Review: ‘GLAY STADIUM LIVE 2012 The Suite Room’ [Live Concert Film]

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by Elizabeth Chan | staff writer

Inside AX checked out the November 17th Los Angeles screening of the live concert film GLAY STADIUM LIVE 2012 The Suite Room In Osaka Nagai Stadium. The original concert took place in Osaka this past summer.  The event had a pretty decent turn out of GLAY fans who got an opportunity to acquire some band merchandise as well at the venue, the Downtown Independent.

GLAY is pretty well known for doing this sort of thing well. They have held massive GLAY Expo open air concerts, which are also recorded on video in excellent quality, and have done internet streams before.

While the recording is an abridged version of the day’s events, the appeal is that they are taped in such a way that it brings the viewer into the film and makes them feel like they are there.  The first GLAY Expo is another prime example of that. Other than that, fans will have to wait until the DVD and Blu-Ray of the filming of both days of The Suite Room, which go on sale in Japan on December 5th. 

As for the screening itself, the film was comprised entirely of the 2nd day of the event at Nagai Stadium, referred to as the “Big Surprise Party” since it was the day that GLAY had some special surprise announcements. The screening itself came from footage that was used as part of the live screening of the event for those who were not able to go to the performance because they could not get tickets or they lived too far away.  The live screenings were made available in Japan, and also overseas in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea.  The vocalist, Teru, also acknowledges those who were originally watching their streaming performance in one of his first MCs in the film and greets them.

The major theme of Hotel GLAY and The Suite Room is mentioned several times during the performance –  they are uniting all fans of their music as one through their performance.  Whether fans are watching it from Nagai Stadium itself, one of the 70 theaters across Asia that were simulcasting the performance, or the various theaters around the world that were brought the film at a later date (like the Downtown Independent screening), all of the viewers are tied together with the single bond of this performance.  No matter what other differences or language barriers we may have, we are united by Nagai Stadium.

The concert film itslef opened with a subtle, yet powerful, overview shot of the inside bowl of Nagai Stadium and the crowd gathered in the middle surrounded by runways and a second stage for the back part of the stadium.  The set up was pretty awe-worthy.While some concertgoers were only able to secure tickets that were far from the stage, during the times when the members would perform on the 2nd stage, they still got to see them rather closely at some point during the concert.

A few seconds of silence was broken with the sound of the members of the band singing over the speakers of the stadium about Osaka.  Once this initial tease was over, attention was turned to the front stage where Hotel GLAY was built. It literally looked about the size of an actual hotel you could check into.

A line of butlers and baggage handlers lined up outside the doors of the hotel and Takuro, the leader and main composer of the band, slowly stepped out to make a speech to the eagerly awaiting audience.  He spoke of how they had blown up their previous Hotel GLAY, and also mentioned some jokes about the other band members, like how Hisashi collects new guitars and the number of smiles that Jiro has, but generally ties it all together to say that they are there to give them a good show.

Just a few seconds later, a short film comes on the screens on both sides of Hotel GLAY.  This film shows what the band did since the last Hotel GLAY was blown up.  Takuro bid on the Nagai Stadium location as a new building site and then became a construction worker. Teru became the #1 guy at a host club. Hisashi became a hacker that spies on people through security cameras and can find pretty much everyone. Finally, Jiro became a metal worker at what looked like an auto body shop.

The film was incredibly amusing and full of hijinx, as Teru casually walked into a room and made two ladies faint by handing them roses, Takuro burst a water pipe  from digging with a pick axe, and Hisashi forgot Jiro’s name and was unable to locate him himself.  Jiro was later found when Takuro happened to walk by the place he was working.  The film then went into a sequence showing the members building the new Hotel GLAY with steel beams to what sounded like a 1920s silent film soundtrack.  After the completion of the new Hotel GLAY, the film switches to a scene in the lobby with the band in suits welcoming the audience to the new Hotel GLAY.

Switching back to Nagai Stadium itself, Jiro comes out in a rocker, white version of a bellboy suit on the main stage.  He then runs across the stadium to the second stage on the other side to join the other band members and the band plays their first song, Shutter Speeds no Theme.  After the song, the whole band jogs back to the main stage for the next song, everKrack, and to continue the concert.

The concert overall continued on this way with action happening all over the stadium. While much of it was on the main stage in front of the giant building erected in the stadium, there was definitely sights to see from every angle.  At specific points of the concert, there were “cases” presented by each of the members, which when “opened,” meant that the band presented the audience with a medley of the band’s popular songs.

As the show progressed, we began to see that Hotel GLAY was more than just a stage shaped like a hotel.  Behind the main portion of the hotel was a giant beach ball dispenser that periodically shot out giant beach balls into the crowd.  As night began to fall, it became apparent that the structure that lied before the audience was also a light show that featured all kinds of effects to accommodate each song and would periodically switch to show what looked like “people” looking out of the hotel at the audience.

Just before the finale, GLAY revealed their seven surprises for which the  ”Big Surprise Party” got its name.  These surprises were the announcement of their 46th and 47th single, their 11th and 12th albums, a national arena tour, an overseas tour, an open air live concert in their hometown in Hokkaido, a dome live concert to celebrate the 20th anniversary since their debut, and a GLAY Expo to take place in Touhoku in 2014.

The encore itself allowed the show to go out with an incredible bang as the band performed their biggest and most well-loved hits including BELOVED, Winter, again, Kuchibiru, Yuuwaku, SURVIVAL, and HOWEVER.  There was also a special presentation of Minami Gochi, which featured dancers from choreographer Minami Sasuga’s dance troupe dancing and teaching the audience a special dance that went with the song.  Pyrotechnics blasted out from the roof during the finale performance of their last single, Bible, in a grand fireworks show.

Overall, the screening was quite enjoyable and was sure to provide entertainment to any fan of GLAY.  For the most part, the goal of uniting people in different places was accomplished, but the concept of the screening itself may still be a bit new for American audiences.

While there was a pretty decent turn out, it wasn’t by any means packed, and viewers didn’t necessarily feel free to act as if they were at the concert.  There were a few people that clapped a little bit from their seats, but there didn’t seem to be many who felt comfortable enough to do much more than that in the theater no matter how much they were getting into the film.  It sure would have been wonderful to see the theater audience also dancing along to Minami Gochi, but patrons likely felt odd about putting their arms in the air for a film.

The only true criticism that can be said is that it may have been better if the film was subtitled for the non-Japanese speaking fans. Other than the native Japanese speakers that attended the screening, it didn’t seem like most of the audience understood various parts of the MC or enjoyed the screening as much as they could have.

However, the choice not to subtitle the film can also be seen as understandable. The idea is to give a similar experience to the live streams in theaters and also the experience in the stadium.  If anyone in the theater had gone to Nagai Stadium, there certainly would not be English subtitles telling you what the band was saying (although  the lyrics were written in Japanese on the screens so that the audience could sing along), so it can be viewed as a more “authentic” experience by showing the film without the language aid.

In the end, perhaps the screening will persuade fans who attended to purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray version, which will then allow them to immerse themselves further into the concert experience from the comfort of their own home.

Official Website:  GLAY HAPPY SWING

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