LUNA SEA Lunacy: Kurofuku Gentei GIG ~the Holy Night~ at Tokyo Dome

live report - 01.19.2011 19:01

LUNA SEA finished off the Tokyo leg of their reunion tour with a blast-from-the-past concert for 50,000 lucky devotees.

The premise was simple. After the first two Tokyo Dome lives were announced, a third was added – for free – with tickets available only through lottery. What wasn't so simple was the whopping response: a reported 300,000-plus fans applied for the live, which meant five out of six fans would be entirely out of luck. Additional lives announced in Kobe may have eased their worries, yet for 50,000 lucky fans this Christmas Day live came with a bonus. Advertised as “Lunacy: Kurofuku Gentei,” the evening was planned as a trip back through time, when LUNA SEA was still Lunacy, when all-black was the dress code in the Machida live houses, when the world at large had yet to hear of one of Japan’s most influential artists.

By 3:30, waves of dark jackets, charcoal suits and shadowy dresses had flooded the Tokyo Dome City area. Even the Shonen Jump Store, normally occupied by younger anime and manga fans, was predominantly filled with members of the lucky 50,000. A nearby two-story restaurant had also been blacked out. Outside, several pockets of devoted fans braved the cold, reminiscing with their fellow music lovers. The closer one walked to the gates of Tokyo Dome, the wilder the hairstyles and outfits became. Near one gate, a man in his 30’s could be seen walking through the crowd in a purple vest. He was alone.

Inside the Dome proper, a massive white “LUNACY” emblazoned the colorless curtain, made all the more ominous by a soft mist that by this point had filled the entire arena. Soft instrumentals of LUNA SEA songs sated fans’ ears as more and more seats became filled. Fans making friends with their neighbors, visible on all sides of the arena, proved that the love for this Visual legend was far from fading. By the intended 5:00 start time the entire venue had become monochrome. 5:00 became 5:10 and then 5:29, and a minute later the lights and sounds died at once, the latter at least replaced by the roars of the crowd.

Columns of neon spotlights teased the audience before the curtain fell, revealing dozens of men and women in black hooded cloaks. An unsettlingly deep hymn permeated from the chorus throughout the arena. Around them, large displays presented the softly neon-lit visage of a Gothic chapel. The now fully ominous chorus continued for several minutes before the cloaked hymnodists slowly crept off stage, starting from the edges of the stage. Five men remained still in the center. The audience screamed in approval once it hit them; moments later, the quintet took off their hoods to reveal the members of LUNA SEA.

Guitarist INORAN stood at far left, a black headband supporting his auburn hair. Bassist J, seemingly the only person with remotely “normal” hair in the venue this evening, stood to his left. At far right was SUGIZO, holding back a grin as best he could in response to the crowd’s calls. Shinya was to his right, his brightly spiked blond hair perhaps the most nostalgic head on display. In dead center was RYUICHI, with hair, cheek-defining makeup, and dress that alone was enough to send the audience back a decade.

The audience was more than willing to accept the trip through time; when the band members reached their stations, Shinya’s drums flared and with Fate, the very first song on their very first album, the fans felt right at home. Those in the far back felt no different than those on the arena floor: atop the stage were several massive screens, of particular quality the display at top center. With the live being recorded for an upcoming DVD release, the display’s resolution gave the same feel as a modern-day live documentary. Watching the live and the probable DVD footage at the same time was immediately surreal.

The atmosphere was a peculiar one: old, yet fully beloved songs, were being played at a venue several times larger than most of the night’s set had ever seen. To put it into perspective, when X JAPAN held their 2010 Tokyo Dome lives, ToshI and YOSHIKI stunned their audience with about half of Unfinished, a fan-favorite ballad that in recent years has received little to no plays at live shows. The shock and joy felt then was, with LUNA SEA’s vintage set list, happening throughout the crowd with every other song.

Even with the early-1990’s theme, RYUICHI managed to keep things grounded during the MCs, praising his bandmates for the twenty years they’ve stuck together. True, the long hiatus failed to show, with SUGIZO and J often taking to the walkways jetting out from center stage, smirking and calling towards their fans. With each song came new feelings of nostalgia, dozens of fans “Whoa”-ing with every old favorite.

Shinya’s drum solo was another favorite, demonstrating as much skill and giving off the same crowd-pleasing energy as he had done countless times before. J joined in shortly thereafter, challenging the sides of the crowd to give off a bigger cheer for himself. In the end, the right side won, with the left and center meeting with pairs of suggestive hand gestures. (Whether or not said gestures were broadcast on national TV, uncensored along with the concert proper, has yet to be confirmed.)

Even with the older set list, there were still several favorites that have maintained popularity through the band’s two-decade-long career. Blue Transparency, immediately following the Shinya and J session, likely tied with Time is Dead for the most crowd-singing of the evening. Precious…. was a close second, followed by the evening’s most pleasant surprise: Nightmare, the final song of the main set, released only on a demo tape from 1989.

The encore songs were a bit more modern: Rosier, arguably LUNA SEA’s most popular non-ballad, and Mother,, both from the band’s fourth album. The fans cheered throughout the encore, and even as the band took their bow, promising more and greater things to come, calls for SUGIZO, his guitarist comrade INORAN, and the rest of the band refused to fade. Even after the band left, as a long credits roll (in English) gave thanks to everyone involved over the past several months, most of the crowd remained in their seats, screaming, thanking the band back for the memories returned.

Set list:

01. Fate (LUNA SEA)
02. Dejavu (Image)
03. Mechanical Dance (Image)
04. Imitation (Image)
05. Image (Image)
06. Slave (In My Dream c/w)
07. Branch Road (LUNA SEA)
08. Sandy Time (LUNA SEA)
09. Symptom (Image)
10. Suspicious (Image or Real)
11. Search For Reason (Image)
Drum Solo
Drum + Bass
12. Blue Transparency (w/prelude) (LUNA SEA)
13. Shade (LUNA SEA)
14. Chess (LUNA SEA)
15. Time is Dead (LUNA SEA)
16. Precious… (LUNA SEA)
17. Nightmare (Demo Song)
18. Rosier (MOTHER)
19. Mother (MOTHER)
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