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Tickets
When Granrodeo staff announced the Fan Club Acoustic Special Program — ロクデナシ!プラグナシ! — I didn’t think we had a chance at getting tickets. But my friend applied for the two of us, and we ended up with first floor tickets to both shows! As an aside, the title is a horrible pun, which I can only blame on e-zuka. You can read the title as No rock! No plugs! But ロクデナシ can also mean “ne’er-do-well” or “bum.” Glorious dorks!

Saturday in Tokyo may have been cold and largely grey, but dry, but Sunday in Yokohama dawned … grey and wet and windy. And generally miserable. As the guys would comment during the first show, almost every Ro-gumi event has been plagued by serious rain. Only the new year’s show escaped. Guess we’re collectively a bunch of ame-otoko and onna! Thankfully they let us line up to pick up our wristbands inside the hall.

Wrist Bands

We got there right before 10, so had a little over an hour to wait. Managed to drop my letter to Kiiyan into his gift box right before heading up to get my pair of bands. My checker had some trouble finding my last name on my passport and finally asked me for help. And then she had trouble getting the afternoon band to stick, but these were just minor glitches and we were then free to drop some money on Lantis. Not much though, since all I was after was the new binder for the FC update booklets and the regular copy of The Other Self, so I could get the Making of DVD.

Evening Booklet FrontNo choice then but to go back out into the misery. We had originally planned to go enjoy a Sweets Viking (buffet) about 15 minutes away in honor of Murasakibara, but as we nearly lost our umbrellas just crossing the street, we decided to hide out at the Jonathan’s family restaurant only a block or so away. So glad we got there when we did, because some of the later arriving Rodeo Girls didn’t get seated until we were leaving around 1 p.m. Enjoyed a Hiroshima-style oyster lunch set (steamed w/butter and mirin, and fried, plus rice, soup and pickles), lots of tea (including Rose-Hip) and a Matcha Warabi Mochi Float. Yum! After, stopped at a drug store for a drink for my friend and a cheap pair of fuzzy socks for me, so I could take my drenched shoes off during the show and be comfortable.

Day Booklet Front

Headed back over to the hall, picked up our program guides (which came with a Y.W.F. bromide) and settled into our 14th row seats — pretty good view of the stage. Instead of 2 hours of the Ro-gumi theme song, like New Year’s, they were playing Robert Johnson blues songs, which I can only assume was Kiiyan’s doing. Definitely preferable. The first show started 15 minutes late, but ended on time … guess they build in a lot of time for chatting.

Booklet Back

Kanagawa Kemin Hall is normally used for classical performances, and so the stage had one of those heavy hanging curtains hiding the stage from the audience. When the lights went down, they starting circling spot lights on the curtain and playing a song I hope ends up somewhere — didn’t catch all the lyrics, but the very last line is “Everyone sing rodeo!” Heh. And then the curtain lifted and e-zuka, followed by Kiiyan, came out. E-zuka was in a full three-piece suit (and though he kept complaining how hot it was, he kept it all on until the very end), and Kiiyan had on awesome (as always!) shoes, sparkly black leggings, a white shirt with loosely done black tie and a black jacket that looked like it may have had autumn leaves (or orangish circles?) on it. They launched right into the first song without preamble.

Booklet Interior

ガッツに勝るドラッグはな — A straight up acoustic rendition of the Granrodeo theme song with Kiiyan and e-zuka. Kiiyan remembered the lyrics correctly this time, so was spared teasing from e-zuka (as happened at last year’s second Zepp Tokyo show).

Two of Us — Also a straightforward acoustic number. My first time hearing this sad, beautiful song live.

Ride on the Edge —  Kiiyan called Takita and Val to the stage. Kiiyan teased Takita about showing off his chest (a running theme that day!), and commented on how Val was entirely in black. Val had also cut his hair and was wearing it in a cute pony tail with tendrils around his face. Takita played his newly made acoustic bass while Val played a box, and had a cymbal and set of chimes to work with. Unlike G5, they don’t share the vocals — it’s all Kiiyan. (second show, afterward, Kiiyan commented on how people misheard the title as “Ride on the H,” which gave an entirely different feel to the song! He illustrated this with a hand gesture indicating a woman’s curves. If you don’t get it … remember that H is pronounced Ecchi, which is short-hand slang for hentai.)

ケンゼンな本能 — I had been hoping, nay, /praying/, for one of the harder songs like this one, CannonBall or Not for Sale to get an acoustic treatment, and really, this one in particular. And it did not disappoint! Kawakatsu Youichi, from the Neoroma house band Bloody Ruby (and as seen in the Sam’s Bar episode of Rodeo Club) opened the song with a haunting intro on the organ, and then e-zuka, Val and Takita joined in for a very bluesy, jazzy rendition. Kudos to Kiiyan for amazing vocals, because it had to be difficult to sing such a restrained, slow version. Very intriguing, excellent arrangement.

慟哭ノ雨 — Another slower, jazzy rendition, adding in a percussionist. A couple of songs later, Kiiyan pointed out that they used Sade’s “Smooth Operator” as the basis for the arrangement, and I could definitely hear that. Very unexpected and wonderful.

Crack Star Flash — This was one of the finest arrangements of the day, I think. In the second show, Kiiyan commented that they were going for a bossa nova flavour, and I say they nailed it, and how. I’ll never be able to hear the loud, rocking version of CSF the same way ever again. Phenomenal! If Val’s blog post was any hint, they recorded this version of the song on Tuesday. I hope it ends up on the FC site or on a single (or as an extra track).

modern strange cowboy — Another incredible arrangement that almost defies description. It was just Kiiyan, e-zuka and the percussionist and could maybe be best described as a battle/collaboration between the latter two, with Kiiyan’s vocals added in. His delivery of the main verses was rapid fire, but in the chorus … slowed down, more melodic than the original. This version is almost impossible for me to describe well; I can only really say that it blew me away.

Once&Forever — Though if I had any sanity left, this beautiful confection stole it, along with my heart. Kiiyan, a small string section (2 violins, 2 viola and cello) and very sparing use of e-zuka on acoustic guitar. The string intro nearly brought me to tears. And then when Kiiyan started singing … it’s a good thing I was sitting down, because my knees would have buckled. I think I listened to this the first time with my hand on my heart, as if it might truly fly free. The second time was just as rapt, though. I think I like the first set slightly better than the second because on the lines —

痛みだけを確かめるような
そんな弱さ 今越えてゆけ

— the little growl Kiiyan normally uses on the beginning itami surfaced and made such an incredible contrast to the soft, soulful vocals he’d been using. Again, I will never, ever be able to hear this song the same way ever again.

Infinite Love — Beautiful version, more dressed up than last summer’s acoustic live version, since everyone was on stage. I liked the night sky appearance of the stage background.

背徳の鼓動 — Gorgeous, and almost over-powering as always, though not all that different from the regular version. Again, a full stage of musicians.

Tears of Rose — At this point, everyone left the stage but the lead violinist and Kawakatsu, who proceeded to play a stunning rendition of e-zuka’s Tears of Rose (aka Rose-Hip Bullet w/out vocals) together.  You wouldn’t expect that a violin could replace a guitar, but … damn.

And then … after they left the stage, there was a commotion stage right in the audience, and we look over to see … Gyuuho! Yes, our favourite ushi-kigurumi-wearing, Jack Daniels-swilling Granrodeo cover band had come in and were making their way to the stage. We were giggling like mad, because, well, Ushi-zuka! Ushi-yama! And yes, they each had a bottle of Jack, and they each took a good swig. Ushi-zuka kept getting tangled up in the guitar cords, which seemed only appropriate. And when it came time for Ushi-yama to introduce him, he had his cow hood tipped back, exposing his true face as he tried to get his harmonica in place. Whoops! There were a few folks in the audience who had been to the Aozora (er, Kumozora) Live earlier this year, but most of us were new, and they were happy to get to play to a bigger crowd of fans.

Can Do — And they launched into a harmonica/guitar version of Can Do, which really rocked! Lots of audience participation. And lots of cute moments as Kiiyan, er Ushi-yama, fought his kigurumi to try and stand with one foot on a monitor, or give us sexy, hip-swaying cow dancing, and at the end, two tiny leaps (almost losing his balance on the second one both times!). As they left the stage, Ushi-zuka once again got on all fours and clomped off. Heh! Can’t say just how tickled I am that they trotted Gyuhou back out? As seriously as they take their music, I love that they have this dorky side that they share with us.

恋音 — Once again everyone was back on stage for this one. And on the chorus, where each kind of instrument is called out, Kiiyan used his thumbs to indicate each player(s). This was the first acoustic song I ever saw them do, back at G6, and it’s as beautiful now as it was then.

Afterwards, we headed up to the sixth floor, where we found a restaurant and proceeded to have tea and cake while it continued to be miserable outside. A number of Rodeo Boys and Girls joined us. We hung out until about an hour before the show and then headed down, got the program books (different  bromide this time) and settled in — this time almost dead center, 21st row, right at the front of the last section on the first floor.  Absolutely perfect view, particularly of Kiiyan, and a railing to lean on, which I did, with my chin on my hands.

FC BromideA few minutes before the show started, a woman and her friend came up to me out of the blue and started chatting at me. As is usual, I got my deer in headlights look and frantically looked at my friend, who was as confused as I was … Until I heard her say “kinou….” and it clicked! I had spent 4 hours in line behind her at Studio Spain! We grinned at one another and she shook my hand before taking off to her seat. An unusually friendly Rodeo Girl, and a nice gesture.

Set list was the same for both shows, but there was much more animated chatting. We got the “Ride on the H” comment above, e-zuka talking about going to see KISS (possibly just that week, since they’re in Tokyo) & Kiiyan saying how he thought Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley were cool, e-zuka talking about the speakers and sounding like a human doppler effect…. Kiiyan quipping about being the youngest person on stage during Once&Forever. And, silly ossan … e-zuka also teasing Takita about showing off his chest by telling us that if we bought 5 copies each of The Other Self we would get to touch Takita’s ni-dai and ni-ni-dai sakura-iro buttons. Pfffft!!!

This time around when Gyuhou went to drink from the Jack, one girl went KAMPAI! and a few guys in the back were going “drink, drink, drink!” Kiiyan so desperately wanted to dance, he was like a little boy on his stool, incapable of sitting still.

Kiiyan and e-zuka also got to talking about Twitter. Kiiyan seems to be completely gobsmacked at the number of followers he has, and how quickly that number grows. He asked how many of us in the audience follow him. A few of us raised our hands, but not as many as I would have thought. He then teased e-zuka about getting Twitter and regaling his 3000 followers with “today’s curry” and “tomorrow’s curry” and so on. Heh.

FC Bromide

And speaking of guys … the day show had been mostly Rodeo Girls, but the Rodeo Boys were out in force for the evening show, and a group of them had decided to dress to the nines in suits. There was one who had spiked his hair, and shaved the same bit on the side as Kiiyan and was there with a Rodeo Girl in a nice cocktail dress. And one who I first saw at the Zepp last year, who looks a little bit like Nakamura Yuuichi (the seiyuu), was decked out in a gorgeous dove-grey suit with a white shirt and dark grey cravat. Made me almost wish I’d stuck to my idea of wearing a dress (though not in that miserable weather!).

I commented to my friend at some point how odd it was to not see glowsticks … and then Ushi-yama urged us to get up and move during Can Do at the second show and out they came! Heh.

Both shows we gave them a standing ovation in thanks. Well-deserved!

Flowers

I’m sure there’s little things I’m forgetting, but all in all, two absolutely amazing shows and I am so, so grateful that a) Kiiyan and e-zuka adore their Ro-gumi and b) I could be there to share the experience with them and my fellow Ro-gumi members. Can’t wait for Saitama Super Arena now!

(Be sure to click on the images for full-size versions.)

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