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Drum Be-9Sunday dawned far too early, as I was up at 5:30 to make sure I made the 7:21 Sakura shinkansen to Kumamoto. I had considered taking slow trains, but the idea of feeling poorly and being stuck on trains for 6 hours didn’t appeal at all. Shinkansen it was, which was only 38 minutes and so worth every yen. Once in Kumamoto station, headed straight for the Family Mart outside the shinkansen gates, so I could pay for the MUCC v. Granrodeo tickets my friend Mew had been lucky enough to get for Nancy and I (yay! Will only have to wait one month before seeing the guys again after the end of the tour!) I’m used to 7-11, so the nice manager had to show me how to use the FamiMa machine to print receipts before I could pay. Whoops.

That settled, wandered outside to find the tram that would take me to the station closest to the Drum Be-9. It had been a good 13 years since I’d been on a tram/streetcar. They’re not the most comfortable of things. But it was cheap and the fastest way there. Hopped off and followed the trusty little map from the Drum site. The live house is about 3 blocks off a main street, down a tiny little street that is just barely wide enough to accommodate a car, let alone a car and a line of Rodeo Boys and Girls. I was maybe 23rd in line (this being about 8:45 or so) and we were pressed up against the buildings on the left hand side of the street. Much to the dismay of the inhabitants/proprietors. I was standing right by a couple of pots of aloe plants and I was sorely tempted to pilfer a tiny bit to soothe my sunburn, but refrained.

A little after 9, Drum Be-9 staff came out and herded us down the street, just past the club Magical Rodeo Tourand into a tiny little alley beside the club, where they had us form a line 2 wide. Took advantage of the cheap lockers to shove most of my stuff in the locker (figuring at 100 yen, I could go in and out several times with no trouble) and sat down to mostly doze. At least I tried, because right around that time, the GR team showed up and started loading equipment into the club. Given how long it took them – 45 minutes to an hour – and knowing how stripped down the equipment was for such a small venue, I feel bad for the roadies at the Zepp or any place larger. Last item to get unpacked was the cowgirl marquee sign, out front, which eventually they set up and plugged in using an extension cord.

The sun mercifully stayed behind clouds for the most part, so I wasn’t a total mess by time they got us up and moving and ready to buy stuff. Line opened probably 20 minutes early, and I had claimed my t-shirt and charm set by 11:50 – 10 minutes before the line should have opened. Went to shove the goods in the locker and grab a few things before seeking food. Mistakenly went down the line and had a disjointed conversation with a cute staffer about how no, I couldn’t exit that way and must fight my way back through the line. Which I did, and got a block away before I discovered I’d left my wallet in the locker. Argh. Went back fetched wallet, discovered that I’d used my last 100 yen coins in the goods line. Had to ask the girls in line near the lockers for help, which they were more than willing to do, thankfully. (I had plenty of change to exchange for a single 100 yen coin). That’s when I realized my voice was going – I sounded kinda like a chain smoking granny. Aie.

Since staff had told us in no uncertain terms we weren’t to linger, loiter or otherwise inconvenience the businesses around the club, I went back to the main street and found a shotengai (shopping street), which was fully of soccer fans. Polite soccer fans. I wandered, looking for something that seemed appetizing, and, I hate to say it, settled on KFC. Familiar comfort food for the win. Plus it was quiet and fairly empty for quite a while. After that, hung around outside and found free wifi for a while, then headed back towards the venue, stopping about a block away for a drink and a sitdown until around 2:30.

Which is when chaos began. For some reason, the club staff thought it would be a good idea to call for Fan Club A ticket holders and sections D and E (I was D) at the same time. Which meant that more than a few FCA folks ended up with us red-headed step children in the alley beside the club. It really wasn’t well handled, and they were super slow at getting us into the club, which means I baked a bit before finally getting inside about 20 minutes before show time. Annoyingly, the club a) took my drink away from me, which given I had no choice but to pay them 500 yen for another one anyway made little sense and b) they let people smoke in the tiny lobby, so I was coughing my way into the venue proper. Grrrr.

Unlike the Miyagi Rensa, the Drum Be-9 has a tiered  floor in the back. So every few feet is a step up. I ended up 3rd row back on a tier about 3/4s back. Apparently the perspective created from the stage made it look like there were multiple floors, because e-zuka commented on the third floor at one point, and Kiiyan was like “Uh. There is nothing but a first floor.” This tiering, plus the barriers, meant no mad surge to the front like at the Rensa. Probably a good thing. I probably could’ve worked my way much closer, but feeling as wrung out as I did, having room to breathe and a cool breeze at the back and, as it turns out, a bang up view of Kiiyan, was what I needed.

KumamonShow kicked off on an amazing note – finally got ケンゼンな本能, which I’d been waiting to hear as an opener the entire tour! Per usual, they went straight from that into シャニムニ and .アウトサイダー. Today, Kiiyan and e-zuka so dominated the first MC session that Takita got to say something only briefly before those two took right back over. And when Kiiyan turned to apologize, Takita mimed zipping his mouth shut. Heh, but oops. I don’t actually remember much of what they talked about, other than lots of “Kumamoto baby” and e-zuka introducing himself as the Granrodeo mascot, “ZUKAmon.” (And why not, he’s already been ZUKAchu! That’s Kumamon there on the left, the prefecture mascot. He’s very popular here in Fukuoka too.)

Next up, and out of place, Can Do! This gave me hope that Not For Sale would be the 2nd encore. Then decadence and SUGAR. A strong damn set, yes. And this time, for the Kumamoto-jo mascotMagical Rodeo interlude, the guys came out with Kumamon headbands on – these have not just bear ears, but a tiny Kumamon head on them. Too cute! And … then in .絶頂ポイズン, Kiiyan was just a tiny, tiny bit naughty and has forever linked not just the massive stone Kumamoto Castle, but also this unbelievably cute little castle mascot (see at the right) with his penis in my mind. Why, you ask? Because he changed the line “ファンタスティックな海綿体 / fantastikkuna kamentai” to “ファンタスティックな熊本城 / fantastikkuna Kumamoto-jo.”  Bad, bad Kiiyan! (But, oh the mental image!) Sorry, residents of Kumamoto! Blame the Child of Eros!

Solos went per usual, and when Kiiyan came back out for Go For It!, he had the little cone of streamers, which yes, he aimed from his crotch as at the Rensa … and then tossed the whole darn cone into the audience. Heh. Lots of prefecture calling this time, including Okinawa, which they almost forgot! And right after that, e-zuka said “igai” and Kiiyan changed it properly to “kaigai,” and without waiting, “drums c’mon!” It was me and one other person and damn if my voice didn’t break on “X.” Eeeeep. But yay, I wasn’t expecting them to call kaigai. Unless they remembered I’d said I’d be here. OR, now they’re getting used to at least 1 foreign fan at each show. Both, I hope! This didn’t leave much time for Val or Ero-sensei to call for groups, so we had Rodeo Boys (but not Girls), an aborted attempt at megane and maybe one or two others, including new fans, of which there were a lot.

ロンリーファイター came after Go For It! – yaaaaay! I was so hoping I’d hear this again on this tour. And this time, Kiiyan again changed the lyrics, cutely making “Wow, ランチタイム / wow あの娘発見” to “wow グランロデオのライブ / wow あの娘発見.” Silly boy! (I am guessing there were some particularly lovely Rodeo Girls down front from the way he and e-zuka were acting. Or he was just in one of those moods.). This was followed by 背徳の鼓動, which was gorgeous, as always. Gorgeous enough that when they sat down for the acoustic set, e-zuka went on about Kiiyan’s vocals, going so far as to, ah, imitate him. Kind of. Heh.

Now, during the acoustic set, e-zuka’s diva side came out. I didn’t catch, but apparently he was feeling cold on stage. First they brought him a vest, which he put on himself. But that wasn’t enough. So out came a stage hand with a long blue shirt that looks like the one Kiiyan wore for the Bakumatsu Rock event. (It may well BE the same shirt, e-zuka did reference it and Kiiyan together later) and tried to help e-zuka put it on. Hilarity ensued. Long story short, it took a good couple of minutes to actually get e-zuka out of the vest and into the shirt and back into … and then out of the vest. By the time the poor guy left the stage, Kiiyan was laughing so hard his face was beet red. And it turns out the guy is actually an orchestra conductor when he’s not with Granrodeo (they actually said a lot more about him, but that’s all I caught.)

And the set itself? 希望の彼方へ, which was as stunningly gorgeous as when all four of them did it last year for G8!

Next up, as usual, Dawn Gate “Unfinished.” By the end of this song, ZUKAmon was all warmed back up and made a big show of getting back OUT of the shirt and back into the vest. He accidentally dropped the shirt at one point (which was when he mentioned Kiiyan). All the while, everyone else is waiting. And I guess Takita got tired of waiting and … started doing sexy things with his towel. Mind you, at this point, Takita was wearing only a vest and tie on top. The audience was laughing pretty hard, and e-zuka would look over at Takita, get distracted from changing … Takita would stop. Repeat. I missed Takita’s big finish, alas, but after e-zuka handed off the shirt, the stage crew decided to have some fun and focused all the spotlights on Ero-sensei, so Val, Kiiyan and e-zuka were in the dark. And Kiiyan and e-zuka started making like two Rodeo Girls excitedly discussing that ikemen band member over there … Kiiyan was falsetto the whole time. Needless to say, we all cracked up more.

The following set had ROSE HIP-BULLET, .愛のWarrior, tRANCE (YAY!) and modern strange cowboy. And somewhere in there … I think it was here, Takita launched into some strange story that started with getting pictures of Kiiyan in the toilet … and ended with running into foreigners in a bar. And oh how I wish I knew what came in between. And … then we got treated to e-zuka in an onee-san voice, ranting at length about something. (I’m surprised my sides didn’t hurt from laughing so much.)  Poor Kiiyan, the look on his face was a lot like “look at what I have to put up with!” He did get them back on track though for変幻自在のマジカルスター, which he again sang part of falsetto.

First encore! 未完成のGUILTY was up first – hadn’t heard this one in quite a while either. Then all the announcements followed by what I can only describe as a few minutes of vocal perfection. Kiiyan’s always done a pretty good job on delight song live. But now that he’s quit smoking? O.M.G. It was beyond amazing. Another one of those moments where I could barely sing along for grinning so widely, and my heart physically ached with the beauty of those soaring high notes. I may never know what prompted him to quit smoking, but I’m so, so glad he did.

And last, but hardly least, Not for Sale! Love, love, love this song live. One of my absolute favourites and I don’t get to hear it enough. After, Kiiyan and e-zuka threw everything but the kitchen sink into the audience – indeed, Kiiyan earlier baptized everyone in the front, which he hasn’t done in a while. (I did note that the day before, e-zuka carefully handed out bottles of water … unlike Kiiyan, who still chucked them into the audience willy nilly. Kiiyan also gave Fukuoka fans a fair amount of his sweat, as he rubbed everything he tossed over hair, under his arms, etc. Pfffffft.) They really seemed to be playing up to the front row (hence my feeling there were some seriously sexy nee-chans there).

Fantastic show despite me feeling like crap. I can only wonder how much more amazing this weekend’s shows would have been for me had I been 100%….

Escaped quickly and managed to catch an early train home and have been laying low all week since Saturday I’m off to Osaka to do it again. Though no lining up this time, since I won’t get to the Zepp until almost 2:30. Hopefully a friend who will be there super early will be able to get the charm set for me. Can’t believe there’s only a few shows left … my body might disagree, but I love this running off to the Rodeo every weekend~