So anyway, here are a few thoughts and impressions rather than a report because the set list we had was exactly as the first one that was circulating yesterday.
The first time we knew we were headed in the right direction was getting off the train in Sendai. The station was crawling with girls toting not only the new red Winter Party Diamond bags but also a fair smattering of pacific bags and also some from the 2006 tour. It became the motif of the day, right down to catching the train back here to Tokyo and the hotel. it's quite a nice bag.
We arrived out at Grande 21 and just followed the trail of fangirls to find the venue. There were actually a fair few fanboys as well. Two boys in their early teens were sitting behind us one had a Pi uchiwa and the other Ryo.
So a few pics of arriving at the venue - as everyone does.
OK confession No.1. I usually avoid posters as I have nowhere left to put them, and they're terrible things to get home in a suitcase. But the minute I saw the Koyama poster, I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart started to race and I knew I had to have
We wandered inside about 30 minutes before the concert was due to start, and as many people have said, Sendai is a pretty great arena. Our seats were in the stands but pretty much right in line with the catwalk across the middle and the central stage. Nothing was that far away. The stage was pretty busy. It had two levels and a big jewel in the middle which turned out to be a giant diamond shaped elevator by which they arrived and left.
Across the stage were 4 video screens. The two on the outside showed the concert, as did a fifth screen at the other end. The two inner ones had the video that went with the songs mostly, but I didn't spend a lot of time looking at them. The rest of the stage featured a whole lot of signs. One that said 'Heaven' another said 'Party, Party, Party', 'Magic Club', a martini on a sign that said Red Bar, another said Las Vegas. So you get the general idea.
There have been a few reports already with details, so these are a few random thoughts.
I know the theme is 'party' but I was really getting more of a host club vibe. Six good looking guys, an audience of adoring women, motifs of jewels and alcohol, and a blatant invitation for those women to spend their money on jewellery promoted by those six good looking guys. There was a major push for the ring, and many close-ups on which fingers different members were wearing their rings on. And I did notice later that there were many fangirls wandering about and riding on the train, wearing the giant bling, that's has News engraved on it - like we don't have to choose, we just get the six pack.
The show opened with the video introduction filmed by Tackey, and of course the screaming around me was pretty high pitched and defeaning. Much footage of them all running along in white suits then mugging to the camera. Massu is stuffing his face, Tegoshi lets of a popper, Koyama adjusts his shirt opening a few more buttons ...
Most of the costumes were new and the show opens with everyone in white suits with red and black accents - scarves, feathers etc. It's very stylish and very affective, though maybe a little classy for jumping about singing weeeek and Summer Time.
Despite the rumours the only change to Yamapi's hair was that he'd had a trim and it now isn't in his face as much as it was. I think there was definitely mishief afoot with people starting talk that sent such a ripple through everyone's discussions.
I was particularly happy that they were doing 'why' as it is one of my favourites from recent recordings. And again we had colour coded outfits - mostly pants and scarves. After they move from the main stage to the centre stage during a great performance of Bambina (as expected), these get the addition of hats (with feathers) and silver canes for Say Hello. This is the song that features the white chairs and some complicated moves that I think they're still trying to nail down.
Of the new solos/duets I definitely liked the Koyama and Yamapi number the best. Dancing singing and it probably goes for 5 or 6 minutes, much longer. So they don't just get half a solo they kind of get two added together. It's heaven for me since they're my two favourites. Yamapi in a black suit and Koyama in a silver suit - they traded dance and vocal turns before heading to the centre stage to stand back to back and do more of both. A definite highlight!
Shige's solo was very catchy. Simple and repetitive but still fun and his multi-pointed tambourine reminded me a lot of his Happy Music crown. Massu's solo is much fun with the cartoon illustration but he's also put a lot of work into the dance routine that goes with it as the superhero and his vegetables flash by on a nearby screen. Tegoshi's new arrangement of Ai no Matador was a little on the sleazy side for me, but I really liked Ryo's ordinary.
One interesting thing was that they're back to doing the usual version of Hoshi wo Mezashite, not the edited concert version from last year.
Apart from the radius of catwalks around the arena, there were four platforms in each corner that raised and lowered, but there was nothing that involved anyone's feel leaving the stage, except maybe when Massu's back dancers lifted him off the floor. Quite the opposite.
There were moments where Koyama and Tegoshi were on the floor in a clinch, followed soon after by Ryo and Yamapi. I only noticed the Ryo and Yamapi scene when much of the crowd started screaming and I looked over to see a tangle of red and blue arms and legs as Ryo was pinned to the stage. It did seem that it was taking them a little while to get back on their feet. Especially Ryo, but he seemed to be very tired if not a little sick during much of the show, taking many opportunities to sit down when he could.
Overall, of course, it was wonderful being there! Yes some of the favourites were missing but there were a few things to make up for it - like just being there at a concert!
It's hard to describe because it was so much like I had imagined it might be and yet so much better at the same time. Some moments felt like I'd done all this before and other moments were just amazing. It was probably written all over my face that I was having a great time because one of the Johnnys security/fan wrangling guys struck up a bit of a conversation with us, asking how we enjoyed, if it was our first time etc.
Afterwards we headed for the goods and there's so much gorgeous stuff to be had! I was beyond being tempted, I just gave in.
The pamphlet is large and hard covered, and features many gorgeous colour pages along with what is more like a book of candid black and white shots of them all wandering around the city.
Just a few pics ... I'll undoubtedly be doing proper scans of everything when I get home in a couple of weeks.
The clearfiles are also quite gorgeous
Yes, I bought many goods ...
And for those of you who've made it this far, here's a bit of a treat. Not the best quality but a sample of what we can hope for on a dvd later on.
Yamapi & Koyama - MF - MU
Shige - MF - MU
Mssu - MF - MU
Tegoshi - MF - MU
(with thanks to nanchant and watchful21 for assistance)
It's very late and we have an early day tomorrow, so I'll try to come back with more specifics later.