ONE OK ROCK at Shibuya AX

live report - 10.18.2008 08:00

The finale of ONE OK ROCK's Beam of Light tour was a high powered energetic live that showed ONE OK ROCK to be one of the most exciting young bands around.

Shibuya AX was packed to the rafters, so full in fact that a number of the audience in the second floor gallery had to stand! The assembled ONE OK ROCK fans were a mix of girls and guys, who squeezed themselves between the bars in the floor area, many draped in towels from previous ONE OK ROCK gigs. The stage they gazed upon was simple in its design, with little fuss for this sparky young group apart from a simple poster bearing the name of the recent mini-album and tour.

As the spacey sound of Abduction-Interlude filled AX, spotlights began searching the stage, and as the band entered there was a terrific screaming with an extra loud one reserved for the vocalist, TAKA. A bundle of potent energy all night, TAKA started the evening by swirling his mic cord around his head as he ran across the stage. Hitsuzen Maker (Necessity Maker) was the highly energised opener with both band and audience throwing themselves into the live with little abandon. As Melody Line no Shibouritsu (Death Rate of Melody Lines) swiftly followed, TAKA, Toru and Ryota got the crowd jumping to Tomoya's thundering drumroll. TAKA's vocals were particularly clear and he sang exuding both confidence and charisma, earning a deafening applause as the song came to an end.

Before Yoru ni shika sakanai mangetsu (Full moon that only blossoms in the night) there was time for a mini MC to say their thanks and then it was back to the music, this time with a distinctly ska punk sound that made AX literally vibrate. This infectious energy from TAKA even encouraged an early singalong as he took a momentary rest for the audience to do their thing. The punk continued with San san dama (A white ball), TAKA delivering the English lyrics punchily in a rather Offspring styled number. The bass particularly shone through with powerful notes to accompany the strong vocal delivery. In Karasu (Crows) meanwhile it was a chance for the guitars to shine in a stop-start melody that saw the pair in an almost call-response style with the guitars fading in and out of the steady bassline.

Such was their confidence on stage, particularly TAKA's, that when he said he felt almost sick with nerves about playing AX it was a small shock to all. If he was nervous it did not show. Borderline, which followed the MC, brought on a new heavier assault of sound as the guitarists and bassist moved to the front for a dance. As Alex's guitar reverberated through the final moments of the song, TAKA asked the audience if they wanted to hear a new song. As the wall of sound around him began to fade he announced Koi no aibou kokoro no cupid (Partner in my love, cupid in my heart). The verses of this new song featured the pairing of Ryota's thudding bass with a precise high melody played on Alex's guitar. His solo played at a high pitch was quite amazing.

Following this, ONE OK ROCK took some time for a longer MC as TAKA had some news to share; they would be releasing a third album in November. He also spoke a little of his feelings about being in a band. Since high school, he explained, he had always wanted to be in a band. Recently he'd turned 20 and now was feeling caught between being an adult and still wanting to be a child, somewhat highlighting the difficulties of being so young and in a successful band. TAKA did not dwell too much on the past and instead announced the filming of the concert for a DVD, followed by his grabbing a nearby camera to film the audience for a bit. He didn't play around with the camera for long though before launching into Kemuri (Smoke) and Et Cetera, the latter a beautiful, slick rock ballad that was greeted with cheers. With some beautifully played guitars from Toru and Alex, it was quite stunning to watch and ended on a whispered 'bye bye'. The rest of the band got a chance to speak in the following break. TAKA joked with Toru that he imagined the guitarist practicing guitar while he slept. Ryota had a turn to speak too and then finally Tomoya shouted a joyous 'I'm happy!' across the room.

The mic eventually returned for TAKA to introduce the next song, (You can do) everything with some inspirational words. It seemed to work as the whole room jumped together and Ryota and Alex met in front of the drums to play their respective guitars close together. Without hesitation, they threw themselves into 100% and then as that song ended an addictive beat from the Beam of Light mini-album and a bright flash of floodlights announced the start of Koubou (Beam of Light). TAKA continued to stride confidently, owning the stage as hot white lights pulsed to the beat, illuminating the entirety of AX like the sun, rather befitting the song title.

While Et cetera had been the balladic highlight, Crazy Botch was definitely one of the most interesting of the energetic songs that night. It started with a funky bass led introduction during which Toru created distorted scratching sounds on his guitar that together with the bass sounded particularly cool. TAKA seemed to sing especially powerfully, holding out the final note as Ryota and Alex launched into impressive solos for the explosive finale. This high point meant a short break would again follow and Alex was given his turn to speak. He told the crowd how despite being afraid of AX at first he was now enjoying it. He even attempted to speak some English (Alex is half American), but he only managed to get out two words. Tomoya added to this, saying he couldn't believe the live had happened but soon bigger things would come for ONE OK ROCK. Toru meanwhile started a call/response of 'hey hey heys' with the audience and a steady beat from Tomoya with a few high pitched ones thrown in for comedic effect.

It was also a time for announcements and the crowd went wild as TAKA told them that the next lives would take place in Zepp Tokyo and Yokohama Blitz. 'It's scary,' he said. The energy this created though ensured the final few songs were filled with extra punch. Again the audience sang through Yume yume (Never stop dreaming), together with some competent rapping from Toru that continued into Kako wa kyoukasho ni mirai wa shukudai (The past is our schoolbook, the future is our homework). Yap meanwhile got a better treatment live than on CD with the oddly paced beat sound giving the track a slightly crazy feel to which the audience circled their raised fists. Finally it was time for TAKA to scream 'LAST!' and the audience responded by punching the air with shouts of 'hey' in time to the beat. It was a number with an infectious chorus so very fitting for a last song. Early in the song Ryota wandered to the front of the stage for the audience's big singalong. At TAKA's request and held out mic, they sang along powerfully. Mid song TAKA stopped singing to shout his thanks: 'AX,' he said, 'Thank you so much for today. We will never stop, for you we will never stop'. As the song came to an end with a crescendoing of guitars, thunderous roars of appreciation filled AX, cheers that followed the boys until long after they had departed the stage.

The encore was not long coming, and as the band reappeared they gave their thanks for the encore. TAKA spoke briefly to introduce the encore. 'More and more,' he said, 'we will do our best and become a strong band but from here there will be many challenges.' He followed this with an announcement of the 3rd album. The first encore song was one from this new album, CONVINCING. Lights turned the stage red as ONE OK ROCK hammered out this heavy number. It shows great promise for the new album, with a tight melody woven around an interesting drumbeat and TAKA's vocals that verged at times to snarling and then suddenly back to soft.

The finale song brought back an old favourite though, Keep it Real, that filled AX with a final burst of energy. Toru's rapping was accompanied by red and blue lights that flashed around him trying to keep pace with the rap. These then slowed into a more leisurely pace as TAKA took over the singing. At a lovely quiet moment, only Toru's guitar played and the audience joined in for a singalong under TAKA's guidance before all instruments returned for a powerful close, all lights and sounds ablaze. As they left one by one they thanked the crowd with TAKA the last to depart. He bowed, looking a little stunned and dazzled at the huge crowd cheering for them. The audience too were stunned, dazzled by the sheer energy and fun that ONE OK ROCK put into their lives. They are a true force to watch in the Japanese rock music scene and from here the only way for them to go is up.


Set list:

Hitsuzen Maker (Necessity Maker)
Melody Line no Shibouritsu (Death Rate of Melody Lines)
Yoru ni shika sakanai mangetsu (The Full Moon that only blooms at night)
San san dama (A White Ball)
Karasu (Crows)

-MC-

Borderline
Koi no Aibou Kokoro no Cupid (new song) (Partner in my love, cupid in my heart)

-MC-

Kemuri (Smoke)
Et cetera

-MC-

(you can do) everything
100% (hundred percent)
Koubou (Beam of Light)
Crazy Botch

-MC-

Yume yume (Never stop dreaming)
Kako wa kyoukasho ni mirai wa shukudai (The past is our schoolbook, the future is our homework)
Yap
Naihi shinsho (I keep it inside)

EN1:

CONVINCING (new song)
Keep it real
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