A look back: Hello! Project Summer 2003

As much as I love current Hello! Project concerts with all the new groups (Angerme, Juice=Juice, Country Girls, Kobushi Factory, etc.), I sometimes get nostalgic for old-school H!P and pull a concert disc off the shelf to revel in the label’s golden age. For this journey, I picked the Summer 2003 H!P concert, Hello! Project 2003 Natsu ~Yossha! Bikkuri Summer!!~

Remember a time when there were five—count ‘em—five soloists in one concert? And three shuffle units? And Berryz Kobo and C-ute were all still lumped together as the Hello! Project Kids. And Minimoni was still a thing. And Morning Musume got to close the show with a six-song set? I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I last saw this!

Among the highlights of this concert:

The first concert performance of Morning Musume’s then-newest single, “Shabondama,” and arguably the best live performance of it–ever!

Sixth Gen’s concert performance debut.

Miki:

Sayumi:

Eri:

And Reina, still only 13, rocks it in “Shabondama”:

Some of the best shuffle unit numbers ever.

Salt5 (“Get Up! Rapper”):

7Air (“Kowaranai”):

11 Water (“Be All Right”):

Aya Matsuura does a four song-set, including three of my favorite songs of hers, “Good Bye Natsuo,” “Love Namida Iro” and “Yeah! Meccha Holiday”:

She’s backed up by some H!P Kids for one number (can you identify them?):

She’s even backed up by Melon Kinenbi, Country Musume and Coconuts Musume for “Yeah! Meccha Holiday”:

Maki Goto does a three-song set:

And is joined by some of the Kids, who literally run rings around her:

Yuko Nakazawa, Natsumi Abe and Yuki Maeda do one song each:

There’s a “West Side Story”-style gang number that actually begins with the opening bars of the song, “Cool,” from that show. I don’t know how this is referred to in-house. The tracklist on Generasia just lists it as an MC segment:

Zyx, the first special unit to utilize the H!P Kids, performs “Iku Zyx! Fly High.”

However, Megumi Murakami, being absent, is replaced in the unit by future Berryz member Risako Sugaya. When I first saw this concert, I was unaware of the original lineup for this unit, so I didn’t notice the replacement.

Minimoni does two high-energy numbers.

Melon Kinenbi does three numbers…and brings a mature, sexy vibe to the proceedings.

As does Romans, which includes Rika Ishikawa and Mai Satoda, singing “Sexy Night”:

And of course MM’s set. I love the controlled chaos of “Shabondama,” “Koko ni Iruzee!” and “Souda! We’re Alive.”

They also do “Do It! Now” and “As for One Day.” The entire ensemble joins them for their last song, “The Peace.”  There are 43 performers in all, a much lower number than we get in H!P concerts today.

Plus, we get lots of shots of the H!P Kids throughout the concert:

There’s a nine-minute extra on the DVD containing rehearsal and backstage footage.

What’s not to love?

It was performed at a venue with the unwieldy name, Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Daiichi Taiikukan.

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