number of people with her concert books in the line.
The Sunday session was apparently fairly relaxed in comparison. I didn't make it to that one (I was badly in need of sleep by Saturday night), but according to a fan who was there, she and some fans spent the time talking. I went to the dealers room Sunday morning and found that nobody had any of her CDs left at that point--I guess everybody had bought them up in time for the Saturday session.
Mari's concert was held as a separate event, and proved that she could fill the theater by herself. I was happy not to have to sit through another endless masquerade.
She started by singing No Limit, the title song of her new English CD. This was the first time I'd heard it, and it was very good. The CD will definitely worth buying!
Unfortunately, the convention center's fire alarm went off just as the song was ending, and everyone was ordered to leave the building. Fortunately, we were allowed back in immediately, and the concert went on. When the concert resumed, Mari said, "That never happened to me before." Someone in the audience called back, "You're too hot!"
The other songs were More than yesterday, the English version of Sudden Kiss, an English version of "D" (another song from No Limit), and the piano version of Ai Oboeteimasuka. I hadn't heard this version of "D" before either.
The audience was pretty enthusiastic, especially considering the disruption from the fire alarm. Their reaction was much better than the A-Kon crowd, I thought.
As at A-Kon, the first four songs were with recorded music, and for ai oboeteimasu ka she was accompanied by Jim Studer playing piano.
Mari was on the J-Pop panel scheduled for Sunday. This wasn't too well advertised, though-- I wouldn't have known about it if another fan hadn't told me. Also on the panel were Steve Pearl and Shin Kurokawa. Partway through the panel, Stuart Levy joined the panel, and at that point he pretty much took over. I thought he was somewhat rude, actually.
I took a different approach this time. Instead of scribbling notes in my Newton throughout the panel, I recorded it on MiniDisc, and then listened to the recording and typed up a report when I got home. I think it worked out pretty well.
Mari had some interesting things to say about J-Pop. Here's a summary.
At the end of the panel, Mari talked briefly about the No Limit CD. She also played the English version of Stop keeping in touch. The stereo in the panel room wasn't too good, but I could hear well enough. I'd heard the Japanese version of this song before, and I liked it, but I thought the English version was much better.
The A Fan's View website has lots of pictures as well. There are pictures of Mari's concert, Mari talking, and the J-Pop panel. This site is done by Kevin Lillard, who is a much better photographer than I am.