ONE OK ROCK THIS IS MY BUDOKAN?!

live report - 12.16.2010 14:00

“If I’ve been changed this much by music then the rest of the world must be easy.” – Taka, November 28, 2010.

Over one thousand fans swarming the sold out stadium were in full swing long before the band appeared. Anticipation rising exponentially to some unseen cue, the whole crowd got to their feet at once. Soon the volume was cranked up and a massive cheer rose as thousands of hands began to clap in unison, the concert evidently imminent.

A series of flashing lights accompanied a short drum solo. Then silence and darkness enveloped the stage once more. Breath held in expectation, the crowd’s patience was rewarded by another short burst from drummer Tomoya. A moment later, amidst another dark spell, the sound of a guitar reached the thousand plus straining ears and finally lights flared to life as guitarist Toru and bassist Ryota entered. Vocalist Taka tore into the scene screaming “Yeah! Tokyo!”

With a "whoop" he set the pace, tossing his head rapidly to Never Let Go. The crowd thrust invigorated fists in time with the varying beat, bodies shifting to the appealing melody. Meanwhile, Taka’s energy was nothing short of explosive as he skipped across the stage to make the vast distance. “Let’s go!” he cried, Toru taking centre stage for a short but sweet guitar solo after which the atmosphere softened. Taka the only point of focus in the darkened venue, acoustic-like guitar built until the stage flooded with light to compliment the renewed energy. A huge cheer greeted the pleasant intro of Yoru ni shika sakanai mangetsu (The full moon that only blooms at night). “Go nuts, Tokyo!” Taka prompted. As Taka fluidly traversed the chorus, the stands shook with the force of a thousand jumping bodies. An ambient shift into an aggressive, red-lit bridge and then Taka screamed “Sing it!” the crowd more than happy to fulfil his request. Kicking off with prominent bass and guitar, the memorable Kaimu (Nothing) had Taka rampaging across the stage. Boosting anticipation of the catchy chorus tenfold, an extended note rang throughout the venue, showcasing the smooth timbre yet serrated edge to his unique voice. In the final chorus, Taka toned it down before revving back up into full swing and bringing the number to an end.

Promising to give one hundred percent to compensate for the size and distance of the venue, Taka cued, “Are you ready boys?” Shake it Down took off excitingly, Taka slapping his backside on the lyric “Kiss my ass.” Never still for a moment, he crossed the stage in record time, giving each side of the venue half a chorus. Meanwhile, Toru sped over to stage left, signalling for the crowd to pour even more energy into their pumping fists and raised voices. He then met Ryota in the centre for a spot of Riverdance action. Stand set before him, Taka encouraged the crowd’s excited yells as Toru opened Mikansei koukyoukyoku (Unfinished symphony). Whilst glass shattered on the screen, the crowd jumped fiercely enough to shatter stone, spurred on by a relentless melody.

Taka greeted the whole venue, starting a Mexican wave of shouts up in the stands and down to the arena. The crowd cheered in delight at the gentle opening of Kagerou (Mirage). A heavier instrumental then saw Taka run all the way from one off-ramp to the other. Holding the microphone out to the crowd, he grinned as they took over for him. Featuring strong focus on a rhythmic collaboration between drums and guitar, Karasu (Crows) began calmly, Taka singing quietly under the music. Before long, however, he broke out an impressive range, drowning out the instruments. Even wordless, his command of melody demanded attention, skipping about a powerful tune. A brief lull preceded the final chorus, the number coming to a speedy, rhythmic close whilst Ryota went nuts at the stage front. The lovely guitar theme of Living Dolls instigated a sea of bobbing heads. A mosaic of light rotated about the stage during the emotional chorus. “Please sing with me,” Taka asked. Repeating a chorus of “woahs,” the stadium sounded like a practiced choir.

During the following discussion, Taka admitted that he had been unable to sleep the previous night. “Seeing this amazing view, I feel like I don’t even need sleep,” he breathed in awe. The warmed up crowd were then treated to the impressive opening of Adult Suits, flawless English sung out in dark tones. The instrumentals and chorus kicked up the pace, but the verses were matched to the ballad-like opening as Taka performed vocal gymnastics to give fans the shivers throughout. English slapping onto the screen in surrealistic composition to match the choppy rhythm, Kanzen kankaku Dreamer (Dreamer) had the crowd yelling as they pumped fists into the air, causing the stands to tremble once more under the agitated movement. They then expertly took over the chorus. Shaking his microphone in thanks, Taka wound up the number on a high both metaphoric and vocal. Laid back arpeggios eased into Wherever you are. The moment the guitar melody hit a minor chord, the piece was recognized and a cheer rose to support the passionate number. A sweet vocal/guitar duet formed a slow clap that seemed a part of the music itself even as Tomoya slipped in on drums, escalating as Ryota added his bass and the number steadily ascended to a peak.

“In this world where people think only of themselves, I hope you can think of the person standing next to you right now and together spread that sentiment throughout the world.” Yes I am began with a series of soft “oohs” which led into a constantly rising melody full of positivity. The impactful entry of the chorus was enhanced by the whole venue lighting up as fans sang along. Then they dutifully repeated the double time lyrics back to Taka. “Come on!” the vocalist cried, tossing the microphone stand in the segue into jibun ROCK (Rock of my own). “Go nuts!” he yelled and the pace instantly picked up. Bending over before the bassist, Taka received a slap to the backside, lightening the mood even further to create just the right atmosphere for the loose number. He zipped across the stage, holding the microphone out for each section of audience to prove their worth. “That’s the way!” he approved. Bass and guitar travelled to the far extremes, Ryota letting loose before the two returned to the centre of the stage. Taka turned to join them, the three bowing inwards as Tomoya slammed out a short drum riff. A mysterious air filled the stadium, red and green fire billowing on the screen above until a church bell struck the hour. Synthesizer chords tipped off the crowd who screamed as Liar began. The deep and angsty verse quickly rose into a climactic chorus, wicked yet somehow sanctified, Taka bellowing “Hey, Liar!” at the top of his voice. Slipping back down into the verse, Taka faced some unseen opponent, reaching out a hand before he kicked into a tantrum. The epic number concluded with an enormous cheer. “Thank you!” Taka cried. “Thank you so much!”

According to the vocalist, the two themes woven into the new album were ‘the pursuit of dreams’ and ‘the love of music.’ “If I’ve been changed this much by music then the rest of the world must be easy,” Taka exclaimed. He announced that 2011 would not only see the release of a new single but also a DVD of the concert in progress. However, Taka deemed that the fans needed some warming up, leading them in a series of "woahs" that would turn out to be an integral part of the new single. Infused with a musical element unique to One OK Rock, the otherwise typical rock tones of Answer is Near were met with excitement and when the time came, the crowd played their role beautifully, singing out unhesitatingly.

Taking centre stage for the guitar solo opening of Koi no aibou kokoro no Cupid (Partner in my love, cupid in my heart), Toru soon had an army of fists in the air backed by a stout war-cry. A sudden pause left most of the crowd stunned. A few gathered themselves quickly enough to let out a whoop that carried in the near silence. The re-entry gave Taka a chance to showcase his air guitar before he yelled “Headbang!” and proceeded to do so. Running across the stage brandishing a ONE OK ROCK towel, he then encouraged the crowd to raise a thousand such towels into the air for Viva Violent Fellow~utsukushiki mosh pit~(Viva Violent Fellow). “Sing… Sing!!” he cried. The towels whipped throughout even as Taka and Toru bounced at the stage-front together and riled the crowd even further through Ryota’s bass solo. All too soon, Taka exclaimed “Last song,” whilst the guitarist plucked lazily away. “Can you sing it with me?” The melodic tune of Hitorigoto Lonelina (Lonlina) demanded careful listening even whilst winding fists or joining the band in bouts of thrashing heads. “More!” An elated cry filled the venue and Taka roared, “Let’s finish this!” The final number was Naihi shinsho (I keep it inside). Soon, the three mobile members were jumping away through the jolting B section of the verse which contrasted deeply with the fast flowing chorus. Next time around, Ryota and Toru exchanged sides. Thanking the crowd, Taka asked that they go all out and headbang for him to finish. Immense applause accompanied Tomoya’s continued cymbal rolls as Taka staggered about with hands to his head waiting for the final chord. A jump and it was all over.

…Until the substantial encore call began, that is. ONE OK ROCK returned shortly, Taka raising the age-old rock hand in gratitude. Before moving on, the band took a series of photos, never letting the cheers die down even as the cameraman counted down each time. Eventually, the first of two messages Taka divulged to the fans was: “Never give up on your dreams.” Familiar message refreshed by an original tune and positive tones, (you can do) everything once more had him constantly roaming the stage. “Yeah!” the crowd cried on cue. As speedy drums and funky bass followed by grooving guitar led in a new piece, Taka appealed to the crowd. “Do you know what this song is?” “Yume yume !” (Never stop dreaming) they shouted. “That’s right!” Toru pitched in with a rap that Taka occasionally added to, everyone jumping without need of encouragement all the way through. “The next song really is the last,” Taka warned reluctantly. “My second message is for you to turn to your parents and say 'thank you for giving birth me’.” “Oh~”the crowd sang, opening the final number, Nobody’s Home. “Thank you!” Taka cried, jumping backwards as the tougher beat kicked in. A live feed came up on the screen behind the band, the instrumentalists visibly singing along. Churning out a deep guitar solo to get under the skin, Toru took the spotlight for the last time. Once more, Taka lead the crowd in a chorus of “ohs," the venue lighting up brighter than ever before. “Nobody’s home yeah~” Taka finished. With a yell, he threw the microphone unsparingly and it hit the stage with a crash. Tomoya continued to rap on the cymbals whilst the other three showed their gratitude. Gathering at centre stage, the band held hands and fell into a long, deep bow. “Thank you, it was awesome! Gotta love Kudanshita!” Toru yelled.

A screen glowing with the words ‘ONE OK ROCK’ was all that graced the stage as the massive crowd ever so slowly relinquished their seats and made their way out into the cold, still warmed by the adrenaline rush of ONE OK ROCK’s Budokan debut.

Set list

01. Never Let This Go
02. Yoru ni shika sakanai mangetsu (The full moon that only blooms at night)
03. Kaimu (Nothing)
04. Shake it down
05. Mikansei koukyoukyoku (Unfinished symphony)
06. Kagerou (Mirage)
07. Karasu (Crows)
08. Living Dolls
09. Adult Suits
10. Kanzen kankaku Dreamer (Dreamer)
11. Wherever You Are
12. Yes I am
13. Jibun Rock (Rock of my own)
14. Liar
15. Answer is Near
16. Koi no aibou kokoro no Cupid (Partner in my love, cupid in my heart)
17. Viva Violent Fellow~utsukushiki mosh pit~(Viva Violent Fellow)
18. Hitorigoto Lonelina (Lonlina)
19. Naihi shinsho (I keep it inside)

Encore
01. (you can do) everything
02. Yume yume (Never stop dreaming)
03. Nobody’s Home
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