So we last saw the Evil One literally flying into Paradise as she managed to snag a precious photo with the fake Atsushi-san. Still, the REAL deal himself (thinner, hotter, sexier!?) awaits within the concert arena. After satisfying our stomachs with a relatively blah dinner, which improved Samurai's mood significantly (the man gets grouchy when he is hungry), we rushed in to take our seats which is somewhere in Section 55-56 (I forgot our exact seat numbers). The first thing that greeted my eyes as we entered the arena/stadium was this cavernous space that extended outwards in a circular direction and this MASSIVE stage in the centre, like this:
A more elaborate stage than that for our National Day parade!
Not surprisingly, since the concert was called "The Tower of Wish", the centerstage was hogged by a ginormous lighted tower which throughout the concert would change into a myraid of different wonderful settings, from a chimney with a climbing Santa Claus - for the Christmas song segments, to a Clock Tower in "Anata E" (to die for moment), to a space station, a sun monument (for "Rising Sun") - such a spectacular feast for the eyes. Unfortunately due to VERY STRINGENT patrolling around the arena, I was unable to take many pictures during the concert to showcase these wonderful stage marvels. You would not believe the number of mobile phones that were confiscated during the concert (which we saw being laid along the corridor on our long march out - post concert). No matter how one tries to hide, the concert police with their super sharp eyes could find you and your handphone!!!!
The number of concert goers was also jaw-dropping awesome. Obviously the capacity of our own Indoor Stadium is significantly less and my latest Anzenchitai concert had only about 7,000 - 8,000 people. The biggest concert I attended was probably the Michael Jackson one (may he RIP) at our old National Stadium and that was very crowded, but I could hardly remember anything of it. Here at Sapporo Dome, all 50,000 seats were sold, and they sold out for two nights!!!
Just a look at the crowd. Excuse me your HEAD!
Needless to say, the atmosphere was electrifying. We had the fortune (or misfortune?) of sitting in front of a gaggle of teenage (I think) girls who screamed over any and everything. "Nani? nani, nani???" (i.e. "What's up? What? What?") all throughout the concert and with every change of the stage setting or costumes, etc. It was funny if not a little irritating.
The concert itself? Sigh. It was truly the BEST concert I have EVER attended. And I didn't even know ALL the songs (now I do), nor have I learnt sufficient Japanese to understand what my darlings onstage were talking about (10% maybe). And they were so far away! But the Evil One was beyond delirium, "So long as I am under the same roof and breathing the same air as Atsushi, I am happy." But it was a magical three hours. EXILE was, needless to say, beyond amazing with their live energetic performances and solid heavenly vocals. Atsushi and Takahiro, small and far away as they were, were PERFECT - perfectly handsome, perfectly muscled in all the right areas, perfect voices. The ever morphing stage sets, the laser lights, the glittering costumes, the committed dancers and enthusiastic but orderly audience gave me a night I would never forget. I think I spent half the time with my mouth hanging open with my senses assaulted on every front (in a very good way.)
I screamed and danced as if I was 18 again (and paid the price with aching bones and muscles the following day.) When "Choo Choo Train" came on, the Evil One and I went ballistic. We were definitely louder than the teenage girls behind us, and the Samurai probably wanted to slink under his seat and pretended he never knew us. But please! we saw adult men and hordes of Obasan attending the concert too - surely we were not the only crazy (old) ones in the house. However, it was my turn to want to disppear when the Evil One started sobbing!! when Atsushi sang his solo piece "Ittsuka Kitto". Without a doubt he sang it beautifully, although I was more moved by the earlier "Anata E", but the Evil One cried as if Atsushi has just proposed to her. Momentarily I was worried she would faint from overwhelming happiness and emotions! But I could moderately understand her feelings. Her year long dream to see him finally FINALLY came true. It was surreal, and fantastic at the same time.
During the concert encore, we started to blatantly take photos again. Think the one on screen was Atsushi.
Objectively speaking, even if I was a non-fan, I would rate the EXILE concert as one of the best ever based on their awesome production values. Can you imagine the cost of shipping that DAMN tower overseas if they wanted to hold an overseas concert? It certainly did not made financial sense. And with such a fervant domestic market, it is no wonder J-pop acts hardly need to pander to overseas fans. Which is sad. But it matters not at that point, since Rome could not come to us, we went to Rome instead! And what a worthwhile trip. And what a once in a lifetime experience!
Thankfully I now have a copy of the concert video (legally purchased at SGD50) to relive every joyful moment. Thanks to the Evil One and her boundless determination, and thanks to EXILE for the memories, and thank GOD for a most wonderful Christmas Eve.