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Japan So … Sendai day two. This is going to be ridiculously long, so I apologize in advance.

Originally I had planned on going to the Saturday show, spending the night and flying home Sunday morning, since early morning flights out of Sendai just aren’t early enough for me to make it to work on time. But I accidentally applied for the Sunday show, and didn’t realize until I was here in Japan, which led to a mad scramble to rearrange travel plans. What was to have been a simple fly in and fly out became fly in on one airline Sunday, take a late shinkansen to Tokyo and fly out from Haneda on another airline Monday morning. (Makes me tired just typing it, and I still haven’t quite recovered from being up two days straight. Check the map out for where Sendai is in relation to Fukuoka – follow the blue lines from left to right and back again). If the ticket had not been spectacular (#7 of 700), I would have just sold it. But no way was I letting that ticket go. And oh how glad I am I didn’t.

Anyhow, landed in Sendai a little late and caught the train into Sendai proper, so I could store my big bag in a locker by the shinkansen gates and then walk to the subway line for the very short ride to the station by the venue. The Rensa is a bit odd, being located on the 7th floor of a building. When I got there, I found the goods on floor 2, and, oddly, no line. And no day shirts or charms left. I’m guessing goods went on sale early, since I got there about half an hour after the official start time. Since I couldn’t get the day shirt (which turned out to be fine; I didn’t like the design as well as the Studio Coast one), I picked up the little pouch and the hair ties. Tried to get up to the 7th floor and couldn’t, so I went back to the 2nd and asked the nice staffer when and where to line up (disjointedly, but he got the idea).

Having established I was free until 3:30, sought out a restroom and a snack. Ended up having an iced honey tea latte and kabocha tart at Doutour. At 3:30 promptly, lined up at the front of that prized 001~ section. And then something magical happened … Rodeo Girls actually talked to me. This is a first, really. Seiyuu fans are generally fairly friendly and outgoing, but RG tend to be friendly … with their friends, and not so much anyone else. They’re very polite, and nice, but not generally outgoing towards RG they don’t know. Of course I suffered deer in headlight syndrome, but I gamely answered their questions about being a GR fan, what seiyuu I liked, if I was going to the Lantis Matsuri, etc., albeit in broken Japanese. The two main girls I talked to were from Iwate Prefecture and Tokyo and they were amazed I’d come in from Fukuoka. Even more amazed tMiyagi Rensao learn I’d been coming from the U.S. They wanted to know if I usually came alone and I told them that no, I had a friend in Saitama who usually goes with me, but that this show was impossible for her. (Though I dearly wish Nancy could’ve been with me for this show!).

Right before 4:00, the first 20 folks were marched inside and we lined up on either side of the elevators in reverse order, so that when we came out on the 7th floor, we’d be in the right order. All hail the orderliness of Japanese concert lines. No mad rush and losing your spot to someone with longer legs. More broken chatting with the girls at the front (there were only 2 guys in the first 10, and they seemed uninterested in talking, other than to gripe at the girls at one point about not lining up properly. Sheesh.). Turns out we were all nervous as heck. There were a lot of butterflies in stomachs over the realization we were about to be front row at a Granrodeo show. Inside, paid my drink fee, swapped the drink card for a bottle of water and ended up being 8th into the hall. Which got me nearly dead center. I was just slightly off to the left a bit and about 5 feet from the stage behind the first barrier (a horizontal bar running across the floor with one or two breaks in it – hung my bag one on end). The stage at Rensa is tiny. Well, the whole hall is tiny, as it only holds 700. But the stage is particularly so. Most of the decorations from the Studio Coast show were gone, including the giant cow skull and the lit up Granrodeo sign. Just no room for them. There really was just enough room for the guys and their equipment, and a tiny bit of space to move around in. So the only decoration was hung on the back wall – MAGICAL RODEO TOUR, in a font that looks suspiciously like PF Ringmaster.

Of course, the problem with establishing your territory less than two minutes after the door opens is that there’s another 58+ minutes to go before the show. Time passed, but slowly. Chatted sporadically with the RG next to me, who had an awesomely appropriate Snow White t-shirt on. And I earned the awe of the RG next to her, as she was a fairly new fan, compared to my nine years of fandom (albeit most of those years not as rabid as I should have been). The club filled up and the minutes ticked by. About a quarter to 5 came the sound check for e-zuka’s multitude of guitars and Takita’s 2 bass guitars (one of which is sexy as all get out – the six string bass). Out came Kiiyan’s white microphone stand, which I now know has an intricate GR design on the base. Knowing full well how hot it was shortly to be, I’d stripped down to a tank top and tucked my cardigan away in my bag. Also pulled most of my hair back, held by a cute Gina and Roger hair band.

Right onMiyagi Rensa time, lights went down, the intro music came on and there they were:  Kiiyan, e-zuka, Takita and Val. And I do mean RIGHT there. So FREAKIN’ CLOSE. Takita, Val and e-zuka went to their spots, while Kiiyan took his time to survey his domain … and then he spotted me. And just *stared*. It was as priceless as his double-take the first time we met, almost 6 years ago. And then from where he was near e-zuka, he leaned forward and slightly down and mouthed something – I’ll never know what – to me. Should’ve asked the RG next to me what it was, though lip reading from several feet away isn’t everyone’s strength, and she might not have noticed. For all I know, he was talking to himself, though it definitely seemed aimed at me.

They opened with 愛のWarrior this time, followed by シャニムニ again. At which point they stopped for introductions (which always amuses me, though there are new folks at every show, and they’re always amusing intros). They chatted a bit about Sendai, and then realized that somewhere off to my left there was some small commotion. Turns out someone had lost their cell phone. Whoops. They extended the chatting a bit more to give the girls time to find it. That took a little longer than anticipated, and led to Kiiyan, and then Kiiyan with Takita, jokingly coming up to the edge of the stage and looking down between the front row and the stage. And then what amounted to a “Come on, get it together” from Kiiyan. I’m not sure if the girls gave him a sign they found it, or if he got tired of waiting, but they then launched into No Place Like a Stage, which would’ve guaranteed the phone getting crushed if it weren’t rescued. I think it was during this break too that they realized there were some dads in the audience, chaperoning their daughters. The guys were really amused.

Next up were The Other self, オセロ and BRUSH the SCAR LEMON, the latter of which always makes me giddy with delight. It’s such an awesome live song. And it’s always accompanied by the sexiest of hip action from Kiiyan. He’s toned that down a bit over the years, but still…. And then everyone grabbed their dwarf hats (Kiiyan and e-zuka had to go off stage for theirs) and we chanted Magical Rodeo while they played some kind of word game using Sendai and Sendai-related things. I caught Aoba (a neighborhood in Sendai) and gyutan, which is apparently a beef specialty of the area. And then came Zetchou Poison, a song I’d love to hear every show too. And oh the hand gesture for “ファンタスティックな海綿体.” Oh indeed!

Next up were the solo instrumentals. Definitely got a raised brow from Ero-sensei when he was right in front of my section. Heh. And getting to see e-zuka tear into the guitar from there was something else. He’s simply amazing.

And then everyone was back for Go For It!. Had something happened I’ve never seen at one of the shows before … alluding to the cell phone incident from earlier, Kiiyan called out for people who own garakei (which he does – a white clamshell phone he clings to) or older style non-smartphone. He said the usual “drums come on!” and only one person responded … FROM THE STAGE. Kiiyan and e-zuka turned to stare at Takita, who looked really sheepish. Kiiyan chided him with what amounted to “Dude, this is for AUDIENCE partiicpation!” Heh. And at a later point, Ero-sensei was seeking to hear from girls who “wanted to eat some delicious….” at which point Kiiyan cut him off before he could say anything off colour … though I imagine he was going to say gyutan and this just made it worse. Heh.

Then when it was e-zuka’s second turn or so, I think. Kiiyan stopped him before he could suggest something and commented that they had a visitor from overseas. At which point the RG to my left started framing me with her hands, though all the guys knew exactly who he meant. Heh. I think I probably blushed, but waved enthusiastically. The guys decided that they would do “Japanese Fans” and “Foreign Fans” one right after the other. It tuned out there were two or three more foreigners in the back, so it wasn’t just me, which would’ve been super cool. Still pretty damn fun, though, to have everyone’s attention while I’m screaming IGPX with just a couple of other people. Kiiyan and e-zuka thanked us and Kiiyan said something about overseas and it being a dream of his to go there? To be famous there? Poor guy. Someone really needs to dope him up on Dramamine or something and throw him on a plane.

Up next were Darlin’ and ウソノイロ. And then came time for the acoustic set, which always means Kiiyan and e-zuka get talkative. Almost as soon as they’d sat down, I became the topic of conversation. Kiiyan is the one who mentioned me, but it was e-zuka who asked me where I was from. I told them, in Japanese, that I was an American, and a loud ripple of surprise went through the crowd. Soon as it quieted down, I continued to tell them that I was living in Fukuoka now, though. At which point the crowd was agog again that I’d come so far. Little did they know… e-zuka pointed out that I should go to the Fukuoka show. I gave him a thumbs up and told him I’d be going to Kumamoto too. He looked a little startled at that (why, I’m not sure, RG travel all over to see them; it’s not just me), but said “sankyuu.”

At which point I looked to my left and realized the nice videographer had been videotaping me the entire time. Ack.

The conversation then turned to a GR staffer by the name of John. Turns out he’s half American-half Japanese. I had wondered how they came to have a John on staff. And then they hit up one of the fathers in the crowd and asked him how old he was. 46 as it turns out, so in between e-zuka and I. Given their surprise at his age, I can safely bet they did not assume I was over 45.

And this time it was e-zuka’s time to flub the acoustic number, messing up the opening bars to Infinite Love. Whoops. Gorgeous rendition, as always, though. This song will always be special, as it’s the first GR song I ever heard.

In succession, and gone all to quickly, were DAWN GATE”Unfinished” (damn that bass intro is sexy as hell), ROSE HIP-BULLET, メズマライズ, Once&Forever, カナリヤ, modern strange cowboy and the last song of the regular set, 変幻自在のマジカルスター. When they came back for the encore, they did 甘い痛みは幻想の果てに and 恋音. Kiiyan spent most of Koi Oto standing on the little riser in front. And all I could really do was just stand there and gaze at him while singing it. Love this song so….

Second encore was, as the last two times, Can Do, after which it was time for the traditional group bow to the crowd and then start tossing things to people – guitar picks, wrist bands, towels. Kiiyan kicked his towel into the audience, per usual, and it landed off to my left somewhere. And then, when it was just e-zuka and Kiiyan, they turned to look for more things to toss. With no merchandise left, save what they were wearing, they turned to practical things. Kiiyan gestured with a bottle of water (unopened) to see if anyone wanted it. Of course they did and he lobbed it into the crowd just over and past my head. It proceeded to bounce off people’s hands, and then landed squarely on top of my head and bounced to the floor out of reach. Kiiyan looked abashed and sheepishly asked if I was okay — I assured him I was. e-zuka, meanwhile, had found the stash of cool washcloths meant for the guys and started tossing those. I somehow ended up with one. Heh. He then turned his pockets inside out looking for more things, but they were empty.

Then came the traditional e-zuka + Kiiyan hug, and while Kiiyan hung back afterward, e-zuka did a last swing across the stage to hi-five people, making a point to start far enough over to get me. And then … I turned towards Kiiyan, standing near the stage exit, and blew him a kiss. Which he promptly blew right back at me, eliciting an “Oooooh” from the folks who saw. I’ve gotten him to stick his tongue out at me before, but I wasn’t sure he’d blow the kiss back, so yeah, I was school girl giddy. Enough so that I managed to lose my tour towel (not the wash cloth) when I put my cardigan back on. Ooops.

You’d think with all the attention I got, that RG in general might be annoyed at me, but I got a lot of smiles, nods and even a thank you from one. And the two girls who’d been standing with me up front caught me outside the station to exchange politenesses. In fact, I got this all the way back in Tokyo too. Definite warm and fuzzy feeling.

Random bits:

I tried not to be stalkerish and just stare at Kiiyan, so I tried to take in everyone (like that was hard on the eyes). Surprisingly I had little reaction from Takita, who usually grins like a fool at Nancy and I. I even caught Val looking my way more than Takita. Maybe he prefers red heads? It was e-zuka I actually kept catching the eye of. He spent a lot of time, or so it certainly felt, showing off in my general direction. Which was appreciated, definitely. Did I mention that I was generally close enough to see the tendons in his arms working? Pretty sure I ended up grinning at him an awful lot.

And Kiiyan … sometimes I really just couldn’t help it and just stood there and drank the glorious, sexy, sweaty sight of him in, from the toes of his awesome shoes to the top of his head and especially that fake apple tattoo on his neck…. And yes, sometimes he caught me doing it (and vice versa, to be honest, though, as a good showman, he was giving the audience in general his all). I lost every staring contest with him, ducking my Line Gacktgaze away after a bit, though often with a grin. But ever so often, he’d catch me – and do something like the wee Gackt in this Line sticker (minus the wink and fang, but with sparkle intact). Or when he was on his knees singing darlin’ to the camera and held two fingers out to me during one line.

In general Kiiyan was a sexy, bouncy ball of energy. e-zuka said he was very “high tension,” and indeed he was. I swear he has springs for legs, with the vertical height he can get on jumps. And all that sassy hip motion (Brush the Scar Lemon, anyone?) and naughty gestures (fantastic kamentai, heh) and trailing hand…. He’s all sorts of sensory overload that close. But it’s all gooooood. Really good.

Somehow they got onto the topic of ice skating (not via Yuzuru Hanyuu, I don’t believe) and Kiiyan apparently related how when he’d first moved to Tokyo, he went ice skaing with the girl he was dating at the time, and … exhibited all the grace of a newborn fawn. And so hasn’t gone ice skating since. Heh.

At one point when Kiiyan came back on stage, probably for Go For It!, he had what looked like a large party hat, with a chain dangling from it. In true Child of Eros fashion, he, ah, well, held it in front of his crotch, pointy end out … then turned it around and pulled the chain. I’m assuming maybe streamers came out, but all I saw were some paper bits that floated down between us and the stage.

I liked watching Kiiyan and e-zuka play up to the camera. e-zuka proved Kiiyan’s not the only one who likes sticking his tongue out. And at one point when Kiiyan was up on the tiny platform at the front of the stage, he gestured e-zuka over, pointing down at his feet. e-zuka obliged and proceeded to put his head and one arm between Kiiyan’s legs, and the guitar and other arm outside, playing a little bit. He then extracted himself and went up to Takita and got down on the stage to do the same thing to him.

e-zuka made a point of making it possible for me to touch his guitar during Can Do, and to touch his hand after the encores. Very much appreciated!

At some point a traditional song came up, and e-zuka played a bit on the guitar. At which point the whole audience started singing. He rolled with it and played the song through, and Kiiyan added narration at certain points. It was very lovely to listen to.

Val has a small plaque with a cute yellow chick on it hanging from his drum kit. Kiiyan pointed out it looks like Piyo-chan. Val said it was from Rilakkuma, but couldn’t remember the name. Val also had to use oxygen at one point. Guess he was seriously overheating behind the drums. And Kiiyan and e-zuka let Val introduce Hengen Jizai.

Outfits – Kiiyan and e-zuka started in their black and white outfits again, Kiiyan shedding his jacket to reveal a t-shirt and vest after a song or two. Ero-sensei was in black leather pants and a white shirt mostly unbuttoned. He later changed to just a vest, not buttoned one bit (ni no ni dai botan…). Kiiyan went to loose black pants with orange splashes and a black t-shirt with a phoenix-looking design on it while e-zuka went to a blue shirt with black pants and vest. Kiiyan’s shoes were all awesome. Particularly liked the second set, which were black and red leopard print high top tennies.

Final thoughts….

My selfish, fervent wish for G10 is that the guys skip playing a monstrous dome where no one can see them, and they can’t see anyone, but that they do another live house tour, hitting more little places. Or more nights in each place. This show was magical in a way that even the Zepp shows aren’t (and they’re usually superb). This was like having Granrodeo play in your garage, but with a real sound system. So intimate, so in your face, so, so … perfect. Make it so, Lantis.

And I can never thank them enough for such an amazing night. Their shows are always the absolute best, but this one will always be special to me. I was so happy to be there, and they seemed so happy that *I* was there, it filled my heart to near bursting. Some day … some day I will have the ability to tell them how much their music means to me, and how it’s kept me going until I could finally be *here*.