Ken Hirai celebrated his 20th birthday as an artist on May 13 by putting on "Ken Hirai 20th Anniversary Opening Special!!" This concert was special because it was his first performance with a full band since his 2011 tour and his first standing concert in 15 years. The venue was the same as the show 15 years ago at Tokyo’s Zepp Odaiba. 2,500 were allowed entry into this premium event. Hirai performed 20 songs in a pink, spring-like suit while backed by a six-piece band and three back up singers.
The venue was compact, but the set was the same as a normal size concert. The visuals changed along with the songs. After the intro video that looked back on his last 20 years, Hirai performed “RAKUEN”. He followed with “ELEGY” and showed his diversity by performing R&B and enka from the top of the show. He also performed the minor key sounding “LOVE OR LUST” to round out the first part of the set.
Hirai entertained not only with his singing, but also with his trademark talking. He communicated directly with he crowd that was not used to standing and closed the gap between artist and audience. Perhaps that was why his voice seemed more relaxed than usual. His high notes mixed a bit of tension and liberation to his performance.
For the last part of the set, he danced along to “POP STAR” and “KISS OF LIFE”. The second floor seating area was all standing. He ended the regular portion of his set with “Love Love Love”. He came back on stage dressed in casual attire for the encore and ended it with 2003’s “LIFE is…” accompanied by piano.