Happy Birthday to GACKT, the United States, and Steve Rogers! Is everyone enjoying the party?
Anyway, this part turned out to be surprisingly short at just four pages for two days’ worth of shows. The venue name may seem familiar if you recall the Hokkaido show in Part 5. Interestingly there were several of these “welfare pension fund halls” in Japan but apparently they have all become something else these days. The venue in this stop is currently known as the Orix Theater. While it’s mentioned that there were three Osaka shows for this tour, only two were back to back; the third show was nearly a month later.
As always, new readers or those wishing to reread earlier portions should start from the Table of Contents.
November 25, 2002 Osaka Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan (First Day)
As always, Gackt began acrobatics practice past 3 o’clock. It took a weight off my mind to see him turning somersaults beautifully, without, apparently, having to be too careful about his foot. However, perhaps because of the two-day gap, he wasn’t able to stick the landings very well. He fell on his butt far more than usual, and bore an irritated expression.
“Yesterday? I was on the radio talking for four hours straight. But it’s okay. My throat’s fine.”
With his foot recovering and his throat alright, it seemed like Gackt would be able to concentrate more as he tackled tonight’s show. Even during rehearsals, there was more energy in the air than usual.
Gackt gave the dancers detailed advice as he watched their rehearsal of “death wish” from the seats. With the two-day gap, something seemed to have gotten a little off, more so than it had been in Nagoya. Especially bad was the falling over part during “memories”; Gackt said to them over the speakers:
“It’s like…you’re not really together. You’re not in sync…”
He directed them to do it over countless times, but there was no sign of the rage that had burst out of him in Utsunomiya. With a tone of voice filled with the deep trust he placed in the dancers, he spoke to them calmly. In response to that, the dancers had discussions on the spot, searching for a good arrangement. It was a rehearsal with a particularly artistic air to it.
Having read this far, I wonder if you’ve noticed that during Kagen no Tsuki, Gackt hardly ever directed the band members. It really was like that. In short, when it came to the members, he felt that he was going onstage to build these shows with them thanks to a deep trust they’d already established; when it came to the dancers, however, he must have felt like they hadn’t quite reached that point yet. He had to make them more aware of themselves as comrades who go into battle together, unified.
Come to think of it, during the first tour, MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~, Gackt would critique the band members severely day after day, making them play songs over and over. But over two years have passed since then, and the members have grown considerably, earning Gackt’s trust. Now, the dancers were in about the same position that the band members had been in back then, and precisely because they were in the process of stepping up their game, Gackt was always giving them lots of advice.
Later, Gackt challenged himself by trying to climb some stairs in a handstand along with the dancers, and succeeded marvelously. After doing that and other things to get his body loosened up, rehearsals ended right on schedule.
When I was in the smoking area in the hallway having a cigarette, You showed up.
“I went to a haunted spot around here yesterday. When I went into a tunnel, I heard a woman screaming from my car stereo…”
“You gotta be kiddin’! Then what?!”
As the rambling conversation got livelier, Chachamaru-aniki showed up.
“How’s the recording for your solo album going?”
I was supposed to be interviewing him at a later date for the magazine uv regarding his album, so I asked him how it was coming along.
“I was working on it yesterday and the day before yesterday. After we leave Osaka, I’ll have two more tracks to mix down, then the mastering, and it’ll be finished. I should be able to give you a mini disc of the finished album in Nigata.”
I was looking forward to the finished solo album “AIR”.
Well, next was the start of the first of three performances planned for Osaka.
“People who have to go out in front, make sure to pay attention to the second and third floors too. Careful not to hurt yourselves…there should be lots of pretty girls here today, ahaha. Let’s do this!”
GACKT threw out some jokes in the pre-show huddle.
What this venue lacked in depth, it made up for with very highly set second and third floors. These seats were up so high that they gave the intimidating impression of having the audience looking down on the stage. To put it bluntly, there were some members who said it was a difficult hall to perform in. With today being the first day, they were going to have to put on a performance that could stand its ground against the fans’ passion barreling down on them from above.
Now, I’ve been chronicling this pretty calmly so far, but I have to say that this show turned out to be marvelous in every possible way imaginable. Even looking back on the entirety of Kagen no Tsuki (setting aside Yokohama Arena), this show, this first day in Osaka, was the one that most left me feeling like it was the closest to being the best. The balanced performance, the members’ balanced energy, the unity with the audience, the work of the light and sound crew, and of course, the heat typical of the Osaka crowd, all combined into something with an extremely great aftertaste. Actually, the show on the following day was even greater than this one, but given the je ne sais quoi that comes with something being the first, I’d like to think of this show as having been better.
Backed up by the superbly balanced sound from the get-go, GACKT started exchanging yea’s with the wildly responsive crowd by “Speed Master”. The brilliant sound and lighting during “Fragrance” made it the most spine-tingling song. The staging, with its abundant use of the aisles,1 ramped up the members’ excitement, and during “Soleil”, Gackt, You, and even Chachamaru did the Kyaeen pose for the crowd.2
When all was said and done, the most exceptionally powerful, convincing part of this show was “dears”. Gackt’s hand was clenched tighter than usual, giving the illusion that his raised fist was sucking up all the air in the venue. Pulled in by that irresistible vacuum, I sang along to “dears” from within the audience.
After the show, I headed to the green room in unusually high spirits. But then, I noticed that Ren looked completely exhausted, and he was soon accompanied by staff to the hospital. He would probably have to be put on a drip through the night in preparation for tomorrow.
Gackt didn’t look that tired, but he seemed to be a bit spaced out when he emerged from his dressing room.
“My head’s actually been hurting since morning…I’m so tired. Come to think of it, there were a lot of couples in the audience today, weren’t there? It’s nice like that, isn’t it?”
Perhaps he’d caught a little cold? He had a headache despite his foot and throat being fine. I didn’t notice… But even so, he had been taking a good look at the audience. It certainly did stand out that there were many people who came as a couple. This trend would see a big spike during Jōgen no Tsuki.
Oh, that’s right. Speaking of the audience members, wasn’t there someone cosplaying Char from Mobile Suit Gundam? The cheers of “Sieg Zeon!” from the crowd were becoming standard, so safe to say there was probably a mini Gundam boom going on within the Gackt fandom as an aftereffect of All Night Nippon.
There was a celebration dinner, but Gackt would not be able to join the rest of the members. Watching as he walked away, I held back, deciding to leave telling him what I had thought of the show for tomorrow.
November 26, 2002 Osaka Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan (Second Day)
It had been raining on and off in the Osaka area since yesterday. It was so muggy you’d never image it was almost December, and even the air floating in the hall was quite humid. Last night during dinner, all of the members had talked about how hot it was. They seemed to be coming up with strategies to beat the heat for today.
Speaking of last night’s dinner, it was as if Gackt’s unusual absence created a different kind of excitement, turning the gathering into quite the drunken party; it kept going strong until 3 in the morning. In a private room of the yakiniku restaurant, YOSH lost his mind, and along with his “little brother” HAYASHI, they got huge laughs out of everyone with their pantless performance (if it could even be called a performance). If Gackt had been there, he probably would’ve gotten fed up and left. (Ahaha…)
Needing to purify themselves of the large quantities of alcohol they’d ingested the previous night, the group got into the venue earlier than usual, at 1 p.m. The dancers were carefully practicing acrobatics. Gackt grabbed a female staff member who was passing by, challenging her to do somersaults and such. Overall, a nice, relaxed atmosphere floated between everyone present.
After that, Gackt received a meticulous massage, then went into rehearsals. As always, he watched the band members’ and dancers’ every move from the seats, but today, he was hardly giving out any instructions. He ended the rehearsal smoothly with a deeply satisfied look on his face.
The way things were going, it seemed the show would open on time, which made the staff quite happy. But at the last minute, a button fell off Gackt’s costume, pushing the start time 18 minutes behind schedule. However, this wasn’t an ill omen, so please don’t worry.
The band and the dancers formed a circle, and Gackt gave unusually detailed instructions in the pre-show huddle.
“Osaka day two!”
“It doesn’t matter to the people who come see us whether this is the first day or the second, right? Today is the first day. Keep that in mind, and make sure our thoughts reach all the way to the back of the hall. The point of our existence is to be a rhythm unit. If something goes wrong, the people standing in front are to compensate for it. We don’t wanna have to sit up there discussing what went wrong after the fact, right? We’ll have some good drinks instead. Alright, let’s do this!”
The show began. After “Noah” played, the curtain rose along with the intro to “Doomsday”. But wait…was Gackt standing differently? He took a bolder pose than he had been using in previous shows, and cast a sharp gaze out at the audience. Judging from the minute convulsions of his movements which also seemed more pronounced, there must have been a change in Gackt’s state of mind.
The first chapter is always a mad dash through “death wish”, “Lu:na”, and “Speed Master”, but today there was a particularly obvious bloodlust to the performance. If that bloodlust made such a strong impact on me, who always went to these shows, the people seeing it for the first time must have been quite surprised by it. I could see how the audience was starting to stiffen up.
“I want to make them tense up,” Gackt had said before. Here, in an instant, that intent was made clear to the audience with terrific power.
Every element had perfectly reached the next level. This increased level of finish turned the performance toward the critical point, accelerating the speed of its evolution instantly…tonight’s show was that kind of turning point.
After singing “Lapis ~Prologue~”, Gackt stood in the center of the stage for a relatively long time, looking over the audience. The authority in his gaze was one that, clearly, only those who have reached a superior state of being can produce; a seemingly unapproachable aura radiated from him. If someone can reach that mental state, they have more leeway.
During the now firmly established practice of throwing plastic bottles into the audience, Gackt threw out more than twice the usual number of bottles in an attempt to reach the third floor. Every time one came down, staff members ran after it to make sure it didn’t hit anyone.
The talk portion blew away the nervousness and tension of the first half in one go. Thanks to that, there were more calls, and louder calls, from the audience than ever. It was precisely this phenomenon that proved the show was progressing exactly as Gackt intended it to.
“Osaka’s really passionate, huh,” Gackt said, having You do a self-introduction for the first time.
From “Soleil” onward, everyone stayed super excited. It goes without saying that a rough (in a good way) performance exploded from the band.
After the show was over, the way Gackt collapsed set a new record yet again for awfulness. Even after he came out from his dressing room, he was still panting. He seemed to have zero memory of the concert. Despite that, I gave him my thoughts on these past two shows. He nodded deeply, but seemed to be biting his tongue. I sensed he wanted to say something, but decided to leave that for another day. The sense of accomplishment registered on his face was one that came from having finished a job even bigger than usual. That was enough for me.
“I have to…go greet everyone…”
Gackt walked around the venue as always, calling out to the crew as they packed up, “Thank you for your hard work!” He went out to the lobby, thinking that he should thank the staff at the merchandise tables. But they had already dismantled everything, leaving the area deserted. A door had been left slightly ajar, and a cold winter wind blew in through the crack. It brought with it dried leaves from the park in front of the venue, making them dance in the lobby.
“It got pretty cold…”
In contrast to the lingering sensation from the concert, Gackt muttered these few words. A few leaves clung to the sole of his shoe as he dragged his foot along, still far from a full recovery.
[Continued in Chapter 4, Part 10]
1. The word used here, 花道 (hanamichi literally “flower road”), in kabuki theater describes a narrow path, level with the main stage, that juts out quite a ways into the audience area. I don’t know if Hirose meant that such an elevated aisle was set up in this hall, or simply that the band members were jumping down into the aisles (as in, the aisles that are level with the seats). ⤴
2. Kyaeen is a comedy duo, and their signature pose consists of bending at the hips to lean forward, putting one’s arms straight down, and interlocking one’s fingers palms down in front of oneself. I guess it’s supposed to be cutesy. Copy-paste キャイ〜ンポーズ (kyai~n poozu) into Google image search and you’ll see it (searching in English doesn’t yield relevant results). ⤴