live report - 02.17.2009 07:00

Live report of SUGIZO's spectacular gig at the Shibuya AX on December 19.

Simple synthesized strings and percussion was piped into the smoky venue as warm lights illuminated the floor from the high ceiling. Thirty minutes had passed from the scheduled beginning of the live and people were getting restless clapping and calling out "SUGIZO." When the venue became dark and the members appeared on the stage in a blue light, the audience cheered loudly, which turned into screams as SUGIZO appeared.

The live started with TELL ME WHY?, which is a mixed-lace of psychedelic trans and loud rock. In the flashing light, SUGIZO sang and played guitar among the explosions. The bassist, FIRE, got excited and skipped around the stage and fans raised their fists and jumped. They stretched their hands to SUGIZO, who finished playing his wailing guitar solo and raised his right hand. From the grand SE and SUGIZO's shouting, the upbeat EXORCISM followed. Takumi Samejima headbanged and played guitar hard, and the strong rhythmic party of powerful drummer Greg Ellis mixed with percussionists K-Ta and Kenji Yoshimura made the floor shake and vibrate, while fans pumped up their fists to the rhythm all together.

SUGIZO changed his guitar and scratched it according to the synthesizer played by d-kiku as the next song, THE CAGE, started. The female vocalist, ORIGA, sang like she was murmuring and SUGIZO played a glamorous guitar solo and moved around on the stage. During 1000 Knives which is a cover song of YMO, oriental images were projected on the screen. Guitar sounds modulated abnormally, with a stretching guitar solo putting on a Japanese melody with percussion added on in perfect timing. Guitar sounds were added onto the drum and bass, then the new song ENOLA GAY, which is a heavy rock song, started. The loud rhythm shook the floor, the guitar sounded like it wailed and ORIGA's clear vocals were added in the dramatic music. The images of nuclear tests, bombers, people praying, the Virgin Mary, etc. were projected on the screen one after another, and the message of "NO MORE NUKES, PLAY THE MUSIC" was conveyed to the audience. It was a powerful, impressive scene where the message of "world peace and love" was arranged to heavy rock music.

Here, the mood changed suddenly and a bossanova-like song DELIVER... started with a strange SE, almost like a sputter of electricity. The electric upright bass played by FIRE and gut guitar (a guitar with animal gut strings) played by Takumi twisted on duets of SUGIZO and ORIGA, which made a warm atmosphere. Trumpet by Shinpei Ruike was added in, so it became kind of a crazy arrangement with a jazzy mood. It was difficult to classify the music and it showed the diversity of his musical tastes. Twisted Circle started with icy guitar arpeggios, electrified upright bass and violin played by SUGIZO which resounded clearly and beautifully. ORIGA's mysterious vocals, FIRE’s warm bass sounds, K-Ta’s soft mallet sounds, Greg's powerful drums, Kenji's piquant percussion, and Shinpei's muted trumpet sounds were all mixed well and complimented the big moon shining on the screen, making it a glamorous scene.

Sounds like they were taken from Middle Eastern music rang from the stage next, followed by clear guitar riffs as INITIATION started. Two belly dancers, Nourah and Sali, appeared on the stage on the left and right side, swaying their hips and moving sexily. SUGIZO sang quietly like he whispered and the trumpet and mallet parts sounded warm and soft. SUGIZO left the stage and came back with a whip in his hand. Suddenly, he started flicking the whip on the floor sadistically. Drums, trumpet and the percussion became gradually louder as the two belly dancers moved harder as SUGIZO walked around on the stage cracking the whip in colorful flashing light. Then SUGIZO began to play violin and moved in time with the two belly dancers, becoming one. When SUGIZO shouted and the exciting performance finished, the venue filled with loud clapping and cheers from the audience.

"I invite you to come to the best space in the universe." In the instrumental number COSMOSCAPE, Takumi played beautiful clear acoustic guitar with SUGIZO’s guitar sounding freely. Nature images, such as the sea, grasslands, mountains, forests, and the sky were projected on the screen one after another, which combined with the grand music created an infinite space. Kenji, FIRE and Takumi had hand held drums and SUGIZO had sticks and played percussion. The powerful passionate rhythm combined with the images of flames on the screen became gradually harder and roused the feelings of the people. Then, the slow ballad Elan Vital started with beautiful synthesizer sounds. The images of the bottom of the sea and the sky were projected on the screen. Lights reached from the stage to the audience like search lights illuminating the bottom of the sea. Clear guitar, pure trumpet, and clean arpeggio guitar sounds twisted and rang together beautifully. In the next song, 嘘~Lie~, the combination of the piano sounding hysterically with Greg's powerful drums, SUGIZO's sobbing guitar, and Shinpei's high-pitched trumpet created rolling-like waves of sound with both movement and stillness.

Without losing any of its force, the live dashed into a heavy, upbeat song, CHEMICAL. Red lights flashed as SUGIZO head banged and played guitar hard, with fans pumping their fist high into the air to the rhythms. Very fragile melodies and quickly changing rhythms created a psychedelic strange world. The last songs, Do-Funk Dance, and TELL ME WHY? had light, bright melodies. While colorful lights illuminated the venue brightly, fans pumped up their fists and jumped, lead by SUGIZO who head banged and played guitar hard. Members stirred fans from the front of the stage, and Shinpei blew his trumpet loudly and brightly, while the drums and low bass shook the floor with their sound. Samba-like rhythms rang cheerfully in the psychedelic universe, which was very much like the finale of a carnival. Finally everyone raised their fists all together and the members were introduced. All of the performers lined up and bowed deeply, to whom the audience gave big applause.

"You are the best. Thank you. I was able to do a live where I could rampage about as much as I wanted. I am deeply thankful for that. Everything that I have I experienced up until now, it has kept me learning, and you can see the fruits of that today. I'll keep searching for new SUGIZO music, so please continue to support me." The fans clapped and gave heartwarming words of "we thank you too" and "we’ll follow you" to SUGIZO from around the venue. "Now, everywhere in the world there are troubles, but we’ll get over them together. Shibuya AX, you shine brighter than the sun!" The fans gave tremendous applause to SUGIZO's words.

The encore started with the upbeat song, RISE. Electric guitar sounds using a phaser were combined with powerful drums and the voices of SUGIZO and ORIGA, who sang like they were whispering. When everything mixed together, the song suddenly exploded. This song was interesting in that it used big contrasts of stillness and lots of movement throughout. "This is the last song." SUGIZO played acoustic guitar, and started to sing the bright, middle tune song, SWEET. Shinpei’s trumpet rang high as Takumi’s electric guitar sounded clearly, which rode on Greg's powerful drums and the percussions of K-Ta and Kenji. Between images of people suffering from poverty and war, shining bright smiles of lively children from all over the world were projected alternately on the screen. Through the music and the images, the message of "NO MORE NUKES, PLAY THE MUSIC" was once again shown, this time having more persuasiveness than before.

"Clap for everyone who made it here today! This is the real last song. I can't finish unless I play this song tonight. I devote it to my prayers and my love." Then the famous song, Synchronicity, started. The stage was filled with a blue light, Takumi's acoustic guitar sounded clearly and SUGIZO played violin, which was beautiful and sorrowful at the same time, under a white spot light on the foggy stage. When he finished his dramatic performance, the audience kept clapping, and once again members were introduced as they lined up and bowed deeply. Their clapping never seemed to stop, and the audience sang John Lennon and Yoko Ono's song Happy Xmas (War Is Over) which reverberated around Shibuya AX.

Through his music, artist SUGIZO keeps expressing world peace and love. His stoical posture for art shows that the truth never changes no matter the time or age. It has the strength to keep us going, even when at our weakest, giving us the support we need to go on.

Set list:

TELL ME WHY? (Beginning part)
1000 knives
Twisted Circle
Elan Vital
TELL ME Why? (Ending part)

En-3 Synchronicity
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