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LIVE REPORT: L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 at National Olympic Stadium / Kokuritsu Day 2 (March 22, 2014)

(READ DAY 1 REPORT HERE)

Allow me to begin my day 2 narrative by giving props to the staffer who we asked if we were in the right gate. Whoever you are, thank you for your patience. I knew you were saying numbers to me but my poor brain was taking eons in processing Japanese to English. Really, really grateful that after sensing my frustration (and a very awkward pause), you just said “Kochira dozo” and let Irene, Frances, Regina and I in anyway.

Much like during day 1, we had a bit of a trouble finding where we were supposed to sit. And exactly like day 1, when we get to our assigned seats, someone else was already occupying it! This time, there were 2 girls already sitting on Irene and I’s place. They were even wearing the bracelets already. Good thing the matter was resolved quickly. Our day 2 seats were so much better than the previous day! We were right above one of the VIP tents which was why I spent a good chunk of the live craning my neck to see if I would recognize someone. Unfortunately, the tent closest so to us was empty and the one next to it housed technicians it seemed.

Since today’s live would be broadcast on cinemas, there were more cameras around. There was even one directly in front of our section. Each time the camera would pan the audience, we would wave the #LArcMNL banner like crazy. We held on to that banner for the whole duration of the live. Hopefully, there would be a glimpse of it in the DVD somehow. It was also hugely advantageous that the weather was more cooperative. It wasn’t as cold as yesterday.

At around twenty minutes past 5PM, the same intro as the previous day began. I noticed that there seemed to be something wrong with the pod transporting Ken. The other 3 had a dome-shaped top while Ken’s was just blunt – as if the actual dome tapered off. Two other observations: (1) when yukkie came out, Irene and I couldn’t help but scream “acid android yukkie!”, must be the headgear he was sporting this time around; and (2) hyde was still wearing a veil but it was white this time and he looked like a blessed virgin.

Since the setlist for day 2 was similar with day 1 except for a few songs, I would only focus now on the highlights.

  • Day 2 was kicked off by CHASE. I find it to be a better warm up for the crowd and the transition to SEVENTH HEAVEN was smoother.
  • NEW WORLD gave way to NEXUS 4 as the eight song. It was a prudent decision to place NEW WORLD the day before as it was harder to sing and as much as I want to deny it, HYDE’s voice sounded strained during some parts of the live. In fact, his voice was hoarse in the MCs. So proud of him that he was still able to pull off BLESS a cappella earlier.
  • The L’ed wristbands! One can be deluded into thinking that second exposure to those wonders would somehow diminish the effect but nope, my jaw still dropped. The goosebumps likewise returned. Witnessing those dancing lights in person was truly a phenomenal experience.
  • When the bubble  burst at the second stage and L’Arc began their their first song there, I even went more bonkers. They were playing METROPOLIS! Such a refreshing change of pace.
  • For their last song at the second stage, it took me quite a while to figure it out. It was only after hyde sang the first lines that I was able to pinpoint it as KASOU. The arrangement was jazzy and more acoustic than the original. A week later, I would recognize it as a version they played in Hawaii as per videos uploaded to YouTube by ninjas.
  • Our seats on day 2 were closer to the second stage – so close that we could actually here yukkie’s cymbals. Still, we were crushed with envy when as the band exited, they walked right towards the stands across the stage. Hyde even lingered longer on the railings.
  • Have I ever mentioned that I have a soft spot for SHADE OF SEASON? I really do, which was why it baffles me why I wrote WILD FLOWER on my notes during the live as I was clearly singing along to “round and round and round”. It only hit me that I was wrong when J told me afterwards that he liked day 2 better because Shade of Season was one of the songs.  Great. I witnessed live one of my better liked songs from Butterfly without even realizing it.
  • I’m sure by now you’ve read about hyde flubbing his lines during DRIVER’S HIGH. I would have missed it  too if only Irene didn’t point it out seconds after it happened. But the butt grab by Ken? Oh yes, I saw it with my own eyes. Perfect.
  • Also during Driver’s High, we were distracted by staffers dragging huge grey bags from all directions which turned out to contain balloons. The memory stuck with me because one staffer placed a bag in the wrong position so he had to go back and drag it again to the right place. It was also my cue that the live would be over soon.

The last song was Anata. They also sang this on day 1 but it hit me more during this performance. It brought me back to Hong Kong where I first saw them live during the L’Anniversary World Tour. I remember the mirror ball illuminating the stage and the soft almost music box sounding background. It brought me to the time when I had goosebumps because we the audience were singing in perfect harmony. Kokuritsu may not have been as intimate as Asia World Expo but at that very moment, strangers were again as one.

The grey bags eventually released the balloons. The fireworks again lit up the sky. It was also this time when I let the tears fall. I was alright when L’Arc ended Day 1 with Niji but today was different. I cried because I had fulfilled a dream – dreams in fact. But most of all, I cried because I knew it was really over. There’s no more day 3. By this time tomorrow, all these would be a memory.

Just as I was blinking back tears, we hear hyde talking. What’s going on? Everyone froze on the spot. The screens were showing some backstage footage. Then the words “DOCUMENTARY FILMS ~ WORLD TOUR 2012”. Screams.

The screens turned blank. After which, the word “And” was shown. The screaming intensifies. Needless to say, I was desperate for another world tour announcement. Ah but not yet. The alternative was not bad after all. Everlasting would be released as a “memorial single” in August and the just concluded live would be release on DVD! I dread the waiting time for their next comeback but a cinematic release for the documentary, a new single and a DVD on the way are good enough distractions.

Until next time, L’Arc~en~Ciel. Until next time.

(And please consider visiting the Philippines soon. The #LArcMNL campaign turns 2 today!)

LIVE REPORT: L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 at National Olympic Stadium / Kokuritsu Day 1 (March 21, 2014)

The wind was cold, bitingly so.

I stared ahead. The stage was massive. Intimidating. Beyond and around it, not one seat was left unoccupied. All eighty thousand of them.

Another frosty gust of wind hit my cheek. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. Just hours ago, I was battling stress at the office. I was fearful of missing my flight. I almost lost my laptop at baggage check. And just when I was to set my Out of Office reply, I realized the something was wrong with my wireless connection.

I opened my eyes, one at a time. The crowd was still there and the screens onstage were showing a countdown. This was no dream. I was really about to fulfill my wish of watching L’Arc~en~Ciel live in their home turf of Japan.

The countdown ended with a picture of a camera and the word “FLASH”. Everyone laughed. We waited some more. I fidgeted with my L’ed wristband which I suspected to be broken since it wouldn’t turn on. In fact, neither of my companions Jordy, Irene and Joanne could make their wristbands glow.

At 5:20PM, the screens lit up again. It showed some futuristic images much like those in the movie Minority Report. Then some laser device etched out the form of each member. Each form exploded as it neared completion to reveal a more defined image of the members. First it was Ken, then Leader then yukkie. Or was it the other way around? I couldn’t remember. All I’m sure was that hyde was revealed last.

As the visuals ended, four pods shot up on stage. Everyone’s breathing hitched. For a long while, the pods just silently stood there. The camera zoomed in to provide a glimpsed of the pods’ occupants.  We screamed with every focus.

And then the members came out one by one. My train of thought…”Ken, wtf????….yukkie, hnggg….OMG, green hair!….What’s taking you so long hyde? Come out already!!!…..Is he really…is that…waaahhhh…why is he wearing a veil?” By this time, all rational thought came flying out the window. They all looked ridiculous but they were back and I was so over the moon convinced now that all of these were really happening.

The familiar strains of GET OUT FROM THE SHELL was heard and L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 Day 1 was officially on its way. The boys immediately maximized the stage’s potential by dispersing wide. May I just stress again just how impressive that stage was? There were rumors of a circular stage a day before the actual live but I doubt anyone expected it to look this way. It was HUGE and boasted of a 360deg view. The outline of four pillars with flames towered on it and the base of the stage itself was surrounded by LED screens. There were two massive screens on the left and right sides plus one in the middle. To be honest, sometimes I found it hard to figure out where to focus my attention. hyde would be frolicking on one end while either Leader or Ken would be sashaying on another part of the stage.

GOFTS was followed by a rousing rendition of SEVENTH HEAVEN. I was half expecting cheerleaders to come out but then again that’s just me pushing my luck. It was such a treat seeing Ken hamming it up with cheerleaders in the previous Kokuritsu live so I was kinda looking forward witnessing it in person. REVELATION followed quickly. Always the song that’s best appreciated live, this particular version was special because it involved us counting down to the lighting up of the Olympic cauldron. Truly a moment to be treasured. hyde even made it more dramatic by carrying the mic stand all over the stage with a huge banner attached to it. L’Arc then slowed things down with BLESS.

Afterwards, hyde delivered his first MC for the night. Alas, no one in my group understood anything that was said. Haha. Then hyde was handed his guitar so we knew right there and then which song was coming up: HONEY of course! Considering that this was a sudden live, it was understandable that the same big butterfly in the midst of gold background from World Tour 2012 was used. We also noticed that hyde struggled a bit as his long sleeve was getting in the way of his guitar playing.

HONEY was followed by the triple-threat of WINTERFALL, NEW WORLD and READY STEADY GO. The first song was very apt since by this time, temperature was dropping precariously. RSG likewise used recycled effects from previous world tour. At this point, I remember whispering to Irene that somehow, I find the whole live subdued, like it was lacking the spectacular. I’ve always dreamed of watching a live in Japan because compared to when artists perform overseas, they tend to go more all out when performing in their own country. With this live so far, I had yet to experience anything that was truly jaw-dropping.

Then the stage went dark.

The screens began to project the CMs for the members-produced goods. They were adorable.

  • First up was the one for yukkie’s tumbler. It featured Doala reminiscing about the chocolates which yukkie also produced from the past lives. Shot partly in black and white and featured cutesy moments, it was really such a sweet ad. Best appreciated if you happen to see already the yukihiroxDoala calendar pre-nup album.
  • The CM for Leader’s Mukimpo Gun for me is the funniest. It had a Men in Black theme and positioned the Mukimpo Gun as a very formidable weapon. Heck, I applaud the voiceover talent for saying MUKIMPO in such a gruff and serious manner. The CM ended by the camera panning back and revealing that the stoic MIB agents in fact paired up their suits with ballet tights. Both agents then proceeded to hit each other with the gun while doing silly moves.
  • Ken-chan’s ribbons could have been the most practical of the goods, if not the most bizarre. The CM for it was equally as polarizing. The setting was in some seedy place. Two guys were doing arm wrestling with one guy obviously at a disadvantage. A young boy counseled the losing guy to use the magic ribbons and immediately said guy gained immense strength.
  • Finally, the award for the “Huh? What was that all about?” went to the CM for hyde’s skull shirt. It featured a young girl performing a short ice skating routine. She did her final spin and text mentioning hyde producing the shirt she was wearing was showed. That was it.

Subsequently, a video of a woman instructing everyone to wear the poncho was shown. She even amusingly demonstrated how to not wear the poncho. Once everyone was wearing the poncho, a strange sound was heard. It was as if something was bubbling up. We also noticed that the smaller platform located at the opposite side of the stadium across the main stage was somewhat pulsating. It was glowing and a huge balloon seemed to be emerging from it. The balloon eventually morphed into a sphere covering the platform. Strange shapes began to appear on it. They seemed to be a world map. Immediately, my mind began to chant “world tour? world tour?”. Images of the world map gave way to a huge eyeball moving around the sphere. The sphere then split in the middle to reveal the band inside it.

The intro of 4TH AVENUE CAFE began and then…I got my spectacular. The L’ed wristbands came to life on their own and immediately, the whole stadium was bathed in soft light. Because of the poncho, the whole audience became a blank canvas and the L’ed wristbands the dashes of colors. My mind was totally blown that I actually didn’t recognize 4th Avenue. I told Irene, “Hey, this song is really REALLY familiar. What’s the title again?”. Naturally, Irene stared at me incredulously before responding.

As the song ended, hyde began another MC. He made an extravagant display of how he could “control” the L’ed wristbands. He would swing this large glowstick and immediately, the wristbands would change their light color. I would learn later on that he said something along the lines of “this is why your tickets were expensive” 🙂

The band performed Mirai Sekai next. I was over the moon. When I saw them in HK at the start of World Tour 2012, I bitched about them not performing the newer songs. Here 2 years later, L’Arc finally catered to my whims. Anata followed and it had a fairly long intro.

The stadium again went dark. We heard strange noises for the second time and we noticed whales “swimming” across the stands. Ken performed his guitar solo and obviously the epic MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM was next. Memorable moment: the awkward pause during the chorus as neither hyde nor the audience sang the “my heart draws a dream” part 😀 It had always been that the audience would sing “yume o egaku yo” and hyde would answer with “my heart draws a dream” but apparently this time, he wanted us to sing that part too.

Our adrenalin levels shot up immensely as L’Arc followed suit with CHASE. By this time, they were already back at the main stage. Then came XXX. The way the L’ed wristbands transformed the stadium to a glowing sea of pink was jaw-dropping. Thank you very much L’Arc for making me eat my snarky comments earlier.  I would never forget this.

WILD FLOWER and DRINK IT DOWN came next. For the latter, they had flames shooting up from all directions. Each time this happened, we would scream More! Those flames were real life savers. The temperature had really gotten so cold that as much as I wanted to sway my arms around, I had to keep my hands balled up inside my pocket as I fear they would just fall off.

hyde spoke again and even if I couldn’t understand much, I sensed that something historical was about to happen. L’Arc would be performing a new song which they haven’t released before! The first time I heard EVERLASTING, I thought it was written by yukkie. Turned out, it was penned by Ken. Either way, I loved how anguished it sounded.

EVERLASTING was followed by another big surprise. BLAME! I couldn’t believe my ears! It was such a joy hearing this song live.

What came afterwards made me regret I didn’t pursue my Nihonggo lessons after college. Ken delivered his MC and based on the bursts of laughter one after the other, he was being downright hilarious. I was only watching his expressions and already I couldn’t help but giggle.

L’Arc then performed CARESS OF VENUS, DRIVER’S HIGH and LINK. As with past performances of Link, Leader had his moment. He traded shouts of “Ogenki” and “Wassoi” with all of us. And have I already mentioned that his orange outfit glowed in the dark? Leader did well in his impression of a fluorescent carrot that night.

Day 1 capped off its surprisingly generous setlist with NIJI. It was beautiful. I was about to lose my battle with the cold but the magnificent sight before me gave me warmth. From where we sat, we could see all of L’Arc~en~Ciel performing their signature song. Around them, dancing lights in rainbow colors and above them, the glorious Tokyo skyline. Blissful. Sublime. And as the fireworks went off, resplendent.

To think this is only day 1.

LIVE REPORT: VAMPS at Hyper Wave Festival in Jakarta (November 29, 2013)

OMFG. We were THIS close to HYDE. He was like only 15 feet away! And those pants! Blessed be those pants. Any lower and they should be censored! But we could totally see HYDE’s abdominal muscles rippling as he languidly glided on stage! And yeah, v-muscle galore! adaflkjd;ljdf;ad;fk;adfkaldfkadjsfla;sdkf;asdkf’afdhfl;ajdf;adf;ad’kf;ad

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And now that we have the spazzing out of the way… on with the actual live report.

I arrived at the venue around 5pm and was very much pleased that the venue looked more organized compared to how it was during the OOR live barely a week ago. I was also overly relieved if not a tad surprised that the line was tolerably short. Granted that there were 3 ticket classes: VIP (where I was), Festival and Regular, the fact that only about 20 people separated me from the entrance made all the agonizing I did all day seemed useless. (I couldn’t take the day off from the office because we had training that I myself organized.)

Still, my relief was short-lived for mere minutes after I arrived, intense thunder and lightning happened. Pretty soon, heavy rains were upon us. This was no drizzle similar to what happened during OOR but still no one was giving up their spot even after the parking lot started flooding a bit.

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Ubrellas were hardly useful so we had no choice but to buy uber expensive plastic bags in the shape of rain coats.

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We at the VIP hardly felt VIP no more because our line was situated at muddy terrain. Later on, we would end up walking through shallow flood water then even through more mud. I ended up watching the live with slushy feet. My shoes were barely recognizable after all the abuse. Buy hey, all for the love of HYDE.

By around 6:30, we were finally allowed to enter the concert grounds. Everyone was gunning for the spot directly in front of HYDE but Yoan, Rej and I ran instead at KAZ’s side. There were much lesser people there so we get to enjoy front row view.

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At this point, I just want to clarify that there seemed to be no effort on the security’s part to hinder us from taking a few pictures which is why this post would be filled with them. There wasn’t also any announcement, to the best of my knowledge, that picture taking was not allowed. But no, I did not record full performances. If I want to see VAMPS through a screen, I should have just saved my shoes from ruin and watched a concert DVD at home.

There were 3 acts before VAMPS. The first of which was DJ Han (?) from Japan.  I wasn’t able to catch his name but noted that he always added the “from Japan” when referring to himself 🙂 He had the audience warming up to his remixed versions of Coldplay, Linkin Park and Oasis songs.

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Next was P.R.I.D.E. This band had nice stage presence and eclectic in their choice of songs. After an English song which was unfortunately, I was not familiar with, they performed rock covers of 2 Michael Jackson songs, one of which was Earth Song. Very cool. For their second to the last song, they had me jumping in glee upon hearing the first few bars. I shouted “Clock Strikes! Clock Strikes!!” during which the vocalist pointed at me and had a laugh. Hearing an OOR song during a VAMPS gig even if it’s just a cover? Still surrealistic.  Plus it brought back feels from the OOR live earlier. P.R.I.D.E. ended their set with a song that had people shouting “Indonesia!” several times.

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Then came Pee Wee Gaskin. By this time, the audience was overly excited to see VAMPS which could perhaps explain why the reception to this band was somewhat lukewarm. And then the vocalist just had to trip over a wire or something even before they started their first song. Unlike P.R.I.D.E., Pee Wee Gaskin performed their original songs (I think. The songs were all in Bahasa Indonesian). Halfway through their set, some people were already shouting “We want VAMPS”. This guy beside us even shouted repeatedly “Haido, hayaku hayaku onegaishimasu” to that effect. Sorry dude, but that was just very rude of you. After playing for about 30 minutes, Pee Wee Gaskin concluded with another song which, lo and behold, had chants of “Indonesia!’ in the lyrics again.

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Finally, VAMPS right? Right? No. What followed was a meticulous setting up that seemed to last forever 🙂 VAMPS crew began their overhaul by blowing smoke on stage. Disinfectant? Just kidding. Then they stripped and fastened stuff here and there. The stage had some slippery parts because of the rain so the crew scrubbed, dried and made hazard-free the whole thing. Some last minute sound checks then some guy turning his flashlight on and off as a signal to the folks at the projectionists side and they were off the stage.

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9:25PM came and the damp clothes and muddy feet ceased to matter. VAMPS was at long last on stage.

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The boys opened the show with yay LIFE ON MARS? Each had their own little platforms but fortunately for us, KAZ, Ju-Ken and most especially HYDE shuffled places once in a while.

The first time HYDE glided in front of us, my heart leaped to my throat.

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My initial impressions upon seeing VAMPS up close: the ever stoic KAZ could be very loquacious when he lets his guitar speaks for him while both Jin and Arimatsu did their best not to blend in with the background. Ju-ken, on the other hand, was quite the attention grabber and had the most “wild rocker” presence of the four.

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As for HYDE, I couldn’t quite place it but it seemed to me that for the first half of the live, he was a bit detached and – please don’t hate me for this – performed rather idly. He sauntered across the stage like a lazy feline with the confidence of someone who knows that he could just stand there reading a laundry list and the audience would still lap it all up.

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LIFE ON MARS? was followed by what I actually expected to be their opening song DEVIL SIDE and then REDRUM. Around this time, HYDE shouted Jakarta a lot and the sound was distorted making his voice eerie and there were echoes too.

What came next was VAMPS’ latest single REPLAY. This got us really hyped up.

AHEAD intro. Still from #VAMPSJKT. I should really get to writing the live report by today.

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VAMPS followed it up with a subdued rendition of THE PAST and MY FIRST LAST before having everyone bobbing their heads to VAMPIRE DEPRESSION.

Then came HYDE’s MC. He said something about eating I think because the audience just started shouting “Nasi goreng! Nasi goreng!” and then about devouring some fans.

HYDE's MC #VAMPSJKT

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The energy hiked up exponentially when VAMPS segued to HUNTING. It was also when HYDE also uttered the most quotable quote that night: “Where’s malam?” 🙂 He’s actually saying “Where’s my lamb?” but it came out sounding as if he’s looking for the night as malam translates to evening in Bahasa Indonesian. And yes, I finally sensed the naughty, overwhelmingly sexual and hyperactive stage presence of HYDE that I had been missing.

Then the live just went full throttle. The audience has gotten really wide as well. We were all jumping as VAMPS moved from AHEAD to ANGEL TRIP (in English!) to TROUBLE. It was really a head-scratcher for me when VAMPS opted to do a cover of this song but hearing it live made me appreciate it. It was really fun jumping along to each “Oh, oh, we’re in trouble”.

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The band closed off their main set with the infectious LOVE ADDICT.

Right after they exited the stage, we immediately shouted “Encore! Encore!”. The band took their time coming out so we moved on to “BANG ON STOMP EVERYBODY!” That proved to be the magic words as VAMPS kicked off their encore with REVOLUTION II

BANG ON! STOMP EVERYBODY!! #VAMPSJKT

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REVOLUTION had us all shouting and stomping so it was a relief that VAMPS opted to mellow it down with SWEET DREAMS.

Short clip of SWEET DREAMS from #VAMPSJKT Good night everyone!

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VAMPS afterwards gifted us with another entry in our wishlist: MEMORIES! Just like Angel Trip, they performed this song in English.

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Insanity then ensued as they closed the show with SEX, BLOOD, ROCK and ROLL. It was a song that could go on and on but of course it didn’t. Still it was a very satisfying ending. VAMPS Live at Hyper Wave Festival started with a slow burn but ended with everyone on fire. And for his parting words, HYDE gave an endearing promise: “I’ll see you soon.”

I will DEFINITELY see you again soon. Let it be in the Philippines please.

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Random memories from the live:

  • the Japanese fan who wore a VAMPS bikini for the entire duration of the show
  • HYDE and Ju-ken throwing bras to the audience. HYDE even put one on top of his hat.
  • Two of KAZ’s pics landing behind me. Yoan’s friend competed hard with another fan for the first one but effortless caught the second one. And he also won the meet and greet raffle earlier! Lucky guy
  • THIS SONG. It must have played a gazillion times that night so it still haunts me up to today. Honestly, I sometimes find myself singing it out of the blue.

Now good luck your way getting that song out of your head 🙂 Here are more VAMPS porn snapshots as a countermeasure:

P.S. Please don’t repost them somewhere else without credit ne? Learn to source.

 

Come on bloodsuckers!: The VAMPS LIVE 2013 Live Viewing in Jakarta Experience

(Guess who’s back from the dead! Hi everyone! Finally back with another update. I’ve recently moved to Jakarta and compared to Manila, there are a lot more J-rock related events here so expect more frequent updates. What’s next on my calendar? Another encounter with ONE OK ROCK this November!)

It all started with a countdown. The onscreen audience was shouting “VAMPS! VAMPS!!” while we, the cinema audience, were staring intently as the clock shifted. And then finally, it read 6:66. The curtains gave way to a stage bathed in red light. No adornment apart from the slim columns of light coming from above which changes color during the live. One by one, the band members emerged. HYDE’s entrance was dramatic. He had these contact lenses which glowed in the dark and the effect was mesmerizing.

VAMPS kicked off their performance with VAMPIRE DEPRESSION. He took to the spotlight with Ju-ken on his left and K.A.Z. on his right. Interestingly, the pianist and drummer each had their glass encased section by the back of the medium sized stage.

They segued to MADE IN HEAVEN next which transitioned nicely to Devil Side. HYDE spoke a bit before launching into COSMOS. Secret to my Heart followed. By this time, the band and the audience (both in ZEPP and in the cinema) were really hyped up. HYDE shouted “Come on bloodsuckers, let’s go to heaven’s gate!” He referred to the audience as “bloodsuckers” a few times during the live. The band then played Replay where the heaven’s gate reference came from. Just HYDE-era fans (like me!) were in for a treat as VAMPS performed Countdown and DOLLY next (wished they played Season’s Call though!).

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After which, the mood on the stage shifted. The stage went dark save for a blue spotlight trained on the pianist playing a melancholic tune. Ju-ken was then showed playing a contrabass (?). The lights came back and HYDE began singing Sweet Dreams. The drums were a bit off during this performance, like it was not in synch with the other parts of the song. Anyway, what came next was actually a surprise for me. It was the David Bowie classic Life on Mars. HYDE said a few words then moved on to Ahead followed by Angel Trip.

Ju-ken had his moment as the next segment had him showing off some riffs. What followed was a really awkward performance of Trouble. I never did warm up to VAMPS’ version of this song and this performance was not doing the song any good. HYDE sounded like a drunken MIYAVI (and only MIYAVI can pull that off). A bit of a drum solo then BOOM! Live Wire was next. This probably was one of the most energetic parts of the whole live. Proof of which was by the time it ended, HYDE was breathing heavily. And boy, did he milk that moment for all it’s worth. After a few seconds of HYDE sexing it up for the camera, VAMPS performed Midnight Celebration. The stage then went dark and the band members left the stage. The set was over.

After a few minutes though, the band members then came back for their encore. When K.A.Z. entered he was carrying a blue water gun which he used to spray the audience. And where was HYDE? The camera revealed him crouched behind the speakers with a red water gun which he then used on the audience. HYDE then strapped on his guitar then went over to K.A.Z. and they did a really short guitar duet before finally launching into a frantic performance of Love Addict.

Next came the MCs. K.A.Z. was first and I was fairly amused hearing him speak that long. He talked for about 3 minutes? When it was HYDE’s turn, he said a really funny story because the audience was cracking up. As for me, all I understood were the words that kept popping up: okaasan, toire and arigatou gozaimasu. HYDE delivered it with so much glee and an animated face which was why I couldn’t help but laugh along. A performance of MEMORIES followed.

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The excitement onstage went several notches higher as the band segued to an extended version of Hunting. And just when we thought the song was over, HYDE would say “Again!” and true enough, the hunt would restart. With all that rambunctious energy, it was only natural that the next and final song would be Sex, Blood, Rock and Roll. There was no blood, but I could have sworn the stage reeked of sex and was definitely delivering some raunchy rock and roll.

Overall, the live viewing experience was really fun. It didn’t have the same elation a real live would give but seeing HYDE and the others projected that big onscreen brought a new level of awe. We can practically see their pores! And as every naughty grin, playful lick and loaded innuendoes were magnified several times over, it could be very breathtaking sometimes. At one point and I can’t remember when because I was too busy wiping the blood on my nose, HYDE addressed the camera and mentioned live viewing. He then proceeded to turn on the charm to maximum level and said hello in different languages. He ended the spiel by saying “See you soon!”.

Well, HYDE I’ll hold on to that promise. Jakarta, and hopefully Manila, better be on your worldwide tour. Until then, this postcard I got from the cinema would be firmly tacked to my wall.

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VAMPS LIVE 2013 July 07 Setlist:

  1. VAMPIRE DEPRESSION
  2. MADE IN HEAVEN
  3. Devil Side
  4. Cosmos
  5. Secret in my Heart
  6. Replay
  7. COUNTDOWN
  8. DOLLY
  9. Sweet Dreams
  10. Life on Mars
  11. Ahead
  12. Angel Trip
  13. Trouble
  14. Live Wire
  15. Midnight Celebration

Encore:

Love Addict

~ K.A.Z. MC ~

~ HYDE MC ~

Memories

Hunting

Sex, Blood, Rock and Roll

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LIVE REPORT: L’Arc~en~Ciel 20th L’Anniverary World Tour Live in Hong Kong (March 03, 2012)

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:

  • World’s Best Selection + Shirt Premium Package
  • Light stick
  • Eco bag
  • Tour grey tee
  • Tour Book

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:

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: Angry?

Audience: Bird!

ken: SEVENTH?

Audience: HEAVEN!!!

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?

this just in: L’Arc is back!

L'arc en Ciel is back with a vengeance

L’Arc~en~Ciel will kick off their 20th Anniversary celebration with a concert on New Year’s Eve!

Billed as L’A Happy New Year, it will be held at Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall 9-11 on December 31, 2010. Doors open 22:00.

The downside? It’s for LE-CIEL members only.

For more info, check out the spankin’ newly designed OHP.

(thanks to ~listen the world~ for the heads-up)

we are coming to you live (via streaming)!

As I start writing this piece, the stage is being set up for MUCC’s performance at this year’s Jack in the Box. They’re the final act of the night and the crowd’s energy is palpitating like mad. Then suddenly the stage lights up. MUCC appears and the familiar strains of their hit FUZZ is heard. The crowd goes wild. And I got to savor it all – in real time, at the comfort of my own home about 2,966 km away.

Welcome to the wonders of live streaming.

Jack in the Box 2010

Thanks to the emergence of sites like myspace and ustream, fans like me from other countries could now attend jrock concerts albeit in the virtual sense. In fact, Jack in the Box is just the latest to join a rapidly increasing list of events being broadcasted live via the internet.  Two days ago, I was rocking with Miyavi in ustream for his Screaming Out from Tokyo tour. About a month before that, I joined a legion of hyperventilating fangirls who were singing along with VAMPS in their free live at Roponggi.

What makes the experience different from watching the performance in say, a YouTube upload, is that since it’s live, you get to enjoy it untainted by comments/reviews from fans who were fortunate enough to attend the actual concert. And as I’ve mentioned a while back, you get to savor the moment together with those who are in the venue itself. You get to be one with them in anticipating for the next act or the next song, share their slight annoyance over technical difficulties and their amusement over an epic blooper that no DVD offshoot could give justice to. Via live streaming, the excitement is not just contained in the club or stadium alone but is spread out across the globe.

Live streamings hold even greater significance for us fans from countries that have slim chances of being included in a world tour itinerary. It’s our only chance to wholly experience the visual in visual kei. It won’t be an audacity to think then that I’m not the only one that’s extremely grateful for the opportunity. I’m sure nothing beats experiencing a live in the venue itself but for now, this would do. And besides, at least we don’t have to worry about our feet being stomped on or someone’s elbow hitting us in the face. Our biggest concern is the speed of our internet connection but that’s another story already 🙂