17th April 2013.. The day where one of my dreams came true.. The day where I finally get to see an EXILE concert; let alone my first ever concert in Japan... ALONE..
The trip to Japan was firstly, not part of my plan.. I have initially thought of visiting Japan later in the year. However, my younger sister insisted to go to Japan and thus, I decided to go with her to Japan this spring for 10 days.. After planning out our itinerary, it was coincident that EXILE will be performing in Osaka on the same week as my trip. After much consideration, my heart (and also my friends and family) told me to go for their concert before anything happens. True enough, HIRO san announced his retirement as a performer this year and I was indeed glad that I made the decision to attend their Osaka concert.
15th April.. the night where we left for Japan.. We stayed in Tokyo for a night (16th April).. In the evening, I visited the EXILE TRIBE STATION Shop alone in Nakameguro Tokyo to get the concert goods.. With the help of directions given by my friend and also strangers on the streets, I managed to find both 24karats Shop and EXILE TRIBE STATION Shop.. As I walked towards the EXILE TRIBE STATION shop, to my horror, there was a long queue outside the shop and I had to get a queue number to enter the shop..
The reason for the long queue was probably because 16th April was the first day where the member goods were being sold. I killed my time at the nearby BOOK-OFF and went back to the shop at 18:45.. Sadly, there was still many people in front of me.. probably 100 or so and I only managed to enter the shop at about 19:30.
As I entered into the shop, I could not hide my excitement. I was practically screaming '凄い！'. I went immediately towards the Member Produce Goods to grab those goods requested by my friends and also, for myself. After pondering for awhile, I decided to forgo the Dome limited T-shirt and bought the Star series T-shirt instead. I decided to also grab all the goods I wanted for myself so that I need not go to the venue earlier and also the fear of queuing for the goods freaked me out. In the end, I spent close to 33k yen at the shop and I was given this HUGE plastic bag to hold all the goods I bought.
17th April... We took a early Shinkasen trip to Osaka and arrived at our Hotel Hanshin at around 12. My ticket was delivered and kept by the receptionist. We had lunch together and I parted with my Aunt and Sister at 16:00 and made my way towards the Kyocera Dome. I was all geared up for the concert... wearing my EXILE PRIDE Tee and muffler tower around my neck.. After alighting at Dome Mae station, I began to hit me that it was not a dream but a reality... I was actually going for EXILE's concert!!! The dome was BIG and weirdly shaped like an UFO (exactly what I have seen in pictures).. but the feeling of actually seeing it personally was amazing.. There were many people outside, waiting for the concert to start at 18:30. They were all pumped up, some dressed in concert T-shirts, 24karats Jersey and some even in handmade outfits.
I was literally lost trying to find my way towards the 24karats Special Exhibition area and I had to ask 2-3 staff because the area was so big and there were too many people around. The exhibition area was amazing and they sold the 24karats jerseys which I was so tempted to get (but I resisted because of the price!!).. I had to asked people to help me take photos with myself around the shop.. thankfully they were nice.. well, EXILE fans are really nice people in general... =D
At 17:45, I decide to enter inside the venue. I entered the gate as stated in my ticket and headed to level 3 (was assigned a seat at level 3) and there is was... the actual venue! I sat at my seat and waited for the time to pass. A kind Obasan sat next to me and she talked to me. She was shocked that I was not a Japanese and I specially flew all the way from Singapore to see them. We immediately clicked as our Ichiban was TAKAHIRO. At 18:45, the concert started. I was screaming when they played the starting movie because that was the moment I have been waiting for.. When I actually saw the guys on stage, I felt like I transcended in a dreamworld...The Full setlist:
2.ALL NIGHT LONG
3.Each Other's Way～旅の途中～
4.Choo Chon TRAIN
6.WON'T BE LONG
8.THINK BOUT IT! THE SECOND from EXILE
9.CLAP YOUR HANDS THE SECOND from EXILE
15.Your eyes only～曖昧な僕のカタチ
21.Sun is rising again
23.I Wish For You
25.SUMMER TIME LOVE
31.24karats TRIBE of GOLD
The beginning was fantastic as the starting movie was awesome and the members appeared in those glow in the dark outfits. They kicked start the concert with 'EXILE PRIDE～こんな世界を愛するため～' and sang catchy numbers such as ALL NIGHT LONG, Choo Choo TRAIN etc... It was the start of an awesome night with tons of fangirling!!~
When THE SECOND performed, it was so energetic and they got the crowd putting their hands in the air and cheering for them. It was indeed a sight! I remembered not liking their stuff but after that performance, I began to like their songs more now.
After their performance, some elegant dancers were dancing using those hanging curtains and it was the beginning of 'Ti Amo'... It was the most beautiful performance (if I must say so myself) that I have ever watched for 'Ti Amo'. I was so memorized by it and sat down to enjoy every second of it. I really love the softer side of EXILE especially their ballads (which got me into their music) so it was nice to sit down and experience those magical moments...
I was really happy to see ATSUSHI and TAKAHIRO performing their solos. When ATSUSHI played the piano and sang, I literally melted. His voice was just as good or not, even better on CD. TAKAHIRO's solo was well, 'shameless' haha in my own opinion because he was so handsome with his white suit. The spotlight was on him without any backup dancers and his PV was being played at the background while he sang. I think all the girls went crazy during his solo and yes, I was also one of those victim! The MC was pretty short by the 2 vocalists but they mentioned their thoughts on HIRO's retirement as a performer before singing their older stuff such as 'ただ…逢いたくて', 'Your eyes only～曖昧な僕のカタチ'
etc.. I was really really HAPPY that they sang '道' because that is my favourite song by EXILE. When they sang that, it reminded me once again for my love to EXILE. After the ballads, they went along singing 'Rising Sun', 'I wish for you', 'Everything' and 'SUMMER TIME LOVE'. 'SUMMER TIME LOVE' was fun because all the members were dancing; including TAKAHIRO and ATSUSHI!! So it was indeed a rare sight!!
I like the performance of 'BOW & ARROW' because they rode on those 'trucks' and I got to see them closer compared to the stage. It is also quite rare to see this song being performed LIVE. They even let a member draw an actual bow so it was really cool~
The performance that made a great impact in my opinion was when they performed '時の描片～トキノカケラ～'. They showed footage of EXILE's history and photos of HIRO san and the other members when they were younger. It was funny seeing their pictures when they were younger (they looked so much better now!!!) It was also kind of like paying a tribute to HIRO san and all his effort he has done for EXILE and the other LDH artists.
As the hours went by, finally it was the ENCORE time. They saved their most exciting performance which was '24karats TRIBE of GOLD'.. It was awesomeness to the MAX to see not only EXILE but Sandaime JSB, GENERATIONS and other LDH artists dancing to this explosive song. I thought Sandaime JSB will not perform but thankfully, they were there!!~
The concert ended with 'Love, Dream and Happiness' and at the end, each of them took turns to climb up a flight of stairs and bow to the crowd. I screamed for each members' name. HIRO san was the last person and he had the most cheers. At that moment, I was trying to fight back my tears because it was the last time I could see HIRO san performing in the EXILE stage. It was indeed a touching moment that I will never forget!
The concert ended about 2100. 3 over hours had passed just like that and I must say, it was an experience I will cherish forever.. Thank you EXILE for giving me not only new friends, but also awesome memories. My love and support for EXILE became even stronger after that....