I had translated a little bit of this a few days ago in celebration of the fact that I accomplished one of the things I was trying to do this summer. I finished it today because I was so angry at someone, and then angry at myself for letting stuff get to me like that, that I couldn’t sleep. And so it is that I ended up busting through this from 4:15 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. Two and a half hours, plus 45 more minutes for proofreading and formatting. Not bad for something done while ticked off, sleep deprived, and (by now) hungry. Ahaha…
Anyway, I still won’t be going back to a regular posting schedule, but for what it’s worth, here’s this one stop in Hokkaido.
The venue has since changed names; the complex is now the Sapporo Geibunkan, and the specific hall is the Nitori Bunka Hall, the same one that will have two stops on the LAST VISUALIVE tour next year. Enjoy~!
November 3, 2002, Hokkaidō Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan
While I was sitting in a chair out in the hallway outside the dressing room, my ears very clearly picked up the sound not of gym shoes, but of something stiff like boots, coming toward me. I was so sleepy I’d dozed off, but that sound conjured up the image of Masa in my mind, and I awakened with a start. Of course, I knew he wouldn’t actually be here.
The owner of the footsteps turned out to be You. I greeted him as always, then watched his sleepy figure walk away, as always.
“Wait a minute…he isn’t wearing boots at all…”
So why did I associate the sound of his footsteps with boots, and imagine Masa walking down this hallway?
Looking back, I remember something I saw last year when we came to this very venue on the Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~ tour. Back then I sat here before the show just as I did today, and I watched as Masa, wearing a military uniform and boots, clomped up and down this same hallway over and over again. He was prone to getting exceedingly nervous before a show, so that was something he’d do without fail before every concert to help him calm down and concentrate. But for some reason, the memory of him doing that here in the Hokkaidō Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan remained particularly strong.
These guys, who have grown up strong even without Masa, don’t give off that vibe of excessive nervousness. However, this was a venue that seemed to have something floating in the air which made you nervous anyway. I hoped that nothing would go wrong, but…
The weather went from cloudy to sunny and back again with a few snowflakes falling in between. This was normal Hokkaido weather, but it wasn’t the sort of weather that made you feel good at all.
Some brand new staff members1 from the agency flying in from Tokyo missed their flight and got in to the venue late. Apparently, they were scolded by Chachamaru in the dressing room.
At 2:20 p.m., I ran up to the lobby on the fourth floor.
I was greeted by the sight of the dancers taking a running start before jumping through the air. They’d begun the acrobatics practice. Continuing on from the Gunma performance, these exercises served as a pre-show warm-up, but I got the feeling that they would become a regular occurrence before all the remaining shows on the tour.
“Man, I’m so stiff. I can’t spread my legs at all…”
Gackt was carefully doing his stretching exercises.
“I wanna be able to land a somersault properly.”
With that, he started doing somersaults over and over again with the dancers. To my surprise, at first Gackt was landing right on his butt, but before he’d attempted his 10th somersault, he was finally able to land on his feet.
“I get it. I’ve got the hang of it now. The key is to do it with the mental image of holding your ankles as you spin… YOSH, you try it too.”
YOSH, the leader of the four dancers, was bad at acrobatics, so he’d been watching from the sidelines. Urged on by Gackt, he lined up with the others to do a somersault, and proceeded to land on the mat with his butt. However, as you’d expect from dancers, these guys all had excellent motor skills. YOSH was able to stick the landing soon enough. When it was time to start the rehearsal, everyone was still excitedly tumbling about.
“If we’re at this level now, we’ll be perfect for Yokohama Arena,” Gackt said to me with a smile.
All of them will probably go absolutely crazy doing somersaults in Yokohama Arena. In any case, I think that readers who experienced Jōgen no Tsuki will believe me when I say that this pre-show acrobatic practice wasn’t merely a warm-up, but something done with future shows clearly in mind. That tour was the final product of everything they had been building up since the live house tour.
The rehearsal started at 4:30 p.m. The atmosphere in the venue was relaxed. Time was devoted to figuring out how to use the orchestra pit that was in front of the stage. They checked that all members would make their entrance from the pit during “Mirror,” and practiced this repeatedly.
By this time it had gotten so cold that it had started to snow in earnest. I went to the lobby, curious about the concert-goers who were waiting outside in an orderly manner for the venue to open. When the doors opened, a cold wind burst into the venue as the fans came in. I reflexively shrunk back from the icy blast. As I watched the people hurrying to their seats, I noticed that there was a greater range of ages, and that there were more men, compared to the previous show.
“Oh man, it’s terribly cold outside,” I reported to Gackt when he came out of his dressing room in costume.
“Really? Well, guess we’ll have to warm everybody up.”
It seemed like Gackt was excited in a good way. When I told him about the male fans, he said, smiling:
“Is that right…? Hm, maybe I’ll keep them in mind.”
What would result from Gackt “keeping them in mind”? I had the urge to make a joke about it, but no matter what he was going to do, I knew that it really would be a show that would get everyone hot. And just as I expected, the show was red-hot right from the start!
“What’s wrong with you guys? Show me what you’ve got!”
Gackt’s taunting words before “Lu:na” were unusually loud and strong; this must be what Gackt had meant when he said he’d keep the men in the audience in mind.2
Then…during the fourth song, “Speed Master,” there was an accident for the first time on this tour!
The pedal on Ryu’s bass drum came off. Unable to continue playing, the whole band had to stop midway through the song. While the needed adjustment was being made, the band filled the time with an impromptu performance. Of course, this was something nobody had imagined happening, so they truly were playing completely off the cuff.
When problems like this arise, the one everyone can count on is the veteran musician, Chachamaru-aniki. His guitar’s wail pulled the other members along, and a completely ethereal prog rock performance ensued. Offstage, keyboardist Igao also showed his chops with the exquisite melody he added to the accidental jam session. And even though this whole thing was an accident, in a way, the audience members who got to witness it were lucky. Such a performance hadn’t happened before, and it didn’t happen again afterward either.
However, even after that, there were problems with the guitars and the programming, among other things. The sound the audience got was poorly balanced, and up until “Mirror” the whole show was unstable. Even so, after taking a break during the talk portion, the band rallied and turned things around. In the end, it became an impressive performance.
At any rate, perhaps because of all the problems, Gackt apparently lost it. He was moving around so much during “Mirror” that he made himself dizzy; so much so that he collapsed on stage, and needed help from You to get back up.
“I lost consciousness once before the encore, but I came to with everyone telling me, ‘Just a little bit more to go! Do your best!'”
I’m sure you can imagine Gackt burning with passion as he said that.
The men’s deep voices made the voices calling out for an encore even hotter. Even once the show finished, there was an unusually high number of audience members who were so filled with the show’s afterglow that they couldn’t bring themselves to leave the hall. Clearly, the band had been able to make good use of all the problems that had popped up. However, that was only in hindsight; after the show, all the band members seemed to have mixed feelings. Had the goddess of the November 3rd moon come to rain trials and challenges on them?
“Halfway through ‘Lu:na,’ I couldn’t hear the click track anymore, so I was drumming by watching the dancers. I better get a new pair of earphones, huh?”
So it would seem Ryu had problems not only with his drum kit, but also with his earphones.
Ren: “Once you lose it, you only get more and more frantic, so it’s scary. And you don’t know when ‘Speed Master’ starts.”3
“My guitar string that never breaks, it broke right before ‘Fragrance’. You had problems with his guitar, too. For some reason, we just had so many problems today.”
Chachamaru also seemed puzzled, but the one who seemed completely down was You.
“I couldn’t do anything when the problem arose during ‘Speed Master’. I was just upset… Ultimately all I could do was leave it to Chacha… If I don’t keep it together when stuff like this happens…Gaku will get mad at me.”
It was so painfully obvious how guilty You felt that no one could even think up any words to try to console him with. The only thing they could do was take a practical view of the whole thing and accept it as a learning experience.
Gackt was completely destroyed after the show. Of all the shows on the Kagen no Tsuki tour, this one left him in the worst condition. It was worse than even Sendai had been. He’d lost his mind during the troubled show and tried to push through it like a mad man; the aftereffects of that strain were now clearly visible.
I heard this a few days later, but apparently, after dinner that night, after all the staff members and band members had gone off to their hotel rooms or out into the city…Gackt gave You a severe scolding.
[Continued in Chapter 4, Part 6]
1. It isn’t clear if this was one person or several. ⤴
2. Hirose used the phrase 「タメが効く」which I can’t find anywhere in that exact same form; however, I found 「ため口をきく」which means “to talk to people as if they were the same rank as you.” I take it to mean that Gackt started speaking more roughly because he had a bro dude moment thinking of all the men in the audience. ⤴
3. Not sure I understood this correctly, mostly because Ren said 「Speed Masterも、いつ始まるかわからへんし」and the し seems to be the one that’s used to show that what came immediately before the し is the reason for something said either earlier or later in the sentence. Maybe the songs melted into each other, and since Ryu was off, Ren couldn’t tell when “Speed Master” was starting? ⤴