Can’t believe I’ve had this in my drafts since January. (^_^;) At the time, I was wondering if GACKT would mark his 20th anniversary as a solo artist with a tour, perhaps Best of the Best Vol. II, since he’s only put out one single since LAST MOON. As it doesn’t seem like he’ll do anything other than his birthday concert this year, now I’m more concerned about whether he’ll be reprising his role as Genesis in the remake of Final Fantasy VII. I didn’t like how Crisis Core inserted him into events, such as the Nibelheim reactor scene, which had already been established in the original game. So, much as I like GACKT, I’m kinda hoping Square Enix will retcon their retcon and keep Genesis out of the remake either entirely or at least in part.
Anyway, here we are again with this book. I want to be DONE this summer but who knows.
Here’s the Table of Contents if you need to refresh your memory.
June 8, 2003 Nagoya Rainbow Hall
Entering the venue right at one p.m., Gackt walked around every inch of the space, standing here and there in the audience seats while staring intently at the stage. Then, he went out to the lobby, intending to greet the people at the merchandise tables, when…
The young men working the tables came running up to Gackt with a hearty greeting. The part-timers in Nagoya must be trained thoroughly. It goes without saying that they created a pleasant atmosphere.
As Gackt quietly observed the crowd of fans gathering outside in front of the entrance, he started talking to YOSH in a cheerful tone.
“It’s nice out.”
“Hey, yesterday we got together and changed the Cat Dance.”
YOSH was in high spirits now. He had no way of knowing what embarrassing ordeal he would be subjected to shortly.
There were only five shows left in the tour. Gackt was injured all over. I asked him how he was doing today.
“My lower back’s funny… When someone big like me starts jumping and spinning around, it takes a toll on the lower back. Once I get up on stage I don’t feel it, but it’s like it hurts just to carry my guitar. The tendons on either side of my lower back, and the part of the spine that sticks out, they really hurt. It’s clearly affecting my spine. I just keep thinking, ‘C’mon body, don’t let me down!'”1
Gackt seemed to have gulped down the bitter pill of his destiny as he headed for the stage, where the band members were already doing the sound check.
“Wonder why the sound’s so loud…” Ren muttered. In turn, I looked around and noticed the circular layout of the venue. The sounds were bouncing from one place to another, reverberating just like in a live house.
“It’s like the Sendai Sunplaza,” laughed Ryō, the audio engineer.
As everyone rode the powerful, carefully crafted sound waves, they began to rehearse “Lu:na.” Gackt attempted the first forward somersault. But then—! He landed, fell, and would not get up. Silence fell over the entire venue.
The nearby dancers dashed over to Gackt, who lay motionless, eyes closed, as they removed his shoes.
“We gotta play back the tape to see where he hurt himself!”
“We gotta call an ambulance first, stupid!”
As they yelled back and forth at each other, I ran up to the stage in a panic. Suddenly Gackt sprang up and started singing.
“Happy Birthday, YOSH~!”
Oh, he got us good!
It turned out to be a surprise party. Only a few of the band members and some of the staff knew about it. The dancers remained confused and speechless.
“What, don’t you people celebrate birthdays?” Mr. Asano’s voice called out, finally breaking the spell with laughter. A cake was brought out, and a teary-eyed YOSH blew out its candles.
Last year, YOSH had fallen victim to this prank during the live house tour. What was it like to be surprised two years in a row?
Refreshed, everyone got back to the rehearsal.2
I saw some instances of Gackt yelling critiques up at the stage, but everyone was able to keep up with him, making steady progress towards the show.
“Bet your heart’s still racing, huh?” Gackt came up to me with a mischievous tone.
“Of course! I nearly jumped outta my skin.”
“Ahaha! Really?” Still laughing, Gackt started doing round off jumps right there in the hallway. The look on his face seemed to be saying, “What lower back pain?”
As I watched him practice, I realized he wasn’t using his hands. But, for the round offs during “Lu:na,” he did touch the ground with both hands…
“This could work, don’t you think? Only thing is the shoes… If it weren’t for the boots, I could do it like this onstage too…”
Gackt seemed to want to get a few more flips in, but there was no time.
Back in the dressing rooms, the topic of conversation was still the birthday surprise. (LOL)
“I had a hunch something was going down today. There’ll probably be something later tonight, too, cuz tomorrow’s Ryōta’s birthday.”
Ryōta was a new staff member at the record label. Gackt seemed happy to hear You mention him.
“Oh? Tomorrow’s Ryōta? Well, this time YOSH was actually the least surprised of all, so…” Gackt’s expression changed. The playful little devil inside him had reared its head once again.
But, it was time to get pumped for the show. This time, the pep talk took a different tone.
“If one of us gets stage fright, the others have to push him forward. Let’s all have each other’s backs. We’ve grown up enough to be able to do at least that much, right? …Let’s do this!”
In the second half of the tour, Gackt, for the first time, openly expressed his strong confidence in the band members and dancers. They headed toward the stage as if cutting forth through a bracing wind, bursting with limitless confidence.
From beginning to end, everyone put on a high quality performance just like the one at the Budōkan. You in particular was in top form; he seemed larger than life. And what about their playing and dancing? Their performances improved with each and every show. During “Doomsday” and others, the members’ movements were so forceful it seemed they would rock themselves airborne. The word “habit” didn’t exist in their dictionary. Every day is the first day and every show the last; that way of thinking is a permanent part of them.
Nagoya audiences always got ultra wild and hyper, and today was no different. However, the performances themselves so far hadn’t yielded particularly good results. That was true even for Kagen no Tsuki.3 However, today’s show undoubtedly had the best results of all the Nagoya shows. The venue had good visibility, plus, the connection with the audience was the strongest of this tour so far (although the upcoming performance in Osaka would surpass it).
Gackt passed out after the show. But perhaps out of a desire to take good care of his body (most of all his burdened lower back), he regained consciousness immediately and went for a massage, followed by some stretching. In a highly unusual move, he even had a meal in his dressing room (without rice, of course).
“The Rainbow Hall has a circular layout just like the Budōkan, but performing here was a bit hard precisely because we’d just played the Budōkan. In the Budōkan, it feels like the energy gathers together, but here it spreads out instead. I think if we could get another 2,000 people in there, standing room only, the energy would condense together well.”
He was telling a story over a meal like anyone else, but this was exactly the sort of metaphysical thing that only someone who stood onstage could understand. What’s more, to be able to designate a number as specific as “another 2,000 people”…you could tell that Gackt was in a psychic trance during live shows, communicating with the aether. 4
I sat there sharing this meal while feeling a deep admiration. Before I knew it, it was one in the morning. I returned to the hotel, but later, I heard stories about how Ryōta got caught up in a sea of surprises at that night’s banquet.
June 13, 2003 Osaka-jō Hall
Most of Jōgen no Tsuki‘s stops had been scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays, but today was Friday. I wrapped up my work in Tokyo early, and flew out to Osaka-jō Hall around 5 p.m. The rain had let up in Osaka, which was now a steamy 30°C (86°F) and had the distinctive smell of summer.
I headed to the dressing rooms to greet Gackt after he’d finished rehearsals, but he started talking before I even asked anything.
“It’s our third time at Osaka-jō Hall, huh? Today, when they told me that tickets had sold out on the same day, and that with the standing-room only crowd it would be 10,000 people, I was like, ‘YOSSHAAA!’ It got me fired up! Finally, I can have my revenge!”
The seats hadn’t filled up as expected for the first tour, MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~. Gackt promised to put on a show that would make people regret missing it, and that’s exactly what he did that day. After that, for the Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~ tour, there were hardly any empty seats, but ticket sales had still been low enough that they could set out chairs on the arena floor. The Kagen no Tsuki tour didn’t stop at this venue.
While waiting for the attendees to be let in, what I recalled as I scanned the empty venue were the performances of MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~, which were filled with the agony of failing to max out the hall. Even among the best performances of each song of the whole tour, when Gackt seemed to wring every bit of his body to belt out “Kono Dare Mo Inai Heya De,” [“In this room where there is no one”] a capella, into this overly large venue…that was tremendous. It was the climax. His astonishing singing overwhelmed me: Where in the world does that voice come from? Doing that’ll take years off your life! At that point I hadn’t known Gackt for long, but I remember, as if it were yesterday, how I’d strongly felt, “This man is a consummate performer!”
Fast forward to the present, and now Osaka-jō Hall was not at all “a room where there is no one”; it had become “A room no more people can enter.” What’s more, for this triumphant return to Osaka-jō,5 Gackt came surrounded by band members and staff who had grown so much emotionally and technically that there was no comparison to their former selves. The stage was perfectly set for Gackt to take on this challenge successfully.
Once doors opened, the venue filled up in the blink of an eye. With this turnout, stopping here for two days would’ve been no problem, but we’ll just have to save that for the next year.
Things were running a little behind schedule. But once Gackt had a thorough massage treatment, the huddle formed around him.
“Three years ago, when we played here, things didn’t go the way we wanted… I swore we’d get revenge. Today, we take the first step towards that… Let’s all push each other forward, okay? Let’s do this!”
When “Noah” played, the venue was enveloped in a tremendous roar of applause. Then “Speed Master” started. The vigorous performance electrified the audience. The mixed cheering and screaming was common at this point, but their reaction was unusually super-charged. For “Lu:na,” the dancers reacted to the cheers by doing each move with all their might; it was like the audience was driving them forward. From the start, the audience’s reaction to every song, sound, and movement was so huge, their passion was taking over every particle in the venue. The front of house mix was well-balanced, too.6
Gackt was in good shape as well. His voice rang out powerfully as he sang “rain,” and during “Mirror,” he riled up the audience with a cheerful, “Let’s keep goin’ till we fall over!”
Gackt wasn’t looking to just fill the hall to capacity. He had already cleared that hurdle. What he was aiming for now was using up every ounce of his energy, offering up his body and soul to put on the ultimate show. That’s when he would consider himself victorious.
And so, the overpowering concert came to an end. The audience had held their breath during “birdcage,” basked in the afterglow of the song, gone into a crescendo of applause, and yelled out their thanks to Gackt with brightened expressions. Were these things not proof of Gackt’s flawless victory in his third battle at Osaka-jō Hall? I looked on as the audience headed out on their way home, and gave a round of applause in my heart.
The three Kagen no Tsuki shows that had been at the Osaka Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan had all been so good even Gackt approved of them. Today had been on par with that. If there were any fans who went to all four of these shows, I bet they must be on Cloud Nine. In any case, the Osaka fans got ultra hype.
What really kept the show going was the fans’ power. They were focused, yet relaxed, all while creating a passionate atmosphere. As they turned to go home, their faces were glowing as if to say, we saw something awesome. The “aftertaste” in Osaka-jō Hall was exceptional.
At dinner, Gackt and company were chowing down on some yakiniku. The look on each person’s face was one of total confidence.
“It was over in a flash today. Just going with the flow, not thinking, that’s how you get good results.”
It seemed YOU had figured out how to bring out his best performance. But that, too, was thanks to having believed in himself. It was the fruit of all the shows he’d put on thus far.
With only three shows left in Jōgen no Tsuki, the party had reached a critical juncture. They had still more climbing to do before they could complete the MOON PROJECT.
[Continued in Chapter 6, Part 7]
1. I’m not sure what he means by “the part of the spine that sticks out”. Visually the 7th cervical vertebrae sticks out the most, but I think it makes more sense for him to be talking about his coccyx. (Insert pun here) (Yes, I know) ⤴
2. Just in case anyone’s wondering, no, I didn’t skip a line; Hirose doesn’t provide an answer to the question he had just posed. ⤴
3. Nagoya performances that didn’t go too well covered in this book include the performance at Nagoya Diamond Hall during the Live House Tour, which saw the first time a Gackt performance had to be interrupted; and Kagen no Tsuki’s two shows at Nagoya Century Hall, where a whole bunch of things kept going wrong. ⤴
4. Perhaps I took a fair amount of liberties with this section:「Gacktは、本当にサイキックな状態でライブ中に気の会話を続けている」. This would literally be “Gackt is truly in a psychic state during live shows, able to continue the conversation of energy/spirit [ki].” “Aether” in the archaic sense is probably not a common translation for 気 (ki), but in this context, I think it works. ⤴
5. A bit of wordplay here in the sense of imagery: Osaka-jō is “Osaka Castle.” So Gackt is making a “triumphant return” to a castle, as if in battle. (I didn’t translate Osaka-jō Hall as “Osaka Castle Hall” because its official name in English is just “Osaka-jo Hall.”) ⤴
6. This came up before but I wasn’t sure if “front of house mix” was the correct term. After doing a little bit more reading, such as this article on “Stage Monitoring & Monitor Mixing,” I’m pretty sure that FOH mix is the correct way to translate 外音. ⤴