As we draw nearer to the end of this tour, we find ourselves in Fukuoka. I wonder if Hirose himself is from there, considering how much he gets into the specific locales of the city. Because of all the mentions of specific places, I added glosses instead of doing footnotes to explain things like “this is a mall,” “this is store,” etc.
That said, there is one thing I’d like to explain here. Fukuoka City has two downtown areas, Tenjin and Hakata. Tenjin has a newer feel to it, and is more popular with young, fashionable shoppers, but it’s Hakata that connects Kyushu to the rest of Japan via the bullet train line, and even Fukuoka Airport is closer to Hakata than to Tenjin. The Sun Palace itself is just a 20-minute walk down a single street from JR Hakata Station.
To read earlier parts, please see the Table of Contents.
December 16, 2002 Fukuoka Sun Palace (First Day)
A little bit before 10 in the morning, I was meaninglessly smoking in the hotel lobby when Gackt and a manager came down off the elevator.
“Oh, morning. Yesterday I could only sleep for about two hours, so I figured maybe I’d go shopping somewhere. Wanna go?”
Since I didn’t have anything in particular to do, I accepted Gackt’s invitation, and got into a taxi with him and the manager to head downtown, to Tenjin. Yesterday I didn’t see Gackt as that was the day everyone came over from Hiroshima, so I brought this up inside the taxi.
“After getting into Hakata, I went to a little amusement park with the bodyguards. Where was it…? Oh, that’s right. Kashii Kaen. There weren’t many people even though it was Sunday. The roller coaster only went up to 60 kilometers per hour [less than 40 mph], ahaha. After that, we played games in Canal City.”
It was the first time during this tour that Gackt could spend time like that. I think he must’ve surely gotten surrounded by people in a mall like Canal City, and yet…he seemed really refreshed. Come to think of it, Kashii Kaen became a good topic for the talk portion during the concert, and was strangely popular with the crowd.
We got out of the taxi behind the Vivre in Tenjin and headed to said department store. On the way, I spotted the IMS Building, full of fashionable shops, and asked Gackt, “When the summer live house tour had just gotten started, you did a talk event at the hall inside that building. Do you remember?”
“So that was here… The curtain’s always closed in the cars, so I don’t actually know where I’m being taken. So that was at this place, huh?”
I was filled with deep emotion by the heartbreaking story. Well then, in that case, I decided to play tour guide for these two today, as I had a better sense of the lay of the land here than they did.
And so we went around to Daimaru, Mitsukoshi, Iwataya Z-Side, and the brand-name shops inside of these department stores. The rain had just let up, and the sun began to shine down on the city streets. The refreshing situation felt good.
“The morning’s great because it’s so refreshing. I love mornings in the city. Even Shibuya feels nice on a Sunday morning.”
Gackt walked with light steps through the streets, avoiding puddles.
While riding the escalator inside a department store, he started muttering this:
“Man, this is fun. It’s been a long time since I could go shopping freely like this. Of course, it’s the first time this tour… But damn, the girls working in the department stores are cute. Especially the girl at the jewelry shop on the first floor. Why is she that cute? Ahaha…”
This topic also turned into a gag for the talk portion. (Ahaha)
Gackt bought a substantial number of clothing items at Iwataya Z-Side. Each time Gackt took off his clothes to try on another outfit, the clerks were surprised by how good his style was. He was able to have the time to relax and chat with the unfamiliar shop clerks, so all in all he was able to make great use of this time. He kept saying over and over, “This is fun, isn’t it?” I think he was probably even able to relax more today than he had yesterday.
Once midday rolled around, as could only be expected, more people were out and about. As we walked briskly trying to hurry back to the hotel, five or six people came up asking for handshakes. Gackt didn’t show any signs of displeasure as he shook their hands. With that same natural air, we went back to the hotel, but I later heard that afterward, before going to the venue, he went back to Canal City to play games. He must have really liked the game center there!
Gackt got into the venue at 2:30 p.m.
“I feel like it’s the first time in a while playing a big venue,” he said as he walked all over the inside of the Sun Palace.
“Think I could throw a PET bottle up to the second floor seats? Alright, let’s bet on whether I can hit the third floor. I bet I’ll make it, everyone else bets against me. Okay, I’m gonna practice during rehearsals. Ahaha!”
“Isn’t it unfair if you practice?” I pointed this out, but laughed. It was truly fun watching Gackt being so cheerful. With that same excitement, he turned to acrobatics practice.
But wait… Even though we’d seen a patch of blue sky peeking in from between the clouds when we were shopping in Tenjin, now it was pouring rain outside. It was as if that glimpse of blue had been a gift from God to Gackt…
The rehearsal started. As the tour was entering its final stages, more and more of Gackt’s advice was about ever more specific details. He gave out instructions to the dancers while checking minutiae such as movements which took not even one second to execute.
During the wire work rehearsal, there was a moment when a cold sweat struck everyone in the venue. Gackt lost his balance as he landed a vertical spinning jump, and crouched down holding his legs. The rehearsal came to a complete stop as everyone looked on nervously.
“I’m okay. Let’s do it again.”
Gackt got up immediately and walked to his position.
“I’m here because all of you are here, all of you are here because I’m here,” Gackt laughed. “The seats on the second and third floor go back really far, but make sure our thoughts reach them. Let’s do this!”
The cheerful vibe from earlier was still going strong during the huddle, after which the show started.
Writing first what happened last, Gackt truly, really, absolutely collapsed in the worst way ever after this show. Not only was it the worst of this whole tour, it was so bad everyone said he should probably go to the hospital. Seeing him in that state, it felt like a lie that Gackt had been doing so exceptionally well from morning until right before the show started.
Of course he gave off a lot of energy during the show. After reflecting on the show in Hiroshima, the energy exchange between the band members had improved, to the extent that Gackt kissed Chachamaru during “ANOTHER WORLD.” My notes even said, in a sloppy hand, “THE BEST EVER!”
Today’s performance was clearly one which had progressed to a higher rung on the ladder. But looking back on it, Gackt’s voice wasn’t coming out well from around “rain” onward, and during the talk portion, he said, “I sprained my right ankle, which made me sprain my left ankle…I sprained both ankles.” So, it seemed he was weighed down pretty heavily. Even so, taking the show to the next level was a big deal, so all I could do was give him a round of applause. Well, there was no actual way for me to do so given that he was unconscious in his dressing room for over an hour.
“He’s not taking a single step outside tonight. He’s going to stay real still and rest up,” said the staff.
Even though all the members had had a good grip on today’s show, they made their way back without any particular excitement, perhaps out of concern for Gackt. I hoped everyone could get together for some good drinks tomorrow, but…
December 17, 2002 Fukuoka Sun Palace (Second Day)
No matter how much anyone worries, Gackt is the type of man who believes you can do something if you just do it. I remembered the completely out of the ordinary way he collapsed yesterday, but I knew the most appropriate way to approach him now was with the belief that he’d slept well last night and was therefore okay.
A little bit past noon, Gackt got into the venue.
There was a good vibe to him as he repeatedly practiced acrobatics, nailing each landing perfectly. He seemed particularly sharp today. His spins had gotten so fast that even the expert, TAKA, was surprised.
“I’m very happy with yesterday’s show. I found what I was looking for up on that stage, no doubt about it. I’m gonna tell the band members that during the huddle later.”
With that, Gackt hurried off to the massage room. Since he had messed up his left leg yesterday, a lot of time was given to the thorough massage before he took on the rehearsal proper.
“Everyone, let’s concentrate so we don’t get hurt!”
It was usually the stage director who announced the start of rehearsals with this warning, but this time it was Gackt who did so. His spirit was clear to see; it was like he was saying, “Don’t worry about me, I don’t want to make anyone else get injured too.” Everyone concentrated more than usual as they went into the rehearsal, and even the wire action ended up extraordinarily sharp. There was a certain speed to everyone’s movements. Things continued very smoothly, then it was time for the pre-show huddle.
“It’s time for Fukuoka Day 2!”
“The energy you guys showed the crowd yesterday was just what I had been looking for all this time. Thank you for pushing me forward the whole time yesterday. I want you to show me that again today, so that we can refine it even more in Osaka and Yokohama. If we put on a good concert today we’re having a party, YOSH’s treat. Aha… Let’s do this!”
Of all Gackt’s huddle comments on the tour, these playful ones were filled with the most love, and elicited various emotional responses. The band members replied in exceptionally loud voices. Today’s concert would come from this most passionate huddle, but with these guys as they were now, it went without saying that they would make the show a great one.
Once the concert started, all the band members released as much energy as humanly possible. The audience was even tenser during the first part than they had been yesterday. Likewise, the singing during “rain” which had been so troublesome yesterday was perfect today, with Gackt giving the audience a vivid vocal performance until the very end.
The band member whose particularly good form stood out was Ryu. During “ANOTHER WORLD” he kept energetically twirling his drumsticks. Whether or not he repeats his drumstick twirling is the barometer I use to determine what kind of shape he’s in as I watch. Everyone got carried away by the powerful beating of the drums; they were moving during “Mirror” as if they were on the verge of losing their minds. When the four members except for Ryu took a break during the interlude, they plopped down heavily, out of breath. The voices from the audience spurring them onward were also heated. A great sense of unity was born of this show, which felt good all the way to the end. There was none of the roughness that sometimes came about from too much excitement. The variation between hard rock songs and ballads was spot on.
Earlier I wrote that Gackt’s singing had been “vivid.” Today his voice truly was full of life; even the new song, “Kimi ga Matteiru Kara,” matured to perfection via the tour to great effect. Surprisingly, the usually severe Mr. Asano seemed as satisfied as anyone, saying:
“He’s gotten good, hasn’t he? He’s putting his heart and soul into those ballads to belt them out.”
After the show, Gackt was carried to his dressing room completely unconscious as he had been yesterday. However, he recovered quickly, and wore a refreshed expression.
Well then, next time will practically be the last stop on the tour, Osaka. There was no need for words as the band members raised their spirits together in perfect sync. The time to enjoy the fruits of their labors was upon them.
[Continued in Chapter 4, Part 12]