AKB48 at Tokyo Auto Salon Singapore

Attending a full-size AKB48 live for the first time

23 April, 2013 by

Being from Hong Kong, I have always envied Singapore because AKB48 actually went there and performed stages more than once. The most Hong Kong ever got was the 3-song “mini live” at the Genki Japan event, despite an appearance from Maeda Atsuko right after she announced plans to graduate. So I got my plane tickets in record time when Tokyo Auto Salon announced the AKB48 line-up, which included members like Kikuchi Ayaka and Kawaei Rina.

I arrived at Changi Airport at 5am on the morning of 4/12 and hurried over to Terminal 2 to meet up with other fans. After extensive “researching” on Google+ and twitter, we deducted that the girls would most likely take the red-eye ANA flight and land at around 6am. The girls started showing up at immigration around 6:30am. I have never been to an “airport event” before, so didn’t know what to expect.

Japanese passengers on the same flight seemed quite perplexed that AKB48 had overseas fans – many of them snapped pictures of us holding signs. The girls that have been here before (Maeda “Singapore Maeda” Ami, Sato Sumire, etc) probably told the first-timers about the airport fans, because they looked more elated and amused than surprised to see us. They pointed and waved at us on the way to baggage claim. We welcomed them with frantic photo-snapping amid loud cheers until they got into pre-arranged transports and left.

After meeting up with more people, including Mus, we headed to the Marina Bay Sands Expo Center, where TAS took place, to line up for the “Priority Passes”. These limited-quantity passes were handed out each day (in different colors to prevent abuse), and granted access to the mosh pit area of the stage. The announcement from TAS was a little vague in terms of what pass holders are entitled to, with regards to AKB48’s Meet and Greet event, so all the fans decided to do the safe thing by waiting in line. We walked the show for a bit after getting the passes, and you can see summaries of the show in the earlier post by Mus.

At 2pm there was a press conference for the media to meet AKB48 first for some Q&A – but since I was brand spanking new to the team, my name was not on the list and was not allowed in. Mus did go in and he took some excellent close-up photos of AKB48 members with my short telephoto lens.

We met up again in the mosh pit around 2:45pm. Some of the people in the pit have been waiting since 10am, right after they got the passes. At 3pm sharp, the opening ceremony started and AKB48 came on stage for ribbon-cutting. After all the formalities were done with, it was finally time to meet them!  They each said their names in quick succession, and then the mosh pit audience were ushered onto the stage for a high-five session with the members. I was a little disappointed but this was expected – a handshake session with all of them would probably take too long.

Fast forward to next morning – I crashed at a friend’s house and we left for the venue at 6:30am, because we want to secure Saturday’s mosh pit passes for the one-hour AKB48 concert in the evening. The line at 7am was already longer than Friday at 8am, but that was expected. Some people apparently stayed overnight, but that really wasn’t that surprising. When Kashiwagi Yuki came to Hong Kong for a handshake event, I lined up for 9 hours to get the ticket. I arrived at 6am and was number 499 in the line – the first person had been there since 4pm the day before.


Thankfully, not everyone was that desperate.

The girls came on stage at 4:30pm and did a repeat of the Meet-and-Greet session, for those that couldn’t make it on Friday. Afterwards most of the fans stayed in the pit to keep their spots near the front of the stage. There was another performance by a solo guitarist from 5pm to 6pm, but people hardly paid any attention to him. He was not bad at all, just had the misfortune of headlining for AKB48.  By 5:50pm the pit was full.  I ended up occupying the back-left corner with Mus and the Wotaroid crew.

This was my first “real” AKB48 live concert – it was everything I expected and then some. They sung and danced for one full hour, while we swung our glowsticks and MIXed for one full hour. The setlist was great, consisted of their most popular singles like Heavy Rotation, the must-have Aitakatta, newer songs like Gingham Check and So Long, and the full-spirited RIVER.

Stalwarts and New Blood

The lineup this time had both Stalwarts and new blood.

During the short MC in the middle, there was an emotional moment when it was Akimoto Sayaka’s turn to speak. She recently announced her plan to graduate from the group, and this was her last time in Singapore as an AKB48 member. She was a central figure in the earlier years of AKB48 and has been a pillar (both figuratively and literally) of the original Team K, as well as all of its reincarnations. She asked the fans to keep supporting her and it was met with loud cheers, followed by “Sayaka” calls.

The Wotaroid crew was also spectacular, doing their routines and getting everyone’s attention. Makes me want to learn the moves and join them next time.


Kikuchi Ayaka was cuter than initially expected.

After the concert ended, I headed back to the airport and hung around until my red-eye flight took me back to Hong Kong. We were guessing that the girls might go back to Japan on the same night, but our guesses were wrong this time. From their g+ posts, it looked like they went shopping and then had chili/pepper crabs again.  It was a great trip – A+++++, would go again.

For the rest of the photos from the press conference, visit us on Facebook!

Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.
Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.

Currently based in Hong Kong. AKB48 fan since late 2011. Runs, a translation site/twitter for 48-related non-mainstream items, such as 2ch discussions, magazine interviews and book excerpts. Also shoots with a Canon 5D Mark II.