X JAPAN: to resume its attack in 2008 I.V. -towards destruction

live report - 04.04.2008 08:00

Live report of the first of X JAPAN's legendary reunion concerts: Night of Destruction on March 28th.

X JAPAN was formed in 1982 and disbanded in 1997. During that time, more than 2,500,000 people had come to see their lives, and over 21 million copies of their CDs have been sold. They performed in Tokyo Dome for the first time in 1991 and would continue to perform there each year until the Last Live in 1997. They were also the first Japanese artists to hold three consecutive lives at Tokyo Dome (in 1993) and hold the record for number of shows at Tokyo Dome having performed there sixteen times. The legendary band X JAPAN has made numerous records in Japanese music history, and now, re-united ten years after HIDE's death, they are attempting a new challenge, shifting their sights from Japan to the whole world.

It was the end of March, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom in Tokyo and the weather was overcast and drizzling. In the stream of people who walked from JR Suidoubashi station to Tokyo Dome, there were many fans who wore X JAPAN costumes and had their hair spiked and dyed red. The series of live concerts to be held over three days each had different titles: Night of Destruction on March 28th, Night of Madness on March 29th and Night of Creation on March 30th. This live report is of the first night.

On both sides of the stage, there were huge letter Xs, decorated with roses and a white curtain hung between the stage and the arena. It had been about two and a half hours since the scheduled starting time, yet classical music was still being piped quietly into the venue. Fans with their colorful glow sticks of various colors mostly waited patiently, but sporadically cheered and clapped to urge the live to start. When the venue finally darkened, the audience burst into cheers and made the letter X by crossing their glow sticks in the air. The Last Song began with a quiet intro on piano, and then the live started with the song which had last been played in 1997. It was almost as though the band was picking up right where they left off. As the song gradually got louder and reached its climax, TOSHI's beautiful, clear voice sounded from behind the white curtain. The image of thorns growing from the stage and got longer and longer, and the letter X was shone in orange along with the booming announcement of "X JAPAN!" With this the audience cheered and the stage exploded in blue light.

Columns of fire bellowed up towards the ceiling around the front of the stage and yellow laser beams criss-crossed the arena as Rusty Nail started. TOSHI, who wore a long silver coat and sunglasses, sang as he walked onto the center walkway. To stage left, there was guitarist PATA, who wore a long coat with gorgeous decorations; and on the right side of the stage was bassist HEATH, who wore a long white coat and had hair extensions. At center stage, on a riser was YOSHIKI, who was naked to the waist and perfectly at home behind his drums. On the stage screens, the image of the present X JAPAN members and HIDE playing the guitar could be seen. It really felt like he was singing and playing guitar on stage at that moment.

"I wanted to see you, Tokyo Dome! How have you been?" TOSHI said with a smile after he finished singing. "I'm sorry to keep you waiting for such a long time. YOSHIKI was late." Then TOSHI gave his microphone to YOSHIKI. YOSHIKI was a little bit shy and mumbled something so TOSHI spoke for him, saying, "Today we are roughnecks! Are you ready!?" The audience laughed in response.

WEEK END started with TOSHI's vocals, and the fans raised their fists all together. On the screen, there was the image of HIDE wearing a red leather costume with pink hair. HEATH played his bass solo and sang the chorus with the image of HIDE. PATA played calmly the whole time and only showed off in a guitar duet with HIDE's image. TOSHI ran around all over the stage, at times pointing to the audience. Fans raised their fists and sang loudly together during the chorus. After the song finished, YOSHIKI went to a glass grand piano set on the stage, and SCARS started. The beautiful piano and clear voice of TOSHI rang throughout the whole venue. Green laser beams fired through the images of pink clouds projected on the stage. Close-ups of HIDE, whose image sang along and played guitar, had the audience singing and cheering even louder.

After the song, the stage brightened and SUGIZO, who wore a black costume, came out as a guest guitarist. Silent Jealousy started with SUGIZO playing HIDE's part. HEATH's bass was booming and YOSHIKI's drums exploded. On the screens, images of HIDE playing guitar with his pink hair standing on end and SUGIZO were projected alternately. SUGIZO played a marvelous twin guitar duet with PATA. TOSHI sang with a high vibrato and walked to stand by YOSHIKI's drum set. As the song drew to a close, YOSHIKI kicked over his microphone stand, broke the drum set loudly and went on a wild rampage filling the room with the screeching metal sounds of destruction.

The venue became dark as the fans began to call the members' names. Suddenly, four dancers in fancy colorful costumes of yellow and pink, appeared on the stage and danced around on the runways with strange motions. The image of HIDE wearing a psychedelic costume and yellow sun glasses appeared and a curious performance in unison with the dancers proceeded as HIDE played eccentric electro music in accompaniment. The shocking performance and futuristic music was fresh and surprising. The talent of HIDE could really be felt and if HIDE were still alive now, he would surely jump out into the beyond, breaking boundaries, making an intense impact on people all over the world by continuously shocking them.

The stage was now fully illuminated as PATA, HEATH and TOSHI, accompanied by two acoustic guitars, appeared and themselves sat on chairs. "Thank you very much everyone! We came back to Tokyo Dome after ten years. Lots of things have happened during that time, but I'm so happy to meet with you like this." TOSHI's warm words were greeted with applause and cheering. "I have been playing healing music for ten years now, so my voice turned falsetto in the first song. I'm sorry," Toshi said gently to which PATA made jokes poking fun at him, filling the venue with a friendly atmosphere. The trio began to play the beautiful ballad Say Anything and the audience sang along together loudly. It was a miracle that people from various countries could be here on this historical night marking the re-union of X JAPAN and singing together in Japanese. When TOSHI finished singing the song and said thank you with a big smile, the audience gave a big applause.

After, YOSHIKI, wearing a white shirt that bared his chest sexily, re-appeared on stage with bouquets of red roses and threw the bouquets into the audience. He then took a seat at the glass grand piano and started playing the beautiful ballad, Without You. On the screen HIDE could be seen playing with the other members one after another. Fans couldn't stop crying as they watched the images, imagining him actually being there. As TOSHI started singing, an image of X JAPAN having a piggyback fight appeared on the stage screen turning some of these tears into loud cheers. At times though people looking at the images called HIDE on impulse, even though they knew he would never come back.

Standing beside YOSHIKI as he played piano, TOSHI spoke to the audience. "It has been ten years since our last Tokyo Dome concert. Thank you very much for so many of you coming here. We'll give you songs which you know well, and YOSHIKI requests you to sing together with us." He then introduced the next song as YOSHIKI took off his white shirt and walked to his drum set. The other members appeared on stage again to play the new song, I.V.. The combination of YOSHIKI's drums, HEATH's bass and PATA's heavy guitar riffs exploded as SUGIZO displayed his guitar prowess with a powerful solo. The English lyrics were projected on the screens, and the audience sang the chorus together with the band; TOSHI was all smiles. The stage was then bathed in a red light and KURENAI started. As the close-up image of HIDE playing a guitar solo was projected, fans clutching red pompoms waved their hands to the music as they jumped and sang together loudly. Standing at the edge of the runway, TOSHI sang like he was talking to each person individually. The song eventually drew to its conclusion, TOSHI finished singing with a "thank you" and "see you again!" before the group left the stage. In the darkness, the calls for encore soon began making waves of noise in the dark venue.

When the members appeared again, YOSHIKI, now wearing a black shirt, walked to the runway and waved, making people cheer loudly. ART OF LIFE then started mid-way through with YOSHIKI's piano and gradually synthesizer sounds were layered on to TOSHI's vocals. With a sudden burst of violence YOSHIKI's playing became aggressive before he moved to the drum set. At the same time, a hologram of HIDE appeared to play guitar an the right of the stage. It seemed like the real HIDE was playing! Hard rhythms shook the venue as the twin guitars of PATA and HIDE burst forth together with YOSHIKI's fast drum beats. Synthesized sounds were added over the thick guitar chords, with TOSHI's vocals lifting the music to a dramatic finale; the hologram of HIDE playing a guitar solo shone on stage as the others ran around the stage and the live reached its climax when YOSHIKI, who kept hitting the drums with all his might, suddenly fell into his drum set, and had to be taken off stage by staff.

Here, the miraculous night ended. The feeling we were left with was akin to that of losing and then regaining a loved one, and the happiness that comes with that reunion. X JAPAN has re-united and their activities will give birth to new legends as we watch them challenge and change the world around them. Everyone, X JAPAN is back!

(please note these pictures were taken on both the concerts of the 28th and 29th.)
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