This week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series takes me back to another last Friday in April…the one in 2010. It was on that warm night that I ventured down into the Roppongi Hills section of Tokyo to see The Blue Man Group for the first time. It was a moment that almost didn’t happen but I’m actually glad it did.
How I first came across this moment? It was in January 2010—not too long after Chauvonne’s banjo, actually—that I was reading Metropolis and saw that the Blue Man Group would be performing locally in the newly built Blue Man Theatre in Roppongi Hills. They were to open their season on April 29th, which meant that their performance would be one of the last I’d attend in the city as I was scheduled to return back to the United States full-time a few days later. Having never been attracted to Las Vegas and having a then-active boycott on the entire state of Florida, it was unlikely that I’d see them in the United States anytime soon so I stopped by a FamilyMart in Fussa and scored a ticket to their April 30th performance…only ¥7500 for a poncho-area seat. April 30th came and much like I always did on Fridays, I took the train into the heart of the city. While on the inbound Chūō Line Special Rapid, I passed by that spot between Nakano and Shinjuku where you get that awesome view of the skyscrapers and thoughts of skipping the performance to just hang out in the city entered my mind. I was due to leave the following Monday and my weekend was loaded with going-away festivities so this particular night out was my last as a Tokyoite. I remember being deep underground, on the Toei Ōedo Line, and approaching a young Japanese woman and asking her if she wanted a ticket to the Blue Man Group performance. She declined as she had a scheduled engagement and that pretty much ensured that I was going. The performance was amazing. Outside of Cirque du Soleil’s Zed, it was the best show I saw during my residency in Japan…to include all of the concerts I saw at Billboard Live Tokyo, Cotton Club Marunouchi, and Blue Note Tokyo. The performers really did their thing and I loved their interaction with the crowd. They even stopped and put the spotlight on a couple of very tardy patrons. My favorite part of their performance was when they steal the wallet of an audience member, purchase the Rock Concert Instruction Manual, and start doing the “Rock Concert Movements”. Rock Concert Movement 237 was memorable to me because it was such a long explanation. It was a good 90-minute show that ended with those of us in the poncho section getting sprayed with water and foam and a lot of confetti dropping from the ceiling. Afterwards, all the Blue Men and their bandmates congregated outside in the lobby with the attendees. They were very approachable. I got my picture with them and that was that.
What it meant to me then? It was literally my final solo outing in Tokyo during my residency. It ended up being #6 Most Memorable Moment in Tokyo.
What it means to me now? The Blue Man Group gave their last performance in Tokyo in March 2012. The performance I went to was only their 3rd at the Blue Man Theatre, which was built exclusively for them. As I look back on it now, I’m glad that Japanese woman turned down the free ticket. Had she accepted it, I would’ve missed an opportunity to see one of the great live performances of all-time.