japanesedream_72: (hyde)
[personal profile] japanesedream_72
Madison Square Garden, that is!

That’s where my brother, Johnathan, & I saw the NYC performance of L’Arc-en-Ciel’s 20th Anniversary World Tour on Sunday, March 25, 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttIVzyuPihs&feature=g-vrec&context=G2a69eacRVAAAAAAAABQ

We were supposed to go with a couple of friends, who, for various reasons, were unable to make it. To them, & to my other friends who wished they could have been there – I dedicate this post.

The festivities started for my brother & I when I drove to my mom’s that Saturday to pick him up. I stayed the day, & we set out in the late afternoon. That evening, we went to dinner at Fuji, the Japanese buffet near my house (http://www.fujiseafoodbuffet.com/). Yum!

This concert was actually much different from the kind I usually go to, in that not only was it a larger venue, but the seats were assigned. So it wasn’t like we needed to go line up for 10 hours in order to stake out a good standing place. With time on our hands, we were able to take things easy in the morning. For him, getting ready is relatively simple, anyway. We ended up watching RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes (he hadn’t seen the show before) while I was getting my bits & pieces together.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2800113452501&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

We figured we’d go into the City a few hours early, check things out, grab some lunch, float around my usual Asian bookstore haunts, then make our way back to Penn Station, which has a direct entrance to MSG.

I must take a moment to explain something. I was originally thinking I’d bring my camera, but decided against it when I saw on the MSG website that cameras aren’t allowed. It being a large establishment, I was certain bags would be searched (heck, some of the smaller places do PAT-DOWNS – even on the girls!!), & I didn’t want my camera to get confiscated, since I needed to take it to Sweden/Denmark in May. (I'll get those entries up one of these days - for Facebook friends, photos from the trip have been posted.) ^_^

My phone has a chintzy little camera function, & my brother’s phone does still shots & video clips, so we figured we wouldn’t make out too bad – they can’t confiscate your phone, right?

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2799348033366&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

Our train arrived in the City & we walked down to Mai Sushi, the place where I wanted to eat, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t open. I’ve since checked the website (http://maicuisine.com/), & it looks like they’re only open Mon-Fri. (Boy, do I miss Chiyoda, the old sushi place that was there before! Why they ever closed, I have no idea. They were open on weekends & had great eat-in & take-out items.) It being a Sunday, we couldn’t even to go Penn Sushi, my fave little place in the train station – they’re open every day EXCEPT Sundays. :P So we ducked into Kinokuniya, since we were already right next to it. Didn’t find anything we needed, altho’ they had the Hyde book that was released not terribly long ago (expensive!!). Walked up to Times Square, passing by fun stuff like the ever-present New Year’s ball & the little cordoned-off section where costumed critters (Elmo, Grover, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob, Mario, even a purple Hello Kitty this time!) greet kids of all ages, & poked around for somewhere to snarf.

Ended up in the Europa Café's Times Square branch (http://www.europacafe.com/assets/pdf/europa_menu_binder.pdf). The place mostly serves sandwiches & salads (& some awesome-looking desserts), which are displayed in a long, glass, delicatessen-style case. I chose something called the “Copenhagen Zesto” – basically, turkey & Swiss cheese with thousand island dressing on some kind of roll – was it a focaccia roll? – that they toast (makes the cheese nice & melty). I’m not sure what exactly it had to do with Copenhagen (I just chose the sandwich ‘cuz of my plans to go to Copenhagen ^_^), & was a tiny bit pricey for a sandwich (but hey, it’s Times Square, you gotta expect these things),tho' it was pretty good.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2799365233796&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

After lunch, we went to Book Off, where I bought the L’Arc “Smile” CD w/DVD (live clips) at a good price – Book Off usually has a nice selection of L’Arc (& many times, other J-rock acts, too), & their prices are pretty good. Ran across a couple fans who were attending the concert, as well – one was telling the other she wore her Vamps shirt (Vamps being the side-project of L’Arc’s vocalist, Hyde), & the other said she should have worn hers. As I was wearing mine, I couldn’t help but chime in! ^_^

Paid for my goodie & then we made our way back toward MSG, where there was a line outside for merchandise. We could already see the camera crews randomly catching fans for shots & interviews. I never get picked for these things. :P

http://youtu.be/opU6Dx_mRYE

We saw some of the people in that video...

Anywho, the line ran from outside the venue to inside the outer lobby area, where 2 merchandise stations were set up. Both had the same material, so it didn’t matter which one you went to. Must’ve been fated that we went to the one we did – a fan who’d attended the Vamps show in 2010 remembered me from chatting in line! ^_^

Incidentally, you can have a look at my Vamps concert write-ups here:

2009 http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/310947.html

2010 http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/386081.html

They opened up another mini-stall for merch, so while I waited in line to get some things (it was a bit difficult to see what was available until you got right to the front, because of the crowd; all you could see at first were the shirts, hooded towels, & the poster, which were hung up on the walls of the stall), Johnathan helped out & lined up for the photobook. (it was his idea to also get a couple of glow-sticks). I got chatting with 1 or 2 people, then got my intended items (the new CD, “Butterfly”, & the poster - I would’ve gotten one of the cloth bags, too, but they sold out pretty fast). Just on a side note, I wasn’t jazzed with the t-shirts, or I’d have gotten one. The styles I liked didn’t come in the colour I wanted, & while they did have ones in the colour I wanted, they weren’t the style I liked. :P

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2801189039390&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2801192039465&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

Merch stalls are notoriously disorganized, it’s basically a free-for-all. Kind of a mosh pit of their own (in some cases, very much like a mosh pit!). Someone compared it to the Wall Street Stock Exchange – all we needed was Hyde to ring the opening bell. XD Actually, I think that 'someone' was one of the girls I ended up talking to for a good portion of the evening. There were 3 of them – one who’d come up from Florida for the show, & whom I’d seen around Penn Station at various points (you can tell, much of the time, who’s going to stuff like this). I’d initially noticed her ‘cuz she was wearing a Dir en grey sweatshirt.

After merch, a few of us were kind of milling about, not sure just what to do. Through another set of doors was a lobby area leading up to the various entry points (where you entered depended on where you were sitting). There were ticket windows for will-call (if you had arranged to pick your tickets up instead of having them mailed or printing them on-line), & a small sign-poster advertising the concert, in front of which several people (myself & my travel doll, Umbrae II, included) were getting their photos taken. Myself & the girls were comparing our tickets (not only where we were sitting, but some codes noted on them that we didn’t quite understand), & checked out the posted seating chart to determine which entrance we might be using.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=2798683376750&set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&theater

We split up at that point, & Johnathan & I went back to Penn. He picked up some snacks, we made sure to visit the restrooms (nothing worse than having to go at an inopportune moment, like an awesome concert XD), & called my mom to let her know how things were going.

After a while, there wasn’t much else to do but make our way back to the venue & see what the procedure might be. It’s actually easier to be in line for a day! This part of things seemed almost TOO organised. It had many of us a bit confused. XD But we did our best to help each other out. Found those girls again, too! So we stood in line together, engaged in much people-watching (always fun at these events), & the ladies & I indulged in some fangirling (also fun at these events). The camera crews passed by again, & somebody somewhere was blowing bubbles. ^_^

I met one of my Facebook friends, Wendy! I knew she was going to be there, & we were slated to be in the same section. With the lobby crowd becoming ever larger, I wasn’t sure I’d see her, but as soon as she walked in, I recognised her. We talked briefly, & I rejoined my companions. But I would see her again later.

Soon, amidst more jokes & fangirling (during which I learned of bassist Tetsuya’s predilection for throwing fruit, & one of the gals & I shared an “Udon!” moment XD), the line was moving. We got up to the turnstile, they scanned the barcode on our tickets, &…

…THAT WAS IT.

I have to say it kind of disturbed me that there wasn’t a bag check or wand or pat-down of ANY kind that night. Not only did it tick me off that I could’ve brought my camera (everyone else certainly did), but it bothered me that anyone could have brought ANYTHING in there, & there was no search performed at all. The place seats something like 19,000 people - & I think I heard it sold out! So imagine if…well, let’s not imagine if. You get the idea.

There was a concession stand up where we were – through the gate, we had to ascend 3 sets of stairs (I think it was stairs, as opposed to an escalator), then line up according to clusters of seat numbers in the given sections. Then it was through an entranceway & into the arena.

The girls & I were a bit split up, but still in the same section - & a good section it happened to be! We said we would call for a while to each other, “Hellooo!” in a sing-song, pseudo-British kind of way, to recognise each other (& we did ^_^). Lower row numbers (ours was 6) descended a set of steps. We could see pretty well from our vantage point, our view only occasionally interrupted (& then, only briefly) by a camera crane – they were filming stuff, hope that means there will be a DVD, ‘cuz I will buy it!!

Then, we played the waiting game…

As it's been quite some time since the show, I can't give you all the details because it isn't as fresh in my mind. I can only tell you it was amazing beyond words, & while I'll fill in bits & pieces as I recall them (thanks to http://manaaesthetics.livejournal.com/63102.html for the setlist, or I wouldn't have remembered the order of the songs, or even all the titles), I'll let the footage speak for itself.

The concert opened with a "movie"...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLGnBwlkE-M

Amidst an arena full of screaming fans waving neon-coloured glow-sticks, the band emerged (we didn't even see them come on, they were just there as the music started), beginning with the lovely "Ibara no Namida":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh40FYO8EMs&feature=related

The band members looked great - dressed quite according to their personas (stylish & sexy Hyde, quirky Tetsuya, rock star Ken, & casual Yukihiro) - & sounded phenomenal. They played with passion & gusto, & above all, they seemed to be having a lot of fun. (This is the third time I've seen Hyde in person, & it never fails to amaze me how well that boy can 'work it'!) You'll see from these clips that the media presentations accompanying various numbers were incredible, too! On either side of the big screen, there were smaller (but still sizeable) screens broadcasting shots of the band as they played. Sometimes, these band shots were combined with the media stuff. It was really well-done!

"Chase" was the next number...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlxG012anyE&feature=related

...followed by "Good Luck My Way":

http://youtu.be/-pQ_bCk31gc

Hyde did an MC (talking bit) next, asking, "Where are we?" After our screams, he told us just where we were - "L'Arc-en-Ciel in Madison Square Garden!" He noted that, "We're the first Japanese band on this stage," & promised to show us the "best time tonight". And with a quick, "Are you ready?" the band launched into "Honey", Hyde joining in on guitar, in front of a simple butterfly background:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNijIzTz3iE

Shake those braids, Hyde!

"Drink It Down" followed "Honey", backed by a fiery screen. Sorry, but the only good clip I could find also has "Honey". Tho' I'm sure anyone checking this out won't mind hearing/seeing that one twice. ^_^

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl3lI1WbivE

"Revelation" was next, which is always a fun song (lots of audience participation), & featured a very strange image of a prehistoric fish...or something:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5t8GywPbgk
Revelation (the fish)

And FIRE! Real on-stage FIRE! Yeah, this show had pyrotechnics, too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jn6qoQYshuk
Revelation (the song)

Moments later, Hyde came out in a big hat, sitting with the band to perform "Jojoushi", as the screen filled with falling sakura (cherry blossom) petals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk89HCcjU2w

(Sorry, but nobody else has the full song - the camera-operator of this clip turns the camera sideways. Here is some better footage, tho' not the entire song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1FKmoYHzpU&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLF846B68D77A56237)

The recent single "XXX" (aka "Kiss") brought some sultriness after that wonderfully mellow moment. Way to drive us all wild!

Sorry, nobody has the full song posted (no idea why). Here are a couple clips that I did find:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSD5yr9sOZk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGXXcdLpYm8

For some reason, I could never remember the title of "Fate", which they played next, tho' I've always liked it very much. I was talking to Johnathan about the song on the train after the show, & a girl who must've also been at the show heard me sing part of it to him, & told me the name. I definitely won't forget it now!

http://youtu.be/u9VeHeEItzs

(I know, you're just itching for the camera operator to turn half a step to the right & get all the shots from the screen, aren't you? But they don't. Unfortunately, this is another song from that night that doesn't have a lot of uploads; no one has the full song, but this clip is the most complete.)

The beautiful "Forbidden Lover" was next, with images of water & fire...

http://youtu.be/3NGiYoHIR20

...followed by a gorgeous guitar solo by Ken, really showing his softer side with this piece, & after that, "My Heart Draws A Dream":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhpHoNyEynQ

Yes, we're all singing along with the line, "Yume o egaku yo" (basically, a translation of the title). It was one of those lovely interactive moments.

And then...Ken's MC! This ruined my image of him as the "rocker" of the band for LIFE!

He comes out with a written speech - in English! What he said...it was the cutest thing ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5p51E7tt1E&feature=related

If Ken's accent is a little rough, I can tell you that, basically, it went like this:
"Welcome to Madison Square Garden! I come to New York a few days ago, & I went to American Museum of Natural History, because I love the movie "Night at the Museum" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWDwJIBqjSU). I asked the taxi driver, 'Is American Museum of Natural History the museum in the movie?' He smiled & said, 'Yes.' I saw Roosevelt & American Indian & [another character or two - sorry, not up on the names], & I get very excited. At the box office, I asked again, 'Is this...the museum in the movie?' [They] said, '[A million] people have asked me that. One of them.' [He's implying, I think, that they're saying he's the only one that's ever asked that question.] I didn't see Roosevelt inside. But do you know where he is? Where? Huh? Huh? [He shook his head & chuckled.] I saw a lot of naked mannequins. Almost naked. So I took a lot of pictures. [Audience dies from laughter!] The museum was so big, I got tired, so I went back to hotel. By the way, I bought a souvenir for Yuki."

With this, he takes out an "I love NY" bag & hands it to Yukihiro. In it was a Monopoly game! ^_^

"The four members of L'Arc-en-Ciel," he continued, "will play Monopoly together at the hotel tonight!" Then he added, "I bought a [sorry, not sure what he calls this, maybe a Japanese word I'm not familiar with] for myself, too, because it was very cute." He held up a sweet-looking little figure, which Yukihiro put on the drum kit (& kept there ^_^). "Very cute," said Ken. Then: "Enough of my talking." He yelled out something to the audience I didn't catch, then asked, "Do you enjoy us?" We screamed. "Do you enjoy us?" More screams. "Not ASS. US." [Audience dies again!] He said something else I couldn't hear, after which, he said, "Let's do the next song, 'Caress of Venus'!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b9JeS3CUyg&feature=related

You'll notice Hyde's ditched the hat by now. (Just sayin'.)

The band followed that up with a few other old favourites, such as "Driver's High":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPyHwS829ds&feature=related

Then "Stay Away:"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kifTJ__lbC4

See the dancing skeletons on the screen? I believe they're mimicking the dance number in the official video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW4Z9XL7W2M

Next was one that drove me insane in the best way! It was one of the numbers I'd hoped to hear, "Ready Steady Go"! You can hear Hyde screaming (at the end of the live clip above), "New York! New York! Are you fucking ready?!"

Fantastic number, with fireworks!! I screamed & bopped all the way!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRm35nZlH1E

You'll notice this clip ends with what ended up being the beginning of Yukihiro's drum solo, backed with flashes of lightning on the screen. It was quite awesome, I'm surprised there aren't any posted clips of it (tho' my brother got some not-great-quality phone footage of it).

At some point also, Tetsuya got a nifty bass solo, & played around with the speakers & such. It was cool & amusing to watch. I just can't remember exactly where during the concert it occurred, so I mention it here.

That seemed to be it, & things were dark for a while. We did our very best to cheer them back to the stage, & after a little while, the screen was aglow with the chorus of "Anata":

mune ni itsu no hi mi mo kagayaku
anata ga iru kara
namida kare hatetemo taisetsu na
anata ga iru kara


(in my heart from someday on it will shine
because you are here
even until all of my tears dry,
so precious because you are here

- translation from http://www.jpopasia.com/group/larcenciel/lyrics/twenity-1997-1999/anata::6917.html)

The audience sang these lines even before the band came on to play it (having changed their outfits), the arena blanketed in twinkles from the disco ball spinning over the members. It was magickal & moving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9xS2FrYvao&feature=related

Next was "Winter Fall" (sorry, the sound on this clip is a bit low):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDvKNYQ5f2M

Another of my favourites followed, "Blurry Eyes":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRlRuOjFf18
Blurry Eyes (part - good quality)

This was pretty hysterical. There's a bit in the song where there's a pause & then it starts up again. So they get to the pause &...leave?? Yes, the band walked off-stage! Left me a bit perplexed...until it was clear that Tetsuya was there, with fruit! "Do you wanna eat my fucking banana? Or...do you wanna lick my lolipop?" He started kissing bananas & lolipops & throwing them into the audience!! After which, he asked, "Do you wanna hear more?" When we screamed affirmatively, the band came back & picked up right where they'd left off, finishing the song. Watch it below!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyAjmgwsjwo
Blurry Eyes (a bit shaky to start, but up thru end, incl. Tetsu's fruit)

One final MC from Hyde before the last song. "Thank you so much," he said. As he spoke, you could tell he was clearly moved. "[Thank you] so much, America. We were so excited to be here. You are the best." We cheered. "Thank you, thank you. It took us 20 years to get here. Will we meet again?" We cheered! "True?" Of course, we cheered for that! "Thank you so much...Tonight, the last song is, 'Niji'."

This one, I'm told, is one of their staples. It's on one of the 'best of' compilations (as were several of the songs they'd done during the evening). And while I'd initially thought they'd end with something upbeat, as opposed to a ballad, looking back, it seems fitting that they ended with a song whose Japanese title is the same as the French term from which they took their name. Both mean 'rainbow'.

Near the end of the song, feathers were shot into the crowd! They were everywhere, even in the upper decks. It was beautiful.

With a few shouts of, "Thank you, New York!" the members took their bows, Hyde blew kisses, & they were gone. That is, until Tetsuya ran back out with fruit & lolipops again, as well as a banana-shaped water gun! Enya began to play as he squirted some lucky fans. Then he threw everything into the audience, even the water gun!

"Mata ne!" He shouted, & then it's English equivalent. "See ya!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-_tpb__nzw&feature=related

Thus ended what, to date, has been the most amazing J-rock show of my life.

Long story short, we said some last good-byes to the 3 nice gals we'd been chatting with (I hope one day, they will find me or my brother on FB!), & to Wendy (with whom I got a lovely photo!). We made our way back to the train, talked about the show all during the ride, & passed out not long after getting to my house.

Kind of anti-climactic, I know, but that's just how the story goes, folks.

Anyway, I want to get this posted, since it's 3 months overdue!

To see the full set of photos from the day, have a gander at my Facebook album:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2798680136669.2110399.1548491398&type=3&l=751f423601

Thanks for reading!
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