I really had no plans to be going to Japan, in fact I was considering taking a Japan vacation for a little while. So when announced the show my first thought was “Oh shoot, this is a “must-attend” event for me. However, logistically there would be a few hurdles to climb over. But I would worry about that when the time came. First order was to get a ticket. Luckily a friend of mine in Japan immediately PMd me and asked if I wanted to go with them, and she would get the tickets. Later someone else contacted me and wanted me to get them a ticket to go with me. This was a huge dilemma. I knew if I got this person a ticket too I would end up having to entertain them much of the day and would miss much of the Wasafan pre and post show festivities. But I didn’t want to be a jerk so I relented and got him a ticket as well. To make a long story short, my friend came through with amazing seats (2nd row center!), I was able to handle the logistics not only for attending the concert, but Wasamin’s single release. So I was set! But it was going to be a long day…
The day began first thing in the morning with a Wasamin Seitensai committee meeting. We had rented a conference room near Ueno in order to begin the process of a) sorting all of the committee t-shirts and goodies. We were also starting the process of putting together the little package for her AKB48 Birthday show. My job was a) to put the little uchiwa (which I haven’t even looked at yet. I am guessing it is similar to the shirt design) in the t-shirt packages, then b) folding the audience instruction sheets to be passed out at her birthday show. We had rented the place for three hours, but ended up finishing our work in half the time. After the thorough cleanup of the room (we left it cleaner than when we arrived, even took our garbage with us) we had 5-6 hours to kill until showtime…
I headed over to Akihabara for lunch, and to check if what they had left of Wasamin birthday stuff at the Cafe/Shop. I ended up sitting in Tully’s behind the Donki watching some anime group do a mini-live in front of UDX. After that I headed over to Asakusa at around 1:45. It was a good thing I did since when I found the venue the goods line was already getting really big. I wasn’t going to miss out on the Wasaconcert swag, so I queued up (around 70th in line) Later on the line ballooned up to around 300-400. Luckily they had made a pre-packaged “everything” set which included all of the new goods for 9000 yen. Many of the fans bought that set, so the line moved relatively fast. We also got a special present from Wasamin, an autographed signboard with her handprint. But there was one more thing to get…
The first 150 people to buy a CD would get an autographed clear file with the concert date on it. Once I saw my spot in line to get in (I was outside on the street) I thought I would never get it, but I queued for it anyway after I went upstairs. Luckily I was 149th in line! The guy behind me got the last one.
Oh, one other prize they offered (which I didn’t win was backstage passes to the show. I assumed the 21 winners would mainly be Wasamin event regulars, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the winners were people I had never seen before. In fact, there were only 4 “regulars” among them. One of their perks was a special pre-show one-song performance of Toki no Nagare ni Miwo Makase. (from Request Covers) Pretty cool! Anyway, that is plenty of pre-show experience. After heading through the hall filled with flowers. I did’nt see who they were all from, but I did see NHK, TBS, AKS, OJS, and of course flowers from our committee. I headed into the venue to my awesome seat to put on my concert shirt and get ready for the show.
Wasamin did the Kageana and admitted that she was excited and nervous, then started laughing at our reacting. The lights went dim and the huge curtain opened. First thought, “WOW a live band!!!” This was going to be a special show. Wasamin took one look at the huge crowd cheering for her and lost it. Luckily Hatsuzake has a very long intro which gave her time to recover. I guess I should post the full setlist at this point…
0. Toki no Nagare ni Miwo Makase (special pre-show performance only seen by winners of the “backstage tour”)
2. Tomonoura Bojou
MC (Wasamin crying)
~AKB Enka Version Medley~
3. Flying Get
4. Halloween Night
5. Let it Go! ~Ari no Mama de~
6. Heavy Rotation
7. Koisuru Fortune Cookie
MC (Talking about goods)
8. Tsugaru Kaikyō Fuyugeshiki
9. Anko Tsubaki wa Koi no Hana
11. Onna no Blues
VTR (Watarirouka Hashiritai Member Cheer Comments
(Wasamin roaming the audience, photos allowed during this portion of the show)
12. Tokyo Boogie Woogie (3rd Floor) [AKB Members spotted in the balcony]
13. Koisuru Natsu no Hi (2nd Floor)
14. Tokyo no Bus Girl (1st Floor)
15. Blue Light Yokohama (1st Floor)
16. Seto no Hanayome (1st Floor)
17. Akai Sweet Pea (Stage)
~End of photo session~
18. Nada Sousou (Wasamin on guitar!)
19. Nagori Yuki (Wasamin on guitar!!)
MC Happy Birthday! presented by special guest Matsui Sakiko. (Cake prepared by Wasamin’s older sister)
20. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari (Matsui Sakiko on piano)
21. Tsubasa wo Kudasai (Matsui Sakiko on piano)
22. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
End Main Set/Encore Call (WA-SA-MIN!)
VTR: Collage of photos and videos from birth until today
Wasamin in White Floral Pattern Kimono
Encore 1: Kawa no Nagare no You ni
MC: Band Introduction
Encore 2: Gomen ne Tokyo
MC: Graduation Announcement
Encore 3: Mujineki
As expected, Wasamin was absolutely glowing. During the first MC she went down to bow and couldn’t get back up because the crying started again. Wasamin with that half-laugh/half-crying. She knows it’s funny. The first couple of MCs were pretty much talking about the venue, what an important day it was. Later she talked about the goods, specifically the shirt and penlight. Having the official penlight be yellow was her idea. And I must say the shirt is so cool!
For the first half-dozen songs are so it was pretty much what one would expect from a Wasamin concert. That was until after the second MC when Wasamin did a set of songs that she has never recorded. And I don’t think she has ever performed most of them either. (Iirc she HAS performed Amagigoe before) I have to admit I was absolutely floored by her performance of Anko Tsubaki wa Koi no Hana. It kept with the traditional style, but was definitely an “updated” verion. Wasamin absolutely nailed it I was looking at the faces of some of the fans around me and they felt the same way. Just brilliant!
Midway through all of the new songs there was a VTR. Much like the one that accompanied her first single, this video featured former members of Watarirouka Hashiritai sending Wasamin their best wishes. First CinDy, followed by Lovetan, Ayarin, Harugon and finally Mayu. I must admit I saw kinda sad that Komorin didn’t participate. I mean she was Wasamin’s first “best friend” in AKB. But alas, Komorin’s days in show business are long over. On the other hand, the fun was just beginning for us…
“Get your cellphone cameras ready, in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1″ All of a sudden Wasamin comes through the doors on the third floor singing Tokyo Boogie Woogie I was really impressed with the way she could go up and down the aisles, literally posing for people while singing the song perfectly. This was also about the time we spotted around 10 AKB members sitting in the top balcony. A video camera followed her through the outside corridor as she went from floor to floor. The second floor got one song as well. However most of the fans were on floor level, so it took 2 1/2 songs for her to cover that level. She came back to the stage at the end of Seto no Hanayome. Before the photo-op portion of the show finished she gave us a few “poses”. Actually those were some of the best shots I took!
The stage went dark, but those of us up close could see the staff bringing out a chair and her guitar. I mentioned three weeks ago that I actually ran into Wasamin in Hamamatsucho and she was carrying a guitar at the time. When I asked the fans about that some of them told me it was going to be a concert surprise and to keep quiet about it. Unfortunately I had already blogged about it. Anyway, I was really excited to hear how well she could play. I remember how she was during the Give Me Five days. She exceeded all expections. She had trouble playing some of the bar chords, but other than that she was great. And needless to say her singing was flawless. Nada Sousou and Nagoriyuki are not easy songs to sing even without playing a guitar.
Next up was the birthday celebration. Of course in addition to being her first concert, it was also Wasamin’s 21st birthday. To help her celebrate was special guest and AKB48 graduate Matsui Sakiko who presented Wasamin with a birthday cake specially prepared by Wasamin’s older sister (a professional patissier) And we couldn’t have Sakippe on stage without a dual performance. This was yet another memorable moment. Sakippe played on special versions of Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari and Tubasa wo Kudasai. After one more song Wasamin left the stage…
I’m not sure if the committee planned out an encore call, but all of a sudden the back of the venue started an “Encoree” chant. Not to be outdone, the front of the venue immediately started a WA-SA-MIN chant which quickly engulfed the venue. In fact the conductor of the live band was even conducting the chant. I laughed when I saw that. Eventually the video screen came down…
The second VTR was a “History of Wasamin”, only this time much of it had to do with her time before joining AKB. There were tons of photos of Wasamin growing up. Pictures in school, playing sports, with her family. I was getting so choked up. I have always wanted to know more about Wasamin before she became an idol. I was getting my fill in this moment. Eventually it moved to the 7th gen auditions where we learned for the first time that TGSK actually mispronounced her name when he announced that she passed. (Iwase Misaki) The accompanying music was very dramatic, and built up to a big climax. It was at that point that I felt almost for sure she was going to graduate from AKB on this night. Two songs later, she did exactly that.
I think as fans we were probably just as conflicted as she was. There was no way her moment of announcing it wouldn’t be emotional. As much as we know that in many ways it isn’t going to change much. It’s a big move to make, and in some ways very scary. She is moving on to the next level in her career, without the crutch of AKB to hold on to. As she said in her announcement there will be tough times ahead, but I know most of her fans are ready to go on that journey with her. It as also very sad when she said that she knew that announcement probably meant that some of her fans would be leaving her. Of course we all said “no way”, but I get what she meant. And on some level she is probably right. Though for her biggest fans I don’t think this change will make a bit of difference…
After a final performance of Mujineki the show was over. many of us stuck around to take a group photo in front of the stage. I then headed out to take photos of the costumes on display in a side room. I was so excited to see Wasamin’s “Ebi” costume from the last Janken. My friend was complaining that he was hungry, so we left to get dinner. Unfortunately I ended up missing the post-concert dinner attended by many of the committee members. Oh well, I am sure there will be more down the road.
Obviously this will go down as one of, if not THE most memorable moment in my 10 years of being an idol fan and coming to Japan. I have been dying to communicate with Wasamin ever since the show ended. I am going to see her perform live tonight for the NHK Kayou Concert, and of course this weekend is an AKB 2-shot event. Then next week is 1) Enka Matsuri/Wasamin cheki-event AND 2) another AKB 2-shot weekend. So there is going to be no shortage in playing with Wasamin. I think for all the fans (and probably for Wasamin too) having some fun together will be great medicine.
CK in Tokyo