Snippet

°C-ute, sunburn, psychos and a hangover.

I awoke. I awoke into a nightmare. I awoke into a nightmare, which, by some complete and ridiculous circumstance, was the exact same nightmare I had just awoken from. What happened next is completely boring and of no relevance whatsoever, so I won't bother to tell you. The camera sitting in my bag, however, is of interest, because I didn't use it at all on Friday, much to my own exasperation. It was just too hot to think about anything, so I didn't think and didn't get it out. But anyway...

Thus begins my newest journey of pain, treachery, hunger, excitement, vigour, amnesia, pain, treachery, hunger, excitement, amnesia, pain, treachery, hunger, amnesia, pain, treachery, amnesia, pain, amnesia and amnesia. I awoke. I awoke into a nightmare. I...

seem to be repeating myself.

Anyway, at approximately 4am on an incredibly bright, sunny, and horrifically dismal day, I awoke. I packed. I prepared. I ate. I showered. I left. I got on a train.

>> Fast forward

I arrived in London safely, generally tired as fuck and unhappy to be alive. Almost 3 years since I'd last been in London, and not a day of it too long. I must fast forward again, here, because I entered the tube, which, under no circumstances must anyone ever write about, lest people realise how horrid it actually is thus stop using it.

I got to St. Pancras and enjoyed a leisurely stroll at about 10mph through crowds of stunned and mildly tired tourists, and arrived at the check in to find it was helpfully before the time I was supposed to arrive. I checked in, and, after arming myself with some delightful Irn-Bru and some quick-melting chocolate, I departed.

Eurostar is shit. I suppose it's to be expected, but it was shit anyway. Even if planes were mildly more expensive, it was shit. Cramped seats, check. Unpleasant seating arrangement, check. On the other hand, there was a cold air vent which helped to keep my chocolate from melting briefly so I could eat some of it.

I arrived in Paris around 11am to find it was even hotter and more annoying than I remembered. I still couldn't find the underground route from Gare du Nord to La Chapelle, so I walked the outside way, becoming mildly roasted in the process. My jacket was removed. The sun began to eat my skin. I continued on my way.

The Métro is, as ever, uncomplicated (and much cheaper than the Tube), so I got to Pigalle with resounding success. After being accosted by a random bloke trying to sell me something and me pretending to be English (a ruse I kept up all weekend, to make the Parisiens hate me more), I headed to La Cigale to see what had been described as a "massive" queue.

It wasn't that bad, I think Buono's was bigger at that time of day. I eventually found Gina(RAWR) skulking in the shade, which in hindsight was a pretty good idea. Would that I had thought of it. I also ran into Tiffany, whose username I can never remember, and Chobineko, who didn't remember me. I began looking for Mieke (Miekie1991) and Kelly (Kerichan12) as they were usually hardcore queuers (Buono signing aside, when they arrived pretty much the same time I did) and would thus be at the front, but I was told they'd just departed for somewhere less infernally plagued by a rather loud large red lifeform and an evil glowing orb of pain in the sky.

Anyway, I returned back to Gina and her company of fellow Brits whose names I never got, and waited some more. After a while, various people from this group wandered hither and thither, and the large red lifeform approached me and (loudly) demanded to know why I was standing in the line. I explained I was guarding bags for my friends who had arrived much earlier in the day, and that I honestly didn't care that he wanted me to go to the back, I would when the Brits returned. He seemed briefly mollified, anyway. The Brits returned. I stayed to talk to them whilst trying to remain somewhat apart from the queue. My arms began to tingle. They turned red...

I stole some aftersun from Gina. Wrong order, I know, but then I applied suncream afterwards. Didn't work.

At this juncture Lolli, Kea and Shirow appeared, and we briefly reminisced over some good times of days past before they headed to the back to avoid the red scourge. Maoh arrived and I did some catching up with him too, before he headed off to parts unknown as well. Gina and I heard the red menace abusing some other poor sod, so we returned to the back before he could return his bitter attentions to us. Gina disappeared for a while to relieve herself, and disappeared for a good half an hour before she returned with Lolli and Shirow and beer. We headed up to queue with the aforementioned and Kea, and got started on some tinnies. Or rather, Shirow got started, the rest of us had a few at most. Around then, oroboras finally made his appearance, and we headed off to the hotel room to dump stuff. Upon returning we found Shirow had forced several beers on a hapless Japanese guy called Kyohei, who was hilarious. He'd had some pretty big troubles in France, his iPhone stolen and so on, but still seemed pretty happy to be there. Still, for a newbie Japanese fan (under 6 months) to attend his first C-ute live in Paris is pretty damn insane.

At some point around here I found Mieke and handed over some glowsticks for her use in the concert, before Kelly came back in the line to talk to everyone, and then brought stroopwafels for epic justice. Then I scared her off again with the only Dutch I can remember from when I used to be capable of reading it. It was rather rude though... Also bumped into Morningtime and MTSayuRin for a while somewhen.

Tom, Paul and Matt arrived, then departed again just as quickly to obtain alcohol, kindly buying me a bottle of water in the process, and Kyohei a pack of Heineken. They came back in style, with glasses, cocktail umbrellas and some foul-tasting concoction I can only imagine passes for alchopop in Paris. By this juncture Kyohei was absolutely paraletic, and he carried on drinking. I also gave another beer to another poor lonely-looking Japanese guy reading a book and spoke to him for a while. C-ute arrived or something like that and the crowd surged forward, once again we sneakily moved forward into the vacated space.

From here to the concert it's pretty boring, except Paul, Tom and Shirow buying some cheap coloured canes (the "colouring" was because they were wrapped in coloured sellotape...) to extend the gentlemanly image and replace the need for glowsticks. So, we entered the concert hall. We were scattered to the four corners of the hall, I was blinded by one of the hall lights and got a headache, thus in the beginning I was rather tetchy. Then the light disappeared, and the music began...

Setlist:

The Treasure Box
SHOCK
Watashi ha Tensai (Nakky/Maimai)
Chikyuu Kara no Sanjuusou (Maimi/Airi/Chisa)
Adam to Eve no Dilemma
Kanashiki Amefuri
Maasara Blue Jeans
Ookina Ai de Motenashite
Disco Queen
Sekai Ichi Happy na Onna no Ko
Everyday Zekkouchou
Hitorijimeshitakatta Dakenanoni
Aitai Aitai Aitai na
Darenimo Naishou no Koi wo Shiteiruno
Bokura no Kagayaki
Midnight Temptation
Kiss Me Aishiteru
Chou Wonderful
Tokaikko Junjou
Encore:
Dance de Bakoon
Seishun Song
Jump


As you can see, it was a setlist full of energy and pretty awesome happenings. The beginning was possibly a bit laggy to me, having three songs I'd not heard (The Treasure Box, Watashi ha Tensai and Chikyuu Kara no Sanjuusou... possibly new album songs or something), but Shock was shocking in that everybody sang. Let that sink in for a minute. The first MC became disturbing by the sheer amount of Maimai calls. She seems more popular in France than she is in Japan. In fact, in France she seemed to be the most popular. Was odd. I suppose now she's grown into her head she's more likeable or something. Weird Suzuka person is back again. Wish someone else would do these live translations, she's such a nuisance. The two new single tracks went over quite well, gaining quite a bit in energy from the live performance. Massara Blue Jeans and Ookina Ai de Motenaishite were, thankfully, the TRUE KVLT ORIGINAL versions rather than the shit 2012 remakes. Sorry, but a Massara without a motherfucking bass solo is no Massara at all. Disco Queen was somewhat devoid of audible fan interaction, the wota routine for that song being mostly furicopy. However, the pace was upped a notch by Sekaiichi Happy na Onna no Ko being damn cool live. After this, they invited Chobineko up on stage to thank her for petitioning for the concert. Then she got hugs and the roof blew off. Whether it was from fans raging or fans being happy for her, I'm not sure. I'm in the latter group, anyway. She may not be universally loved, and while I'm not sure why she provokes such mixed reactions, she's a nice enough girl and I'm happy to know that at least some fan-idol interaction goes both ways. If this provokes jealousy, maybe fans should be looking to themselves to think what they're doing wrong, not simmering because Chobi's doing something right. Either way, to me it was quite a heartwarming moment when Airi, then the rest of C-ute gave Chobi a hug. Half reminded me of Chuxnon at Momoclo last year with A-rin, only Chuxnon decided against getting a hug from the rest of Momoclo and got another hug from A-rin. 

Everyday Zekkouchou is one of my least favourite C-ute singles, but it held up decently live. Next up was Hitorijimeshitakatta Dakenanoni, to which I was having immense fun with and then blissed out during the epic prog mid-8 section. Aitai Aitai Aitai na provided some glorious dancing. By glorious, I mean that Maimi, Nakky and (perhaps oddly) Maimai had such ferocious hip movements it was rather beyond "mildly" erotic. Though it was the solo that made me jizz. And dat choir and organ bit. Oh yes. Darenimo is, I think, another song I don't know, and thus don't actually remember. However, Bokura no Kagayaki was epic (I've long had a soft spot for it), and then the fucking amazing kickass trilogy of awesomeness from Chou Wonderful 6 came in. I, to put it mildly, went wild. Had been awake nearly 15 hours on 3 hours sleep, and I was more pumped up than I'd been in about a year. To be fair, all three songs are amazing even on CD, live they were more impressive and DAT MOTHERFUCKING SOLO in Midnight Temptation... jizzed, and airguitared in an idol concert. Only ever done that once before, during Mouretsu at Momoclo. To be fair though, it's almost impossible to not airguitar to them, so epic are they. Chou Wonderful and Kiss Me Aishiteru were also epic. Then we had Tokaikko Junjou to round us out. The fans started chanting for an encore, and knowing what to expect, I turned to Gina and told her to expect 25 minutes of chanting and then for them to fuck us over. The documentary cameras came out and filmed the crowd, and Gina replied that they were probably only doing it for the documentary, then would come the turfing out.

Imagine my surprise when the stage lights went back on and C-ute reappeared and did Dance de Bakoon. Imagine my further surprise when we got another (hugely elongated) MC, with some failure French letter reading. Then we finished off with the rearranged group version of Seishun Song and Jump, to which much jumping was done. Overall, it was an amazing concert, probably actually better than the Buono! one just for not fucking over the fans. There were a few blips, some songs were TV-length rather than album length. I would have preferred some representation from the third album, Tokaikko aside, and the fourth album, Seishun Song aside, and maybe have done without the sub-divided songs that I didn't know. Still, was win. Here's to another, or, finances permitting, me getting my ass back to Japan sometime in the near future.

Post concert, Kea and Lolli borrowed some money from me to buy themselves a CD with the handshake ticket in it, I followed suit and grabbed a tshirt too because mine was ruined. I now had a ticket to Expo and a handshake ticket, and no idea what to do with them. 

I went outside to look for people and failed dismally, but managed to corner a few people into agreeing to go to the Aussie Bar with us again (several of us had plotted in advance on Hello!Online to that effect already), though understandably some of the hardcore queuers like Tomasz (Aard1ark) and Chobi wanted to actually sleep rather than get wasted. A shame. Whilst people hung around outside the venue to see C-ute go home, Kea bought me some food to get rid of some of the money she owed me, and because I was starving, having realised I'd not actually eaten since like 4am aside from 3 cubes of semi-melted chocolate on the Eurostar. orob and Gina headed off to eat/go home respectively. I eventually went and stood and waited around too, before giving up and retreating to the grass verge with Matt because legs aren't capable of standing for prolonged periods of time. Eventually we returned, eventually C-ute came out (two hours later, nearly), eventually we went to the pub.

Orob, Maoh and a few of the Japanese guys had arrived somewhat before the motley crew of gentlebeings who descended with a vengeance upon Café Oz that night, but I think we broke it. Two guys who were there soon left. Not long after that, pool tables were being moved, curtains drawn, lights dimmed and UVs switched on as the hottest party in the world kicked off. Succeeding in flirting with the barman, Kea managed to get the C-ute Paris CD put on, and we wotagei'd through most of it. We had many a good conversation. We kecha'd the barman, who gave everyone a free shot of Baileys. We got viciously drunk, except Mieke, who was teetotalling but still looked like a total wreck (she was feeling pretty ill). Even after the C-ute stopped and the DJ started at midnight, we carried on drinking, educating the Japanese wota in British pub culture in an Aussie bar in Paris. We carried on into the wee hours of the morning before finally departing for some picture times.

Liberally yoinked from everyone's Facebook accounts.
I spoke some more with the Japanese dudes I hadn't had a chance to speak with yet, once again finding my Japanese skills improve massively after an influx of alcohol, as well as get a the reactions of the concert from a now-near-death-from-drunkenness Kyohei. After this orob and I headed back to our hotel with Crazed Lurker, arie and some other Dutch guys, and Brian from Hong Kong. We arrived rather inebriated (me probably moreso, on account of having drank rather more) and sunburned, and then slept.

The second day dawned, bright and early, and I awoke to darkness. Unfortunately it was because of a blackout curtain rather than it still being dark, as the sun was once again intolerable. I showered and headed off, bidding farewell to oroboras who had a train back to England to catch before the handshake event started. I grabbed a quick breakfast in McDonald's because I couldn't be bothered to walk to Blanche to catch the Métro, then caught it at Pigalle, and before I knew it I was on the dreaded RER headed to Parc des Expositions. Heat. So much heat. It was insane. Then I got to the Expo centre, walked about two miles within around the looping queues (to be fair I probably got in ahead of people who started "queuing" (French queuing = walking incredibly slowing) about half an hour ahead of me) and finally got in. I immediately headed for the "Photocall" where the handshakes would be, and found nothing. I found that odd, so walked to the Bishibishi booth to look at some goods. The prices were rather insane, so I walked back to the Photocall. Still nobody there, so I walked around and took some pictures.

A dancing robot.
 
The ripoff booth.
Who should I then be tapped on the back by but Crazed Lurker, fresh from the late night drinkings. After some waiting, I decided I really couldn't be assed to wait in a line that didn't exist for a handshake event more than 3 hours away, so I dragged him to the Live House in the hope that Paul, Tom and Matt would show up. Shockingly, they did, less than 2 minutes later. In the dearth of anything more interesting to do, I joined them (and dragged Crazed Lurker along with me) to watch a new dance group called J☆Dee’Z, and a group of idols who make even Momoclo seem sane: Denpagumi.inc.


From Japan Expo's description, I expected J☆Dee’Z to be a group of dancers, who didn't sing. Imagine my surprise when they started singing. And it wasn't bad, good dance music with pummeling beats and a high level of skill from all four girls. I even chose my oshi, because one girl was called Momoka and I don't think there's ever been a group with a Momoka in it in which said Momoka has not been my oshi.

Momoka. 
Meik.
Their performance lasted about 18 minutes, but was good while it lasted. Dunno any of their songs, but they did get everyone to memorise a dancemove in a song which I can only assume was called Daisuki and the crowd performed it along with them. They're not quite Dream5 level yet, but looking forward to see what they can do in the future.

Momoka and Ami... I think.


After ten minutes or so of prep time Denpa arrived on stage for their mildly insane overture, before ripping into WWD and taking us on a journey of about twenty genres in six minutes. Their set was littered with favourites like Den Den Passion, Sabotage, Denparade Japan, Kirakira Tune and Future Diver. While Pinky wasn't in attendance for some reason, it was still a pretty cool time. Even though my glowstick ran out. I picked Risa as my oshi because she looked so damn cool, with Mirin as runner up.

Eimi. 
Mirin.
They also announced some kind of drama/movie thing starring them on the big screen which was impossible to see from where I was. Either way, the reaction sounded like it might be good.

Mona.
Risa. 
So, with the gig finished, we bolted to the handshakes where suddenly, the numbers had skyrocketed. I went to speak to Mieke, Kelly and Maoh for a bit, and then (eventually) Shirow, Lolli and Kea turned up, fashionably late as ever (especially so in Shirow's case). I queued up and waited, speaking briefly in the line to Tiffany, and then started thinking of what I wanted to say. 15 minutes late, C-ute appeared, and I started shuffling my way forward. I eventually reached the front and had Maimai in front of me.

"Merci beaucoup!" she said in surprisingly sufficient French to trip my brain switch over to its French gear, wasting me a second in changing it back into Japanese mode. I briefly stumbled over something so simple I would have said it in less than a second the previous night regarding the fan's reaction to Maimai in France being extraordinary, and then got pushed along.

Hold on, I thought to myself. I thought it was supposed to be at least 5 seconds for a handshake.

Unfortunately my bad experiences continued. With Nakky I tried to say hopefully next time they'd come to the UK, but  again got thrown off by the French and again got pushed away before my time. With Maimi I managed the switch quickly and busted in a quickfire "イギリス人ですけどね・・・" after the rote "Merci", before failing to recover enough time to say that I wished that she'd remained an Ame Onna before showing her my sunburned arms. Unfortunately I failed. With Airi I stood my ground and resisted attempts to push me along until I'd told her to do her best with her guitar lessons, and that hopefully one day I'd get to see her do an acoustic solo live. Finally one I could be proud of.

With Chisa, I hadn't planned to say much, but oddly she didn't say "Merci", she just said "Hi!" which threw me off even more. She must have heard me speaking to Maimi (by that point I think everyone else in front of me had been moved on). I busted out four quick words ("頑張り屋さんとして頑張ってね!") and she probably seemed the happiest out of the lot of them, oddly. Anyway, I moved out, received a badge, and then headed to find people. I spoke to Kelly, Maoh and Crazed Lurker, and told them how quick the handshakes actually were. Then I took a picture of the three of them and some random person who jumped in.


Then I spoke to Shirow, Kea and Lolli and said I'd probably be going in a minute, but I wanted to take some pics of the girls first. Unfortunately, the left hand side of the barriers were crowded, so I went around the right hand side and got lucky, though all I ended up with were some side-shots of Maimai.




I also grabbed a decent shot of Morningtime getting his hand shaken by Maimai, so I'll post it here until he tells me to remove it.

Morningtime's patented "okay" sign.
After this I hovered around to the other side, grabbing a really quick (but crap) shot of Airi, taken over the heads of several people.


Can't even blame it on Mieke this time...

I saw Mieke in line, anyway, and went over to bid farewell, before she bid me grab Kelly upon her exit from the handshake and send her back over. I saw Kelly come out soon after this, in tears of joy. I passed on my message and made haste to leave, bidding a brief (and second or third) farewell to Kea, Lolli and Shirow, and then made my merry way home through the burning sun. I grabbed something to eat on the way, cogent of the fact that I'd otherwise be possibly 24 hours before next eating. It was shit, but hey, it's Expo food. Got approached by my final tout of the weekend, who offered me something, before I failed at even falsely claiming I was English, such was my state of mental disrepair. I reached the train platform and there were about 3000 people on it. So much for "leaving the Expo before 4pm is really easy." Twenty minutes later, another 2000 had joined and a train still hadn't come. By the time one did, possible 8000 people were trying to push onto one train. I sat out and swooped at the next one, merely four minutes later. I got a seat, but it was still pushing 50C in the train from the sheer mass of humanity. The problems continued when we reached Gare du Nord, as the train doors started closing before I even got within 5 metres of the door. I briefly remembered some French in order to yell at people pushing onto the train, and some helpful black guys gave me a massive push through just about everyone and left me stumbling onto the platform. Ah, bliss.

The battle after this was less vigourous, but no less annoying. The wait for Eurostar in Gare du Nord was about 10 times longer than the wait in St. Pancras. I suppose having a custom built station is rather more effective than screwing up an already busy hub station. After a bizarre series of customs and security (French passport control - outbound; UK passport control - inbound; French security - outbound; customs) and another 10 minute walk to the end of a very long platform (hooray carriage 1?) I ended up on a horrible table seat, with more tossers around me. Luckily the woman with a screaming toddler on her lap in the seat next to me decided to spend the majority of the trip not next to me. I suppose attending concerts and working up a sweat has some benefits.

Got back to London after several delays, swept through customs, and then got accosted on the way out of the customs door into the station proper. Ooh err, I though, expecting the worst, only to find it was a fellow C-ute fan, who saw my T-shirt and just wanted to say that it was an excellent gig and he'd see me at the next one.

World never fails to surprise.

After this I decided London needed some Krv, so I headed up to the Brewdog in Camden, grabbed a few beers, bought a few more to take home, and then headed home. I arrived too. Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing this, eh.

So, yes. Another brilliant wota-weekend. As I said before (I think), maybe next time I'll get to do it in Japan. If not, then there's always the next Europe event. Unless it's Berryz. Or S/mileage. Though who knows.

Still, maybe next time... less sun, please France?

6 comments:

  1. Regarding the 'red menace'. He'd been given permission by staff at the event to police the line. I believe I know the group of people you were sat with. His English isn't very good and he thought that you claimed that you were meeting friends there, who hadn't joined the queue yet. Overall he and a couple of others did a good job at getting the majority of queue-jumpers to move further back in the queue, so you should be grateful for his efforts. Otherwise you may well have found yourself much further back inside.

    Regarding the hate for Chobineko. It's simple really. She has an over-inflated ego. She introduced herself as 'The girl who met Takahashi Ai on Japanese television' to a number of people in the queue and she did the same during the Buono! concert last year. This happened what? Two or three years ago now? Seemingly she doesn't even care much for Takahashi and mentions this incident purely to brag. She was also telling a number of people in the queue the other day that it was because of her that C-ute came to Paris. A number of people sadly seem to have fallen for this, as I haven't seen any proof that it was thanks to her petition that C-ute came to Paris. They would have came whether there was a petition or not.

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    1. I don't think he really cared about much beyond the front of the queue. Once we'd moved back to near the back, and even when more and more joined behind us, we never saw him anywhere near to approaching our end of the line, so I doubt he could have had that much influence on my position in the venue in any case. As for whether the organisers gave him permission to do so, it may have been preferable if he'd been given some kind of proof by them. If you remember at Buono signing session, the Risako wota whose name I was told was Mike but apparently isn't took on much the same role, making sure people's names were written down in the order they arrived for the signing to ensure nothing got out of hand. Only he did it diplomatically. No matter how tetchy you are, yelling at people isn't the way to make them do what's right, if anything it just makes them dig in.

      As for Chobi, she is a young girl with a rather excitable nature. Obviously the Aichan thing meant a lot to her, and even if she isn't an Aichan fan, it's an experience you can relate to other people that share the same interests. Obviously I've not heard her brag, so I can't rule out that she may be irritating. However, regarding her getting C-ute to come to Paris, maybe the petition didn't have anything to do with it. But I think, if that were the case, she probably wouldn't have been called out on the stage. Even if it was a small help, it was still something that maybe provided a little more impetus.

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  2. It wasn't that he didn't care. It's only possible for one person to police so much of the queue. Even with assistance from a few others at the front it was impossible to be sure whether someone around 60th in the queue had been there earlier or not. It was decided that queue-jumpers further back in the queue would be left for the fans in that area to deal with.

    Sadly I wasn't at the Buono! signing session, so I don't know how it was. Based on my experience at the C-ute handshake event though, there wasn't much trouble regarding the queue anyway. I don't know how many concerts you've been too in France, but this is my third and yelling at them seems to have been the method that works best. If you ask them to move politely they just stay in place. Although 'the red menace' could get people to move on his size alone. ;)

    By any chance did you happen to hear anything that was said before Chobineko got dragged on stage? I couldn't hear a word, so I have no idea how it happened. To tell the truth I didn't hear much of what was said on-stage either as I had an overly-excited little girl to my left, who screamed at every opportunity.

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    1. Fair enough then, obviously those of us further back were a bit more chilled out and just didn't really mind that much about queue jumping. We all got in eventually eh :P

      I didn't hear much of it, I think Airi spotted Chobineko in the front row or something, and waved, then a brief exchange, then Suzuka may have said something about Chobi being semi-reponsible for organising the petition and then the next thing I knew she was on the stage and talking in French, which, despite my best efforts, I couldn't remember much of this weekend.

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  3. I can help with some of your setlist

    The Treasure Box, Watashi wa Tensai, and Chikyuu Kara no Sanjuusou are B-sides from "Crazy Kanzen na Otona"

    Dare ni mo Naishou no Koishite Iru no is a B-side from their upcoming "Kanashiki Amefuri / Adam to Eve no Dilemma" single ^^

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    1. Thank you muchly. Shows how much attention I pay to H!P singles in general really. I'm an album man through and through :P

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