July 19, 2019
The lights were dim when we entered the concert hall of the Bentley Music Auditorium in Kuala Lumpur. Although to be precise, the auditorium is located in Petaling Jaya, not KL, a place I would say I’m overly familiar with because this is the state where our main office building is located. It helps that this venue is near Ikea Damansara, a place too familiar to me from many previous visits. Actually, my choice of city in this leg of [Alexandros] Sleepless in Asia tour is all too familiar. Indeed KL is like my second home, considering I go here every other month. But despite that, it was not an obvious choice for me. When I saw the list of cities for the Sleepless in Asia tour, I wanted to go to Taipei or Hong Kong because it’s nearest to Manila, but KL won me over because for the previous cities mentioned, I wasn’t able to score VIP tickets. But luck would have it because I was actually in Penang, Malaysia when the ticket went on sale in April. That’s how I secured my VIP tickets for the July 19, KL gig. So enough about my rants on how I ended up watching them live for the first time in a city I have visited every year in varying frequencies for the past 10 years.
Sleepless in Kuala Lumpur
I did experienced Sleepless in Kuala Lumpur, literally, because my supposedly evening flight from Manila to KL on July 18, turned out to be a midnight/early morning flight. With all the hassles that I got from this particular flight, I made it in front of my hotel, Manhattan Business Hotel in Damansara at around 8am in the morning. After checking in, I had a bit of a much needed shut eye but I can’t sleep that long in the morning so by midday I found myself heading out to Suria KLCC to eat lunch and buy books in Kinokuniya. I love Kinokuniya this much that even though I stayed in a hotel near the concert venue, I still made my way to the Kinokuniya branch in KLCC, way out of the way but you just have to do what you got to do. 😛 After this I went back to the hotel to change and off I went to the concert venue. It was almost 5pm by this time. I’m not entirely sure if this is a concert review, ‘cause this writing is like chatting with friends, but anyway, let me first tell you why I like [Alexandros] so much. The next few paragraphs are my rants, so please scroll down if you want to go straight to my recollection on what happened during the concert.
Why I Love [Alexandros]
I have known [Alexandros] and their music for only less than a year. But when I heard them, I love them right away. Their former name was [Champagne] but because of a request from a French company, which wanted to protect or preserve that name to identify only with the drink and not with anything else, they changed their name to [Alexandros]. Personally, I think this is a better name well-suited for the band.
There are many reasons why I like their music. And my desire to see them live tells me that I’ll be consuming this fandom for years to come. Come to think of it, once I like an artist, I usually like them forever. And I know that this band belong to that forever category.
Top 10 list why I think they’re cool
1. They are dreamers. They persevered to make their dreams come true, slowly but surely they are living the life of their dreams.
They have a lot of songs that talk about having a dream and doing everything to make it a reality. Songs like Forever Young & For Freedom are like chronicles of their own history as a struggling band who wanted to make it big. Now, they’re living the life they used to dream about. And that is inspiring. They remind me to not give up and press on.
2. They create uplifting songs even though they talk about sadness, loneliness, and being left out in the world.
The meaning of Yoohei’s lyrics are bittersweet yet they wrap it around music that is fun and uplifts my spirit. Starrrrrrr is that awesome track that always puts a smile on my face when Masaki’s lead come on. This line from ‘Pray’ always gets to me – ‘Every time I see you hurt yourself, you try to move on with no help, だから今は Let me pray!’
3. Yoohei writes all their songs and his lyrics tells me he’s the kind of man who’d rather suffer to live for his truth than be comfortable living in lies. He wants to live his life true to himself. It seems to me that the most important thing for him is to be honest with himself; his desires, his ambitions, his view of the world, his truth. This band knows the essence of being true to who you really are. 私は私だから。
4. They truly enjoy creating music and that is reflected in their performances. Every time I see them perform live, they always seem to be having so much of fun! And you can see this with the high energy they bring on the stage.
5. They are skilled musicians who sound very good live. Only many hours of practice can bring about such perfection. That kind of dedication is always inspiring.
They understand melody and what makes a song tick. In interviews they call this ‘feeling’ that when recording songs, they don’t stop if they don’t feel that the song has captured that ‘feeling’.
6. They all have positive energy and they’re serious with what they set out to do. Whether it’s about conquering the world, getting back from an injury, or learning a language, they know that the most important thing is just to put on the utmost effort, and the results will follow.
7. They know how to take care of themselves. Whether it’s about eating well or dressing up well, they always look good.
8. They enjoy life because they understand the essence of living life to the fullest.
9. They’re kind. To people around them; to their fans. * Although I am not used to the handshake concept of a meet-and-greet, I can attest to this, they were very nice.
10. They are emphatic. Through his songs, I feel that Yoohei understands in a deeper sense the innate sadness one goes through in life and how music can ease people’s pains.
Okay I’ll stop at 10, because this has become a very long post. Now that I’ve let that all out, let me tell you about July 19, 2019.
First the venue. The Bentley Music auditorium is a small concert space offering standing room only perfect for concert performances. I like more intimate venues because I feel closer to the music and the performers especially if I’m seeing them for the first time. We went inside the hall while cueing in based on our ticket numbers, (which I found quite odd), I’m number 67. I’m not sure if this was the decision of the concert promoters or the band management. In this particular city it was Toybox Projects. But anyway, I positioned myself almost at the centre of the VIP area space beside some local Malaysians I’ve befriended, and a couple who said they were from Thailand. A lot of those in front of us were Japanese fans who came to KL to watch the band. Neat!
We waited for about 30 minutes before any indication that the concert is about to start. So when the guitar technicians stepped in to tune in the guitars we are already all ears.
Riado from Big Mama, who is subbing for Satoyasu sat behind the drums, then followed by Rose, Masaki and Hiro. The 3 went on to play the first notes of Last Minute, the first song in the Sleepless in Brooklyn album. When Yoohei stepped on stage, everyone were at their toes, giving the band a very warm welcome! I love the energy and Yoohei hyped up the crowd even more by encouraging all of us to sing along and have fun!
The setlist is beautifully arranged alternating slow songs with fast rock tunes. When they followed Last Minute with Dracula la, I know I’m in for a treat. I love the bass line of this song and it’s always fun to sing along to. Then they played Starrrrrrr, which took me by surprise. So even though I’m mispronouncing some of the Japanese lyrics, I sang my heart out. I Don’t Believe in You, followed which is a track off Sleepless in Brooklyn, but believe me when I say that this band doesn’t have bad songs, really. Next was Girl A & Waitress, Waitress, only then did it occur to me how similar these two songs are.
Then sexy Yoohei unleashed with Party is Over. I love the chill out feeling of this song. If these guys are in my party, I don’t want it to be over. Up next is the monster trio of Kaiju, Mosquito Bite, and Kick & Spin, energetic songs which I think are great when played live. I always liked hearing Kick & Spin live, the kind of song you can just let yourself go. And like asking us to calm down, the solemn piano accompaniment of Rose for New Wall, the hyped up Ashita, Mata and Fish Tacos Party followed. I did remember Rose playing the notes of Mayonaka, which was during this time I just don’t recall the correct song sequence.
After this they played Your Song, also from Sleepless in Brooklyn, then Adventure and one of my favourite songs from them, Arpeggio. It’s an intelligent song built upon an arpeggio, with lyrics that goes “We’re going up and down you know…” which is exactly what you do when you’re playing an arpeggio. Yoohei hinted that this is their last song, but concerts always have an encore, so I had a reason to anticipate that there’s more. Coming here, I expected them to play three of their newest songs, which they released between April and July (talk about proficiency) Pray and 月色ホライゾン. I love ‘Pray’ and I first heard it at a time I needed a prayer so this song will always be dear to me. After Arpeggio, they all went off the stage and the lights went off, but all of us were expecting an encore. After a few moments, they all went back played Pray, followed by 月色ホライゾン and their last song was their biggest hit, Wataridori. Before playing 月色ホライゾン, Yoohei did a little bit of talking, sharing that he wrote this song while on the plane. He says that this song is his testament to remind himself to live life to the fullest and embrace who he really is. That we should value living in the now and make the most of what we can with our lives. It felt like it took a lot of thought saying such profound words in a concert, but I think this is one of the reasons why they are so genuine. ワタリドリ is a great last song. Yoohei even said, “This is really the last song.” Haha. I love how the crowd sing along and I felt like I poured all my remaining energy for this last song.
After the concert, all of us VIP ticket holders get a chance to ‘meet’ the members so we waited outside the hall, and cued again based on our numbers. Then, we were led in inside by groups of 10 people. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this. When we went back again inside, Hiro, Yoohei, and Masaki were there with chairs in front of the stage. We took the group photo first, all three seated on the provided chairs while the fan group stand behind them. It was short, just 2 clicks from the camera, then we were led in to greet them and shake their hands. All I managed to say was to thank them for such a fun night. The staff around were all too eager to let everyone finish fast so I thought this part was too business-like that I don’t remember much of it. Despite being tired from performing, I thank the band members for doing this, although I think they don’t have to. I admit I’m not used to this culture of ‘handshake’ fan meeting. When it comes to bands, I prefer a real autograph signing session, where we cue to have them sign before our eyes, that way we can have a little chat, you know. This style was for me too rushed. But as long as some fans, whether Japanese or any other nationalities like this, then all is well. But it was a really fun night, and I can’t wait to watch them perform live again. Maybe next time, I’ll see them in Japan.
Ohhh. I forgot to mention, after Wataridori, before Hiro went backstage, he threw all the remaining guitar picks at the crowd and I got Masaki’s pick. 😛
[Alexandros] Sleepless in Kuala Lumpur set list:
- Last Minute
- Dracu la la
- I Don’t Believe in You
- Girl A
- Waitress, Waitress
- Party if Over
- Mosquito Bite
- Kick & Spin
- New Wall
- Ashita, Mata
- Fish Tacos Party
- Mayonaka (keyboard filler only)
- Your Song
- Tsukiiro Horizon