Nagoya charm

So, third date for me on the Magical Rodeo Tour, Nagoya! This show was to be particularly special for me, because I’d finally get to meet long time Tumblr friends Jenny and Rhiannon, who are on vacation here for a few weeks, and both of whom are huge GR fans. I had managed to snag them FC tickets in the second lottery and was excited not just to meet them, but also for them getting to see Granrodeo for the first time. Plus, a few days before the show, another friend contacted me and said her friend Carol would be coming to the show and that we should meet up. Bonus! In fact, Carol was dedicated enough to extend her trip to Japan and pay more to fly home from Nagoya, just to finally get to see GR — dedication!

Flew out of Fukuoka a little late, and so missed the train I’d wanted to catch. Paid for first class so I could take the next express in and was on my way a little after 11:00. Thankfully it wasn’t raining when I got into Nagoya proper, so it wasn’t a difficult walk down to the Zepp – just too many people! (Fukuoka has spoiled me). Found the long line food goods easily enough, and without too much trouble found Jenny and Rhi. And promptly handed over the precious little packet of tickets – 2 to this show, 2 to a later Diaura show in Kyoto.

That was a little after noon. Goods were due to go on sale at 2:00. When I joined them, the line was somewhat disjointed, so no one even noticed or cared that I slipped in. But less than 10 minutes later, nice Zepp staff came around and herded us into a line of three across. The line, unfortunately, ran along the train lines, and under them. Every few seconds, our conversation would get interrupted by very noisy trains … and even when we moved under the tracks and closer to the Zepp, we traded train noise for construction. I’m amazed we didn’t all have raging headaches by the time we got out of line.

At one point while we were waiting, still alongside the tracks, a white van turned towards the Zepp, and the girls in front of us, all closer to the cross street, squealed like mad:  Kiiyan had arrived at the venue. Heh. Sales started early, as they often do, and this time the line moved at a fairly steady clip. Somewhere around 2:20, I heard my name – Carol had found us! She’d gotten in line at 9:00, so got through pretty quickly (and she got to see e-zuka arrive). She kept us company until we were ushered into the actual goods stall, where I picked up the day shirt (L hadn’t sold out, ha!) and the day charm set (the cutest little Roger dwarf) and helped Jenny and Rhi with their purchases (thank you both for the new towel! I didn’t lose it, even in the mad rush to touch e-zuka at the end of the show!). At that point, we took advantage of the lockers outside the Zepp and shoved stuff into two of them and headed back towards the station for sustenance.

We managed to get rather lost in the Meitetsu department store (we were in the front building, needed to be in the back building), but eventually made it to the 9th floor and food. And thank you, Carol,  for being willing to eat at Misokatsu Yabaton for a second day. It hit the spot! After eating, a quick stop so folks could change into their GR shirts and back to the Zepp for lining up. Which turned out to be confusing for everyone (usually the lines are better managed, but apparently the 1000+ line was across the street! I am glad nice staff helped Jenny and Rhi get to their spot). It took me a little while to figure out where to stand, since normally folks just mill around in the general area of their ticket number and move to the front when their block is called. But for some reason, we were actually being orderly. So I eventually found the person with the ticket 1 ahead of mine and hopped in line next to her.

And again, small miracle of miracles, she decided to talk to me after checking out my number. As soon as I told her I was from Fukuoka, the proverbial light bulb went off over her head and she started excitedly talking about the Sendai show and how surprised she was from her spot in the crowd to hear Kiiyan talking about a foreigner, and one who’d come all the way from Fukuoka. I was dying of embarrassment, but also happy that she seemed so excited about it. I think she was at the Sapporo show (she talked about flying 1st class up there), but we both agreed Hakodate was an impossibility unless one had the next day off work. She asked if I was alone, and I explained about my friends being much further back in the line, to which she commiserated. I also talked to her about coming over for FujiQ and other shows and how Fukuoka might not be close, but it wasn’t anywhere near as far as America. Heh. She will be at the Fukuoka show, but not the Kumamoto one. Wonder if I will see her again (her glasses are very distinctive, so I might actually recognize her).

Once again into the hall super early (by 5:10, probably). Staked out a spot on the far right near the end of the stage on e-zuka’s side. A very tall Rodeo Girl let me in front of her so she could be with her friends (who all somehow ended up in front of me during the show somehow), so I was third row or so by the time the lights went down … but probably 4th by time the surge ended. I worried for the first two songs (慟哭ノ雨 and シャニムニ) that I might not last squished up there, but then, oddly enough, there was space behind me and I could breathe and get fresh air and so I stuck around there for the whole show.

There were periods where I couldn’t see anyone on stage, but then suddenly e-zuka would be so, so close. Or Kiiyan…. ♥ And very rarely, Takita. I have no idea if they could see me down there in the crowd, but such lovely views I had, oh yes. At one point, e-zuka was making kissy faces while playing, which was just too funny to watch. The set list was very similar to Studio Coast, but this time they swapped in ブランニューDAY and 背徳の鼓動 (which was GORGEOUS). And no mess-ups on なんとなく消したストーリー this time, which means it was just simply beautiful.

And omg how chatty they were that night! In fact, they themselves mentioned how chatty they’d been the whole tour. Not that any of us mind…. The first MC session had them talking about quitting smoking. Apparently a lot of folks hadn’t realized e-zuka had quit too. So glad to hear everyone being so supportive of them. And during the acoustic set, we got to hear of Kiiyan’s bathroom adventures (mostly the one with the strong, ah, rear wash), complete with sound effects and hand gestures. They talked about the regional songs they’d been singing in Sendai and Hokkaido, and found something to play for Aichi (they seemed at a loss for Kyushu, so I’m curious if they will find anything before this weekend. At another point, we got to hear of e-zuka’s misadventures with a shower in Sendai. And I have no clue what e-zuka said as they sat down for the acoustic set, but he cracked Kiiyan up completely. Lots of that lovely, lovely laugh of his.

No kaigai call out during Go for It!, just Aichi igai (outside Aichi). Was very amused to notice that the folks from outside Aichi outnumbered the folks actually from Aichi. Was glad they remembered the first timers. It was a very tame Go for It!, though, Rodeo Boys, Rodeo Girls, 1st floor, 2nd floor… No panty colours, bikinis or the like.

At one point either near the end of the main set or during the first encore, I looked to my right and saw a GR staffer I hadn’t noticed before. And oh, I *would* have noticed. He was smokin’ hot. Tall, lean, long wavy hair to his shoulders and a pencil thin moustache. In retrospect, he looks a lot like I would expect one of Kiiyan’s younger brothers to look, but I’m assuming he’s just a staffer. I admit it, I stared, getting a good, long look in. He caught me looking, lifted one corner of his mouth in a return smile, and I went back to enjoying the show. Heh. He disappeared for a while, but came back at a later point. He was gone by time the customary hand touch part of the after-encore, though.

And that hand touch. It makes me sad that Kiiyan never, ever goes beyond either end of the stage, or rather, I am exceedingly jealous of the folks in the front row who get to touch his hands (I should be content with having held his hand once – or rather, he held mine – but I am greedy. We’ve already established this.). Sure enough, he didn’t this time either. He hopped down to the floor right in front of my spot … but of course I was several rows back at that point, and too short to reach. But e-zuka … he generally tries to get to the people on the side, and this show was no exception. He hopped down and made a beeline around the end of the first barrier to the folks by the door, and then down the row to me. Now mind you, between him and all of us girls was just a flimsy metal gate-like thing. We, ah, kinda nearly toppled it to get to him, which elicited a “whoa” of surprise from him. Not sure he actually caught sight of me while slapping my hand because of that. But at least we didn’t knock him or the barrier over, which would have been bad!

So I was a happy fangirl again as I left the Zepp. I knew the shows after Sendai wouldn’t be as magical at a personal level as that one, but every show of theirs is unique and magical in its own way. Kiiyan’s voice was superb this evening. He made those pesky high notes on Can Do that he often … can’t do … sound effortless. And his final jump from the drum kit … he teased again and again, acting as if it just wasnt quite right for him to jump, and only on the 3rd or 4th drum riff did he finally give us his leap. Exceedingly cute!

Grabbed a beer on my way out and met up with the girls at the lockers. We got our stuff all sorted out and headed back towards the station. We said goodbye to Carol at her subway station and we continued through the main station to our hotel (bless you, Toyoko Inn, for being so convenient). Got us all checked in, and we agreed to meet in like 40 minutes to go fetch food. I kinda forgot to warn them about how to turn the lights on in the room (you have to insert your key into a slot) though. Oops.

Sent some hurried tweets and Line messages, including thanking Kiiyan for making their first GR show amazing (as if it would’ve been anything else), showered and made it back downstairs shortly after 10:30. We headed to the Mini Stop across the street and loaded up on tea and junk food. And a sugar and salt feast was had in the lobby of the hotel while we talked about the show, jrock and more. None of us can understand why Granrodeo aren’t bigger than they are. Kiiyan is a top notch lyricist and singer. e-zuka is an amazing guitarist, writer and arranger. Their live shows are the best I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to quite a few shows). Their music is easily accessible but not simplistic, easy to find, and never boring – they’re always trying new things. There are far less talented bands out there that are bigger, so it boggles us. Admittedly, I’m torn. I would love to see them get worldwide recognition for how amazing they are … but I still want the live house shows and the intimacy they bring. I would never want to see them play a space like Ajinomoto stadium, because it would be so impersonal, no matter how larger than life their personalities are on stage.

Flew home Sunday afternoon, ate lunch and promptly passed out. I feel about as beat up as I did after the Sendai show. Need to get rested for this weekend – Fukuoka on Saturday, Kumamoto on Sunday.  And hopefully getting and paying for MUCC v. Granrodeo and SuzuKen tickets somewhere in that mix….