I woke up the morning of AX Day 2 aboslutely stoked! In just a few hours, I would be watching Morning Musume live for the first time, for their first concert (non-Fan Club) in the US, which would later be followed by Hello! Party. johpan and I arrived at the convention centre at around 10:30am. Doors were opening to start seating for the concert at 12:30pm. Today was going to be an epic day. There was no doubt about it.
Pretty soon after we arrived, johpan got a tweet from CFB saying that he had found the siblings and was at pre-registration. So, johpan and I made our way there. We were about to mee fellow International Wota staffer Amy of Merry Go Round and her brother Rocky of DO THE ROCK.
We spotted them on their way out of pre-registration and I ran over and just threw my arm over Rocky’s shoulder. He looked at me with a surprised look… Then stepped away cautiously… XD Lovely first impression, don’t you think? XD
The group of us then headed over to the AX ticketing booth so that Rocky and Amy can pick up their concert tickets. As we’re heading over, CK of CK’s H!P Blog” and Chuo Dori found us and sneaked up on us. The attending staff of IW were finally gathered together! It was a momentous occasion! (sorta… except not XD)
We were all quite excited for the concert, but as we still had over an hour, we decided to head up to the tabletop gaming room to meet up with a fellow wotachatter, mp122984 (the guy who set up the live feed of Hello! Party, for those of you who watched that).
It seems that right next door to the tabletop gaming room was an arcade which had 2 of my favourite arcade games – DrumMania and ParaParaParadise. Unfortunately the line for PPP was a little long, but I did get a game of DM in. However, I found the red tom a little bit unresponsive. But still, I didn’t fail any of my songs, so it was all good.
After a little bit of playing at the arcade, johpan, CFB, CK and I headed over to the exhibiton hall. I wanted to see if I could get the Morning Musume Platinum 9 Disco Tour Visual Book… Unfortunately they were sold out.
So, after a short look at the Morning Musume/H&A merchandise we decided to head over to the concert hall and line up.
The concert started promptly at 2:30pm, even though some people were still streaming into the room. The lights dimmed and the opening video started and the wota got into it right away. Of course, I cheered especially loud when Risa and Ai-chan came up on the big screen…
And when Morning Musume finally got on stage, the crowd (well the wota) went nuts. johpan and I were actually sitting next to this guy who hadn’t heard of Morning Musume before AX and we were happy to fill him in on bits and pieces of their history (and pimp IW at the same time ^_^).
Unfortunately, there were 3 tall guys in front of me (why the heck am I so short?), so my view of the stage was obscured. However, I had a perfect view of the big screen.
Note: Every concert photo here can be found in better quality at International Wota.
They opened the concert with “Mikan”, and though I was never a huge fan of the song before, it really is a great song to start a concert off with. It’s happy and energetic, and so hopeful. I have this thing where when I see something performed live, even if I’m not a huge fan of the song initially, I suddenly love the song afer seeing it live (if performed well). Basically, that is what happened to me with every song performed by Morning Musume at this concert.
Though, half the setlist was older stuff that I already loved, so it was all good. And, I love “Shouganai Yume Oibito” as well as the c/w “3, 2, 1 Breakin’ Out!” (the official AX theme song).
Following “Mikan” was “3, 2, 1 Breakin’ Out!” and that was another energetic number. Not to say that the crowd didn’t get into “Mikan” but the “Oh yeah! Oh yeah!”s in 3, 2, 1 are just so much fun. The glowsticks were out and forming the O and Y’s together.
I have to say that glowsticking is freaking tiring. After the first 2 songs, my arms were already so sore. I had 4 orange (lol, would you have guessed?) glowsticks – 2 per hand.
The intros were cute. Each girl said a little something in English, and I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of hearing them speak English. We need more English lessons to watch!
After the intros, we head into “Shouganai Yume Oibito”, and I don’t think I can stress how much I love this song. Just check out my review on it… Hearing it live just made me love it more.
The song was immediately followed by “How Do You Like Japan?” In Tsunku’s Q&A panel the next day, he mentioned that he saw people leaving the concert just as this song began, thinking they knew exactly the kind of songs Morning Musume would be singing at this concert, but when they heard it, they turned back. You gotta love the variety of styles and genres that Morning Musume sing. I can’t remember which concert it was where I first saw the girls perform this live, but I love this song. I also love Risa’s intro to it… Give me a little bit of Risa spotlight and I’m a happy camper.
“Resonant Blue” came on next, and I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the song. I think the feature of just 3 girls, Koharu being one of them irked me. However, watching it live is another thing entirely, so I like it a lot more now… Then again, seeing all the girls live is an amazing experience, and now I can’t even find myself getting irked with Koharu and Sayumi…. We’ll see how long that lasts. XD
Up next was a short MC to introduce the next set of songs, which just so happened to be a medley of oldies but goodies. As the intro to “I WISH” came on, I was extremely excited. It was amazing that my favourite Morning Musume song of all time (excluding the Gumi’s) was performed at this concert, even if it wasn’t the full version. “Happy Summer Wedding” came next and man, this was just a dream come true for me. “Happy Summer Wedding” is actually the first Morning Musume song that I memorized the lyrics to, so you can imagine how obsessed I was with this song at one point in time. This was also 4th generation’s first single, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Following that was “Koi no Dance Site” and what’s so great about this song is the punching.. “Oooh! Aaah!!” I just can never get enough of that. It’s easy for new listeners to pick up and it really gets the fans excited. They also switched costumes at the beginning of the song (aka. shedded their top layer of costume).
Now we come to what was the best part of this entire concert for me. The next song they sang in this medley was “Souda! We’re Alive”, and just before they switched into the next song, they chose to sing the bridge (is it the bridge?) with the line that made me fall in love with Ai-chan in the first place. Here’s the performance that began my Ai-chan adoration (and began my short lived Risa un-adoration XD).
Check out the 2:05 in this video. This began my <3 of Lovely way back in 2002.
Looking back on it now, it really was the obvious choice for which bridge they’d sing, seeing as Ai-chan and Risa had the closing lines. But being there live, and having Ai-chan sing the lines that made me first notice her was absolutely mind-blowing for me.
The two songs that closed out the medley were “The Peace!” and “Renai Revolution 21″, which were the first two Morning Musume PVs I had ever watched. Every song in this medley (with the exception of “Koi no Dance Site”) has played a big part in my Morning Musume fandom (and “Koi no Dance Site” is just awesome, so that doesn’t matter XD) and it was just an absolute dream come true to see all these songs live.
We got another MC, where Risa and Eri pumped up the crowd. Then, Ai-chan introduced Morning Musume’s best hit in Japan, “Love Machine”. This one’s another fun song live because of the “woo woo”s and the “fu fu”s. It isn’t one of my favourite Morning Musume songs, but you can’t deny the fun factor live.
“Sono Bamen de BiBiCha Ikenaijan!”, “Resonant Blue”‘s c/w followed “Love Machine” and I have to admit, I didn’t know what this song was. As I mentioned above, I never really got into “Resonant Blue”, so I never really listened to its c/w either. However, I have a new song to add to my like list. This is a really energetic and happy song.
We got another MC, this time with Ai-chan talking about the issue of global warming and how it affects the world. It’s obviously a problem that won’t be solved in the short term, but one thing they can do is sing, so Ai-chan dedicated the next song to wish happiness to everyone in the world. It was a very cute speech (fully in English) by Ai-chan. This sent us into the last song before the OPV contest winners were announced, “Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Sasenai Darou?”. This is such a beautiful song, and I have to say the highlight here (as it always is) was JunJun and LinLin’s solo lines. The girls did a fabulous job, and it really made the crowd go wild.
After this song, Morning Musume’s handler (after a cute intro from Michishige Sayumi, who had a momentary lapse in memory and stumbled over her MC ^_^) came out to start the segment regarding the OPV contest. She then called a surprise guest onto the stage… Can anyone guess who? …. HANGRY! And then she called up a second special guest: Tsunku!
There were 3 categories for OPV contest winners. 1st up was the Morning Musume award, which was of course chosen by Morning Musume. Up next was the Tsunku award, chosen by Tsunku. And 3rd was an the grand prize, an OPV chosen by Morning Musume, Tsunku and high level staff of UFA. Here are the winning entries:
Rather than watching the winning OPVs (though I did glance at them a bit), I watched the girls on stage as the videos were being played. It was amusing to see that the girls on the left side of the stage were clapping and dancing (Risa was dancing the most and it was absolutely adorable) while the girls on the right side of the stage were watching the videos intently.
And then finally, to close out the concert, the girls sang 3, 2, 1 Breakin’ Out once more, which was fitting seeing as it is the theme song for Anime Expo 2009. [sorry, I copied the entire OPV part straight from my IW post detailing Day 2 of AX (with a little bit added about watching the girls rather than the OPVs)]
The girls left the stage and the H!P fans started chanting for an encore, as you always see in H!P concert DVDs. I joined in the chant, though I wsa positive it would never happen. I know many fans were upset over that, but you can only do so much seeing as the girls are here for AX, and AX has a set schedule. The Anime Music Video contest was set for later in the day, and they obviously had to clear out the hall to get ready for that.
But seriously, even without an encore, and only about an hour of singing (the OPV contest winners MC took about 30 mintues to get throuhg), this was the most amazing concert I have ever attended. The energy in the room was just off the charts. I think many of us international fans feel disconnected at home, being the weird people who like these cute Japanese girls who sing these random pop songs. But at AX, at this concert, you could feel this connection with all the fans there. The feeling of solidarity just made the concert that much greater.
Following the concert, I headed out with johpan, CFB, Rocky and Amy to try and find a Taco Bell, for CFB and Rocky had been planning to Taco Bell it together for quite some time. Unfortunately, the directions that CFB had to the Taco Bell ended up leading us to a gas station that had a SubWay in it, but no Tacos… It was quite disappointing.
So instead, we headed to the Sheraton hotel, where there was a food court attached in an underground mall thing. We ate there before heading over to the Sheraton hotel to help set up for Hello! Party being organized by Bryan and Jen of Hello! Ranking.
johpan and I ended up manning the welcome/sign-in table for most of the night (with Rocky and Amy helping us for most of the time as well until they had to leave), and that was definitely an interesting and fun experience. We weren’t able to join in on the games, or even watch much of the games, but meeting all the fans as they entered was great. After a hearty hello, we asked each attendee for their favourite member so they could fill out their name tag (with name, internet handle and any forums that they go on or sites they’re affiliated with). It was funny watching peoples tortured expressions as they had to choose between the 9 members.
For me, it was a huge issue to choose between Ai-chan and Risa, but in the end I chose Risa because I heard that Ai-chan was the most requested member in the Hello! Party RSVPs. I know some people who switched from their usual favourite member because of the events of the weekend. 2 people in particular were Paul from Hello! Blog and CFB, both of whom chose LinLin for the night. Paul was especially funny because he was wearing a Sayumi T-shirt with a LinLin name tag.
I met so many people at the table, it was amazing. Hi to anyone reading this who hung out with us at the table for a little while. ^_^ We had a number of Japanese speakers come to the party, which wasn’t too bad, seeing as we could communicate how to fill out the name cards with simple words: “Koko ni namae wo kaite kudasai.” Then pointing to the other things, “Niku nemu.” “Webu saito.” (Those would look better in katakana, but I know not everyone can read katakana. So romaji it stays). However, we had a few fans who came in speaking Spanish (sorry, but johpan and I are Canadian – we took French in school XD) and Chinese.. The only thing I can say in Cantonese is “Please do not eat me.” I used to be able to say the phrase “I am a small cake. Please do not eat me.” (irrelevant story) but I forgot how the first sentence goes. Either way, that’s not very helpful when trying to direct people to fill out a name tag. XD
The final approximate count for number of Hello! Party attendees was about 350 people, which is amazing. In addition to that number, mp122984 was streaming Hello! Party live from ustream, and at some point there were about 250 people watching the party online. That’s a total of 600+ fans gathered “together” in the same place. Without any members of Hello! Project coming soon or having just left the vicinity. That’s just astounding. ^_^
johpan and I stayed at the party until about midnight when our cousin was supposed to come pick us up. Since Hello! Party was in the basement of the hotel and we couldn’t get reception on our phones, we just set a time for him to come get us. When we got upstairs, I found a voicemail on my phone, called up my cousin, and his girlfriend told us he got sick and felt like throwing up, so he went to bed and hoped we’d be okay to find a ride home. If no one was going in our direction, she had the number for a taxi ready for us… In the end, johpan and I took a $30 cab ride to our cousin’s place (a different one from the one who was driving us) in Beverly Hills.
And that ended our very full Morning Musume filled Day 2 at Anime Expo.
Coming up will be Day 3… And AUTOGRAPH STORIES!! ^_^ Stay tuned.