[Concert report] Ae! group’s Aa!!!!!! To Odoroki Zenkoku Tour 2023

On May 14, Aぇ! group (Ae! group) held one of their Tokyo shows for Aッ!!!!!!と驚き全国ツアー2023 (Aa!!!!!! To Odoroki Zenkoku Tour 2023) at Tokyo Garden Theatre in Ariake in front of 8000 passionate and eager fans, and together with them, SJPA member Sabina had the honor of witnessing this amazing show!

Ae! group, a Kansai Johnny’s Jr. group which formed in 2019, consist of Yoshinori Masakado, Seiya Suezawa, Richard Keita Kusama, Ken Kojima, Taisei Fukumoto, and Masaya Sano, and has since swept through the country like a new wind. The six members performed a well-balanced setlist that included everything that Ae! group is known for, while also exceeding any expectations.

From left to right: Ken Kojima, Taisei Fukumoto, Yoshinori Masakado, Seiya Suezawa, Richard Keita Kusama, and Masaya Sano.

After cheering for the boys during their intro and clapping along to the motion graphics on the big screens, we expected them to make a grand entrance on stage like most Johnny’s groups do (unless they appear from the ceiling). To our great surprise, the members of Ae! group came walking out from the back entrances in the arena, greeting fans up close as they sang their original song “Aッ!!!!!!”, making the whole venue erupt in excited cheers. This kind of entrance is something that hasn’t been done for a few years now because of Corona, and it truly made you feel so excited to be there and be a part of the show. The sea of multi-colored penlights waving in tune with the songs was one of the most beautiful sights.

Continuing with the high tension created by appearing among the fans, they entered into their introduction song, “僕らAえ! groupって言いますねん” (Bokura Ae! group tte iimasunen) —an impeccable way for the audience to get to know the members a little more before we dive deeper into the concert.

Ae! group delivered a strong first part of the concert with another of their original songs, “Firebird”, performanced on the main stage, followed by songs that really hyped up the already excited crowd. Right after, we get Yoshinori, Seiya, and Richard dressed in white and gold costumes like princes, matching their unit song cover of “King & Queen & Joker” by Sexy Zone. Their smiles and happy aura were spread throughout the venue, and fans cheered enthusiastically. In comparison to Masaya, Taisei, and Ken, who covered Snow Man’s “君の彼氏になりたい” (Kimi no Kareshi ni Naritai) and set the mood to the opposite of the previous three. Following the more mature mood, we got ready to party with their original song “Party-Aholic”. All the members of Ae! group showed off exactly how to party with them to conclude the first part of the show. Among the next few songs were also SixTONES’ “WHIP THAT” and Akanishi Jin’s “My MP3”.

It wouldn’t be Ae! group if we didn’t include a huge chunk of humor and laughter, and they included a game corner where the content changes for each show. Each member dressed up in costumes from different school clubs: Taisei as a judo club member, Ken as a basketball club member, Seiya comes out cross-dressed as a beautiful cheerleader, Masaya is a member of the baseball club, Richard as a soccer club member, and lastly, Yoshinori too comes out cross-dressed as a girl with a messy bob cut and glasses. In these costumes, they were challenged to “deepen everyone’s bonds”, but do they succeed? As you might have guessed, they did not quite succeed. Despite that, it is always refreshing to see them fool around; their comedic timing is on point, and the audience was entertained to the max! While still in costumes, the members sang their song “ストーリィ!”(Story!), composed and written by member Masaya, before heading into the MC part of the show.

The second part of the show started off with a small game to decide which song they were going to sing next. To do so, they brought out a big map of all the Tokyo wards, all colored differently to represent a senior group within the agency. This made the audience really excited to see which song they would be performing, as it was different for each show. It ultimately ended up with Hey! Say! JUMP’s song “恋をするんだ” (Koi wo Surunda), a medium-tempo ballad showcasing Ae! group’s diverse vocals.

We got a nice taste of some covers of high-tension songs like Sexy Zone’s “スキすぎて” (Suki Sugite), fellow Kansai group Johnny’s WEST’s “しらんけど” (Shirankedo), and a take on the iconic Arashi song “ONE LOVE” before they dove into another round of laser shows and fireworks. Ae! group also showed off their cooler side and dance skills with songs like Snow Man’s “Grandeur” and SixTONES’ “RAM-PAM-PAM”. 

The band segment of the concert kicked off with their original song “Break Through”, followed by a few of their seniors’ songs like Kanjani 8’s “勝手に仕上がれ” (Katte ni Shiagare).

PRIDE” was included among these songs in the band segment, and it’s another original Ae! group song and possibly the most impressive performance of the show. Not only does it show off their individual skills as a band, but it also showcase the broad spectrum of their vocal and rap skills. The song itself is fast-paced and really makes you feel the heat from the stage and the passion they emit. The bridge makes you hold your breath and gives you goosebumps.

Their original song “ボクブルース” (Boku Blues) (written and composed by members Ken and Masaya) was their last song before the encore. It ends the main concert with an emotional ballad that certainly hits you right in the feels, especially after their heartfelt speeches. It leaves the audience feeling like you don’t want the show to end just yet.

Ae! group delivered a concert full of diversity, passion, and skill despite being a group that hasn’t made its official debut yet. The stage was perfectly created for them, even shaped like an ‘A’ (so cute!). It also gave them enough space to dance freely and spread out their band setup. Ae! group truly cares about their fans and their experience at the concert, as shown by the many times they run through the audience. It gives the fans a chance to see their favorite really up close.

Another highlight of the amazing inclusivity that Ae! group shows is the way they do the call and response. A call and response is where artists include the audience by asking them to respond to their calls from the stage. Ae! group called out to the female and male fans as well as the staff individually instead of to the audience as a whole.

While Ae! group has a handful of their own original songs, they performed their senior’s songs with brilliance, and each song comes with the touch and sense of “this is Ae! group.” It is truly something that is uniquely them, and it definitely resonates with their fans as well. While they didn’t manage to deepen their bond during the game corner, Ae! group for sure managed to do that with each other and every fan throughout the show. Watching them perform with such passion and enthusiasm makes you undoubtedly cheer for them, and the way they deliver such an intense concert while still being juniors makes you imagine the lengths they can go in the future.

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