The good news: it was a rich and varied show, and even a longish one (encore at the 2.5 hour mark, with only a few relatively brief interludes for costume changes).
As you can see, I was relatively close to the stage too, but there are limits to what an iPhone will capture at this distance 😭 And while I was glad to have a seat (no more GA for me, thank you very much), the sizeable young woman in front of me never sat for a moment so I had to take to my feet too, or rest my butt on the back of the seat to see much. And although the United Center wasn’t sold out, it was respectably well-filled. Considering how many venues he’s performing in, you could say he’d diluted his market, but I’d say he should be very pleased.
Thankfully there were the now requisite jumbo screens, and I’d brought my binoculars, so I was able to see a lot of the detail in his footwork. Only one set feature had me scratching my head; during Ku XX and the following song they had him singing from the back of the stage area, in an inset area (kind of like an alcove) and had dropped these large semi-translucent plastic curtains on either side of the stage (which you can somewhat see in the photo above). While he was in the alcove he was completely invisible to people on the side, like me. The only way I could ‘see’ him singing my favorite song of his was to watch the screens.
And when he came out for his set featuring his most recent songs, I had to laugh when I saw his outfit, and think of my experience with Yolette when we went to see Akanishi Jin! That bucket hat almost entirely covered his face — I don’t know how he could see where he was going! 😂
His voice sounded a little strained and weak at points, no doubt the result of lots of travel and a tight schedule, and during the sound check I was reminded of how fatigued he looked (or was that hungover…?) when we saw him in NJ. He didn’t look entirely happy with the sound system then, and was very pale and drawn looking, but none of that showed during the actual performance. He has, btw, very FINE backup dancers!