One Love—Communication. Though Glay didn’t include “Global Communication” on the setlist, the message was still clear. One love of music, of this band, their message, their fans.
That’s what this night was about and I was beyond excited to be a part of it.
“It” being the last stop on Glay’s first ever formal tour on American soil. They played 3 shows:
2008.8.12 (Tue) The Fillmore (San Francisco)
2008.8.15 (Fri) House of Blues Sunset Strip (Los Angeles)
2008.8.16 (Sat) House of Blues Sunset Strip (Los Angeles)
Upon arrival, I was a bit surprised to see the mix of people already there. I shouldn’t have been considering Glay’s sound is so universal that they can easily command up to a 100,000-member audience in Japan, but I’m used to jrock audiences at past U.S. concerts consisting mainly of college-age or younger fans. Excitement was high across the board as fans—teenagers and adults of various ages and nationalities alike—met and chatted while waiting in line, walking around to get food, even standing in line for the bathrooms. Some were repeat offenders, showcasing their new concert tour shirts, having been to one of the previous shows either the night before or in San Francisco. Some had flown in from various parts of the country, some from even further than that. There were even a few loyal fans who had flown in from Japan for the chance to see the legendary group in a smaller, more intimate setting. Glay concerts in Japan are known to sell out within minutes. Even those who are lucky enough to get a ticket end up in an audience so huge, the stage views are miniscule.
Doors opened a little before 8:00PM for the Pass-the-Line line, a little incentive for those who purchase something from the gift shop or eat at the House of Blues. I took a spot behind the first row on the right side of the stage. Most of the younger fans had gathered on the left side so I felt relatively, safe especially when I saw that the majority of the fans behind me were adults, possible business men and women. I assumed they were there just to listen to their favorite band; that they wouldn’t scream and carry on and crush towards the stage when the band came out.
I was wrong.
The lights fell. The screams were deafening. I was crushed towards the front bar. And the concert began.
From the first notes of their opening song- the latest single, “Verb”—it was clear that this would be a rocking set. Teru (vocal), Hisashi (guitar), Jiro (bass), Takuro (guitar), and their support band charged onto the stage. They hung back a little, concentrating on the music but that distance dwindled to nonexistence by the end of the song. Following that with an old fan favorite, “Yuuwaku,” and everyone was on their feet. The crush in the pit turned uncomfortable as everyone jockeyed for position. Everyone pushed forward, screaming the lyrics and jumping to the beat. From there, they plowed straight through to “Glorious” which induced even more jumping and introduced synchronized hand movements—not uncommon for Glay fans at all but may have thrown off those who are unused to such gestures.
“Ikiteku Tsuyosa” was a fun sing-along for those who knew the words. And by the roar in the crowd, there were many. That segued into even more fun songs—the first being “Giant Strong Faust Super Star,” a nonsensical romp written by guitarist Hisashi, which came to be known as “the counting song” due to the hand gestures vocalist Teru led the crowd into doing. A chant and repeat session followed as Teru taught the crowd to sing the refrain to the next song, “Starless Night.” He seemed to have gotten completely comfortable on the stage at this point as he interacted with the crowd. For “American Innovation,” those who brought (tour) towels swung them in the air in a circular motion during the refrain. The feeling of being in the middle of that crowd was really something else. “Lock on You” ended the first half and the band took a bit of a breather before softening things up a bit.
Teru spoke a bit to introduce “Sorry Love,” asking the crowd quietly to “please listen” in lilting Japanese. It was lovely, sweetly performed. Following that was what could be argued as Glay’s signature ballad, “However.” It would be safe to say more than half of the audience was either crying or singing along, most were both. It seemed an emotional moment for those onstage as well as off as the band members took the time to look out into the audience.
They picked up the pace again afterwards, rocking and riling up the crowd through “Mermaid.” The fun continued through “Shutter Speeds no Thema” as Jiro stepped up to the mic to sing and each band member ran around the stage, some getting right up to the audience to egg them on. “Peak hateshinai Soul kagirinaku” kept the audience jumping and dancing until Teru slowed things down with a small speech about dreams to introduce “Beautiful Dreamer.”
The lights stayed dim after the band exited the stage. Shouts of “Encore!” erupted amidst screams. At one point, the faintest beginnings of another signature Glay ballad, “I’m In Love,” stirred in the crowd, only to be quickly stifled by another “Encore!” chant. A few minutes later, the band re-emerged. When the cheering abated, Teru asked the audience if they’d heard of Hokkaido, the band’s home prefecture. He then introduced the next song as their “country” song, in other words, their tribute to the place they all call home. As with “However,” this was an old fan favorite, made even more so by the meaning behind it. There were a few misty eyes but no one was allowed to dwell as they plowed on through “Kuchibiru” and “Kanojo no ‘Modern'” which again had the place rocking.
“Highcommunication” with its catchy vocals, para-para (hand gestures), and easy lyrics made a fitting end to the set. Fists flew in the air, arms crossed over each other as directed by none other than Teru as the audience joined their voices to his. All four members were perched at the front of the stage by this point and the energy flowing between them and the crowd was palpable. All too soon, they headed backstage again. Many thought this was the end and started filing out as well.
The band had one more surprise under their collective sleeves though- they came back out and erupted into “Acid Head” for one final hurrah. Fists cut through the air. The crowd resumed churning. Everyone onstage and off gave it their all.
For some of us, it was a bittersweet moment as we realized this was it—the night was coming to an end. But Teru, Takuro, Hisashi, Jiro, and the rest of their band did everything they could in that last song to make sure our last memory would not be a sad one. They did their best to make us forget, to make us jump and cheer and scream, and leave us filled with nothing but energy and love from the band that we cared so much for. Teru promised before he left the stage that they would be back. We’re holding him to that. And I’ll definitely be there the next time these boys from Hokkaido make their way back in town.
SETLIST (from Glay’s Official Myspace):
5.GIANT STRONG FAUST SUPER STAR
8.Lock on you
13.SHUTTER SPEEDS NO THEMA
14.PEAK HATESHI NAKU SOUL KAGIRI NAKU
3.KANOJO NO “Modern…”
Written by Joy R.