*Half a year late* Happy New Year, O Readers! ^o^; Time flies when you’re finishing a Masters degree, and then would like to spend a couple weeks doing absolutely nothing, but you have to secure a job first, and deal with other Life things…
Anyway, if you need a refresher on the story so far, here’s the Table of Contents. If not, on we go, to 15 years ago this summer in Gackstory… *Ripply flashback effect*
May 4, 2003 Makuhari Messe
The most memorable thing about last night’s dress rehearsal, with its terrific, palpable tension from start to finish, was the overwhelming brightness of the lights.
Usually, at the beginning of a tour, you hear people saying, “Isn’t it a bit too dark?” But this time, there were no such comments. At all. In fact, the lights that swept over the audience from time to time were so intense, they seemed like the search lights on a military base. At times, you could hardly keep your eyes open. But the play between light and dark was good; the movement of the lights had been worked out in detail. This set-up could probably stay the same all the way through to the end of the tour.
As for the performance on the stage itself, the dress rehearsal had been dragged down by the parts they were still feeling their way through. It lacked sharpness, and there were many things that didn’t seem quite right. The lighting had done a great deal to cover all that up. But starting today, they had to generate such presence that people would look at them and ignore the brightness of the lights.
Gackt entered the venue at 2 p.m. Considering the dress rehearsal had gone till midnight and was followed by meetings, it was no surprise he looked terribly sleepy. He immediately went into the massage room. By the time he’d pumped his spirits up, it was already 2:50 p.m., long after he’d originally made it to the venue.
On stage, he kept doing cartwheels, loosening up. His movements were unexpectedly crisp. The rehearsal itself also went far better than yesterday’s; even the ending after “memories,” what with all the prep work it required, was good on the first try. The band and crew had made it through tight schedules and great pressure to get to this, the first day of the tour. Panicking about things wouldn’t have gotten them this far. They had come together as one very well.
Even if the venue gets bigger, the fundamental drive behind putting on a show remains the same. The vibe in the air was like everyone remembering what the start of Kagen no Tsuki had felt like.
Thanks to the great rehearsal, everyone’s faces were flushed with excitement as they returned to the dressing rooms to get ready. Today’s show was exclusively for members of the fan club “Dears,” so they were checking membership cards at the entrance. But it seemed to be proceeding quite smoothly.
Gackt was getting his makeup done in his private dressing room. This is his time right before a show to relax and get focused mentally, so it was generally forbidden to disturb him. But I was so eager to hear his thoughts on this occasion, just before the opening of Jōgen no Tsuki, that I knocked on his door without thinking.
“Come on in.”
Gackt was sitting in a chair, facing down a little as the stylist Kotake did his hair.
“So, it’s finally the first day!”
“This time, the concept itself is something I’ve had from quite a while back, but now I feel like, wow, it’s finally becoming reality. The story of MOON is told through a series of works that go together, right? What I want people to experience from this point on is not just a single concert, or me alone, but rather, how much potential MOON, the whole work, has for growth. Besides, just as viewers’ imaginations grow, I think that works themselves grow too.”
At first, Gackt had started off talking slowly about the entire, magnificent MOON PROJECT which was at the center of everything, but once he got to the part about today’s concert, he spoke with reaffirmed determination.
“I’m worried about everyone’s injuries, because as simple as the stage looks, it’s got a lot of complicated parts. Compared to previous shows, it’s the most complicated ever. On stage, I think I’ll have to make people imagine the various roles there are within MOON. I myself must do that. I hope I can, up on such a simple stage… I’m all beat up though. It’s right about to start, huh? …Just wait and see.”
Gackt’s words came together with a sense of calm. He didn’t seem to be on edge at all. On the contrary, he seemed to be relaxed, as if he wanted to enjoy his first experience of Jōgen no Tsuki. His body being “all beat up” was nothing new, and it didn’t yet seem to have reached a level where we should’ve been worrying anyway.
The show started a bit past 6 p.m. The audience, as is always common on Day 1, seemed to be holding their breath as they kept their eyes on the stage; there were no passionate reactions at first. Just as I imagined, it felt like everyone in the venue was putting this never before seen thing, Jōgen no Tsuki, under the microscope.
Gackt’s voice had started to lose sharpness by “rain,” but just as had happened with Kagen no Tsuki, he nonetheless continued to deliver a convincing performance. One particularly impressive feature was the video projected unto the water screen which, once again, made you imagine eyes.1 The title of the piano solo that was the first piece of the concert’s second chapter had not been announced yet, but it was “Solitude ~regret~”, an unreleased track. It reminded me of the track “Hamon,” which he performed during the “merveilles” tour back when he was in Malice Mizer, so I wondered if maybe it had been composed a great while ago. I wanted to ask Gackt about it later.
The transition from “Doomsday” to “Tsuki no Uta” seemed to take a particularly long time. Maybe it was because of the costume change at that point. This would probably become one of the things they’d have to tweak. Despite that, when little Kanata came onstage for this part, the audience became so quiet you could hear a pin drop. It was incredible. Between the sheer surprise and how moving the scene was, and with not even a single sigh from anyone, even I was gradually sucked into the show.
From “Mirror,” the vibe in the venue changed as per usual. You could see everyone starting to really get into it. And whaddaya know! Even Ryu was participating in the call-and-response with the audience, twirling his drumsticks about. Never did we ever behold such a sight during Kagen no Tsuki. Then, in the emcee portion after “Mirror,” Gackt ended up addressing the audience without a microphone but with his headset still on. This was also an unusual development.
“What should I do with this hand?!” Gackt’s confusion drew laughter from the crowd.2
Gackt dashed onward in his tank top and jeans; a costume that, given those from previous tours, was completely unexpected.
It was inevitable that on the first day the audience’s reaction to the show would be one of “inspecting” it, but every component of Gackt’s performance showed them that he had, once again, reached the summit of a higher level. Especially for the people who had already seen the movie, I got the feeling, once the show had ended, that we were able to show them another “movie” via Jōgen no Tsuki. Of course, Jōgen no Tsuki was a live show, but already on the first day, it had such a mysterious power to overwhelm the people watching it that I felt like the words “live show” didn’t really do it justice.
That’s right, this is a Gackt concert; a performance only he can put on, which can’t be described in words. If it were to be assigned a few words, the only fitting ones would be “a Gackt concert”!
Let’s try to get some comments from the band now that the show’s over.
“This was my first show since my accident, so I went all out right from the start. Ahaha! I even tried hyping up the fans during ‘Mirror’.” (Ryu)
Ryu had been in a traffic accident a few months ago and suffered broken ribs. So it was only natural that he’d be so happy about being able to put on a wild show now.
“I was a bit light-headed in the second half. It’s hard to perform in a souvenir jacket, because your sweat makes it cling to your body.” (You)
Everyone mentioned how tough it was to work in the souvenir jackets. This was one more hurdle that they would have to clear going forward.
Gackt didn’t really black out this time. He immediately reflected on the day’s concert, called the staff into his dressing room, and had a talk with them in private. Then he summoned the record label staff, myself, and Chief Editor Hirota into the room.
“How was it? ‘Tsuki on Uta’ is a great song, right? I got tears in my eyes while singing it!”
Those words were quite memorable.
When we brought up how much the dancing had improved, Gackt replied,
“Nah, overall, it still needs work. The dancers are giving it all they’ve got, but they haven’t reached the point where they’re really grabbing people with their performance. Part of it is just that they don’t have experience in large venues. What can you do? Plus, everyone’s way past the point of exhaustion. We’re gonna change how we do the ending again. It’ll get better, so keep an eye out for that.”
You could see a great deal of conviction, as well as a new spark of inspiration, in Gackt’s expression. It was unusual to see him like this after a show. I left the venue praying that Gackt would be able to make it to his first Budōkan appearance in as good a condition, and wondered how many days it had been since the stage crew had gotten to go home…
[To be continued in Chapter 6, Part 2]
1. I’m not sure if “imagine eyes” is what Hirose meant, but it’s the only way I can make sense of his words paired with the visuals from this part of the show. He wrote 「目をイメージさせる映像」which literally is “video that makes you image eyes.” Usually the word イメージ (imeeji) is used the same as the English word “image,” but by adding the causative form of the verb “to do,” it seems like what he’s trying to say is actually “make you imagine.” I personally didn’t imagine eyes seeing those circles floating on the water screen, but… ⤴
2. Not sure I get this reference…maybe he’s making fun of how Sho was reaching up with his hand as he lay dying near the end of MOON CHILD? Or just of himself in general for making that reaching up gesture a lot? ⤴