(Dedicated to the memory of Sueda Ken, Yoshida Miwa and the rest of the Sueda/Yoshida families)
I had the supreme fortune to be able to attend the DCT Wonderland 2007 shows on September 22nd and 23rd at the National Stadium (where they held the 1964 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies) in Tokyo, Japan. The 'doors' opened at 2:30pm and extravaganza was over around 8:30pm. This report is a collection of information, memories and pictures from the two show days I was there and should be taken as such unless otherwise stated...
It took place at National Stadium (formerly Olympic Stadium) in the Kasumigaoka area of the Shinjuku ward in Tokyo.
The National Stadium is in an area filled with sports related buildings of one sort or another, including Jingu stadium, the home of the Yakult Swallows professional baseball team. While the stadium is technically in Shinjuku ward, it’s very close to the Aoyama area which is where we beginning the story.
DCTJoy Forum-ers meet in Tokyo!
Ever know someone who loved a band so much they’d fly 6000 miles to see them? Now you do:
Dan (sdankoehler) & Kenneth (Kudoh)
(A special shout out to the DCTJoy UK connection: Spaceman who went to the Sunday’s Tokyo show and newrynyuk who went to the Fukuoka show)
Dan and I were both staying at the same hotel, so Ken came down to Aoyama for the meet up. On the way to get a bite to eat, we passed the headquarters of DCT’s label:
A good sign, methinks…(methough?)
We had an interesting lunch (Dan braved the half cooked bacon/ham; Ken spoke fluent Nihongo when pointing-n-stuttering wasn’t enough) before taking the 20-minute walk to the stadium.
We ran into some other die hard fans along the way: bands of Yakult Swallow fans sitting in line waiting to get in…some looked like they’d been there for a while. ^^
(I won’t mention those giggly girls that Dan & Ken kept looking back at… )
When we first arrived at the stadium it looked something…actually exactly like this:
We made our way around to the Sendagaya gate at around 2pm (gate officially opened at 2:30pm) and it looked like this:
Since we got there so early, it was a good chance to make a run at the….
(The pictures in this area are from the Sunday show, when I arrived after the gates were open…big difference…)
We walked around towards the Yoyogi gate were the goods areas was located (you didn’t need a ticket to get the goods), passing by fellow fans of all sorts and numerous vendors cooking up a storm (ugh…Octopus balls…)
Once we got close (seriously...that long line is close) it looked like this:
Once we got inside the gate it looked like this:
The goods area itself was on an upper platform area inside the gate. It contained 10+ tents for DWL2007 goods and 2-4 tents for DVDs/CDs
The three of us made our way into one of the lines to buy as much swag as possible! (I recommend the DoriBon! ^^)
On the way back out, you passed a “take pictures with DCT” with 5-7 places…fans showed off their new swag in the pictures:
Nearby was a board with a large DWL2007 circle for people to write messages onto. When one of those was full, they were peeled off and replaced with a fresh one. The ones that were peeled off were rushed into the stadium and placed on the inflated area between the main and middle stages. We briefly considered signing the board, but thought better of it after we saw the even increasing line for it….
Once we made it back to the original gate, we were able to get our tickets thanks to a helpful Eigo speaking lady…(Hey U-san ^^). We were in different parts of the stadium so we split up from there…
(I had an arena seat on Saturday and a stands seat on Sunday, so I got a good look at just about everything. The rest of this report is various notes that I wrote down in the midst of everything. No photographs were allowed inside the stadium…sorry folks.)
You can get a great picture of what the main stage looked like on the on the DWL site (wait about 10-15 seconds to see what the normal stage looked like). In addition to what you can see:
- - The metallic half oval that serves as the background of the stage contains a latticework of lights. These lights show off various graphics during the show, which correspond to whatever song is being performed. (Wait for the DVD…these effects are spectacular!). In addition, two of the giant balloons are use in conjunction to display some of the effects too.
- There are five screens for the fans to view the show. There’s one giant one in the center of the stage, within the metallic half. There are slightly smaller ones on each side of the half oval down at stage level. There's also even smaller ones on each side further away, but tilted so that the fans at the edges of the stadium can have a good look.
- There's a square black stage in the middle of the fans on the arena floor. There's an inflated cylinder connecting the main stage to this center stage. Stuck all over this cylinder are the giant DWL2007 circles where fans have written notes to DCT throughout the day.
- There was walkway that ran the length of the arena floor at the back of the arena area. Connected to the middle of this is a short walkway that's connected to square stage similar to the one in the middle.
- The connecting runways (from the front stage the back runway) on both sides were not immediately noticeable from the arena area (I walked over these areas numerous times before the show started). At some point these walkways inflated to a height and strengthened enough so that the performers could walk on them with ease.
- There’s also something else that happens in the back area of the arena. I’ll leave that as a surprise for the DVD. ☺ (Let’s just say all fans get an up-close-n-personal view of the show at some point).
- - Right of center stage, underneath one of the screens, a broadcast table was set up where a live DCT-TV session took place. A DCT-TV talk show host chatted with people in the audience asking them questions on various things. Think it had partially to do with this: http://zexy.net/mar/news/dct/
- Walking on stage, throughout the arena, and the stands were bigheaded costumed versions of the various DCT mascots: "Miwa & Masa", "Linda & Joe", "DCT logo". All of these mascots interacted with everyone they came across.
- Clowns were making balloon animals for the kids in the audience. (Part of the Family Zone this year…)
- Another broadcast table talk (this time on the left side) featured DJs from radio stations (I think) (they referred to it as the "Opening Talk")
- DCT music videos (as well as the “Nando demo/Love Love Love” introductory video & videos of ‘DCT Records’ bands) were played between the different broadcast table sessions. Fans were singing along with all the different PVs all the time.
- Other videos played:
- • About the process of selecting back-up singers
• About the process of selecting which fans would sing the “Nando Demo/Love Love Love” medley
• An Asahi Super Dry commercial, featuring Miwa jumping happily in the air
• A very, very cute "Don't Do This" video featuring the animated DCT logo character showing that you shouldn't stand on your seat, take pictures, throw anything at the band or your fellow fan, etc...
- Saw a DCT staff member with no less than 6 different cameras, all with very large extended lenses, all strapped on him...looked very heavy...
- There was a special slightly raised wooden area on the arena floor for the fans that were in wheelchairs.
- The first few rows of the middle two orange seating areas in the stands were for family & special guests. The special guests were brought in only minutes before the beginning of the show.
On Saturday, the crowd screamed with delight as Rin Urashima showed up (very easy to detect with her reddish hair) in this area! Kudoh also mentioned that famous singer Akiko Wada was in that area too.
On Sunday, I was pretty close to that area, so I saw the special guests come in (with the expected screams from the crowd).
Two guests I definitely recognized: DCT Records vocalist (and former DCT backup vocalist) Naomi Yoshimura, as well as Hitomi Yoshizawa (former member of the idol group Morning Musume). I also think I saw the popular singer Ayaka.
There were also some sunglass clad longhaired dudes that got extra screams...didn't recognize either of them. In the family area, I saw an older woman wearing an all access pass with the family name Yoshida.
- • About the process of selecting back-up singers
Here’s the official set list for the concert:
http://www.dctgarden.com/live/syousai/l ... 007-2.html
Here’s the whole Wonderland crew:
(I’ve been debating how much to write about the show itself; bearing in mind that some readers will be buying the DVD and wouldn’t want to see too many spoilers. Hopefully you’ll understand if I become cryptic with some these special moments…)
- - The lighting of the stadium’s Olympic Torch by Miwa & Masa and then a run down the middle of the stands through the crowd to get back to the stage!
- Watching Miwa & Masa run & dance all over the stadium...and I mean all over the stadium…and then hit their next song without losing a beat (or breath). Man, that duo is in some serious shape
- The incorporation of marching band style drummers at more than one point in the show…
- Discovery of the male backup singer, Gatz. This man can blow! I swear he was born in the midst of the gospel choir. I’d love to see him and Rin team up…
- Boss solos by guitar-pimp Yoshiaki Mutoh
- The return of the horns! Much respect to the hot DWL2007 horns, especially to the saxophonist Osamu Yoshida who also snuck in a little flute into the mix.
- Miwa and the balloons…Miwa and the balloons…
- One word: LOVETIDE!
- A little Ray Charles-ish moment by pianist Hiroshi Sato & the rest of the Wonderlanders (doing a cappella)…which flowed right into a great rendition of ‘Happy Happy Birthday’.
- (Don’t know if this will make the DVD, but…)…a few unexpected (and exciting) moments involving the crowd and the train on Miwa’s dress (on Sunday)…
- MC Marcellus’ Japanese seems to have improved a bit, and the crowd was certainly reacting to him most favorably.
- “Osaka Lover” stayed ‘Osaka Lover’ (especially since it’s a story about a Osaka-Tokyo romance…)
- Fireworks! (Well timed fireworks) (even caught on TV during that Yakult Swallows game)
- Probably the best concert performance of “Kessen wa Kinyoubi” I’ve ever seen…
- - Saw the mixer/arranger/producer Ed Tuton (as seen on one of DCT’s DVDs), walking around the arena area with a staff shirt and an all access pass
- Slightly irritating: The sound of the rare helicopter passing overhead or nearby
- Kudos to Mother Nature for holding back her full fury during an amazing weekend!
- - The closest subway station was right next to the Sendagaya gate, so that area afterwards looked like this:
- On both nights, the DCT fans and the Yakult Swallow fans let out close to each other…and mingling ensued for those who didn’t take the nearest subway…
- On Sunday, *way* after the show, the two dancers, Shige & Keita, showed up outside of the Yoyogi gate to chat and take pictures with fans
- - What can I say? The performance exceeded all expectations and was back to the levels that made 1999 Winter and 1995 so fantastic. And on some counts (athleticism and crispness of power and showmanship), DCT has never been better! Yes, this will be concert DVD to beat 1999 Winter…
- (Again!) The horns have returned!
- While the concert in Shiga with 30,000 was something to behold, there’s no beating double the size in Tokyo. 60,000 excitable fans at a history-making event…the energy was unbelievable!
- On the walk back to the hotel on Saturday, the three of us encountered a Yakult Swallows worker (don’t know what she did) and had a ‘chat’ about DCT & baseball (sdankoehler seemed a little irritated that she wasn’t aware of the Oakland A’s ^^)
- A day later, there were pictures of the Sunday concert in both the TV and Newspapers. Made sure to clip out a number of the articles…you can even see me (kinda small) in at least two different pictures. ^_^
- A special place in my heart goes out to Miwa for being able to perform at full blast during such a difficult time…
- Many, many thanks to A & M for the hookup and D & K for the fun ^_^