[REPORT] Funn At Yoyogi aka My date(s) with Masha at Live Bang 2011

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UPDATES - 25.09.2011
I am in shock; it has just been over a month since the trip and yet felt like a lifetime ago! Anyway I made a special sorta like MV for my own collection and since I thought it was rather cute, I have uploaded to youtube. They're pictures of my Fuku-Kat, basically Journey of Fuku-Kat set against Masha's wonderful song Beautiful Day which does seem rather apt for this trip! Hope you enjoy!


To be frank with you, I was very excited to write about my experience at the concert(s) but after some time has passed, I didn't feel I could do a good recap since everything now seems like a blur and all that remains is my memory of how I felt and what I observed. I can't remember much about the setlist, I can't tell exactly what he said since he spoke in Japanese and really rapid Japanese at that. But if you're interested to know how was my experience as a first time Masha concert goer, please do read on. After having learnt of Live Bang tour 2011 when it first started, I really wished I could go but a lot of reasons and excuses as to why I couldn't until I was reminded by a good friend if there is any time to go, this is it. It was an ardous journey; first I had to take care of the financial aspect, then the ticket aspect and then something happened which meant I couldn't get a really close enough seats but after everything, I realised it was a pretty good view from my perspective. And of course the long wait.

I went for 2 shows and luckily I did because the 1st is always very confusing and you wouldn't know where to look and the 2nd is always the one where you can appreciate the surroundings. My dates were the 3rd and 7th August at Yoyogi, Tokyo, effectively the 1st and last Yoyogi show. It would have been the last show in the Live Bang Tour but we all know what happened that interrupted his schedule and I don't begrudge that at all.

3rd August 2011

(L) At the start (R) At the end

On the 3rd of August, I went with my fellow travel companion, Wati as we stayed very near the stadium that was the Shibuya Tobu Hotel, within walking distance of the Shibuya entrance but further away from the actual entrance, the Harajuku entrance and frankly I got very lost. There was no sign of any trucks or stalls, but I did see a lot of young girls in pretty kimonos and I thought for a moment Masha really has such a wide fan base. I nearly walked into one fan gathering until I realised the scene was all wrong; they looked more like they belong to Harajuku street, with their elaborate hairdos and costumes and they were far too young to be Masha's huge fanbase and I was correct. It was another idol's concert, which idol I did not bother to find out. I was sweating and wet due to the rain which wasn't heavy but still an annoyance. So I walked around and luckily I was an hour earlier when finally I saw a resemblance of what I feel is Masha's fanbase; older women, some with friends, some with their partners, some with their young children and some whole family but I suspect they too got lost. I followed the crowd and what greeted me which excited me were the Live Bang trucks, all parked there, to my memory I saw 2 but since it was raining, I wasn't in the mood to look further. Then my travel companion pointed out the rainbow as the rain began to stop and I believe many fans were excited over the rainbow.

I saw the stalls, filled with people, I saw people lining up as the time has yet to be 5.30pm when the doors opened as the concert will begin at 6.30pm and I was thinking whether those working can come on time since it was raining. I saw fans drenched in the rain, some of them male fans and I suspect the t-shirts must have been selling well. There were live bang banners everywhere, and when it was time to enter, I was greeted by what I would term as organised chaos. Everybody was organised, but it was a chaotic as in busy scene. His staff were dressed in white shirt, black pants, like an office worker. They were politely announcing through the megaphone on where to enter, etc. I noticed that those checking the tickets were all very young, and a funny scene ensued; my ticket was still in a plastic cover and the poor young man couldn't figure out how to tear the ticket stub and me, sweating, wet, with an umbrella in hand, handbag in the other helped by removing the plastic cover. Walked in and someone asked in Japanese ".... camera..." and I just shook my head. Then someone shoved (well not that rude but almost quite urgently) a white plastic packet and in it were the few pamphlets, and can you imagine, now I really have my hands full of stuff. I walked in some more and was greeted by flowers on the left and straight ahead, huge Asahi CM banner, which I wanted to take pictures but couldn't as I said, too chaotic. Then I walked further in and I asked the attendant where is my seat (right side, 2nd floor, B side) and so I walked to the right when I was greeted by the most amazing scene. If you've been to any concert in a stadium, you will know what I mean. It wasn't filled, it was about 60% filled, it was smoky, blurry, the stage facing me in a T shape, with 2 huge TVs on each side, the stadium was oval shaped, filled with people walking and then the centre which is the arena. I was mesmerized, it was an awesome scene, and I noticed Masha put on the Beatles soundtrack. Anyway I walked but wanted to go to the toilets first, and it was a difficult climb and then down the stairs, about 2 flights when I saw the line for the ladies' washroom which was so long, whilst the men's washroom was like so free. Make no mistake, I saw male fans of all ages who came alone, wearing the t-shirts and holding the towels of whatever version they bought but the ladies were a lot. I was thinking I can never make it on time but within 15 minutes I was done. That is efficiency, and a staff was there to direct the "traffic". And did I mention most of the staff were men? Anyway I rushed to my seat, huffing, puffing, looking like I've been through hell with my sweaty face, found my seat and thought it was a pretty good seat. In retrospect, if you're not too fussy over seeing his face up close and personal, any seat in Yoyogi gives a good view and if you're short, wear higher platform heels and the moment the concert starts, stand up. Well I didn't want to stand up. I was dead tired. My seat was 3 rows from the 1st row of the 2nd floor, and I believe 3 seats from the aisle. So I thought if everyone just sit down, I will have an unobstructed view but what is a concert if everyone is like me, glued to the seat?

Anyway I noticed something rather peculiar but rather interesting; there was a raised platform at the end of the stadium, and I looked carefully and realised it was for wheelchair bound fans and their families. Because at the arena, when everyone stands up, you can hardly see a thing even if the stage is very very high, so the raised platform is for the convenience of the wheelchair bound fans. I am not sure if this is such for all concerts of every star but I thought that was a very considerate gesture. By 6.25pm, the stadium was filled and there was a rather long announcement by a lady announcer and by 6.30pm sharp, the band starts. Things were calm at first until suddenly the fans all stood up and cheered and I knew he must be on the stage though in total darkness. And imagine the pandemonium when he actually appeared and frankly my view was obstructed by the standing fans although I thank my lucky stars I could see quite well through the gap and through my binoculars. And basically I spent my entire time looking through the binoculars. He spent a lot of time at the centre stage, but he spent even more at the end or rather start of the T shaped stage, which meant with my binoculars I could basically see him very clearly. And what was my first thought when I saw him in white long shiny jacket, tight black pants, something I believe is called black combat boots and him in my favourite position that is holding a guitar and strumming it? Frankly my first thought was "So handsome". He was not as thin as he was during Galileo time, not as buffed up as in Ryoma time, not as big as he was during 17 Nen Mono tour (which still remains my most favourite look of his) but he looked slim, slender, healthy, younger than his actual age and surprisingly not as tall as I think he would be. I never thought he was 6 feet tall, and I stand by my believe he is at most 5 feet 10 inches or at most 5 feet 10 and a half inches tall but he has such long slender legs that gives you the impression he is over 6 feet tall. All in all, whatever you see in pictures, that is him. Very few stars actually look like their pictures, but he does and I dare say he looks better in person and that is really something to boast about. I was however not near enough to observe what fans say that he had more wrinkles in person but I did notice he looked unshaven with a bit of eyebag. I felt in this particular concert, he looked troubled, not that his heart wasn't in it but rather he looked burdened, not relaxed at all. He kept touching his hair, like it really bothered him. However he gave it his all. The acoustic in the First National Gymnasium of Yoyogi is not the best; sometimes his voice was drowned out by the loud music, but sometimes I felt he mumbled a bit in his singing. I could never tell if he sang off key or out of tune, since nothing that obvious happened but overall I felt he is one singer you must hear live. Hardly any heavy breathing sound, he was in control of his vocals and he knows it. He was also in control over the crowd. A flick of a towel, and they knew what to do. The flick of a hand, and they knew when to stop clapping and start swaying. A bit of smile and they screamed. When he changed into that red jacket with the red towel by his side to sing Fighting Pose and Keshin, the moment he turned, fans screamed their approval but that night he did not pause to savour their approval. Like I said, he looked troubled and there wasn't that much interaction between fans and him. I mean he talked, he joked but somehow he was in a sombre serious mood. But he did everything to military precision. I believe he timed every step. He prowled the stage, left, centre, right, front, back although he seems to emphasise more on the right side (his right) where the VIP seats were located. I felt neglected. For a moment I felt like I had a really good seat in a cinema, that is watching through a lens and not at a concert. I felt sorely disappointed when midway to Revolution//Evolution there was a loud bang and confetti fell down and I couldn't get any as I was too far. That was one thing I really really wanted; that golden confetti. And I wanted that more than I wanted to sit in the front row because let's face it, it would be odd if everybody stood up and me that one fan glued to my seat, Masha surely will not be pleased! And that doesn't make for good TV moment so to speak. He sang quite a number of rock or fast paced songs. He started fast, slowed down in the middle and ended things fast again. My favourite moment was when he motioned to the fans to sing Shonen, one of my most favourite song and the fans did and then he launched into the song perfectly. I remember Hard Rain if I am not mistaken, Keshin was awesome with the fires pumped out on the stage but it was Fighting Pose which I was eager to hear, for the first time and he didn't disappoint. He did the usual kicks, punching, posing, etc and Fighting Pose I believe will be a concert favourite song much like Peach!! which was sang much earlier and sang well. He did the usual fake ass movements but somehow I felt something was lacking. I didn't know what it was until on the 7th of August, but I have digressed. Then came Gang which I never thought he would sing and that was when he shot things to the audience, again much neglecting my side of the audience but he did the obligatory squeeze squeeze action, twice. There were quite a few MC moments. Earlier on he asked the audience to stand in silence, and I didn't know what was going on, wondering who died but I stood up. Much later I found out it was for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami disaster and I felt relieved I didn't embarrass myself! He also talked the longest about Hotspot before launching into Ammonite no Yume, which is to me my sleepiest moment. At that time all the fans were still standing, one particular fan in particular stood throughout and she was in front of me and let's just say the persons sitting next to me were not pleased with that. Then Masha said something in Japanese which I assume he said "Please sit down, I will take a long time to talk" because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE finally sat down. He talked and talked and talked, very rapid Japanese and since no one was laughing, whatever he said must have been dead serious. And then the show went on, the stage lit up in many colours, and frankly it was haze to me since I was just so happy listening to him sing some of my favourite songs. And quite suddenly, the concert was sorta over, where he went back waiting for the obligatory screams for encore which he did, this time dressed in the grey t-shirt. That was when he sang his perennial concert favourite, Tsuioku no Ame no Naka where he will throw cups filled with sweets and jump a few times. He looked tired, he didn't jump very high, even his throws were lacklustre, he looked exhausted although one comic moment happened as he attempted to throw to the backstage audiences but he failed to even reach the first row and shocked, he threw again, and failed and finally succeeding feebly on 3rd try. He must have been very very exhausted. And he introduced the bang members, they all left but not before another comic moment where Masha was gesturing to his watch, as if to say one of the band member was taking too long to say goodbye, wasting time. And then it was just Masha on the stage, with a guitar, he spoke some more and finally said "Milk Tea". I was shocked. I thought after being heckled to sing Milk Tea in Osaka, he would have banned this song but sang he did. It is to me one of the most romantic song ever written, and I loved it and for a moment, the total silence of the crowd in the stadium, with Masha's guitar and his voice clear and strong filled the stadium, it felt like he was singing to me. And he finished, spoke some more, said his thanks and finally he walked down the middle of stage to the floors below and lights on, 2 big screens showing his written message to his fans and I knew it was really over. And I left but I knew I will be coming back on Sunday. 

 7th August 2011

(L) At the start (R) At the end

I left my hotel, this time at Plaza Sunroute Shinjuku heading towards Shinjuku station approximately 1 hour before the show started, which was 5pm and I was greeted by a rainstorm. It was even heavier then on the 3rd, whilst I succinctly remembered on the 4th when my taxi passed through Yoyogi, the sun was shining. It would seem everytime my turn, it rained. And the rain was so heavy, half my jeans was soaked by the time I reached Shinjuku station. Once I reached Harajuku station, it was so packed, I couldn't breath. People were politely pushing, which is a norm in Japan, nothing chaotic but I felt I was pushed along, and I walked very slowly towards the stadium. I reached it half an hour before the show starts, saw the staff now again in office attire except covered in clear rain coats and drenched in the rain (I sorta pitied them!), rushed to the toilets and was at my seat about 10 minutes before the show began. I could see the words Talking FM on the 2 screens and the stadium was filled with Masha's voice. The stadium at that moment was not yet even 60% filled, and I wondered will the show be delayed to wait for the fans? Silly, because his concert is timed to the second. Anyway this time I was even further, in A Block, again the right side, 2nd floor but very first row, about 2 seats away from the aisle. So this time I had space to put my bag and an unobstructed view of the stage. And I do think A block's view was better than B block, because the T shaped stage is almost directly facing me. It may look far, but with my binoculars and with Masha standing at the edge of the stage, I could see even clearer. I was happy with my seat, having settled on my grudge that I can never be close enough to see his wrinkles or to catch the cup or those golden confetti. I have made my peace and my god, that seat was cold! It was so cold! But I was happy; no one to stand between me and Masha. I basically sat throughout the show again, and looked through the binoculars again. Basically the show on the 7th was the same as the 3rd with maybe a change of probably 2 songs to my memory. Everything else was the same, right down to the interaction between the drummer and the audience. You may think it all felt rehearsed, staged even, like an act which it is. He is after all an entertainer; everything has a script and this time I could see the teleprompter with the words whenever he was speaking but I really don't think he was looking at the teleprompter at all. I like this show much better. For one, Masha seemed so much more relaxed. He shaved, he didn't touch his hair as much (I believed a few micro inches must have been snipped off!), he was more flamboyant, he smiled much more, and the difference between this night and the night on the 3rd, he was a tease. He teased the audience; he gave shy smiles when his name was shouted, he actually interacted more with the audience, he shook his fake ass more, even during Gang he seemed to squeeze more, and this time I have unobstructed view and let's just say, kinda like the highlight of my day. He prowled the stage, but this time with energy, and at the end, he could even jumped a few times more and could throw the cups further away! He interacted more with my side, even aiming a gun high up to the last few rows of 2nd Floor probably F or E side and I just felt he seems more lighthearted. Whatever that bothered him on the 3rd, did not bother him on the 7th. I was told on the 3rd one male audience threw an uchiwa at him. Frankly I didn't see it. But on the 7th, the crowd were doing exactly what he told them to do, and this time when he jumped, I felt a thunder behind me and I realise the fans were all jumping along. This was a far more energetic crowd, as responsive as the one on the 3rd but somehow I felt Masha was very pleased with this crowd. You should see the way he teased them all, his every smile, every pretend glare, everything he did, the fans took them all in. When Akira-san was introducing his I suppose CD shyly, well, Masha did the talking, Masha pretended to throw the CD (or is it a book?) at the crowd and I really thought he did. Of course he didn't, he laughed, he fooled us. Quite a tease. And the fans reacted as they were supposed to; oohed and ahhed and played along. He was in total control of the crowd. He was in total control on the 3rd but on this night, he was in total control and he was enjoying it. It was quite a sight to see such interaction, as if he was interacting with each and everyone when of course I knew he couldn't possibly know us all personally. But it felt that way. I didn't notice this on the 3rd August show, but in this one, I noticed he would throw away the is it called guitar tabs (?) once he is done with that particular guitar segment for want of better word. He would throw them onto the floor, and he could whip another out from I don't know where and from my observation, he only threw the tab once into the crowd. One time whilst wiping his sweat with the Live Bang towel (black, same like mine I am pleased to note), he would without much care throw it to the back without a glance at that direction, but I think he knew his staff, dutifully squatting nearby and who was busy clearing the area expertly catching the towel without even a glance at Masha's direction, like he knew when and what to expect although it was a spontaneous action on the part of Masha. I felt at that moment it is not easy working for him; you must be alert, what to expect, when to expect and act on that expectation. As far as I know, his staff were all efficient and tried very much to stay in the background. This was even more evident during Tsuioku no Ame no Naka where I didn't even notice when they had laid down the cups by the stage side but there they were. He may not always take the cups from the 2 crouching assistant but there they were, holding at least 6 paper cups in each hand, waiting for him to take from them. The backup singers were energetic, especially the lady with the super short mini skirt and curly hair whilst the rest of his band members were energetic and wooed the crowd although I notice the 2 guitarists whose name I can't remember, especially the silver haired one were often stationary on their spot, where I wished they moved more since they're part of the band. Even if the songs were the same, the words, etc were the same, the atmosphere was different. Still as great but something to behold. At the end, as the band were leaving, he teased us all again, miming with his hands as if there wasn't time and he pretended to leave when the fans shouted noooooo and he returned, laughing happily. His last song was a song I never liked; in fact I hated it, Koibito but admittedly he rarely sing this live and he sang it so well, I am beginning to feel a bit of affection for this song, much like how I felt for Hatsukoi. My favourite moment was one of my most favourite song, Koufukuron. Somehow when the music began for this song, the feeling was so lighthearted, the atmosphere was suddenly playful, everything seemed like sunshine and rainbow. And then it was really finally over. I walked out, walked towards Harajuku station with the rain still pouring gently and I turned to have one last look at Yoyogi, knowing Masha was in it, probably having his tired legs massaged but I couldn't see Yoyogi anymore. I felt a certain pang of loss. At that moment I made another promise to myself; wherever his future shows may be, for the next tour or daikanshasai, I will be back, and hopefully better seats. And this time I am not scared of Shinjuku station anymore. I know my way around. I know he has a few more shows but my affair with Masha is over, for now. It will be renewed, no doubt and when it does, I know it will be a night to remember.

I had this conversation with my sister when I returned to the hotel and she was perplexed when I said Masha had no guest singers, probably just 2 jacket changes, he was on stage for 3 hours and 15 minutes save for perhaps 5 minutes of disappearance due to encores and he never had a break in between. She was surprised, just him, entire time, no rest?And  my answer was a simple yes and she did asked what about special effects? I answered the stage had multi coloured bulbs, some spurting fires but that was about it. His guitar was his special effect, his charisma and his singing ability was his special tools. In Masha's concert, you get Masha and no one else. He doesn't need guests and we don't want guests. She did asked, what about dancers? There were dancers in Daikanshasai 2010 and from all reports, they weren't a success and I can understand why. We were all there for him, dancers in his concert is like cheerleaders in a football/soccer game; redundant. I think I have basically summed up what to expect in a Fukuyama Masaharu concert; Fukuyama Masaharu. And there's not better deal than that, don't you think?

If you're thinking of attending his future concerts, take my advice; always buy for 2 days' worth of tickets, 3 days if you can afford it but it will be overkill, one day near him and the next day at the back, to just soak up the atmosphere from every angle, bring your binoculars, bring water, bring towel, do not feel bad if you do not follow the moves, after all variety is the spice of life (as I did felt for a moment with everyone moving in unison it felt mechanical) and I know you will have a great time. I have a friend asking me a sincere question; were the female fans there for his looks or for his music? It was a simple answer for someone who was there; looks can only get you so far, to sustain his sort of popularity takes a certain amount of talent. I have no doubt we are all attracted to his looks, even the illusion he may end up becoming our very own prince charming but the reality is, what kept us going is his talent. You may dismiss him based on looks and such, but this man is not only blessed with good looks, he can strum a guitar and sing live, not credibly, but beyond that. He sounds even better live and to me, that is what his fans look forward to in his concerts. To let loose and have a great time. From my observation, the fans were looking dreamy, inhaling and exhaling excitedly but not when he was talking where they can have a good look at him. It was when he finished a favourite song of theirs, or after an energetic guitar moment. Looks is of course the cherry on the top but the cherry can't be firmly in place without everything else at the bottom. And that is Masha; a musician who happens to be an ikemen. Never had I once heard the fans screamed Kakkoiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. None. I feel like all my energy, attention, affection and money spent on this trip and on this man is validated by the 2 shows I have seen. I am in no position to comment on others, but for me, Masha is worth all that. If you ever have that opportunity to see him live, and if you can afford it, go for it. And I feel he won't retire any time soon; you can see he loves performing very much. So start saving up, and one day, hopefully I will meet you at the concert hall and we can both gush about Masha. But please do forgive me if you think I am beyond that gushing age; Masha just makes all ladies like teenage girls all over again and he is to me my fountain of youth. Seeing so many older women, even obachans, even some men, I have no doubt he is their fountain of youth too. For the younger ones, I am sure he is their inspiration. It is a positive effect and anything positive is good influence. Frankly I am just happy I made the exhausting trip because in the end it was rewarding. I realised my dream and now I want more. And I hope, if you have never been to his concert, you too one day will make that "pilgrimage".

And if you're wondering how he looks like in person, the closest I can find is the following;


And I recorded some of the atmosphere at Yoyogi on 7th August 2011 at the beginning and at the end.

Before the concert began ...

After the concert ... 
 Thank you for reading.


vspirit said...

Thanks for writing all that up! Here~ have a cola =)

Reading your account, you strike me as an incredible practical and observant person. If it were me, I'd still be asking around for the number of the bus that hit me and my review would probably be a single liner reflecting that question.

Thanks again. It's a bit different from the concert reviews I come across most of the time but it's every bit as great and fun to read.

...would you like a slice of lemon with your cola?

vspirit said...

...sorry. i mean incredibly*. incredibly practical and observant person. xD

Funn Lim said...

Thanks Vspirit!! There is only one reason why I was so observant; I was too far away. If I was close enough to catch those golden confetti and paper cups and see his zipper, believe me, my recap is "got the golden confetti"! Since I wasn't close enough and I basically can be considered as having the full view seat which in concert term means bad seat (but really not that bad), what more can a girl do that just look... through binoculars... how he wiped his sweat, etc. Mundane but oh so exciting!! In retrospect like I said, if I were very close, he would probably notice why everybody stands whilst I alone sit. He may just go "GET OUTTA MY CONCERTO!!!"

Yes please, a slice of lemon is cooling!!

By the way thanks for that Fighting Pose translation and that Keshou. Now I can't stop listening to that song! Please, if have time, please do more of his untranslated songs! Please!!

Von said...

LoL. The famous "here's your money back! now git'out!" line, huh?

Here's your lemon~~ {@

You're welcome. You enjoying the song now is the whole reason behind why I did it in the first place. Will do!

TP said...

Big applause for your recount of the events. Thanks.

Funn Lim said...

Thanks TP! I realised I jumped a few sentences ahhhh never mind! It just shows what a blur! And the setlist is missing. Blogger, I HATE YOU!!

Anthippi Fiamou said...

Very vivid description, very encouraging words at the end.
Why should I hide it?
I am GREEN with ENVY!!!
I want some too!!!

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