July 4th is the best day to attend a GACKT concert, as it is his birthday, and thus they are usually special concerts. This year, GACKT turned 40, after admitting that he is not a vampire born in the 1500s. Now, I have seen GACKT before, twice in concerts and in his butai last year, but I was surprised of how much he managed to fill the stage all by himself.
The concert was held in Yokohama Arena, which means you have seats, which is indeed good. After waiting in line for goods for about 2.5 (14.50 – 17.30) hours before those were closed for the non-ticket holders, I found myself in front of one of the gates of the Arena, right under the M, with maybe 4 people directly in front of me. The line was not a fun event though XD Heat and humidity were off the roof, so the wait was long. I used the time to study N4 vocab.
The gates opened at 18.05 and after receiving a small bag with the paperwork of the day, including instructions on the “surprise” happy birthday singing, I braved the crowds for the goods, both mine and Denise, as she was just coming in from work and thus had still some line to go.
Goods acquired, I set on the search for out seats, where we were to meet, as there was too much people around to set a good meeting point anywhere else. She caught up with me on the stairs to the third floor, and after a quick bathroom trip and putting make-up in place, we sat down to wait – and to have some snacks and drinks as I had only had a sandwich for lunch due to a miscalculation on my part.
The concert started a tiny bit late, and it was the Mild setlist, so GACKT appeared on stage dressed in a long red leather coat. At that moment I regretted not having checked the theory setlists, as I usually like my concerts to be surprising. However, before GACKT came on stage, there was a short message on the screen, about creating memories and having no regrets.
I had never understood people who talk about crying in concerts and all that, but when I read that I did cry. I cried all throughout the first song, which as usual with GACKT concerts was a slow one, just to delve into two rockier melodies afterwards.
Here’s the complete setlist, before we go any further:
- WHITE LOVERS -Shiawase na Toki-
- ~Emu~for my dear
- Journey through the Decade
- Last Song (piano version with violin intro)
Camui Gakuen movie
- Papa Lapped A Pap Lopped
MC + Happy Birthday Messages
- Koakuma Heaven
- Faraway ~Hoshi ni Negai o~
- Stay the Ride Alive
- Encore: Sakura, Chiru
Is not like White Lovers tells me anything special, but hearing his voice after that “no regrets” sentence, made me cry even harder. Then, of course, forgot all about it because crying during Redemption and Ghost felt too ridiculous to be able to keep it up. We had almost no screen time, except for the Ghost PV and the MC and Koakuma Heaven later on.
~Emu~for my dear, which is a song I barely pay attention to usually, and Journey through the Decade sent me crying again, I am not even sure why, but by the time he was done, I felt a huge weight had been lifted off me, and during Haruko I did not feel like crying anymore. As mentioned before, I was surprised by GACKT’s power and presence in such a huge venue, without any kind of screen for close-up effect.
The lights went off for a few seconds, and then we had a Yuu violin solo, which at that point gave me a feeling of dejà vù, but then GACKT gave us Last Song with his piano and I was not really thinking any more, just letting his voice caress me. For a second, I felt it was just him and me in that venue, as corny as it sounds.
Then we had a movie to break the mood, a lesson on “How to be cool” that at some point included tying people up and hanging them and feeding them spicy stuff. I think. Only when the thing finished with a half-naked GACKT gag and a black bodyguard, things clicked in my mind, in about .25 seconds advance.
Soon enough we had the introductions just as they were made for the Sixth Day and Seventh Night live, or akin to them. Yuu’s, Chacha and GACKT’s had not changed, but there are different bass and drummer now, which did not really manage to get their own names filed: They remain being Non-Ju-ken and Non-Ryu. Biased? Yes. I like my SDSN GacktJob XD
Introductions made we of course started with Papa Lapped A Pap Lopped for good (and bouncing) measures, and Mirror after that. When GACKT stopped singing in Mirror to be baka, I guessed that we had the Okaeri/Tadaima routine coming up, and let me tell you, it’s harder than you’d expect, and can’t avoid taking his taunts a little personally, even if you know he’s just trolling and you are simply in the “to-be-trolled” side.
After we were done with the Okaeri/Tadaima thing, at the sound of a bell, we all got the blue lightsticks given to us at the entrance and sang Happy Birthday To You (reminiscence of 2004). Cake was produced, and the design was also a repeat, although don’t remember which one. Now we had screens to see, and it is adorable how he still gets touched on his birthday cons after so many “surprises”. He got to take a pop-quiz when he was about to tear up, and then the Niconico guy who had interviewed VAMPS the previous day showed up to give him flowers.
There was some talk and Happy Birthday video messages. Memorable ones were Jon and u:zo, who worked with him in the Yellow Fried Chickenz project, Miyavi, who was totally trying to fool us into believing he is still rocking hard, and a grey mole/mouse puppet behind whom Hyde was hiding. Hyde had VAMPS concert that day, but still told GACKT that they should go drinking together after the concert. GACKT’s, of course, as he would be the last one to finish.
The little fanboy gave GACKT flowers after the video, played being about to peedle his pants and was invited to do a members stance – i.e., yell at the audience without mike (which they started doing for the RRII). The guy tried, I guess. I was not paying much attention to him. When the fanboy was saying goodbye, Chacha got rid of his guitar and produced a HUGE bouquet of roses before coming to yell at us.
Non-Ju-ken (Sato) and Non-Ryu (Kei? Ken? Ke?) did his best too, although Non-Ryu could not reach us to save his life, and GACKT tried to explain the proper way to do it, without much success. I don’t remember what Sato gave GACKT, but the drummer gave him a piece of a pair-omamori and kept one himself. Both received awkward, fast, and complained hugs – if you can call that a hug – unlike what Chacha got, which was a real “manhug”.
Then it was Yuu’s turn for present-giving and yelling. And Yuu, being who he is, totally adorable and… indescribable, just wrapped a red ribbon around his chest and called himself a present. Now, that was a HUG, people. Alongside a very meaningful tug of that chest-ribbon.
GACKT’s own yelling was impressive. I could perfectly hear him from the other side of the Arena, and he did not look like he was even trying that hard, telling us how he had spent a pre-birthday party with family (best guess: Yuu’s family) and complaining about presents.
Then came the surprise, because even if I had not checked the setlist, I was aware that this was not in the Best of the Best compilation – U+K, just because it was his birthday and he could. That means that I saw U+K with the dancing cats live. And there was the orange-tabby one. Yes, that first one. It was so amazing that even trying to describe it would not make it justice. I know it is not such a “big” song, but it is special for me somehow.
Of course there are only two songs that can tie with U+K, that’s either Vanilla or Koakuma Heaven, and Koakuma Heaven we got, including the Koakumania “game” (RRII anyone? Who cares? XD)
I had a blast with that, even if we all know that my coordination is next thing from lacking. Then GACKT launched himself into the last mad dash for the concert with Graffiti and Faraway ~Hoshi ni Negai o~ to calm down with dears and the song that scared me the most, Stay the Ride Alive.
I had anticipated that I would cry with Stay the Ride Alive. By that time however, I was so happy that no tears would come, even if the song was so amazing live that it will now forever send me back to that day in Yokohama.
We had a good-bye message that was lost to me, but that must have been beautiful. Then, true to his style, too, the encore was a soft ballad, Sakura Chiru this time, which was a beautiful rendition, aimed to wrench hearts, and he did. Then we had credits with the music of Kimi no Tameni Dekiru Koto, and off we went, to find the present boxes to deliver the little present that Denise and I had for him – a birthday egg from Hakone and a letter from each of us (well, two in my case, as I wrote what I needed to say in English and then wrote a simple (kantan) version in Japanese.
And that was GACKT’s Best of the Best Vol I 40th birthday concert (long) report. As a long-time fan, too, I enjoyed those little winks to older lives. I dare say that this is probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but this was special, even if for those two moments that I felt we were alone, and for those tears I could not cry during Stay the Ride Alive.