GLAY: STADIUM LIVE 2012 THE SUITE ROOM in OSAKA NAGAI STADIUM (a J!-ENT Movie Review by Mimi Ko)
October 20, 2012 by Mimi
GLAY’s original 4-hour live performance took place on July 28th and 29th and was adapted into the special 3-hour concert film, depicting the best moments of the legendary performance on July 29th and featuring many of the band’s greatest hits. Additional information on this special event can be found at: http://www.liveviewing.jp/glay-screenings/.
Since their debut in 1994, GLAY has led the music scene in Japan to become one of the best-selling rock acts in the country and has also garnered a substantial worldwide following. To-date, the 4-piece band has released an astounding 45 singles and has sold more than 40 million albums in Japan alone.
The band name “GLAY” is a deliberate misspelling of the word “gray”, which represents the style of music the members wanted to play; a mixture between rock (black) and pop (white). Takuro, the band’s founder and leader, writes most of Glay’s songs and music and is an ardent Beatles fan and the group’s music is heavily influenced by English as well as American rock fans. Although GLAY primarily composes songs in the rock genre, they have also written songs in styles ranging from reggae to gospel. Due to their musical diversity, beautiful lyrics and wonderful melodies, the band has emerged as one of the most successful and well known bands in Japan, and most of Asia. The members of GLAY are also heavily involved in a variety of social and charitable causes.
Having been a fan of GLAY’s for more than ten years, listening to their music and attending their concerts in Japan and also on their North American tours, I was excited to hear that there will be a screening event presented by Live Viewing Japan of the band’s summer concert “GLAY STADIUM LIVE 2012 THE SUITE ROOM in OSAKA NAGAI STADIUM” at the Big Cinemas Manhattan Theater in New York on October 12th.
To those who are not familiar with “Live Viewing”, it has gotten increasing popular in these few years for concerts and other events to be streamed live to cinemas in Japan. Thus fans who are not able to get tickets to the event itself or are unable to travel to attend are able to participate and enjoy a live broadcast experience, and the event can also reach a wider audience this way.
While this New York presentation of GLAY’s concert from back in July is obviously not being broadcasted live, the opportunity to watch the concert on the big screen with other GLAY fans is still an extremely enjoyable one!
The concerts took place over two days on July 28th and 29th under the titles “7.28 Super Welcome Party” and “7.29 Big Surprise Party”, and the show that was screened is the latter from the 29th. After an heartfelt introduction from Takuro and then a funny opening video featuring the whole band, the concert launched into an exciting and feverish start with “SHUTTER SPEED no Theme” and continued with “Kanojo no Modern”. Also included are favorites such as “Ikiteku Tsuyosa” and “Beloved” as well as newer numbers such as “Route 5 Bayshore Line” and “Bible”, rounding out a set list of sixteen songs and four medleys — one medley each for the songs written by each of the four band members.
The concert was played live before a 50,000 strong audience. GLAY is a band that is known for staging many large scale outdoor concerts, most notably the GLAY EXPO in 2004 with a 100,000 audience, and they are very creative in making such shows a spectacular, memorable, and above all fun event for all their fans.
The theme of the concert, “Hotel GLAY”, is a reprise from their 15th anniversary concerts in 2009, and playing to this, there is a giant hotel facade on the main stage with all the “windows” of the hotel and the middle tower constructed of video screens that are utilized to fantastic effect during the show in addition to the large video screens on either sides of the stage. There is a smaller sub-stage at the far end of the arena, and joining the main stage and sub-stage is a specially built oval track encircling the arena seats thus providing a circular 360-degree stage space that brings the band closer to the audience in the entire stadium wherever they might be.
Playing a concert in a huge stadium is one thing, but the care and thought that goes into really trying to make it a show for each member of the whole audience does not come naturally to all artists, and in this one can really get a sense of how much GLAY truly makes an active effort to reach out to every one of their fans. And it is not only in concept of the staging, but it also requires preparation and determination on the part of the artists too.
In one of his MCs, Teru said that in order to prepare for these concerts, he had put the songs from the set list on his iPod and went for 10 km runs (a bit more than 6 miles) playing the songs because it would take physical training to run the length of the tracks from the main to the sub-stage and be able to sing at the same time.
“(The distance) is far, but we will run as much as our strength will allow!” he declared, and immediately proceeded to run around the entire length of the track during the aptly named number “RUN.” Honestly, in all of the band’s MCs I lost count of how many times the various members of the band said the word “love” -– unabashedly shouting from the bottom of their hearts “I/We love you!” over and over, to “Lets love one another!” “We want your love!”, they are doing all they can to show how much they care and to connect.
And the fans answered them in spades. In any shot of the audience one can see all walks of life, from young women and boys, to mothers with their toddlers and men in their fifties, all of them completely devoted and enjoying every moment. This sense of inclusion also extends to having the lyrics displayed on the video screens so fans will be able to follow along at any point and sing and shout and not have to worry about forgetting the words at key moments (though of course many of them already have the lyrics memorized!).
The concert was also live streamed to seventy-one theaters around Japan and also to theaters in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, so fans far away from Osaka can also participate real time. “We are all joined by our hearts and our love.” they said, and that is indeed the kind of band GLAY strives to be.
While watching a summer concert three months later on an unseasonably cold fall night in New York did take the immediacy out of the experience somewhat, the passion of the band and the audience more than made up for it in the three hour screening.
My only complaint would be the few sudden cuts to black in the footage when the band was moving between the main and sub stages, and also before the encore. While I appreciate the time saved, a softer fade in and out would have helped to not abruptly pull viewers out of the concert.
In the end it is really up to the live viewing audience as to what experience they will have in the darkened theater, and I was very glad to see people clapping and calling out and participating and enjoying themselves as they would in a live concert. I would definitely recommend GLAY fans in Los Angeles and San Francisco to catch the screenings in November if they can!
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