As fans entered the venue for the 12 noon show, there was a silent video playing on the screens. It was a message from Koyama from backstage showing him in his robe writing a message, which played across the screen. On the screen he put his fingers to his lips and then the message played welcoming everyone to the concert and informing the audience that tomorrow, November 3 was Ryo's birthday.
He asked the audience to be ready for the MC and to be a part of a birthday surprise when they code word was given. The code word was "se-no" (see below).
The first song of the concert is Happy Birthday - and in both shows Massu and Yamapi changed their lyrics to point out tomorrow was Ryo's birthday.
When the MC started there was a bit of talk about how both Ryo and Tegoshi were about to have birthdays and how it's been Yamapi in the past that had his birthday during a tour.
Ryo really had no idea that anything was coming, and then Koyama asked the audience twice if we were ready before Tegoshi said the magic phrase and the whole audience launched into the chorus of Happy Birthday (the News version of course!) It was very sweet sung by all those thousands of female voices.
After that they wheeled out a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday of the usual variety, streamers went off over his head and he blew the candles out. He was very cutely surprised and embarrassed by the whole thing.
In the 4pm show there were many mentions of Ryo's birthday, but no more singing as much as the audience called out for something.
However, when he came out to his solo, instead of Ordinary everyone was really surprised when he launched into Code. I have to admit that I've never been a fan of that song ... until now. It was a really good performance and he seemed to be really enjoying himself all day, venturing off the designated path to get up close with the audience.
At the end of the final show, after much cheering they did come back, with the band for an extra encore. They sang Hadashi no Cinderella Boy and dedicated it to Ryo.
Happy Birthday Ryo!
A few other observations ...
The KoyaTego byplay has now moved to the centre stage during Change the World. Now Tegoshi just lies on his back on the stage and Koyama gets on top of him. He cradles Tegoshi's head, they get in very close and Tegoshi waves his feet about.
Koyama had a close call with the audience in front of us tonight. Someone grabbed at his necklace and pulled the pendant off and it went flying. So he decided that it was a lost cause and took the chain of his neck and threw it into the crowd.
Shige came by in the final encore with a video camera filming the audience and himself, so I guess we can make some kind of guesses about footage for a dvd. There was also an official photographer down in front of our stand taking both still and video footage of the concert. Hope it's a clue.
On a personal note, this time next week I'll be home in Australia and this will all seem so far away. But I've had an absolutely fabulous time. It's totally exceeded my expectations - and they were pretty high. I totally recommend Fukui as a concert venue, no matter how far away you are, you aren't that far away.
All the fans we met were really friendly, especially after we all indulged in a session of self-disclosure by holding up our various uchiwa and finding who we matched with. I have to admit though that Shige fans seemed to be thinnest on the ground around where I was sitting.
My penlight techique has really improved and I've mastered a number of songs, but I need a lot more practice on Cherish, Snow Express and Gan Gan Ganbatte. I like to think though that I managed to keep up and thanks to the CDTV I was ready for Happy Birthday.