The Air Moon Ch. 2: Live House Tour, Part 3

Dazaifu Shrine decked out for its Tenjin Nebuta Festival. It's not as large as Aomoir's Nebuta Festival, but just to give an idea of something mentioned later in the post.
Dazaifu Shrine decked out for its Tenjin Nebuta Festival. It’s not as large as Aomori’s Nebuta Festival, but just to give an idea of something mentioned later in the post.

I can’t believe I’m more than halfway through this chapter. Whew!

Anyway, this post will cover the 2002 live house stops in Nagoya, Aomori, and Sapporo. You can access all sections of the book (that I’ve translated so far) from the Table of Contents page, if you haven’t read the beginning yet.

All the World Cup talk in this section prompted me to try to hurry up and have this ready before this year’s World Cup starts. Also, I found Gackt’s comments about thinking of himself as being from Asia rather than from Japan interesting. Maybe someday we can all move beyond continents and think of ourselves as being from Earth.

One can dream.

Anyway, without further ado, the story continues.

June 18, 2002 Nagoya Diamond Hall

World Cup fever had swept across Japan. The kiosks in Tokyo Station were lined with sports newspapers, and soccer took over the front page of each one. A festival atmosphere pervaded the country thanks to the Japanese team’s big breakthrough. Maybe that’s why I was in a particularly positive mood as I boarded the bullet train toward Nagoya. Also, Gackt’s health had improved considerably, so even though I knew I shouldn’t assume today’s concert would go well just because, that’s the way I felt about it.

As the bullet train pulled out of the station, it suddenly occurred to me: this year was the first time the World Cup was held in Asia. Not only that, it was being hosted jointly by Japan and Korea. People all over the world would become more familiar with this continent. This reminded me of the time I went to Taiwan with Gackt.

It had been a year ago this month. The schedule was packed full of promotional activities, but even so, Gackt went out around town every night, going out even to clubs with few customers, walking around through various streetscapes. It was like a thorough reconnaissance mission. The concept for MOON CHILD had probably already taken shape in his mind at that point. He already fit in with the streets that would play the role of Mallepa, city of the near future. A few months after that, he went to Hong Kong to film the music video for “ANOTHER WORLD,” mentally giving further form to MOON CHILD. At the same time, his views and feelings about Asia became deeper, stronger.

“I don’t want to take off into the world as ‘Gackt from Japan,’ I want to always think of myself as ‘Gackt from Asia.'”

It was around this time that Gackt started saying that with noticeable frequency.

Just like the landscape beyond the train window, changing with delirious speed, Gackt’s recent musings crossed my mind in rapid succession.

Let’s look back at some of the things Gackt said in an interview in May of 2002.

“I think my perspective should always be ‘in Asia, ~’ rather than ‘in Japan, ~,’ and I don’t want to give people the opportunity to call me a ‘mere musician.’ In a one- or two-hour concert, a vocalist tells short, four to five minute stories over and over again, right? But in Asia, relative to the world, the way vocalists are viewed is completely different. For example, movie stars are well-regarded, but musicians aren’t. That is, ultimately, proof of the failure of the media created in each of Asia’s countries. They put too much focus on the music industry as a distribution business, losing sight of the essence of music. They’ve become unable to see anything other than the bottom line, and as a result, things are the way they are now. Even though there’s tons of people who want to get into the industry out of a true love of music. It’d be nice if I could lay the groundwork for people who say, ‘I want to, therefore I can.’ I feel very strongly about that.”

Gackt became painfully aware of the state of Asia’s music industry relative to the world through his experiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and a few other countries. It’s not that different in Japan; the music industry has become more and more focused on moving units. Gackt has sounded the alarm about this trend countless times. For example, Gackt couldn’t get behind the typical Japanese stance on how to release music: before the album, there’s singles; singles get removed from the album, this process is repeated, and eventually a ‘Best of’ album is released.

“An album is made with love, so it should be sold with love. Why is everyone so caught up on singles?”1

Gackt has been saying this for quite a while now, too.  Of course, there was no plan to remove the singles from MOON, and along with the production of the movie MOON CHILD, this was linked to his desire to have people love MOON long-term.

Gackt contends that the problem isn’t just that in Asia musicians have less status than actors. If things continue as they are, young people trying earnestly to get into the music industry in the future won’t be able to do so. That’s precisely why he wants to set the stage for them, to be useful to the people who will come chasing after him.

“Forerunners have the responsibility of pulling forward those who come after them. That’s what it means to walk in front of people. Groups that are formed through auditions or the media rather than by fighting their way up from the live house stage, they’re different from groups that were formed by people coming together out of a love of music.”

The unfolding live house tour was connected with precisely that desire to lay a good foundation. The secret shows in particular were conceived with the purpose of not only putting the band on firmer footing, but also encouraging young, local bands, and strengthening the music scene from the ground up.

And what’s the position that “Gackt from Asia” should strive for?

“I think it would be good if becoming known as a musician, artist, and entertainer led to other opportunities.”

For example, if the status of musicians is low in Taiwan or mainland China, musicians there just have to become artists who are also all-around entertainers as well. Gackt can do it. The movie MOON CHILD will clearly lead to such “opportunities.” And now, in the present as I write this book, MOON CHILD is already in theaters in Taiwan, and the general public’s perception of Gackt has changed greatly.

The bullet train arrived in Nagoya. I looked at my watch, and calculated how much time I had before I had to go to the venue.

Ah! MOON‘s official release is tomorrow. That means some people probably got their hands on it today.  If they came to the show after listening to the album, they would probably react differently than the fans at previous shows. Their expectations would be higher. At the same time, these thoughts also flashed into my mind:

“I think we’ll be having the press conference for MOON CHILD any day now. The fans, the whole industry, they’re gonna be really surprised…….”

We had already been notified that we’d be going with Gackt on location in Taiwan in mid-July, but the details of the movie hadn’t been made public yet. I looked forward to it with even greater anticipation.

I got to the venue a little past 2 p.m. Apparently Gackt wasn’t there yet. Preparations were coming along smoothly, and the staff spent the time peacefully. I picked up a sports paper that had been left carelessly in a corner of the dressing room. It was full of articles about the World Cup, but there was an article about Gackt in the entertainment section.2 That’s right, Gackt had had a press conference yesterday for a new commercial he was appearing in, and after that he was on his All Night Nippon radio show. He must be back on his usual packed schedule….

Just as I’d started to fret over Gackt’s health again, I heard an unusually cheery Gackt call out, “Good afternoon!” He greeted each of the staff members in turn.

Gackt wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about soccer, but the World Cup, specifically Japan’s match today, naturally became the topic of conversation. Gackt made an unexpected prediction.

“I think Turkey’s gonna win, 2-1.”

Japan really did end up losing. Gackt’s clairvoyance is amazing.3

Rehearsals began at 4:50 p.m. The moderate-sized venue could hold about 500 people, standing room only. To compare it to a Tokyo venue, one could say it was one size smaller than Club Quattro in Shibuya. It had a good atmosphere, and gave off this vibe of unity. Even so, compared to the four Zepps the tour had stopped at so far, Diamond Hall was pretty small overall, and when the screen was placed onstage it ended up looking disproportionately large.

I went to talk with the staff.

“The band members and the man himself were saying that they were really gonna fly today.”

Fly? That could only mean one thing: stage diving.

“For real?!” Just then, Gackt appeared on stage, stepped on the barrier before it, and seemed to be testing out his balance. Well, well, well! This was getting interesting.

Gackt had picked up a mike and started mumbling.

“Asano-san, you’ve been to this venue before, haven’t you?”

“Mmm, oh, yeah, I have.”

“We did a show here, didn’t we? With La’cryma Christi, SHAZNA, and some others…. That was back in the day! It was for SHOCK WAVE, right?”

“Ah, no, I wasn’t here at the time.”

Mr. Asano’s reply seemed to puzzle Gackt. Mr. Asano had been a stage producer at the Nippon Seinenkan hotel & convention center until January of 1997, but the SHOCK WAVE event Gackt was talking about was in March of 1996, so he hadn’t met Gackt yet. Malice Mizer had had their own show at the Nagoya Diamond Hall shortly after their major label debut on August 19, 1997. The dates for the two events must have gotten mixed up in Gackt’s memory.4

Be that as it may, time sure does fly. The only people who have been on Gackt’s staff since that time are Mr. Asano and the sound technician Ryo, I think. The one who has been with Gackt the longest after those two, of the people in the hall today (if we exclude the band members), turns out to be this mere writer.

Everyone had started feeling a bit nostalgic, but rehearsals resumed and finished without a hitch.

For some reason, several members were in the dressing room putting some of the temporary tattoos that were being sold as tour merchandise on their faces. Gackt was putting a particularly large one on Chad the bodyguard’s neck.

When doors opened, the venue filled up in an instant. The audience members were, without a doubt, the youngest on the tour so far. I could see uniformed schoolgirls here and there amongst the crowd. I thought, “they’ll probably get into it nicely,” but, as I also feared, the crowd got rowdy the moment the background music accompanying the opening video came on. The fans’ reactions to each and every move in the clip were intense. It was thus no surprise that the audience turned into a maelstrom of screaming when the actual performance began. From my spot higher up in the venue I could see the tempestuous waves of the surging crowd rocking to and fro. This was dangerous!

The second song, “Speed Master,” hadn’t even gotten to the first refrain when the people in the crowd seemed on the verge of toppling over on one another like dominoes. Mr. Ikeda, the stage director, immediately rushed out on stage and stopped the performance. The staff yelled out instructions to one another, and eventually succeeded in calming the crowd down.

“I won’t let you make me cancel this show! Take a step back! There, there…that’s right Nagoya, be good boys and girls.”

Thanks to Gackt’s guidance, calm came over the audience.

That was the first and only time in Gackt’s concert history that a performance had to be interrupted. But that was the only dangerous moment in the show, and after that the concert continued with a passionate but stable vibe.

During “Missing,” Gackt also said, for the first time, what was to become one of his famous, standard phrases:

“May these thoughts reach all of you…….”5 Gackt blew a kiss to the audience and disappeared from the stage.

Even as the event continued to the Video Treasures portion, the crowd’s energy did not die down; they seemed as if they would explode with excitement. There was a loud round of applause for Gackt’s juggling.

Like the previous time, Gackt came back on stage for the Talk Corner yelling out “Aaah!” His steady voice didn’t give any hint of fatigue.

“Thinking like ‘oh, we’re doing this show in an arena’ or, ‘we’re doing this show in a huge stadium,’ that’s a trifling way of thinking. Size doesn’t matter. What’s important is having a space to communicate these thoughts in.”

That comment made a strong impression.

Needless to say, the audience was pulsing with energy during “ANOTHER WORLD.” The hot, passionate show in Nagoya ended up making for quite an exhilarating night.

Afterward, some of the staff members and I arrived late to dinner. The atmosphere seemed a bit tense. On top of melting in the summer heat, apparently the band members had gotten an earful from Gackt about the concert. It was certainly a fervent performance, but the roughness of the show was still a cause for concern. Everyone understood what the problems were, and at the moment they seemed to be quietly going over things in their heads.

The whole time, Gackt was looking down at his laptop.

“People send me their reactions to the show as soon as it ends,” he explained. It served to give him another perspective on how the concert went.

I’m sure lots of people will want to know Gackt’s email address upon reading that, but as that information is generally not made public, please don’t contact his agency asking for it. A few years ago, Gackt’s email address got out to the public for just a brief moment, but it spread all over the place and as a result, it’s now classified information. Sorry.6

“There’s some people frantically searching for the location of the secret concert venues. Hmm, maybe I’ll drop a hint to the people who sent me emails.”

The next show would be the secret concert on the 22nd in Aomori. After that would be the highest hurdle of the tour so far, an 11-day 10-night long-haul trip. There would only be one day for returning to Tokyo, then it was the final 3 days and 2 nights on the road. Would Gackt be able to stay in good physical condition? It wasn’t as if he’d been doing so well today. The whole time, it was like he was walking on a tightrope, just barely keeping his balance.

Praying for his health to hold out, I bade farewell to Gackt, who was staying behind in Nagoya for a promo campaign.

June 22, 2002 Aomori Quarter

The night before the “Dears Presents Special Talk&Live Addition” in Nagoya, Gackt had been on All Night Nippon and twice whispered: “I want to eat apples on Saturday,” so there were probably many fans who figured out that today’s secret show would be in Aomori. Then again, there are many prefectures, Nagano and several north of it, that are well-known for producing apples; so perhaps it wouldn’t be so easy to conclude that Aomori was the intended location…….

“Of all the places Gackt has performed in so far, isn’t Aomori City the one with the smallest population?”

The group making their way to Aomori was wondering about this, so I looked it up, and it turned out they were right. Well, to be precise, the smallest population would be that of the town of Mihama in Aichi Prefecture, where Gackt performed in the summer of 2000, but since that was a special event, we decided that it didn’t count. However, later on, the tour would be stopping in Yonago City and Yamagata City, which both had populations even smaller than Aomori City’s almost 300,000.

Certainly, for being the seat of Aomori Prefecture’s government, Aomori City has a surprisingly small population, but it’s not a place that’s too small for the large set Gackt uses during regular tours. It is, however, usually the case that large cities are given priority when deciding tour schedules. There’s also the issue of having to cut other activities from the schedule when going on tour long-term.

“If there’s something so incredible that you truly want to see it, then you’d do whatever you have to in order to get there, wouldn’t you? No matter how far away it is.”

Gackt’s way of thinking on this point has been consistent since his band days. The secret concerts were a way for Gackt to visit the places that were usually off-limits during regular tours. He wanted as many people who “truly want to see” as could fit in the venues to make their way there.

As I was reminded of those things, Gackt’s feelings relative to Asia also came to mind. If he’s to be “Gackt from Asia” rather than “Gackt from Japan,” then Gackt will probably come to think of Asia as the base for his activities. And that’s a great thing. If that were the case, as far as tours are concerned, we’d probably stop giving a tour priority because “this is Japan.” That would be the natural flow of things. We’d develop the sensibilities needed to participate in an Asia-wide Gackt tour, and we’d go to Taiwan or Shanghai or wherever with the same ease as we travel to the Japanese stops.

Gackt had made this comment in May:

“Going to Asia doesn’t mean going ‘overseas.’ Japan itself is but a part of Asia, and so Asia isn’t ‘overseas’ relative to Japan, or rather I should say, for me, ‘Asia’ is the only way I can think of this area. In short, it’s like this: if we look at things from a concert promoter’s point of view, it’s incredibly difficult to, for example, have a tour based out of Tokyo go do a show in Shikoku. Yet, it’s possible to go to Kyushu. Why is that, when Kyushu’s even further away? It’s because Shikoku lacks the population to support concerts and other such entertainment; expenditures would be greater than earnings. That’s what it’s about. It’s not a question of distance.”7

Big cities which would make it possible to balance the expenditures and earnings of a tour can be found outside Japan. And there would probably be Japanese who “truly want to see” who would be willing to go abroad, and the day when they come to think of themselves as “Asian” would draw nearer.

“Whether it’s in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, or wherever, it’s the same. You can put on a show anywhere as long as your performance fits with what the people living there want to see. I think it’s extremely foolish to make music to fit into the framework that the media has decided on. Music isn’t something made by the media……frankly, I’d like to tear them apart.”

Gackt was using the word “media” to refer to the music industry as a whole. Successfully making inroads into Asia with MOON and MOON CHILD was probably in the realm of the impossible when viewed through the “common sense” employed by the music industry. However, Gackt had so far made the impossible possible on several occasions. Take the secret shows, for example. There were several people at first who doubted such shows could be done, but the staff approved of Gackt’s main concept, and now, they were steadily turning the impossible into reality. Well, it came with the added bonus of possibly making Gackt tremendously ill, but at the same time, there were many people, the fans included, who supported Gackt as he moved on without worrying about that possibility; and that was a wholly wonderful thing.

“That’s what it means to walk in front of people.”

Gackt’s words flashed through my mind once more.

Well, let’s move the story back to Aomori.

I arrived in Aomori at around 3 p.m. I was surprised by the chilly air. The temperature was around 13℃ (55°F), which was a huge difference from the already summery Kyushu weather. I headed to the hotel admiring how wide Japan was, and when I got there found some of the staff straightening out the costumes. They informed me that part of the group was already rehearsing at the venue. I inquired what had been on Gackt’s schedule yesterday.

“He paid a visit to Kami’s grave.”

Just as I thought.

Kami had been the drummer for Malice Mizer, but he died suddenly on June 21, 1999. Yesterday was the anniversary of his death.

The group that had been at the venue finished rehearsing and came back to the hotel. Gackt had started doing his make-up, but as my desire to talk about Kami grew, I couldn’t help but go start a conversation with him.

“I heard you went to pay respects at Kami’s grave.”

“Yeah, I always go on his birthday and on the anniversary of his death. I ask the staff to clear my schedule. Yesterday I spoke with him while drinking in front of his grave. He hasn’t changed at all……. There were many fans at the entrance to the graveyard, but the whole time, they didn’t try calling out to me or anything, they let me be. When I was about to go back he said, “friends have come,” and then I went to Kami’s family home. That took me back……there were a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in 5 or 6 years, it made me really nostalgic.”

Seeing Gackt as he spoke with that truly refreshed expression, my mind suddenly flashed back to two years ago. Gackt had just finished his first performance at Osaka-jō Hall and could barely stay conscious. When he finally revived completely (and this is something that often happens to him, as he has a strong sixth sense), he whispered:

“……Kami was up on the stage, you know.”

Even now, Gackt continues to have conversations with Kami and other spirits.

“I get the feeling that my continuing to move forward is a great source of strength for his family. So, I can’t stop……”

As if he’d gathered his resolve, Gackt put on his game face. He had to get ready in a rush and once again head to the venue.

Today, three bands would perform at a live house called Quarter, and Gackt would be last. I went into the venue from a side door while the second band was on stage, and saw the crowd sizzling along nicely. Gackt had been the first performer of the night at the last two secret shows, but it’s ideal to perform last, when the crowd has really gotten into the concert frame of mind.

The local band that had already finished its set, seeing Gackt and company before them in the dressing room, couldn’t hide their nervousness.

Quarter wasn’t packed to capacity, but there seemed to be about 200 people standing in the audience. When the second band finished its set, a throng of people who seemed to be Gackt fans pushed their way closer to the front. Once the bands’ instruments had been swapped on stage and the bodyguards appeared in the wings, cheering erupted from the crowd. It seemed there was a fair number of fans who had come from far-away prefectures.

The instrumental track “Noah” played over the speakers to another loud round of cheering. This track had been played at all the previous shows too, but today was the first show after MOON had been released. Since the fans had done their homework, the reaction was even better than before.

With the same energy, Gackt and the band appeared on stage. The audience moved to the music excellently, jumping, pumping their arms up and down, and so on. Even so, since the house wasn’t packed, the air didn’t become oppressive from a lack of oxygen. Plus, the audience didn’t seem to be “observing” the show, so overall, it was the best atmosphere of the secret shows so far.

If Gackt was going to stage dive, it would probably be during the bridge of the third song, “Lu:na.” And finally, he went for it. Speechless, people in the audience rushed forward as Gackt jumped into their midst. The bodyguards panicked and went out to rescue Gackt. When he returned to the stage, Gackt riled up the fans even more.

“Let’s go wild!” He was yelling and seemed like he had the momentum to jump down again.

Gackt addressed the audience before “ANOTHER WORLD,” the last song. He was able to string his words together smoothly this time.

“You did well to find this place, huh? Good job.”

For the fans who had come from far away, hearing that was probably the greatest reward yet. Voices called out passionately from here and there in the crowd. Everyone was overcome by excitement, and Gackt and the audience began this exchange:

“Aomoriiii! Nebuta Matsuriiii!”8

“Did you eat apples?”

“What? Oh, no, but I drank apple juice!”

Perhaps taken in by the first-ever such exchange to spring up during the secret shows, Gackt brought up the topic of regional dialects, and for some reason, there were voices in the audience that started yelling out to each other in the local dialect. (Ahaha!)

The exceptionally good atmosphere enveloped the show to the end. It was obvious to the members that even the people who hadn’t known Gackt would make an appearance had enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and they basked in the afterglow of the great concert even throughout dinner.

Gackt opened up his laptop and started talking about the show.

“I really learned how dangerous stage diving is. For some reason a boy put me in a headlock, but I just glared at him. But then some hands were brushing up against my face and I bit him.”

He laughed while showing me the various scratches he’d gotten from jumping in the crowd. Under normal circumstances, Gackt probably would’ve lost his mind and really lashed out, but since the vibe in the venue was so good, and he was pulled out by the bodyguards quickly, nothing serious happened. You could say, all’s well that ends well.

With the lingering sensation of the great show, tonight ended up being the most peaceful night of the tour. It’s nice to get a night like this once in a while…….

June 24, 2002 Zepp Sapporo

Yesterday we were on the road. In the air, rather. After arriving in Sapporo, Gackt had no time for promo activities, so I expect he was at least able to get himself in order mentally and physically to be ready for the show. (Well, he was probably well past the point where he could get himself “in order.”)

The climate was even colder than Aomori’s; it was much too chilly to wear short sleeves comfortably. Braving the cold, Gackt arrived at the venue a little bit past 3 p.m. I hoped the cold wouldn’t be too rough on him, but…….

After greeting everyone, Gackt went up on stage, where the other members were doing a sound check, but then made a beeline for the sound technician Ryo’s station down in the audience area. They chatted for a brief while.

“The tams are hard to hear during ‘death wish,’ aren’t they?” Gackt said to him.

“Mm, that’s a tough one.” Ryo seemed embarrassed by the question, but Gackt continued the conversation with a gentle tone.

“This is something only you can do, Ryo, so I’m sure you can find a way.”

If there’s something bugging Gackt about the performance, he never forgets to communicate with the staff, and tell them his opinions, before and after a show. Sometimes he’ll also say to them, “It’s gotten so much better!” This may be thought of as that type of deliberate communication people take part in for appearances’ sake, but when it comes to creative matters, Gackt isn’t one to calculate what he’ll say just to make things go smoothly. People around him trust him as an artist precisely because he never pays lip service to anyone; he always says what he really thinks. Sometimes that openness rubs people the wrong way, but Gackt’s fundamental stance is to create good works out of those clashes. And everyone who works with him is well aware of that.

Rehearsals proceeded smoothly. The members’ movements were good, too. Gackt was giving instructions in good spirits. But, after this, there would be an incident.

There had been no sign of illness when Gackt went into the dressing room, but shortly after doing so, he threw up and collapsed. He had a very high fever, and the panicked staff rushed to take care of him. While trying to cool his unresponsive body with ice, Gackt kept saying, “It’s alright, I’m fine…,” but a wave of anxiety swept through the backstage in an instant.

In any case, they decided to let Gackt sleep as long as possible, counting backwards from the time he would need to go into make-up. Even so, everyone became increasingly worried. Gackt had never suddenly collapsed immediately before a show while on tour before.

Fever is something that’s always attacking Gackt, to say nothing of the problems with his throat, which he had actually been ordered to rest by his doctor. After all, since he had come down with pneumonia last year while recording Rebirth and had to be hospitalized, everyone was extremely worried that he’d suffer a relapse.

To begin with, Gackt has struggled with weak internal organs since he was a child. When he was in Malice Mizer, he collapsed during the tour, and ever since then, he’s been fighting with a chronic fever that never seems to go quite all the way down. In 1999, he was mentally and physically strained by problems with the record company and other issues; fans surely remember how emaciated he became. Now there’s his throat, lungs, and high fever……. What’s more, when the exhaustion accumulates, his fevered skin swells up like a blister. That symptom was already visible this time as well, and I watched as the staff applied various cold compresses to his swollen skin.

Knowing that this is the reality of Gackt’s condition, maybe you can sympathize with him when he says, “I don’t have much time left.”

The reason Gackt always exercises, be it doing calisthenics or acrobatics, isn’t merely to stay in shape or to be able to perform on stage. It’s because he doesn’t know when his body will give out if he doesn’t train it.

Zepp Sapporo was, naturally, packed to bursting. Show time crept closer. Gackt emerged from the dressing room. He had make-up on so it was hard to see if there was any color left in his face or not, but otherwise it was clear that he was well beyond his limits; he seemed to be trying to get through it with self-deprecating humor. He gave a little smile, and everyone gathered for the huddle.

Gackt slowly opened his mouth, and asked in a deep voice, “Everyone, are you…in bad shape?”

“You bet.”

Gackt paused, took a breath, then roared out: “Alright, awesome!”

Band members and staff alike burst out laughing.

At times like these, nothing comes of whining and moaning. All one can do is make a virtue of necessity and try to laugh away the wretchedness of one’s condition. And as long as Gackt had faith that this group of people could accomplish anything, rushing out laughing was probably the best strategy.

The show started. The audience seemed, like in Nagoya, to be relatively young, but they were very well-mannered, and the atmosphere was tame. That was a big difference with Nagoya. In a way, it almost felt like the audience had rained on the band’s parade. The members inevitably became more aware of the fact that it was the entertainer’s job to pull the audience along, and made their performance even more forceful. But then, perhaps having tried too hard, the show overall didn’t come together very well. To be blunt, the balance was bad, and it was obvious they were just spinning their wheels. There were even some outright mistakes.

Maybe it was because of these lukewarm bits in the show that the audience never quite got all worked up, and throughout the event not a single person passed out. It’s good that no one passed out, but at the same time, it’s sad to say that came about thanks to the underwhelming show. Gackt tried to shake off the poorly executed music portion and his own illness by pouring all his strength into the Talk Corner, but even so, I suspected there would be many points to reflect on tonight.

After the show, Gackt didn’t seem as tired as one would expect. No wonder, seeing as how after dinner he was going to a Sapporo broadcaster (STV) to do All Night Nippon live. One could tell he was trying to keep his energy levels from falling so he could pull it all off. I expected dinner would turn into a scathing review meeting, but Gackt had to attend to some guests, and shortly afterward headed out to STV. Gackt’s harsh instruction to the band members would probably unfold in Kobe or Yonago, the next stops.

“I’m going to listen to All Night Nippon in my hotel room. I’m looking forward to it.”

In reply to my announcement, Gackt laughed wryly and said, “No, no, you go have fun somewhere.”

Truth is, there was no radio in my hotel room, so I’d gone to buy one at a big-box store before the show. (Ahaha….) I had to listen to the show now. But, I ended up sleeping through most of it. If memory serves, Gackt used the words “Kobe beef” to hint at the location of the next secret concert. Since he had given the specific city name, there would probably be a great number of people on the search. Of course, zeroing in on the date and venue would be difficult…….

The next day, the 25th, Gackt had some promotional activities on his schedule, but he was in bad shape. He’d doubtless have to go to the hospital. While praying for even a slight improvement in his condition, the other members and I returned to Tokyo.

Back at home that night, I was working on a manuscript for music magazine uv when suddenly I got a call from Gackt.

Actually, today was my birthday. It felt a bit strange, writing about Gackt, then in that instant having the man himself call me to say “happy birthday.” But at the same time it made me really happy, and I promised to see him again in Kobe. (Which was a bit dramatic, considering we’d seen each other just yesterday.)

“I’m looking forward to your article.”

There’s no writer who wouldn’t get fired up hearing those words. What I was working on wasn’t an interview, but my own thoughts on MOON and the tour, so while it did take time, I was able to finish my write-up in one sitting. In that article, I quote something that Gackt had been saying in the Talk Corner. I love this quote:

“I love seeing everyone happy, I love seeing everyone smiling. That’s precisely why I’ve prepared a place where I can say to you all, ‘welcome home.’ I’m waiting for you.”

Heading toward that “home,” the Kagen no Tsuki tour in the fall, the current tour was already entering its second half.

[Continued in Chapter 2, Part 4]

1. Whereas in the U.S. singles sometimes get released even after the album they appear on is out, this practice is mostly unheard of in Japan. Instead, select songs that are to end up on the final album start getting released as singles a year or more in advance of the album. Tracks that don’t sell well as singles may be removed from the studio album. Also, “best of,” “greatest hits,” and/or “single collections,” in other words, albums that consist mostly of previously released material, are released with much greater frequency in Japan. The thinking is, according to the Japanese Wikipedia article on singles, that only true fans buy the album, but people who may have heard an artist’s singles on the radio, used in dramas, used in commercials, etc., are more likely to buy a compilation album as it consists of tracks they already know. Thus, singles carry a lot more weight than albums as far as Japanese record companies are concerned.

2. 「スポーツ新聞」(supootsu shinbun) despite being called “sports newspapers,” also prominently feature articles about entertainment news and celebrity gossip.

3. The final score was 1-0, Turkey. Considering 2002 was the first year the Japanese team even made it to the Round of 16, predicting their defeat wasn’t really such an incredible display of second sight.

4. As far as I can gather, SHOCK WAVE was a series of tours featuring several visual-kei bands. I found the March 17, 1996 performance at Nagoya Diamond Hall listed on Malice Mizer’s History page, and a fan-made page for FANATIC◇CRISIS; the similarly named SHOCK WAVE ILLUSION, in 1998, had bands such as PIERROT, La’cryma Christi, and SHAZNA (according to this unofficial PIERROT fansite).

5. The original Japanese phrase is 「この想いが、みんなに届きますように……」(kono omoi ga, minna ni todokimasu you ni). GACKT has indeed continued using this phrase, but I don’t know if there’s an “official” translation; e.g., as there would be if it’s appeared on a properly translated & subtitled concert DVD. Also, I’d like to take a moment to explain the difference between 思い and 想い. Both words are pronounced “omoi” and can translate to “thoughts.” But if you look at the components of the latter kanji, you’ll see that it’s made of 相手への心 (aite e no kokoro), “the heart (feelings) towards the other person” (to translate very ungracefully, but it gets the point across). So 想い sometimes gets translated to “feelings” instead. Another way of looking at it: if I’m thinking about how many seedlings to plant in my rice field, I’d label those thoughts as 思い, but if I’m thinking of someone I care about, I’d label those thoughts 想い.

6. Yet another thing that makes you go, “Ah, how the time flies!” I’m sure GACKT has a private, secret email, but these days at least one of his accounts is publicly listed on his Twitter page. Well, I guess the warning about not bugging his agency for the info still stands, as it’s readily available. (Random sidetrack: Hm, I coulda sworn GACKT used to follow a lot more people, including President Obama. Ahaha…)

7. Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands of Japan. It’s pretty far from Tokyo, but Kyushu is the southernmost big island; its population is three times larger than that of Shikoku.

8. Aomori’s Nebuta Matsuri (=festival) is famous throughout Japan. It happens every year in the summer and is full of bright floats. Wish I could say I went there in my four years in Japan, but since I didn’t, here’s a link to a blog post about Nebuta by 2 former JETs who lived in Aomori.

13 thoughts on “The Air Moon Ch. 2: Live House Tour, Part 3

  1. I know a lot of russian Gackt`s fans who are reading your translations. Maybe they’re just too shy to say “Thank you”. But I never tire of saying that. I know it is very important for the translator. And sorry for my english, sometimes it`s not so good)

    1. Wow, it makes me really happy to think people as far away as Russia are reading these! GACKT’s fandom is truly worldwide.

      You don’t have to apologize for your English, it’s fine!

  2. Gackt brings people together. I am Russian, and I know a lot of fans from different countries.

    This book is very interesting to read. And scary at the same time. I always knew that Gackt is a workaholic. I always wanted to know what happens behind the scenes of his show. But when I read this book, I think I see it with my own eyes.

    1. Yeah, it’s really scary how hard Gackt pushes himself. The part talking about how Gackt has always had weak organs reminded me of the Japanese male figure skater Yuzuru Hanyū, who won gold at these past winter Olympics despite having asthma. Incredible!

      It’s also interesting to see how a lot of the same staff members are still with Gackt. I’ve started working on the next part of this chapter and there’s a part about someone named Katō having their birthday on June 28th. Then I remembered that at the Fukuoka stops of the Best of the Best Tour last year, which were June 28th and 29th, Gackt celebrated the 41st birthday of a man named Katō. It’s a funny feeling…I’ve had this book for 10 years but, even if I had been able to read it back then, I wouldn’t have known who most of these staff members were.

  3. I know about Yuzuru Hanyu, I love figure skating. Yes, he literally dies at the end of his performances on the ice.He’s a hero.

    I know that many staff members working on with Gackt since the days of Malice Mizer. Gackt wrote in his blomaga about many members of his old team who go away for various reasons. And this is the biggest reason why his next visualive will be the last.

    1. Oh, really? This conversation might get way off the topic of Gackt then. I can’t help but remember Maxim Trankov & Tatiana Volosozhar’s performances in Sochi. And Daisuke Takahashi. And….

      I’m going to stop now. ^o^

  4. Pingback: The Air Moon Ch. 6: Jogen no Tsuki, Part 6 | Warped Frost

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