FROM HOSPITAL TO HONG KONG: L’ADVENTURE DAY 1
Armed with my doctors’ clearance and sheer determination, I made it to Hong Kong around 9:30 in the morning, a day before the concert. I actually didn’t think I could make it considering that I just had a major surgery more than 2 weeks ago but I’ve planning for this since last year and everything has been laid out. Besides, this unique opportunity to see one of my favorite bands live had fortified my will to get better in the speediest time possible.
Upon arrival, I immediately set out to Asia World Expo to claim my ticket. The box office had yet to open and there was already a really, really long line. Apparently, pre-sale for Lady Gaga’s May live was on the same day. I went to customer service instead but was told that even though I’m just going to claim my already paid-for ticket, I still need to line up. Staff at the end of the line then gave me my stub: No. 248. Great.
Two hours later and I’m still far off from the box office. Lady Gaga’s fans were also getting more irate as tickets were running out fast. I asked a guard if there’s some other way to claim my ticket and was more than ready to play the sick card. However, he promptly instructed me to wait in a corner for the Lady Gaga pre-sale to be over. While waiting, I bumped into other L’Arc fans: May and Ming from Singapore and Kei and Liz from the Philippines. As we were chatting, a girl wearing a big grey hoodie and carrying 2 cups of coffee passed by. When her back was turned to us, her hoodie has “L’ArCrew” in it! It was also around this time when we heard a collective groan from the long line ahead of us. Lady Gaga tickets had sold out. Monster move over. It’s now time for us Cielers to claim what’s rightfully ours.
After getting our tickets, Liz, Kei and I went downstairs to the concert venue with hopes of finding out to whom those coffee cups end up with. Three other girls were already there but the guard already had her eye on them so we just moved on. I bid good-bye to Liz and Kei with the invite to meet with them before the concert tomorrow.
I then checked in to my hotel which I purposely chose to keep up with the L’Arc spirit.
My doctors specifically said that I should stay put as much as possible so I just spent the remainder of the day holed up in my room. Then again with the view that I had, there’s no reason to complain. As I gaze into the Hong Kong’s stunning skyline, I couldn’t help but feel elated. But of course. I made it to Hong Kong. I’m gonna see L’Arc~en~Ciel in a few hours. I survived a medical emergency. Life is indeed good.
MERCHANDISE MADNESS AND THE CONCERT COUNTDOWN: L’ADVENTURE 2.1
I went to Asia World Expo by 11:30 am and was again greeted by a line of people that extended to the streets already. And I thought I was already early ORZ . It doesn’t help that Hong Kong was freezing! The fog was thick and the wind was crazy. Between worrying if the goods would be sold out before my turn and battling hypothermia, I amused myself by people watching. As expected, many arrived in full cosplay regalia. Variations of hyde roamed the venue. Most fans were in gothic Lolita. What really drew my attention though was the parade of goods from previous lives. There were all so tempting.
12NN arrived and finally some movement. Selling of the goods had started! Everyone’s excitement had become more tangible in the air. I reached the goods table past 1PM. My haul:
Yes, I exceeded my budget. I am so doomed.
It’s impractical to go back to the hotel so I just loitered around with Liz and Kei. The flurry of activity was very stimulating. There were a lot of banners and everyone was welcome to put their messages to the band. The line at the goods table continued to grow longer. We also spotted a very suave-looking Oishi Masahiro taking pictures of the crowd.
As night time came close, people began clustering into the entrance. I positioned myself upfront. They started letting people in at exactly 7:10 and I’m one of the very first to enter. I settled into my seat: Block B, Row G, Seat No.10 and contentedly wait for my dream to become reality.
THE BRAIDS ARE BACK AND THE BIRDS ARE ANGRY: L’ADVENTURE 2.2
It’s already 8PM and people were still filing in. The live was not sold out but I swear there were only a handful of seats at the very back that are vacant.
8:20PM. The lights dimmed out and everyone screamed. Well everyone except me. My doctors only allowed me to go on the condition that I cannot jump and shout. They also said that I cannot stand for so long but I’ve been on my two feet for practically the whole day already so what the heck.
The stage was actually quite sparse but when the LED screen light up, oh WOW. I was immediately reminded of the CHASE PV. The screen dissolved into pixels then it showed butterflies flying around a futuristic city. Then they fluttered around the globe. Alternately, the names of the countries included in the tour were flashed. The butterflies reached outer space. Afterwards, the screen turned into four copper plate panels bearing the names of each member. It transitioned into 4 galactic beings seemingly sleeping in their alien pods. They were wearing a metallic suit with a helmet and they were all in a semi-fetal position. A butterfly landed on alien hyde’s hand. We knew it was hyde because of his braids. The tubes on his back actually complimented those darn braids. A hissing sound signaled the helmet being taken off and there we have it: a larger than life close up of hyde’s eyes opening up. The camera moved back to show his full face and by jove, he was breathtaking! hyde raised his right fist and in slow motion, he punched the screen. The glass shatters. The band appeared. The 20th L’Anniversary World Tour has commenced.
L’Arc~en~Ciel kicked off the evening with Ibara no Namida – a personal favorite of mine. The crowd was so livid. Everyone around me was absolutely losing it. As for me, I just settled with swaying my right hand as the other clutched my abdominal binder. I too was so ecstatic but was also wary that giving in might land me another trip to the hospital. Anyway, INN gave way to CHASE and GOOD LUCK MY WAY. The band had obviously found their bearing and was now in full form. hyde and tetsu roamed both sides of the stage while ken was just stationary on the right. As for yuki, he was high and mighty on his throne at the center. Some random visuals similar to that on CHASE PV were projected into the screen.
After GLMW, hyde made an acceptable attempt of speaking in Chinese. He looked so adorable saying the lines as if confirming with the audience first if he was saying it right. Then he would glance at his cheat sheet on the floor and say it again. The screen turned light orange with a huge butterfly in the middle and hyde segued into honey. He was barely into the second verse when a technical glitch happened. hyde had this goofy “wait, this can’t be happening” look. Screen turned black. Mere seconds later, the huge butterfly reappeared and the band started the song again.
Drink it Down followed and all throughout the screen showed a bevy of naked girls dancing. Good thing they were all in silhouette. It’s like one of those James Bond opening credits. Then it was time for more active audience participation. revelation was playing and we all had a superb time pumping our firsts to chants of “yeah!”.
The stage dimmed only to reveal tetsu, hyde and ken sitting on the platform marking yuki’s dominion. The melodious intro of Hitomi no Juunin was heard and the whole venue was swathed in sentimental calm. hyde was sitting down the whole time yet he never missed a note. Amazing, especially considering that HNJ has a ridiculously high chorus. XXX followed. While hyde was already doing his infamous penguin dance even during INN, he was now using it to full effect. hyde was shaking his booty like there was no tomorrow and the movement was emphasized by his long braids.
Then came hands down, my favorite part of the evening: the back to back perfection of forbidden lover and MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. For forbidden lover, the stage was bathed in warm red light. hyde was obviously tearing up during the chorus. As the song draws to the end he closed his eyes, held his arms wide as if in surrender while a soft breeze blows his hair. It was an ethereal moment. The entire performance was so moving it hurt. The stage went black as if to allow everyone to compose themselves. After a short while, the spotlight turned to ken and he began bluesy guitar solo that introduced MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. MHDAD is no doubt a great song but when heard live, it takes on a life of its own. It was a very emotionally driven performance made more inspiring as the audience became one in singing “yume wo egaku yo”. Goosebumps.
The mood made a 360 degree turn when ken began his MC. Like hyde, he also spoke in Chinese all the while holding a package. I couldn’t understand a thing back then but it turned out he brought a present for hyde (for his birthday perhaps?). When hyde opened the package, we all burst out laughing. It was a set of Angry Birds action figures! Ken turned his attention back to us as he shouted “So many angry” and “ANGRY!?” The whole exchange was like this:
Seventh Heaven was followed by other L’Arc staples Driver’s High, STAY AWAY and READY STEADY GO. STAY AWAY was introduced by tetsu’s bass solo. He did his thing in front of three enormous speakers that weren’t there a moment ago. As the song started, the screen showed an army of androids doing the robot dance in synchronized form. It was quite amusing actually. READY STEADY GO then made everyone all fired up. We were so into the moment I guess that not everyone noticed that hyde and ken already left the stage. tetsu got engaged with an intense bass versus drums battle with yuki but the focus was more on tetsu. He swaggered a bit then left his bass on top of his giant speakers and exited the stage with flourish. yuki had the stage to himself and boy did he milk it for all it’s worth. He performed a jaw dropping drum solo that left everyone on the edge. Thump, thump thump he went until the spotlight faded out and the stage reverted to what it was 2 hours ago: empty.
The sounds of airplanes taking off were then heard. I’m not really sure if this was part of the show or just an effect of the venue being near the airport after all. Everyone was looking around as if expecting the boys to appear on another part of the venue. When it became apparent that hyde’s not gonna come floating down from the ceiling with butterfly wings, some began chanting “ENCORE!” 5 minutes later and still an empty stage. All the while I’m thinking that that can’t be it. They haven’t even played the new songs yet! No one was budging out of their seats anyway. Suddenly, the whole right section of the venue erupted into a human wave. Everyone then followed suit. It went on and on and every time a cycle was complete, we would dissolve into fits of laughter. The wave eventually died down only to be replaced with more chants of “ENCORE!”.
After about 15 minutes or so, the stage glowed in white and the orchestra version of Anata was heard. The band members were not yet visible so we the audience sang the song instead. It was again another goosebump inducing moment. The band then showed themselves and hyde claimed his song. He however allowed us to sing whole chorus. winter fall, The Fourth Avenue Café and Link came next. It was during these performances wherein we’ve seen some pyrotechnic action on the stage. At one point, fire even engulfed the stage. As the notes of Link faded, hyde began his MC. Majority was still in Chinese but he did say this in English: “It’s the start of the world tour. Thank you Hong Kong!” Then the band launched into a heart wrenching performance of Niji. Feathers came shooting out of the stage. And soon after, tetsu was hurling bananas into the audience. Before throwing out the last banana, he even bit into it. Next thing we knew he was firing at us with his banana shaped water gun. He walked into the right side of the stage and he was gone. So were hyde, ken and yuki.
The concert was apparently over. No Bye Bye Bye, Mirai Sekai, wild flower and Shade of Season. Everyone was already leaving so I likewise exited the venue. When I met up with Liz and Kei, I couldn’t help but tell them that I was a bit disappointed. I was really looking forward hearing the new songs live. However, when I already had time to reflect, I realized it was more of a feeling of something missing rather than disappointment over songs that were not played. And it was definitely not L’Arc~en~Ciel’s fault. It was due to the simple fact that it was just really difficult to wholly immense oneself into the whole live experience when you also have an incision to be careful about. Well, this could only mean one thing right? I need to see them live once more! Someday, somehow. Until then, who’s up for a game of Angry Birds?