Remember when I wrote in my Ballstik Boyz post that by the time it posted I would be seeing a different group from EXILE TRIBE? Well, this is where I was at. Honestly, was my dream concert. I’ve been a fan of this group for about 5+ years and never had the chance to see them before this day. Trust me when I got the lottery email saying I scored two tickets, I was beyond thrilled. So, as always forgive me for being biased.
It was special being my first live in awhile with a friend from college. We were in a literally sea of other fans, even though it took forever for us to find our seats. But despite the rain, crowds and other concert shenanigans we got ourselves ready to be blessed and stood up ready for the show.
Unsurprising, given this was the ‘Raise the Flag’ tour they opened with ‘Raise the Flag’ itself. Which I was not the biggest fan of during it’s initial release but seeing how it was presented live… was completely different experience and opinion.
You see, LDH and EXILE TRIBE don’t just ‘perform’ when they do lives. While yes, they get on stage sing, dance, goof around and present their music there’s a lot more presentation that goes on with it. They had a full color guard, back up dancers, a live backing band, floats and everything to get them all on stage to finally sing and dance. I don’t want to drag this out but it was so much more then just them singing and dancing. It was an experience.
Following ‘Raise the Flag’ they jumped into ‘Yes We Are’ their second most recent release, which is a completely different vibe and feeling but really they just knew how to keep everything going. They were in center stage mostly, with projectors for those of us off the main floor, and knew when to switch up who was standing where and when. It was dynamic!
Since summer just began, it wouldn’t be complete with adding in a bit of ‘Summer Madness’. I was dancing along with them to the amusement of my friend. It’s a bop. be sure to check it out.
Of course, to continue the hype train was “J.S.B Dream”. This song does things to me. I would at any given time; twerk to this song, plan a boxing match, work out, karaoke it, and potentially kill a man to this song. Needless to say, I was loosing my grip on life listening to this. Following was the lit as ever ‘Fire’ and the ever iconic ‘Eeny, meeny, miny moe!”.
This next part is a little fuzzy since some set lists have it listed, others do not. Sapporo did get the treat of having both Imachi Ryuji and Tosaka Hiroomi perform their most recent singles. I distinctly remember Ryuji singing ‘Catch my Light’ because normally, if you are at a Sandaime J Soul Brothers concert, you are only going to get Sandaime J Soul Brothers songs. The company did not stick in soloists songs in group concerts for a very long time. That seems to have changed with this performance and tour.
It was quite the treat to have Ryuji take the stage with his crew. Not to mention ‘Catch My Light’ is so much fun to see live as it is in the MV! But Ryuji did not have to hold the stage by himself for long. (Of course, this track served to let the other members change into next stages outfits.)
Because up next was the more slow and sensual part of the live with the likes of “君となら”(Kimi to Nara), ”恋と愛”(Koi to Ai), and ”蛍” (Hotaru) coming up in quick succession. I won’t lie, it was probably my favorite part of the live. Seeing how not only talented, but indeed sexy and sensual is a huge part of JSB’s appeal. I am but a simple fangirl. However, gone are the days to randomly loosing their shirts and simple body rolls
(RIP), but a more mature set of dances and dancers grace the stage. It had cheeky moments, but overall the more mature side of the group won out here.
This was interrupted, both subtly and not but “Welcome to Tokyo” which not slow or sensual. They have to bring back the part energy somehow though right?? It’s not my favorite bop, but it’s an enjoyable track with good transition energy to lead to the second surprise of the night.
Which was Tosaka Hiroomi, taking the stage with “Blue Sapphire”.
I wouldn’t quite have picked this song to be the one to see live but I wasn’t disappointed. It was classy, sexy and everything that Hiroomi has come to prove with his music over the years as a soloist. It has his distinct soloist signature to it, while maintaining some core elements of a JSB associated track. Another smart play for the group as the other members changed.
We then moved from loud club party, to the smaller more intimate sort of party tracks. First up was “Happy” which I wasn’t quite sure if it would make it on set, but was pleasantly surprised it did. It really embodies the whole idea of a large, but not destructive party and really brings my mood back to happy every time I listen to it. This was followed by “Feel So Alive”, “O.R.I.O.N”, and then full force party mode with “R.Y.U.S.E.I”.
“R.Y.U.S.E.I” was the track I was waiting for. The most iconic song in all of JSB’s discography, at least in the general public’s eyes. It’s their most well known track, with the “running man” dance that still sweeps people up into it in the stands or on the streets when they hear it. Being among my first JSB songs I ever heard, I didn’t quite shed tears during this track but I was more then delighted to hear and see it live.
With that they continued to pump up the party vibes with “BRIGHT”, “You Shine the World” and “Galaxy Express 999”. Now being honest; I never got into “Galaxy Express 999” as a stand alone song. Yes, it’s iconic and most Japanese people know some variation of the song from the anime. But it never made sense in my head why it would be sang by a group like JSB.
Well, it turns out it’s ‘you have to listen to it live’ kinda song. Because where I don’t feel it while driving or listening to it at random I was jamming so hard to this song live. It just felt right. It helped that they were all on floats, parading around like the train itself and hyping up the crowd one last time. It was a chance to see their funny sides, with them goofing around with one another and the fans.
To end their initial set, they chose ‘Rainbow’ which I initially thought was odd turns out was quite fitting.
There’s always announcements and an encore though. They just gotta change one more time! We got the announcement of Elly, aka Crazyboy’s new single ‘Pink Diamond’, and JSB’s new single ‘Scarlet’. There were some brief PR videos for each member to fill the time, and they were enjoyable too!
The encore, was “JSB Love”, and “Storm Riders”. Which, I did not honestly expect or would have picked for two of three encore tracks. However, I dig ‘JSB Love” in person more because of this and even without Slash, “Storm Riders” does give some nods to older JSB root songs that weren’t performed live.
They did close on a more somber note with “〜花歌〜flowers for you”, which again I would not have picked to close a concert with. Given the reaction to it though, which yes I did cry here knowing it would be truly over, makes sense.
I could go on forever about these guys. It never fails me to see them perform on TV or through Youtube and know that they are in fact ‘real’. But seeing them from a crowd, with so many other fans, all enjoying and celebrating their songs, dances and overall performance will never stop being surreal. If I didn’t have the pictures to prove it to myself; I wouldn’t believe I actually made my dream come true.
Also for funzies and validation, Tosaka Hiroomi, Imachi Ryuji and Iwata Takanori posted to Instagram about the live too. Also Elly posted about a Sapporo restaurant and I may or may not have gone there solely based on that IG Story…. but that’s for another day. Overall, I am at peace with my life and eagerly awaiting the next time I can go to their live.