I realised I have been far from prolific in blogging this month, which I think was a result of a combination of blog fatigue, lack of inspiration, and ever diminishing material to write (did I mention I need to visit Japan again!?). Since memories of my Japanese experiences have faded somewhat, it means ever more research to back up what I have to say (write). Better to blog "fresh from the oven", wouldn't you agree? In addition, I have been in a more "Korean" mood this past month, listening to K-pop blasting from my newly bought Creative D5 speakers and becoming fixated with absolutely awesome K-dramas (Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Baker King etc) online. Maybe I should start an alternative page for my twin persona, "Memoirs of a Fat Gisaeng" for postings on Korean related stuff. Ha!
Anyway, the bright Japanese spark this month was that my sister-in-law got her hands on two free tickets to the Singapore ANZENCHITAI (安全地带) ("Safety Zone" in English) concert. Since Samurai T is not a concert person (he actually turned down going to the Retrolicious Concert, that stick-in-the-mud!), I happily attended the concert with my sister-in-law at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last Sunday.
An ANZENCHITAI fan for every concert goer. The stadium was pretty filled up as you can see!
I have to first clarify that before being invited to this concert that I knew NOTHING about ANZENCHITAI. I am ashamed to admit that I am not very familiar with the J-Pop scene in general, other than the existence of SMAP and Chage and Aska. I went along because I was curious and it was FREE, for goodness sake. But doing what I always do best, I went to Wikipedia and found out that they are a rock band formed in 1973 (Good gracious, before I was born!!!) hailing from Hokkaido. They had several great hits in the 1980s and 1990s apparently. Then they went on a hiatus and announced their return to the music scene in the beginning of 2010, and hence the Singapore concert!
After reading the information, I was only semi-enthusiastic. First, I was not really interested in rock music. Second, these were not hot Japanese studs but has-beens (or so I thought) in their 50s. But I thought I could practice my Japanese by immersing myself in a Japanese environment (AS IF I could catch what they were singing - ha!).
Start of the concert with flashing laser lights. Sorry about photo quality. No DSLR.
But I was pleasantly surprised. More than pleasantly surprised. Although the rock songs in the first segment of the concert did not really rock my boat, I appreciated the high energy of the band and the extremely solid vocals of lead singer, Koji Tamaki. In fact, the band went on for 2 hours without any discernible breaks, unlikely most pop stars (East or West) nowadays, for stage or costume changes. They were remarkable, and the quality of the performances were maintained throughout. I had in particular been impressed by Tamaki. Coming from a singing background, I understood how difficult it was to go on singing at top form for 2 hours, and he was the only vocalist! He has a great pair of powerful lungs, that Tamaki, as only a seasoned singer could have.
Serenading us during the second segment of the concert
Then came the second segment where the band slowed things down, sat in a line at the front stage and serenaded the audience with their best hits, and I was completely FLOORED. At that point in time I was converted into a fan, and swore to download their songs the minute I got home. And I knew why Hong Kong stars like Jacky Cheung and Leon Lai actually remade their songs. They were freaking fabulous. Coupled with Tamaki's soulful voice, both my sister-in-law and I were captivated. They belted songs like "Friends", "Red Wine no Kokoro", and "Yume no Tsuzuki".
By the time it came to the third set, the audience, mainly in their 30s and above, were on their feet, including yours truly. When they ended the night with their greatest hit, "Kanashimi ni Sayonara", everyone was singing along (whether they know the lyrics or not is another matter) and waving their hands in the air. Although I did not know the lyrics I was humming along as well (yes, the song was THAT catchy), and squealing like a fangirl. When they left the stage, a member of the audience shouted "Mo Ichido!!" which meant "Again!". That word I understood and totally agreed.