2013, the year that keeps on giving, came close to topping even itself last night with the second of two small preview shows for the long-talked-about-and-now-perhaps-actually-happening third Cibo Matto album.
Having had to miss the 2011 reunion tour, I was more than ready to finally get my chance to catch them in action when Miho and Yuka took to the stage of the Littlefield around 10:10 Friday night. The crowd, as they should, greeted them with a huge cheer and rapturous applause, which only got more intense when they launched right into "Le Pain Perdu". Thirty seconds in and the whole room is swaying along with an energy that it takes most bands a solid half of a set to whip up, and as we're shouting along "gotta get out, get out, the hell out", all I can think is: yeah, this is going to be good.
And next? "Sugar Water". Wasting no time, I see. You almost never seen it mentioned without its wonderful video - see? - but it stands on its own as one of the finest singles of the 90's and tonight it is absolutely blissful.
They invite Tim Ellis and Yuko Araki out to join them and we're on to our first new song of the night. Sort of. "Tenth Floor Ghost Girl" has been appearing on set lists since the start of the reunion, but it's new to me and it is wonderful. Beforehand, we get some fantastic stage banter from Miho, including her explaining that the new album has a lot of songs about ghosts. Not as many about food. They thought they'd try a change in direction.
This goes right into "Working for Vacation" - a favorite of mine from 'Stereo-Type A' which I am more than happy to hear - and then we're back into new song territory with four in a row. I remember "Another Tuesday" as a bit more laid back - not "Sugar Water" laid back, but certainly not "Birthday Cake" manic - "Check In" has also been around since 2011 and IS "Birthday Cake" manic, there's another new one whose name I miss, and then my favorite new song of the night wraps it up. Called "Motherfucking Nature" - or "MFN" as Miho also introduces it - it's a crazy rap along the lines of "Sci-Fi Wasabi" and contains the chorus:
Don't tell me: "what the hell?", I'm a ghost!
Don't throw the fucking oyster shell at me!
And what of "Sci-Fi Wasabi"? It comes next in a fantastic stripped back version, mostly beats/bass/drums with very little of the layers of effects that are on the album version. It, of course, features Miho slightly altering the lyrics to "Cibo Matto TWENTY THIRTEEN!" with a sly wink to the crowd and a shoutback chorus when appropriate. ("There's a hole on Broadway" - "BROADWAY!", etc.)
"Birthday Cake" is it's crazy old self; absolutely out. of. control. We're sad to see them leave the stage so soon - though really, what could possibly follow that? - but we're not letting them off that easy. Immediate shouts of "ENCORE!" turn into a crowd-led sing along of "Know Your Chicken" as we wait for their return...
...and return they do, treating us to a gorgeous "Moonchild" which melts into a face-melting 70's soul version of "Know Your Chicken". (Think "Know Your Chicken" sung over a remix of "Moonchild" and you'll be close.) I'm slightly disappointed it's not an all-out mental thrash through the EP version like "Birthday Cake" was, but this new mix is just as good in a different way and it's hard to be anything but thrilled to be a part of this special show.
The end has come too soon and they're really done this time, but they mention they'll be at the merch table on the way out so come say hi. I could't, could I?
I guess I could. Absolutely lovely, the pair, and a bit of a high school dream come true.
Le Pain Perdu
Tenth Floor Ghost Girl
Working For Vacation
Know Your Chicken