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LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK Start Walking the World Tour Live in Singapore (June 30, 2012)

Either it was really fate or we were just really BLESSED (yes, the L’Arc fan in me just cannot resist making those song references XD)

Sat and I arrived at the*SCAPE in Singapore gawking at the VIP line and wondering where the heck the line for the poor souls at GA went off to. We visited the venue the day before so we knew that the GA line should be just opposite that of the VIP’s.  After loitering at the merchandise booth where surprisingly there was no line at all, we finally got the sense to ask where we should line up. Turned out all we had to do was walk a few steps from where we were already standing. Toinks. Good thing for us, the line at GA was not yet very long. We settled then to our spot and braced ourselves for the 4 hours to go before gates open.

Waiting didn’t turned out to be an exercise on patience. There was a threat of rain earlier (hence why the GA line was transferred) but it gave way to conducive weather. We passed the time trading stories and contemplating on which merchandise shirt to buy. Also briefly talked to a guy who said he travelled from Malaysia and that he has been an OOR fan for more than 3 years. Now that got me a bit worried. To be honest, I’ve only been listening to the band for less than 2 months and have yet to own an album of theirs. Grooveshark and YouTube were my supportive friends during my getting to know you stage with ONE OK ROCK. They made me familiar with a number of songs but the tracks which I can sing along to were barely a handful. Ok, so just maybe one and it’s the song which really drew me into the band: Liar.

Crew from AFA (or was it J-Live?) came over and filmed us. Twice. The instructions were pretty simple: just act excited. No acting needed for that, mister. We really were excited, giddy even! After that, we finally came face to face with Yaone whom we knew online. She came with good tidings: KOI milk tea and my L’Arc poster from their live 2 months prior. Time then went even faster. Sat drew anime version of us and we traded stories even more. Next thing we knew, staff was already telling us to stand up and get ready.

Getting inside the venue was such a breeze. Kudos to J-Live for being so organized. They let in people by batches, VIPs first (of course) and then us at GA a few persons at a time. Right on the dot, almost everyone was inside Warehouse. The live was sold out but crowd was hardly stifling.  Ours was a good spot, just 3 lines from the barricades separating GA from VIP and right between the places of the vocalist and guitarist. In other words, good view of Taka and Toru. Score!

Another plus points for everyone: the live started promptly at 7pm. The stage lights erupted with blinding brilliance but our eyes couldn’t get any wider as the boys appeared on stage. Now you have been warned earlier that I am not familiar with all their songs so I won’t be able to describe each performance in detail. No official setlist had been released as of this writing but according to my two sources, it should be more or less like this:

  1. CODA
  2. LOST AND FOUND
  3. Never Let This Go
  4. 皆無
  5. Re:make
  6. 世間知らずの宇宙飛行士
  7. アンサイズニア
  8. Mr.現代Speaker
  9. Liar
  10. Wherever you are
  11. C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.
  12. Let’s take it someday
  13. NO SCARED
  14. 恋ノアイボウ心ノクピド
  15. 完全感覚Dreamer

encore

  1. じぶんROCK
  2. 内秘心書

(source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/one-ok-rock?before=1341078704 and http://untestsubject.tumblr.com/post/26225400853)

The energy of the live was so unbelievable! And it was mutual. Both band and audience fed off the exuberance of the other. There was earnestness in ONE OK ROCK’s performance that we the audience couldn’t help but be drawn to it. The moment the first note was played, our eyes and ears were totally theirs. Arms were outstretched and palms and fists were reaching out into the stage as if it was the very cradle of existence.

Taka was one hell of a vocalist. Imagine a hyperactive kid who had yet another sugar overdose and who happened to be really, really good at singing and you have Taka. He was bouncing around the stage, head-banging, arms flailing all the while seemingly never missing a note. We couldn’t see Tomoya at all but our ears told us that he was banging those drums with full vigor. Ryota and Toru, on the other hand, made a smashing pair. The two of them headbanging with Taka was a sight to behold. Such energy! Such passion! Such talented good-looking boys (spazz)!

Their MCs were also amusing. Speaking in a mixture of Mandarin, Japanese and hell yeah English, they regaled us with their thoughts of Singapore. Taka’s English was really good and he moderated the flow of introductions very well. Ryota was wearing a USS shirt and in his MC he showered poetics on Singapore and even sings a bit a Mandarin song. Tomoya was next and he didn’t even made an effort to conceal that he was reading off a script! He was so nervous it was adorable. Last but not the least was Toru and his was the most engaging. He spoke about being sad for not being able to see the Merlion as it was under construction. But he, as the other members professed too, was really happy to play for the Singapore audience.

In the middle of the set, a familiar tune was strummed and I was instantly livid. Holy shit, it’s Liar! Finally, a song I can sing along to in its entirety!!! And sing I did and even more. Call me biased but the stage lighting was even much better for this performance. Every time the chorus hit, the stage would be bathe in red light and then it would explode like a celestial collision. After that, ONE OK ROCK took us back to earth with a gut-wrenching rendition of Wherever you are. It was very poignant and Taka allowed the audience to sing bits of the songs. To L’Arc fans, this should be the OOR equivalent of MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. It was that emotional, at least for me. And then while we were still reeling, Taka asked someone from the audience to translate his MC. The next song, he said, was written for a good friend and as he saw everyone there as his friends, the song now was for all of us. I could have sworn I hear sniffles. That could have been me stifling a sob. The song? C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. Our minds? Totally blown.

At one point during the live and I forgot for which song, Taka made us go “Eh?!” by asking everyone to sit down. There were a lot of uncoordinated movement and losing balance but Taka was firm “I want you to sit down…. and then jump!” I wasn’t even sure now if our feet landed back on the floor after that. Everyone was so high, literally and figuratively. And Ryota was no longer wearing a shirt! Boom.

Taka then announced that they were down to their last song. We were naturally reluctant to let them go. As we wait for the encore, some started singing WO-OHH-OHH from アンサイズニア which Taka made us repeat over and over again when they performed the song earlier. The band then came back, Ryota still shirtless and the rest still sigh, fully clothed. Taka did change though to the Singapore exclusive tour shirt. They played two more songs and then it was over.

Getting out of the venue was also very organized. We went to the merchandise booth to buy a shirt and then ran outside to catch a glimpse of the band as they leave the venue. It was a wait peppered with excitement and false starts. A number of times, we thought it was already the band coming out but it was only a staff member. One security basked in the spotlight and pretended to part of the band. He was hamming it up for the cameras and made us all laugh. Not for long though for as soon as the band came out, it was every wannabe paparazzi for his or herself.

Tired and hungry, Sat, Yaone and I scampered over to Somerset to look for a place to eat. We settled for Ramen Play and ate our ramen in peace, each lost in our own thoughts and probably replaying the live in our heads. Sat was determined to have a taste of Singapore Sling that night so we decided to go to Marina Bay Sands next. But before we left, I got a message from my close friend Berto that he can finally meet with me tonight (he stood me up the other night) so we waited for him. When we told him we want to drink Singapore Sling, he recommended that we go to Raffles Hotel instead as it was there where the famous cocktail was born.

The four of us stayed at Raffles Hotel until they kicked us out because they had to close already. Sat was finally united with hyde’s nemesis, the Singapore Sling while Berto and Yaone told us stories of their stay in Singapore. The discussion afterwards went from personal to profound. The other patrons left one by one and the reggae band has packed up but we were still in deep conversation. Finally, the waiter just politely asked us to leave. Since Chijmes was just around the corner, we decided to just transferred there. BEST. DECISION. EVER.

We walked around Chijmes admiring the whole courtyard. We took Polaroid shots that didn’t even captured the view and there were a lot of teasing. While looking for a place to stay, Yaone suddenly drew us aside and said “It’s ONE OK ROCK!” I turned around and true enough, the big party at the next table included the band. I couldn’t suppress a shout and their staff members casted a bewildered look at us. We then casually strolled to the next table and acted natural. Berto and Sat took off to order us beer. Yaone and I did our best not to stare. Toru was in my line of sight and I was milking the opportunity for all it’s worth. For some reason, Berto and Sat were taking too long. Yaone and I were actually contemplating approaching the band but in the end we decided not to intrude their privacy. We just contented ourselves throwing sly glances their way.

Finally, our beer arrived. At the corner of my eye, I saw Taka leave their table. I didn’t know what pushed me to say it but I grabbed Sat’s collar and whispered to him “You may want to go to the restroom.” Sat gave me a confused him look but I just widened my eyes at him and gestured to the restroom. Finally he complied. As he was entering the restroom, Taka came out. I was observing the whole episode as it unfolded. Awkward moment between them. Then Taka saw Sat was wearing the Singapore live shirt. He said Whoa! They were a bit far so I couldn’t hear a thing but Sat must have said that we were at the live. He pointed at our table then it was Taka pointing to our table. Next thing I knew Taka was walking towards us. I elbowed Yaone and kept repeating “holy shit!”. Taka was in front of me and he was extending his hand. I closed my jaw. Blinked a number of times. Finally gathered my wits. Took his hand and said “We just saw you live earlier. It was a great show!”. He said “Thank you” then walked to my side of the table. I told him I flew all the way from the Philippines to see them and that Sat was from Canada. Taka said, “Canada?” then he turned to their table, called the attention of this band mates and said “Canada!”

What happened next will be forever replayed in my head for all eternity. In slow motion.

All the members of ONE OK ROCK were suddenly at our table. I didn’t know where to look! It’s like they were everywhere all at once! Introductions were made. I was gushing. Sat was blushing. Yaone was tweeting! Berto was a pleased spectator. Taka asked me how old we are. It turned out he was about the same age as Sat. I told him I hope they will visit the Philippines someday. He said “Sure. We’ll do our best”. I countered that we’ll be ready. Next, I got lost in Toru’s eyes. Such nice facial features. He was very reserved but he can say nothing and I would still be contented. Meanwhile Ryota and Tomoya were the most enthusiastic. I told Ryota I liked his abs but it seemed he didn’t understand it. Tomoya said they were still learning English. I said it was ok. Then Ryota asked in Japanese if I understand the language. I replied that I know a little. He asked why. I said so I can understand your songs. He and Tomoya spazzed out. I was spazzing out too. I was able to converse in Japanese with ONE OK ROCK! There were a lot more handshaking after that. The boys introduced us to their bosses. One of them suggested that we take pictures. Yes, it was them who suggested we take pictures! Their manager, I believed, volunteered to take our picture. And then they all went back to their table.

Sat, Berto, Yaone and I exchange looks that said all of us were still processing if whether the last 10 minutes or so did happened. It must have been a while since we snapped out of our catatonic state. We filled up our mugs to the rim and made an extravagant toast. Cheers! The four of us talked some more. My phone was close to dying so unfortunately I couldn’t document the event in real time. Yaone said some of our online friends had already heard of our good fortune and that mentions of disbelief and congratulations were pouring in. Heck, ONE OK ROCK and their staff were at the next table and we still can’t believe that we actually talked to them. We downed our beer. Challenged each other on who can finish theirs first. Sat won. Boo. Then we exchanged banter again.

Around 3AM, the people at the next table turned to leave. Wonders of wonders, the band members returned to our table to say good-bye. What have we done to deserve such good karma? It was a huge effort not to hanaji right then and there. We exchanged a few words again. And then I asked if we can have their autograph. They complied. Taka was such a sweetheart as he was the one passing around our notebooks to the other members. There were more gushing until finally the promise to meet each other again, whether it will be in Singapore or in another country.

We waited until the whole band and their entourage left Chijmes and then collectively let out a LOUD scream! All the emotions we were holding back came out in full force. WE JUST TALKED TO AND SHOOK THE HANDS OF ONE OK ROCK!

I have the pictures and their autograph to prove it. But up to this day, I still can’t believe it has happened. I can pinch myself until it hurts just to prove even to myself that it was no dream. But then again, there is nothing left to bleed. My heart can’t take this anymore.

Until the next live.

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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?