“A Valentine’s Day to Remember”
- Event: GACKT 20th ANNIVERSARY LIVE TOUR 2020 KHAOS
- Date: Friday February 14th, 2020
- Location: Tokyo International Forum (Hall A), Tokyo
Intro: Koi no Friday
Valentine’s day on a Friday, how very fitting for a man with a song called ‘Love’s Friday’. An 80%-20% ratio of girls to boys filled the Tokyo International Forum Hall A well before the doors even opened at 6 pm. Special decorations and cardboard cut-outs decked the inside of the hall and there was a constant line in front of the merchandise tables. The more regular items included a couple of tour shirts, a towel, posters, head accessories, and special Velcro decorations to adorn the KHAOS hat. These decorations (aside from the date and concert venue) could only be obtained from a gacha so eager attendees found themselves back in line several times hoping to get the item(s) of their choice. Due to the huge number of passionate fans, it was important to arrive early to make sure certain goods wouldn’t be sold out before one’s chance to buy them, like the small sizes of both tour shirts before even 4 pm.
The cold day forced most people to stay inside while others ventured out for quick snacks while waiting the hours before the concert. For fan club members, special cardboard cut-outs of GACKT’s various appearances provided a fun photo op that consistently had a long line. Diamond and Platinum ticket holders queued up first for their photo with GACKT himself and to grab their seats closer to the stage. Once everyone else was allowed in, staff handed out free light sticks for attendees to use both to set the mood and to act as drumsticks for the applicable songs. People quickly found their seats and turned their eyes to the screen onstage filled with anticipation.
Performance: 20 Years of Good and Bad Times
The concert opened in a surprising way with footage of several catastrophic events that had happened all over the world with images of GACKT fading in and out. As the movie ended, the full stage came into view with its massive prop wings and pillars and GACKT walked out to the center in a shiny black outfit giving him the look of something like a sorcerer or evil lord. He and his backup dancers all held their own light wands and the familiar drumbeat of WooHa Baby!! began to play. Starting with such an energetic, sexy song that has a lot of audience participation seemed like an odd choice having just ended such a somber video but attendees were quick to leap to action. The videogame-like screen for the song started to play and everyone followed along with the prompts to air-drum. The next song also utilized a similar format for a surprising combo of Graffiti and Jounetsu no Inazuma. Instead of a taiko drum game-like video, something like Just Dance allowed attendees to dance in unison even without previously being familiar with it.
A well-timed video started which allowed the audience to rest after their surprise energy expenditure. It was a Kamui Gakuen skit with of course GACKT as the president/Kaichou. He asked his members/students to design for him a concert outfit and those who did poorly would have to eat something horrible like a scorpion or cockroach. Even with such high stakes, Baru designed just goose-looking shorts and was first to be punished. The other members didn’t fare much better with mecha bikinis and other such nonsense and were forced to eat thing fried lizards and bugs. GACKT did end up with a cool new outfit though and as the video ended, he reappeared on stage in a trilby and white waistcoat similar to what he wore in his Ever music video.
Ever really got the crowd going again with many people singing along to the important message of never giving up. Another World was similarly fast-paced and hyped but with scenes from Moon Child playing in the background showing some of the character’s deaths, it seemed a bit disconnected. GACKT addressed the audience that even during painful times he would be there for them and sang Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume. After another brief video of Kamui Gakuen, it was time for the cats. Surprisingly, there was no U+K. Instead, He had his dancers in these giant cat mascot outfits dancing to Ghost, one of his more intense dance numbers.
Turning his attention back to the audience, GACKT told them how he hoped that if people felt like they couldn’t be themselves normally, they could find their voice here with him. He said he would sing until his voice fades away and then had everyone scream his name over and over. Next was Mirror and GACKT had the audience sing together a few lines. Before finishing, he rallied the audience again calling for first boys, then girls to scream. They would scream together until their voices died. Everyone screamed together so long that it was a shock when GACKT properly finished Mirror.
His half-naked, guitar-wielding-self collapsed on stage and all the members ran on to surround him. They helped towel him off and get a new shirt on while GACKT’s ragged breathing seemed to shake the hall. Even still, he stood again and demanded the audience scream with him. Tired themselves but moved to see GACKT fighting so hard, they obliged. For a long while, GACKT screamed with all his might and nearly fell over each time, the waiting arms of his staff ready to catch him should he fall. Everyone felt his determination and screamed their voices raw.
Finally content, GACKT spoke kindly to his fans, assuring them that even through the most painful and lonely times, he would be there. No matter what hardships come, GACKT wouldn’t give up and would keep on singing. “Even if it costs us our lives, let’s smile together.” More than just music, this was him sharing his way of life with everyone. GACKT thanked his fans profusely, again citing them as the reason for his ability to keep fighting. He yelled out that he loved everyone and they screamed back the same. As he made his way back to the center of the stage with fumbling steps, the curtains closed and the show was over.
Outro: Surprises of the Night
Sampling Smooth Criminal and adopting some Michael Jackson moves for his song Lu:na was quite a surprise but was well-received. It was easy to pick out Thriller moves which were a nice compliment to a song about dancing on corpses. It was good to see the edgy, dark GACKT make an appearance in such a new way.
Playing a few older but fun songs led him to a speech about how, while there were many great times, there were many sad things he overcame. These past 20 years were not easy for GACKT as he had lost several dear friends and mourned a hurting world. He told his fans how there were times his tears wouldn’t stop but he wasn’t able to take a break himself. It was because they kept cheering GACKT on that he was able to lift his head and continue and he thanked them profusely. In a shaking voice, he started Kimi Dake no Boku de Iru Kara which caused a lot of people to shed tears. Most of the concert had been so fun and uplifting but it was a good reminder that there are things that must be done even in painful moments.
Once the show was over, there was one more surprise for fans. Different locations and days had special themed gifts and as it was Valentine’s Day, what could be more appropriate than chocolate! On their way out, fans could pick up a small box of chocolate and cute GACKT sticker of him looking like a smug little cherub. You could truly feel the romance!
By interweaving sadness and laughter and fun and loss, GACKT gave his audience an experience similar to life. There will be times when something great will seemed tarnished by something sad and times when you feel that you can’t embrace the good things because of all the painful things in your way. Life must be taken as it comes. If you must cry, cry and move forward. Take the loss and look for the next opportunity to love. If you do, you can keep going even through those hard times, and GACKT will be with you.
Valentine’s Day ever!!