27 July 2006, a date that I will never forget.
The first day of being in the land of the rising sun, Japan – A place that I would never have thought to be visiting. =) This very day I was breathing the very same air that Akina has been breathing. It has been a dream come true after 26 years of yearning. Best of all, its 2 dreams coming true at the same time! Being in Japan and seeing Akina performing Live in front of me! I was also looking forward to spending the trip with 4 other wonderful people – Ranbi, Dan, Hamu and Joy! 4 Japan veteran with one newbie in the block. =D
We arrived Kobe airport at 8am. It was a very smooth and nice flight. With beautiful clouds reflecting the rays of the morning sun, I’m already having butterflies in my stomach! Just thinking that in less than 10 hours I will be in Kobe Koukusai Hall, watching Akina serenading us with her voice and performance! plus it’s a row 3 seat!
Ranbi-san has already arranged a mini bus to take us to Kobe Plaza Hotel, where we will stay for a night after the concert. The hotel room was quite all right, except maybe the bathroom is a tad too small. We had difficulties in changing our clothes inside. The width inside is probably 2.5 arms length. But since it was just for a night, we cannot complain much for the amount we are paying for it. =) We left our luggage at the hotel and went out to shop. One word for the weather in Kobe – HOT! The scorching sun was quite unbearable after walking for a while.
Everything seems so cute and new to me. Even the smallest thing like the traffic lights, I find it interesting. Haha. We chanced upon a Pachinko shop that displayed Akina’s Pachinko set. Everyone was so excited and we went into the shop and started looking around. The legendary Akina’s Pachinko machine was there, right in front of us. There were about 6 Akina’s machines inside and nearly half were occupied. An Oji-san who seemed to be an expert in playing, had won like 5 buckets of metal balls just beside the Akina machine. Our dear Ranbi-san tried his luck in playing. Easy as it may seem, it’s hard to understand how to play (and win it!). Soon all our balls were “eaten” up by the machine! Ka-ching~~~ But we were lucky to see some of the animation clips when the expert oji-san was playing. Boy, it looks so KAWAIIII~~~
After that we went to some CD shops and then settled down at Daimaru for lunch. A Tonkatsu restaurant was what we decided to have for the first meal in Japan! When the food arrived, it looked nice and the taste matches what it looked – GREAT! Crispy coating of bread crumbs perfectly fried to maintain the tenderness of the meat inside. It’s not fried dried, but juicy katsu! Certainly made my first meal in Japan INCHIBAN! Hee.. Soon, it was already 2pm. We went back to the hotel for a short rest before proceeding to the concert hall.
4.30pm. We changed into our exclusive VAMP Pachinko Akina Tee (it elicited some very favourable response) and walked to the concert hall. The concert hall was already quite packed with Akina’s fans waiting eagerly outside the entrance.
The concert goods this year were quite alright. The concert tee is a MUST GET! The original limited camouflage tee was already out-of-stock, so they changed to the black staff tee which looked just as GOOD as the green one! Personally I think the concert pamphlet is alright, but not something to rave about, cos Akina has certainly released much better concert pamphlets in the past. We also managed to meet some of the Japanese fans who dressed up in Akina’s Game outfit.
6pm. We are in the queue to go into the concert hall. I was just as nervous as going for an exam, but of course much better! Hee… The inner hall was selling Destination album and also the past concert DVDs and albums. As we approached the concert hall, we can hear the songs from Destination!
The stage was quite simple and neat, with a big LED screen behind, displaying big RED words: “LIVE. AKINA NAKAMORI 2006.”
The hall was slowly filling up with fans as time goes by and soon at 6.30pm the alarm went off indicating the concert was about to start! The usual reminder messages of switching handphones to silent mode, no filming and recording were broadcasted over the PA.
The air of anticipation filled the air within the concert hall. We were seated: Joy, Hamu, Myself, Dan and Ranbi with the back of our tees collectively spelling out A.K.I.N.A.
The lights dimmed. Everyone started to sit closer to the edge of their seats. The band members took their positions. The beats start to thump, with the background vocal, hyping up the crowd. “Come on. Wooo..” “Come on.. Akina.. Yeah…” At this time everyone was excitedly clapping their hands. “Get on your feet”… “Are you ready???”… “AKINA~~~”…..
“Hanayo” starts playing at the back and Akina walked out from the side stage. Clad in the colourful costume and her red head-dress, she began to dance to the beat of Hanayo. But the headdress started to slip and she had to hold onto it while singing. So imagine one hand taking the mic and the other holding onto the headdress, but she still managed to look gorgeous and beautiful! She walked over to where we were seated and we were so excited! SO CLOSE! VERY CLOSE! Her complexion was so good! And she still looks GREAT! I was totally mesmerized by her!
2. The Heat~
She decided to take the headdress down and let down her hair. I would say that the headdress was redundant cos it did not complement the dress. The whole dress stood out when she let her hair down. And I swear that I will pay a million yen to buy her locks! (ok. I’m kidding here but her hair is so nice!) Her makeup is simple and it “eats” in just fine. Everything just looks good! Everyone was dancing and clapping to the BASS BEAT!
3. Talk (Talk will be elaborated more by the rest of the VAMP)
I love this song and here Akina performed it quite well. Though on certain notes she sounded strained but it was still good nevertheless. Everyone was so serenaded by her strong and powerful vocals here. The background screen displayed some nice patterns that blended well with the song enlivening the stage. How can we forget her 月華 moves!
Straight after 月華 , the high energy 落花流水 takes centerstage. Again Akina performed this song to her best! A totally different experience from listening to the CD recording! It’s really a VERY GOOD song! And I like it when she raised her hands, the background screen will have graphics of leaves gushing upwards! Kireiii!~~~ This time, Akina also managed to link up all the moves more smoothly (as opposed to her TV performance… the one where she was ill) and executed it with gusto!!
Recognised universally as one of Akina’s most challenging songs, we were filled with anxiety. Could she deliver? Here, she sang it slowly and with clarity, with good breathing and projection. The song seems so much easier to sing now compared to her previous performances on Empress and TV shows (practice makes perfect?)… the song tailed off with a wondrous vocal showcase when the background singer took centrestage as Akina exited for a costume change.
7. Band members introduction.
Akina changed i
nto something quite similar to what she wore on the cover of the Empress concert. A shimmering long black gown. She looked skinny in it. Still pretty. Hee. The second set was abit more loungey. Think Empress at ClubEx aand you are not very far from it. Here Akina seems more relaxed and up closed.
9. Love Gate
One of my favourite songs from Destination. It was how i expected as I had envisioned something more WOW, but a good song is a good song, and the crowed worked up to a jive! Clearly a crowd pleasing number.
14. Grace Rain
For this segment, we were all seated as requested by our Utahime. It was really amazing to listen to how she sings the song exactly to how you hear from the CD, BUT she is singing it LIVE! You can only listen in AWE and glad that we are so in love with some one so beautiful, talented and gifted with a voice, capable of healing the hearts of her fans… A dream like state is the feeling i can say for the segment. The lights, the sound and her voice made everything felt like a very wonderful and beautiful dream. That instance i really wished it would just stop there! Ending with Grace Rain, just made everything tasted sweet and yearning for more!
Akina changed to her famous “飾りじゃ” outfit. We prepped ourselves for her hardcore flinging action.
16. Moonlight Shadow
24. TANGO NOIR
From the moment, HEARTBREAK music started, everyone was sent into a crazy fit! The lights and beats were inviting us to shake our bonbons! The medley was like a kaleidoscope of happiness and frenzy with one song topping another. The arrangements for the medley were fabulous! I can say that every fans had their dancing mode switched on and everyone was so HYPED UP!!! Imagine you have a big concert hall and a whole group of Akina fans around you dancing with Akina to her famous steps for each song! Aibu moves, everyone in the concert hall making the handsign for 1/2の神話 (similar to the lighter for Bon Jovi), my favourite “Tattoo” moves!
You just have to be there to experience that kind of exhilaration and excitement! Simply breathtaking and unimaginable… Writing this now, made me so happy and glad that I was there when all these happened!
When Desire ended, Akina rushed in to change into another costume.
AKINA. AKINA. AKINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
encore one. 花よ踊れ
From the hint of a first note, everyone’s adreline rushed right back to where it left and SCREAMED! Dressed in the black dress much like a cute and shortened version of her Kouhaku Nanpasen outfit, she bounced out cheerfully. The dress was very appropriate for the encore Hanayo as it bounced whenever she did the groovy moves during the chorus, something which we think only Akina can carry it off beautifully… soon after the song ends, she dashed in again – clearly a sign that there was more to come!! A second encore perhaps!?
encore call 2.
AKINA. AKINA. AKINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Akina came out with black jeans and the concert staff tee. She plonked to the floor, and amused the crowd with some dramatic acting (ala heart attack scenes in Primadam)… it was hilarious. Akina has great comic sense… She looked so pretty and genki in this outfit! She chatted with the fans for a bit and started to take in song requests. Lots of songs titles were flying in the air. She then sang Southern Wing and Second Love. With no music accompaniment but just to the clapping of her fans, she was able to sing snippets of the songs, though forgetting some lines of the songs (quite funny actually), but she managed to sing most parts of it! I really love this segment.
encore three. GAME
GAME was the next encore song that she sang. Everyone knowing that it’s going to be the last song, was screaming and dancing like mad. You can see that Akina really enjoyed singing both Hanayo and GAME as she was so smiley throughout both songs!
Finally, the concert ended with Akina bidding everyone Sayonara and asking everyone to take care. As for me, it was really a euphoric mixture of feelings. Feeling sad as such a wonderful concert came to an end and happy that I will be watching another round of concert at Yokohama!~ 😉
I LOVE YOU, AKINA-san!