I’ve been to Barcelona a scant four times and never for a long duration. Mom hates driving the roads there, says they’re too confusing, and we admittedly don’t have any real reason to go other than, “Hey, it’s Barcelona.” That being said two out of the four times we’ve gone has been out of necessity, either as a stopping point in the drive to and from Paris or a rest stop after arriving. However, the other two were for much more exciting reasons, but this requires a bit of background history.
My favorite artist isn’t Beyonce or Sting or Adam Lambert or Lady Gaga (though she’s pretty damn awesome). I’m very into Japanese music, as anyone in my family could tell you, and I absolutely adore one particular man, GACKT. He’s a veteran of the Japanese music scene, having been part of one of the most influential underground bands “Malice Mizer,” and is currently the number one selling male solo artist in Japan. He sure as hell does not look 38, but he celebrated his birthday this past July 4. He looks fantastic for his age and his voice . . . wow.
Last year, GACKT put together a new band called “Yellow Fried Chickenz.” I know, don’t take it too seriously because he certainly doesn’t. At least, not in the way most people would immediately think of. Supposedly the meaning behind such a choice relates to the original Colonel of KFC having dedicated his restaurant chain to a most perfect version of his product. In a sense GACKT pursues the same thing, wanting to provide his fans with a most perfect version of his music. YFC is certainly different from his solo work, more on the heavier rock side of things but no less compelling in its intensity.
In 2010 he launched his first world tour, the first time GACKT had ever performed outside of Japan. I was lucky enough to attend the Barcelona show, one of five locations throughout four countries. His popularity outside of Japan is so much so that the Ticketmaster servers in France, Spain, and England crashed due to traffic, fans desperate to get one of the precious limited tickets to see our man.
The Barcelona live was phenomenal in a cathartic sense. I cried when GACKT came on stage and screamed myself hoarse and had that crazed fan hallucination that he actually looked at me out of everyone else. He certainly makes an impression. I wrote a longer review of this particular concert on my Facebook page, but it’s rather long and I wouldn’t want you to get too bogged down by my fangirlism. Besides, I did go to another concert recently, and yes, I saw GACKT again in Barcelona.
The 2011 performance was better than the 2010 live for specific reasons. In the summer of 2010, GACKT was working on the production of Hollywood movie, Bunraku, a theatre play “Nemuri Kyoshiro” called the Nemuri X Gackt Project, and putting out another single, EVER. Throwing together a European tour is certainly adding more to an already full plate. Not to mention the fact that he doesn’t exactly rest and his blogs detailed his throat bleeding and him passing out on stage. No sleep and very little to eat and lots of stress makes for tired GACKT, though given the circumstances, his performance still blew me away.
Now, the 2011 performance showed a much more rested performer with a few new band members and a support vocalist, Jon. Granted, the beginning was a relief mainly because everyone in line just wanted to get in the damn building. Barcelona saw some pretty bad weather that day, and we fools were stuck outside in the pouring rain and hail for an hour and a half, just to see this concert. It was totally worth it, though.
YFC produced some of its own music alongside GACKT classics like “Vanilla” and “Speed Master.” Their new single, “End of the Day” opened the show, and I definitely enjoyed GACKT’s newest solo release, “Episode.0.” The atmosphere was hot and lively, hardly allowing for a breathe of rest before the next fast-paced song jumped into play. Ian and I screamed ourselves dead, and we were aching the day after from the dancing and head-banging done in the back of the crowd. Shoving our way to the front wasn’t going to happen, but I think we attracted a fair amount of our own attention.
We had a blast and GACKT promised to come back next year since we were so enthusiastic. After the debut of new ballad, “SHOW YOUR HEART,” named after the charity fund established by GACKT for the Japan tsunami victims and the crazed encore song of “UNCONTROL,” we all filed out of the building feeling high on “kiai,” which really has no translation into English. The closest thing I can think of is “spirit love” or “heart strength,” as corny as that sounds, but it really is more something to be felt and experienced rather than explained.