jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
[personal profile] jona
Disclaimer: Personal con report, things get blurry, and I don't claim to be a disinterested reporter, so you'll get my personal impressions mixed in with the descriptions. I still can't read Jin's mind. (DAMN!)

Administrative note: I don't live in Japan, though I am currently on an extended stay there, and Jin helpfully planned his tour so that I will get to go to a number of concerts. If you'll see future reports from me, I feel the need to put the crazy into perspective and point out that I did not take months off work for Jin, much as I like the guy. I don't know if you needed this disclaimer, but I, um, wanted to put it out there...

 photo Jin01.png



The Last Swindler

We were already in transit when Jin's FC sent out information that two additional additional concerts have been added to the tour. Previous info had made it seem like 11 September in Tokyo would be the last; now the last concert will be on 25 September (I won't be here anymore) in Shibuya. I suspect this pissed quite a few people off who had already bought expensive resale tickets for the 11 September one, or who had traded a precious Saitama ticket for the 'last concert', and Jin was getting called オーラス詐欺 ('swindler about the last one') on Twitter, especially after it got out that the dates for the additional additional concerts were already printed on the t-shirts. I wasn't too bothered for myself -- I really, honestly cannot complain about the amount of Jin I will be getting this summer and how lucky I was with timing; it would just be impolite -- but Jin the Meistertroll amused me quite a bit.


Goods

We got to Wakoshi early and went to buy goods. I wasn't really worried about anything selling out, because in the previous tour nothing but the iPhone 5 case had sold out, and I didn't care about that. Now when it was announced that Jin was doing venue-specific charms (keychains, basically) we decided to 'play it safe' and go earlier than planned, and it turned out that was a good decision, because by 3:30, the charms for Saitama con had sold out. (I admit I am like, Jin, I love that you have business sense and I'm happy to help put your kid through school but OMG I did not need to have stress about queueing early and shit selling out at EVERY FUCKING CONCERT!!!! Ow.)

Doors opened at 18:15. I was starting to get a feeling the venue staff had never dealt with that kind of crowd before, because they seemed rather a little stressed getting us all into lines to get us into the venue in an orderly and efficient way. But in we went, and went to check out our seats.

The venue was tiny, about 1300 seats. In combination with it being the first show and close to Tokyo, tickets were very hard to find, and I was very lucky I got to go. I went with [livejournal.com profile] bellemainec and [livejournal.com profile] b_akakame, though because of Jin's ticket rules only allowing pair tickets, we couldn't all sit together. Our seats were 'bad' for the venue in that we were pretty high up, but, realistically, the venue being so tiny, in Tokyo Dome terms this was the equivalent of Arena B, so, still pretty good. *g*

The seats were a concession to many, many fans complaining about the standing-only venues to Jin and demanding seats back. I'm personally of two minds about that, as the standing concerts were awesome amazing fun, and did allow about three thirds of the audience to squeeze into the first third of the space, so you had a much higher chance of getting a good view. They were also, I will admit, a lot more stress, and with seats you can, like, take a bag, and go pee without losing your spot, and worry less about Japanese fans hating your guts because you happen to be tall and right in front of them. It's a mixed bag.

Venue.

I was pleased to see that despite the teeny tiny venues, Jin still had a screen like with Jindependence. The stage layout looked fairly sparse. It didn't feel sparse as the concert was going on, but when you step back and think about it, he really only has some stairs, a lightshow, and that one Cube of Awesome Effects.

Seats were slow to fill because there had been some train issues, and the concert started ten minutes late. Which I attributed to the staff knowing there were train issues and giving people a bit more wiggle room, but afterwards I wondered if it was also just because they had some technical difficulties.


Opening

The opening was Bibi introducing herself on the screen, with a face this time. (Like in her Twitter account.) Bibi speaking was all in English (helpful!!) with Japanese subtitles. The 'story' of the concert was that Jin the Android was getting an upgrade. You could see a close-up of Jin's (sleepy) eyes on the screen while Bibi explained to him what was supposed to happen next and scolded him for being found insufficient. (Her diagnosis was, ish: "Heartrate: normable. Hearing: normable. Attitude: bad.")

Jin was presented as a sleepy Android who gave one-word (English) answers to Bibi's attempts to improve him.

It wasn't quite the hilarious opening of Jindependence (we were not encouraged to drink, and also not informed that Jin's bass is awesome!) but it was pretty clever, especially given what followed after. (Also a close-up of Jin's sleepy eyes is never wrong.)


What happened

I hadn't really given much thought to the opening song, but once this started playing, it made sense to me. It's the last song on the album, and while it turned out quite different than I'd expected from the title and I don't like it as much as a lot of the other songs on the album, I do find it his most statement-y song, and so it made sense to me to have the angry statement-y song as an opening and get that over with.

Jin was basically arranged as a Borg Queen in a cube in the middle of the stage, in a very cool visual effect where his torso is half-human half-machine and wires going everywhere, but he doesn't have any legs, just tapers off going down. While this hid a lot of Jin, the screen was showing video of topless and very human Jins (three of them) singing the 'singy' parts of What happened at each other (rather angrily). It was both a cool effect and looked veeeery nice, and when there is a DVD I hope it will include footage of the topless singing Jins. Because pretty.


Go Gitter

(IIRC) The Borg Queen disappeared at the end of What happened, and a first Hannibal Lector-type Jin stumbled out onto the stair block part of the stage. (As in, in a straightjacket and with his face covered with a mask.) This is a bit blurry in my head now; at the time I thought they had more than one 'Jin' (i.e. covered guys who could have been Jin) on there but then there were also some of his female dancers, in fitting outfits but not 'could be Jin' disguises. The song works really well as a dance number, and I thought that the straightjacket choreo worked as a continuation of the What happened opening. However, it did go on too long -- Jin spent pretty much the entire song wrapped up like that, and after about a minute both the visual and the choreo you can do in that sort of get-up got, well, boring.

I think the dancer girls took the straightjacket off Jin at the end and we moved into…


Dayum

Next dance number, new choreo, really fun concert song. This song is 1500% improved by not having that fucking telephone ring in it. I'm one of the people hating Dayum on the album, and I knew the phone ring sound was irritating me, but I didn't know how much until I saw this in concert and really enjoyed it very much when it didn't have the fucking telephone ring driving me bananas.

 photo Jin02.png


(Also, that man can dance. *___* In case you didn't know.)


We're the party

I did expect this to be great in concert, and it was. I also expected to miss the standing venue most with songs like this one, for the dancing, but it turns out because this was a very generous-size-per-seat venue, I had no trouble dancing at all. *g*


Baby

First ballad, very pretty, though like Lionheart later suffering from some vocal issues.


Mi Amor

This was introduced with a video about the many languages of the world, (IIRC) how people can understand each other's cultures through music and how language is tied to the music, and Jin's language settings. Jin had completed the upgrade and the screen was scrolling through English, German, French, Spanish… Japanese. Then Japanese blinked, and Mi Amor started, the Japanese version. The laser guitar was back, though Jin was very covered up, no nipples in sight. (T__T)


Lucky

I'm very happy this stayed in the line-up, and Jin kept the adorable choreography. The choreo also seemed a crowd favourite. He didn't do it in the hotttt suit as last time, though -- the baggy bedsheet look stayed throughout.

I think this is the one with the hat trolling…

The hat trolling
If you've seen pictures of the various-coloured hats on Twitter, that's what that was about. So basically, while Jin wasn't wearing sunglasses in this one at all, hats of various type and colour stayed on all the time. And it was clearly trolling because at some point -- and I think in Lucky -- one of the dancers took his hat (I think the red one) off, and the hall squealed, and then he turned around and the next dancer put the next hat (the blue one) on, and the hall squealed/cried again, and there was a whole hat-on-hat-off thing going on that was evil and adorable.


Good Time

In Good Time Jin tried to do a call-and-response with the audience on the chorus like last time, but the audio in the venue was so loud that you couldn't hear the audience singing at all, and he only did it two or three times and then stopped that and sang the thing himself.


MC

The MC was short on the one hand, but on the other, Jin launched right into it and did none of his usual 'maaaah, I suck at MCs (.__.)' feet-shuffling. He just launched into talking. In fact he was so relaxed that he started to lie down on the stage at some point, and didn't seem to be aware he was doing it. The hall started to squeal at this point.

Highlights of the MC, with thanks to [livejournal.com profile] b_akakame for some post-concert translations:

-- Jin tried to start talking about the same stuff he talked about last year, with going independent and such, and did the 'Jindependence' explanation again, until he asked who'd actually gone to the concerts last year, and most of the hall had in fact gone last year and had heard this before, so he stopped trying to explain that. >_>

-- Jin explained that he 'quit' as Shachou because he was just too clueless about the day-to-day running of a company and kept signing stuff he didn't properly understand. (This was, while not wrongly translated as such, weirdly interpreted on Twitter. By any indication he's still the owner of the company; he just hired professionals for the admin and managerial stuff.) He was like, 'I had to deal with accounting!! And taxes!!!' He said he'd gotten himself some advice and decided to do it like that then.

-- Jin is clearly no longer in charge of the admin, because when he commented that he'd just announced more additional concerts (the email came the morning of the concert) he didn't remember if it was two or three or where they were. He was all, 'Guys, I'm selling!!!!' In general he seemed quite pleased with himself, in a cute sort of way.

-- He asked what ages the audience were. The 20s and the 40s were the loudest, though there were a number of people in their 50s and 60s, and one lady in her 70s. Jin tried to talk to her and ask her what her favourite song was, but couldn't understand the answer, and there wasn't that much direct interaction with members of the audience.

-- He talked about how his manager had had a hard time finding venues that were the right size but seated venues, according to popular demand.

-- He also announced the Jindependence DVD, which got the loudest cheers, apologized for it being so late, and then also said people had kept going, 'YOU'RE LATE!!' at him over it.

-- He is very into everyone trying Blippar, and talked about how some Okaa-sans had written to him saying they didn't know how it worked, and he kept encouraging people encouragingly to keep trying. (With, I should say, an undertone of 'but you just point it and it works!! How can you not get this??')

-- Someone in the audience tried to say 'Thanks for coming to Saitama!' which Jin heard as 'Thanks for coming from God' or 'Thanks for being god' or some such, and kept insisting that he was not, in fact, God. Ish.

-- He insisted he has been really ganbarimasing on Twitter lately, which the audience laughed at him for.

-- Then he congratulated the JIPS on having a birthday too and went back to singing… (For a moment it sounded to me like he was going to do Eternal, but then that turned out to be just Nihongofail on my part, and I guess he was simply comparing Let Me Talk To You to Eternal.)


Let Me Talk To You

This was a good song to pick back up after the MC, but directly post-MC I am a bit Nihongo-brain-souped, so I admit I don't remember too much of this.


Baby Girl

I don't remember much of this either because it's not one of my favourite songs and, erm, I kind of needed the loo by that point, so I snuck out to go to the bathroom. I came back in time for…


The DJ set

This had the round piano thing from the Me cover where Jin looks like a playful panda. In concert this was Jin (well, 'Jin' #spoiler) wearing a futuristic helmet, with the screens occasionally showing close-ups of him playing that piano. It didn't look very pandaesque in concert. So there was the DJing and 'Jin' on the stage, and suddenly the music changed into Miss California and something was going on on the first floor, though unfortunately we were at a very bad angle for that…


Miss California, and the Mobbing of the Akanishi

Because I am easy to fool sometimes, it had not even occurred to me that the 'Jin' in the helmet might not actually be Jin, so I was very very confused when suddenly the screen showed a person at the back of the hall, on a cart (yes, very Johnny's style cart). For a moment I thought some special guest had shown up and that's why everyone was squealing. But, no, obviously everyone was squealing because Jin wasn't actually on the stage but had shown up at the back of the hall, in the corridor between the first twenty or so rows and the back rows.

I had wondered before the concert if the return to seated venues might mean he'd go through the crowd, but I hadn't expected a cart. It was kind of awesome, but then it got problematic fast, because… people were just very grabby. I didn't see all of this because of the bad angle, but I could see one fan carrying a pink stick-type thing repeatedly poking Jin in the back when he turned to the other side of the cart.

This really went from 'awesome' to 'not cool, people' pretty fast. I mean, there's waving and trying to get Jin's attention, and maybe trying for a high five, and there's reaching into the cart and tugging on his t-shirt and poking him with sticks. The people who went overboard with that also kind of ruined it for the people on the second floor, because after the first time Jin focused on the second floor a little bit, and got poked with things, he then went on to focus solely on avoiding the more grabby and poky people, and the second floor got no interaction after that.

They pushed the cart along the back aisle, and it started to look like he'd really walk through the crowd to the stage… and then he jumped off the cart and tried to do just that, and, um. I basically went from squealing with joy that he's incorporating this into the seated venues to putting my hands over my mouth and holding my breath, thinking, 'OMG he's going to get killed.' Jin walking through the aisle went from 'mildly grabby' at the start of the aisle to people not letting him through, pulling on his t-shirt and whatnot, and for a bit there was a big knot where nothing was moving and then Jin pushed through and kind of ran-lurched towards the stage, giving people a WTF???? look over his shoulder. It really looked a bit dangerous.

I'm pretty sure he planned to also walk the second aisle, because there were a set of stairs there too, but that then never happened, and I can't say I blame him. He looked pretty rattled, though he pushed through and into the next song; it was the kind of thing where I thought if he'd still been in a group, he'd have pulled back and regrouped/sulked a bit, but as a solo artist, obviously can't do that, so he soldiered through. Was my impression anyway.

The friend I was with said that they didn't have enough security guys around him, and I agree with that, but the trouble was also that the aisles were so narrow that the security arrangement Jin would have needed (one guy between him and the grabby hands at all times) just didn't fit; I think you just couldn't do a security line on either side of the aisles and still have Jin walk through.

I really wonder what will happen to that part in future concerts. I could see him deciding he doesn't need this shit and cancelling the aisles walks, though maybe, if we're lucky, he'll also chalk some of it up to inadequate / misunderestimating planning and find some other approach. The Grand Cube in Osaka should also have bigger aisles and is, I think, a more established concert venue, so they might have more experience and a better way to judge how to do that safely.

But it was really a shame that it got so bad, and kind of ruined a moment where Jin did a thing he didn't dare do in forever.


Hey What's Up

This was a pretty good song to get over the WTF? from the aisle walk, I think, and it brought some of the mood back, though Jin still seemed more like he was trying not to let this rattle him / piss him off too much rather than him just having fun.


Baila

BAILA BAILA BAILA!!! Sorry, um. I really like this one. And there was lots of dancing. I don't remember the rest.


Ohlala / Slow

I don't remember much of this, though I remember liking Ohlala a lot. Slow wouldn't have been my favourite choice of earlier b-sides, but oh well.


Sun Burns Down

He did the full version of this, which I don't think he did in either Club Circuit or Jindependence. I found it a surprising choice of 'slightly older' songs. That the sound in the venue wasn't terribly good not just for us in the second floor became rather obvious, though, when Jin entirely missed the key at the start and took quite a while to find it. As I said, I was a bit far back, so I may be projecting, but it was my impression that Jin did not look pleased with the sound system there.


Summer Loving

I keep thinking this was a remix and had something else (Hey What's Up, to be specific) mixed into it, but the friends I was with were 'what are you talking about??' at me afterwards, so I may be misremembering. This is also where Jin's vocal issues that night became a bit more obvious.


Lionheart

This was the ballad-before-the-end. This is perhaps the part of the concert I have the best visual memory of, where Jin is on stage standing in wafting fog and everything but him is rather dark. It was pretty, and I could kind of see he wanted this to be a very song-focused performance with no frills except the very moody fog. (As someone sitting on the second floor, though, I would have appreciated a bit less artistic concept in favour of putting Jin's face on the screen, so, like, we could have seen his face during the major ballad.)


"Me"

Now came the section where the Bibi-narrated 'story' of the concert concluded. The [SPOILER ALERT!] reveal that the title 'Me' comes from 'Music is Emotion' was here, and there was a bit of commentary from Bibi that 'sometimes what makes us happiest is right in front of us' that I found a little weirdly disconnected from the main concept. The whole thing with music as emotion and music being able to connect people is something that's not terribly new if you've been listening to this Akanishi dude for a while, but it was interesting to have him get so explicit on a meta level (rather than in individual songs) about it.


アイナルホウエ

This makes for a great final song, and I clapped very loudly from my poor seat. There was the dancer introduction, where I heard more applause than least year (good!), and then Jin introduced himself, and then he went 'Ciao!' and then he left. The end.


General impressions:

The sound was really not very good. Way too loud, there was occasionally feedback between the speakers and the mic, and as I said, Jin had trouble finding the key at one point, and whoever was doing the sound seemed unable to cope with the times when Jin actually wanted to hear the audience.

Jin himself also wasn't at his vocal best. He might be getting a cold or might be coming off a cold, but this was definitely not effortless singing. He skipped a few high notes especially on Summer Loving, and Lionheart, while <3 <3 <3, had some definitive wobbly bits. I hope that whatever it was won't trouble him during the rest of the tour.

In general, he seemed a bit nervous and cautious. I remember from Club Circuit and Jindependence that he usually needed a bit of time to warm up at the start of the concert, but here, while he seemed to be doing okay overall and gave himself an ambitious (i.e. out of his comfort zone) program with the cart and the aisle walk and all, he never seemed to fully relax. He also didn't interact with the audience as much as I'd seen him do previously. In part it was certainly the acoustics; during the MC he tried to talk to the one lady who was there who was in her 70s, and he just couldn't make out what she was saying. In part I also wondered if he was intimidated by how close the first row was to the stage. With the standing concerts, while you could get pretty close, there was a barrier between the first row and the stage. This being a seated auditorium type thing, the people in first row could basically walk all the way up to the stage itself. (I kept wondering if anyone would try to steal his water bottles, tbh, they would have been within easy reach!) And a few times Jin seemed to start interacting with those people he could actually see, i.e. the first few rows, but then he pulled back again. There was also a lot less audience talk during the MC in general.

And then the relaxedness certainly wasn't helped by the outcome of that aisle walk, I'd say.

As for the concept, I thought it started out really strong and cool. I liked the thing he did with the 'language settings', and I even found it clever that that was followed by the Japanese version of Mi Amor, though I had expected him to do a tiny little bit more with that. Not that I suddenly expect him to sing a song in French or German or whatever, but after the 'language settings' I kind of expected the odd non-English, non-Japanese line somewhere.

The concept also lost a bit of cohesion in the second half. The second Bibi part towards the end had very little to do with the Jin upgrade from earlier, so for me the con didn't end as strong as it started. On the whole I think the concert was better than Club Circuit, and the first half was stronger in concept than Jindependence, but if I only judged it by the second half I liked Jindependence more. This may still change if Jin relaxes a bit more and has a bit more fun, even if the concept fizzles out a bit.

(Also, can I just say: BORG QUEEN. That guy is such a little nerd in disguise.)

I was pleased he kept the screen, and when he used it to underline the story I thought that was cool and it got us some nice goodies, like the topless angry Jins arguing it out over What Happened. I do think they could have used it more for close-ups. Like, there were moments it might have ruined the quiet and the mood but there were also lots of moments where it would have just given us high up at the back more to see than the top of Jin's hat.

(The light show was equally not geared for a high second floor, because we were frequently higher than the lasers and… just didn't see much. But this may have been an issue with the venue.)

I was pleasantly surprised by how energetic and excited and ENCORE!!!! the crowd was, after some previous experiences with the Tokyo crowd.

Which is also why I am really, really rolling my eyes at the lack of encore. Sorry, Jin.

Jo's encore rant

Jin apparently commented at the fan event that happened on 4 July that he doesn't like the normal way that artists already plan an encore into the setlist, but that also doesn't like adding something unplanned -- he thinks the concert should end where he planned it to end because that makes it a cohesive whole, is my interpretation of what got said there. Which is something I can respect. What he doesn't seem to realise, though, is the impression he leaves people with is not 'we have watched the cohesive whole and now it's over', the impression he leaves people with when he just goes 'ciao' and slinks off the stage is that it doesn't actually matter to him whether we liked it or not. Yes, granted, realistically, people are likely to want more and automatically call for an encore. Or at least 90% of the time. But even in my time in fandom I've been to concerts where people clapped for a minute and then started packing their bags, and I've been to concerts where people sang whole songs and stuck it out for half an hour. And I think it should matter to the artist whether they managed to make people excited and clappy and encore-y and shouting themselves hoarse, or whether we're all just like, 'ok, I guess that was that then, let's go home' immediately.

The final impression, even after a great concert, is that he doesn't give a fuck if we thought it was great or merely adequate, and just can't be bothered coming back out to say a few words. I don't even need another song, if that's your artistic approach, dude! Just don't entirely ignore the fans' reaction like it doesn't matter.

ILU, man, but on this you're being a tool.

/rant

Now I'm looking forward to the Osaka cons and maybe going WTF? at my own memory mistakes, who knows. *g*

And stressing over goods. Damn you, Akanishi!
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the paranoid android

December 2015

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