The special version had a cool looking flying saucer that said “PINK LADY” on the top, and “Unforgettable Final Ovation” on the side, and it contained the two DVD’s and the really neat part of the set: four inch high plastic figures of Mie and Kei in their eternally famous poses from, of course, “UFO” along with stands to place the figures on. Way cute!! As you can see from the picture, it’s a beautiful set, and that’s before actually getting around to the videos themselves which were fabulous as Mie and Kei turned in sensational performances in their swan song together as Pink Lady.
And now, the review. Having hooked up my region-free DVD player (more on that later) to my 52-inch big screen TV, I was awed at being able to watch the concert in full-blown widescreen and stereo sound. The crowd on May 26th was pretty lively and amped for the show, a goodly number of them dressed in Pink Lady costumes and dancing to piped in music before the show. Then the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted as Mie and Kei came out in spangly red mini-dresses and matching platform boots and launched the show with “Southpaw”, getting the crowd on their feet right away. After making me giddy by singing “Wanted”, my all-time favorite PL song, the Ladies then did a three song medley (“I Want To Give You My Everything”, “Strangers When We Kiss” and “Kiss in the Dark”) from the U.S. Album, something I thought was pretty darn cool. Following a costume change, the girls did more of their classics like “Carmen ‘77”, “SOS”, “Tomei Ningen”, “Chameleon Army” and “Monster”, the old school songs that had the crowd dancing in the aisles. Another pleasant surprise was when the girls did “World Hero History” and “Do Your Best” with a hip-hop dance troupe.
Clearly, Mie and Kei were emptying the catalogue for their final two performances. They squeezed in another medley (“Show Me The Way To Love”, “Dancing in the Halls of Love” and “Love Countdown”) from the U.S. Album, again, I thought that was neat. The next number brought a big smile to my face as the Ladies did “Monday Mona Lisa Club”, that unabashed Disco scorcher which had a mondo bad dance routine which I had never seen before. Speaking of dancing, it’s amazed me no end that the Ladies, both 47 hadn’t lost so much as a step from their heyday nearly thirty years ago. One of the more entertaining aspects of the show was the crowd itself. During one of the interludes between sets, Mie and Kei chatted about some of the fancifully garbed fans they saw in the crowd, with the cameras panning on them. The Ladies were particularly amused at seeing two men----TWO MEN, with beards and wearing amazingly accurate looking replicas of the “Chameleon Army” costumes, berets and all. And, believe it or not, they weren’t the only guys wearing PL outfits. I tell you, folks, it was a cosplayer’s (short for costume play, a staple of anime fans in Japan) wet dream!
The last set of the evening featured more of the classics like “Nagisa No Sindbad”, “UFO”, “Pink Typhoon” (which really had the crowd on its feet) and their most beloved standard, “Pepper Keibu”. Mie and Kei ended the show with “Two From The Star” which seemed apropos as, after the Ladies finished the song, the lights dimmed, and the crowd was treated to a special effects closing with Mie and Kei in outer space, slowly walking off into the distance, like two heavenly bodies returning to the stars from whence they came. I thought that was a very poignant way to end the show.
Now we come to May 27th. Just like the previous evening, the crowd was lively and energetic, and there were lots of people, both female AND male dressed in PL costumes. The lights then dimmed and a voice came over the arena’s public address system with this announcement: “Welcome to the final performance of Pink Lady”. That made me feel wistful as I, along with the crowd were witnessing the end of an era. Mie and Kei then came out and, for their first set, opened with “Toast For Ladies”, “Lady-X”, and several more of the little known B-sides from their hit records. As has been the case from day one in 1976, I could see that Mie and Kei radiated from honest, genuine joy at performing for the legions of loyal fans who’ve loved them since their debut nearly three decades ago, and the Ladies returned that love with their spirited performance. During an interlude, the Ladies introduced some of the musicians and back-up singers, all of whom sported gray hair, leading me to think that they were members of the original crew from back in the day and had been recruited for Mie and Kei’s swan song, which I thought was a wonderful touch for the last concert.
After the second set which featured more of the standards (leading off with “Wanted”) along with “Agiri Giri”, a song I had never seen Mie and Kei perform live before, the Ladies, having changed into frilly pink dresses and backed up by a lone musician on acoustic guitar performed ‘unplugged’ versions of “Best Partner” (the B-side of “Pink Eyed Soul”) and “Cookie”, the song that won for Mie and Kei on Star Tanjo and propelled them to stardom all those years ago. It was really sweet to see the girls perform that vintage song, and it was the very first time I heard it in its entirety. Following a bluesy version of “Utakata” and the theme from “Fame” (over two nights, the girls covered all their original single releases except for “Last Pretender”), Mie and Kei brought the crowd to their feet in the last set with “Southpaw”, “Pink Typhoon” and “Pepper Keibu” before ending the show with the moving ballad “OH!”. All that was left was for the girls to warmly acknowledge the cheers from the crowd as the curtain came down for the last time on the Unforgettable Final Ovation, followed by a video montage of highlights from other shows from the start of the tour to the end.
Watching the DVD’s was an emotionally rewarding experience since I wasn’t able to attend the final concert in person (and Lord knows I tried to pull it off but couldn’t), so it was good to see Mie and Kei go out on top, as beloved by their fans as ever. As I’ve said many times before, while other singers in the J-Pop arena have scored more hit records or made more money than Pink Lady, no one will EVER have the enormous, lasting impact as entertainers on an entire country for as long as Mie and Kei did. Pink Lady was a once in a lifetime phenomena, the likes of which will never be seen again.
Now, if after reading my review you decide that you want a copy for yourself, please be advised that these are region 2 DVD’s, meaning they can only be played on machines over in Japan, so you’ll need a multi-region or region free DVD player to watch them on. But you won’t be able to find these players at your neighborhood Best Buy, Circuit City or Sears, you’ll have to go online, type “region free DVD players” in your favorite search engine and you’ll find a plethora of companies for purchasing region free players by the likes of Sony (which I chose), Toshiba, Panasonic and JVC. But if you can buy a region-free player, by all means, do so, then get your hands on this special DVD set of Pink Lady performing at their very best for the last time together. Trust me, it’s more than worth it for the true PL fan. By the by, I hope to have video captures from the concerts up in December or January! Watch out for them!