THE LAST ROCKSTARS
proved that if you bring legends of Japanese rock together, the fans will come in droves. Their debut tour sold out in Japan and in the US. At the final stop in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Palladium on February 10th, the lines
wrapped around the block as people were still waiting to be let into the venue.
gave an excellent performance, starting their set with a musical interlude that immediately caught the attention of the crowd. From now on
is a well-crafted instrumental piece full of rhythmic guitar solos, syncopated drum flourishes
and guitar riffs worthy of a roll credit and a title theme song. While
“maid café” outfits juxtaposed with hard rock tunes may be the band’s aesthetic, it should not be confused with a gimmick. BAND-MAID
's songs are anthemic,
energetic, skillfully crafted, and enticing to sing along to. Some fans missed BAND-MAID
’s powerhouse opening set, as they were stuck waiting outside the venue. A shame really, as BAND-MAID
is a delight to hear live.
Following the opening act, it took quite some time for the headliners to take the stage. Technical difficulties delayed the show by a half hour and fans started chanting for THE LAST ROCKSTARS
as their name glowed promisingly on
the jumbo screen. As a melodious choral tune echoed through the concert hall, a futuristic feminine AI projected onto the screen asked if the fans were ready for a journey. Thousands of hands shot into the air, holding either glowsticks or phone screens
displaying the stage. As the AI voice announced the members, one by one MIYAVI
filed onto the stage, recreating the iconic silhouettes from the band's promo image. The shouts grew deafening as every phone screen cast a glow over the sea of people, who had waited hours, days, months, and maybe even decades to finally
see these rockstars on stage. The swell of "Bigidin-bigidin-ban-ban-ban / We are the Rockstars" built to a crescendo, and the thundering pounds of drums and heavy guitar chords ushered in the beginning of a super-charged performance. Plumes of fire accented
every drum strike and guitar stroke, while HYDE
’s vocals alternated between gentle serenades and growling commands during their title song The
"WE ARE THE LAST ROCKSTARS
announced after that impressive start to their set. Launching into 6 or 9
, a solo track from HYDE
’s discography, the group immediately showcased the synergy and innovation that blooms
from the combined forces of these J-rock stars. Both guitarists dashed from corner to corner, as HYDE
stayed anchored, with entrancing hip sways accenting his powerful vocals. Incorporating the flair of each member’s artistry and signature
sounds, new songs Messiah
kept the audience's mood elevated, riding on the unrelenting vitality that the band exudes.
Taking a well-earned break between sets, HYDE
checked in with the audience, asking “How do you feel?” and was answered with raucous shouts of delight. MIYAVI
followed up with “What’s up, LA?!” and YOSHIKI’s
greeted the audience and emphasized that Los Angeles is his home. YOSHIKI
light-heartedly lamented that while he’s played many shows in Japan, he's rarely played in Los Angeles because LA is “so fucking hard to please.” The shouts of support and
disagreement mingled together as YOSHIKI
laughed and assured everyone “I’m joking, I’m completely joking! We love you!” The appreciation and adoration from the fans were conveyed as YOSHIKI
mentioned each member and they each received rousing
shouts of love and support for all their respective artistry.
added some extra humor to the MC, as he clarified that the show’s late start was due to technical difficulties and not YOSHIKI
. He also got some laughs by mentioning finding HYDE
on the verge of a nap. The banter between
gave the audience sneak peeks at how well-attuned the group members have become with one another and left many feeling hopeful it was a sign of much more to come. Rounding off the talks,
introduced Beneath the Skin
, a song that veteran fans of the J-rock scene have not heard in well over a decade, since the debut of a Japanese supergroup named S.K.I.N.
. In 2007,
. debuted with a similar all-star line-up, but with the incomparable GACKT
as the vocalist. Their debut concert was met with a hot reception, but unfortunately, time bore no fruit of further music or works.
Yet to everything its season, and it appears some of the roots of S.K.I.N.
have given life to what is now THE LAST ROCKSTARS
, with the phenomenal HYDE
serving as the vocalist instead. Launching into Beneath the
with an enchanting piano solo, YOSHIKI
’s flourishes on the keys gave way to the thunder of the drums and grinding guitar riffs.
breathed new life into the song with a flair so distinctly his own that it felt like Beneath the Skin
was back with a new attitude.
The set list that followed showed the finest of what this collaboration offers. The nimble slaps of MIYAVI
’s guitar dancing with the adept strums of SUGIZO
presented fans with the guitar duel they’d been waiting for.
After the crescendo of the guitar battle, SUGIZO
slowed it down with a haunting violin solo, finely tuned by his classical training. As instrumentals filled in behind SUGIZO
quietly took the stage under moody blue lights. HYDE
’s evocative vocal performance paired elegantly with SUGIZO
’s mesmerizing melody on this second unreleased track Folly
. This was followed by a captivating guitar solo from
, and then the group introduced another poignant new release called Hallelujah
The highlights of the show were never-ending; from YOSHIKI
’s fusion of dazzling rock percussion with classical opera to an emotional remembrance of X JAPAN
, which brought the arms of every audience member up to an “X
” in tribute.
A heart-achingly beautiful performance of X JAPAN
coaxed out the tentative, soft chorus from the audience, most of whom probably never thought they’d have a chance to sing along to it at a live show. The set list was truly exceptional, featuring beloved, iconic solo and group songs that were given new life and refreshing
revamps. Seeing the members jamming out to each other’s tracks felt like an honor and an homage to their individual successes.
Fans showered their love on these rockstars by littering the stage with brassieres, cute animal ears and plushies. “Who the fuck are we?” YOSHIKI
laughed as he donned bunny ears while looking at SUGIZO
, who was wearing panda ears. While there
is some truth that LA audiences can be “fucking hard to please", this audience certainly showed no signs of discontentment or ennui with the performances. On the contrary, the fans’ passionate screams, fist pumps, headbanging and amped up energy served as evidence
of the enthralling and joyful experience of THE LAST ROCKSTARS'
The encore stages brought two final songs. Waving phone lights in the sky, the fans added their impassioned voices to a new heartfelt track called Shine
, which was recently penned by YOSHIKI
, and they
sang even louder to the final encore of the The Last Rockstars
. Not yet ready to say goodbye, the band members lingered during their final curtain. The laughter, hugs and quick selfies among the members added poignancy to the achievements of this tour and
their debut as a supergroup. The triumphant chants of “Last Rockstars!” between YOSHIKI
and the audience marked the end of a highly successful tour and musical venture for these titans of Japanese rock. After giving deep final bows to the fans, the
members shouted, "We will be back!", offering a surety that this won’t be the last of this special band.
THE LAST ROCKSTARS
feels like the fruition of musical alchemy. Through a variety of collaborations and member additions during their careers, the coming together of these four artists just makes sense. Supergroups often run into the obstacles
of personalities clashing or “too many cooks in the kitchen” but watching these four artists rocking out together gave no hints of how newly minted this line-up is. THE LAST ROCKSTARS
blend their talents nicely and the band showcases the combined effect
these artists have on an audience that still believes in the spirit and power of rock'n'roll. The band moniker may be flamboyant, but it fits. Full of camp, grit, grunge, sensuality, and remarkable skills in musicality, these four men together arguably
embody all the best elements of rock. Let’s hope we won’t wait too long for the next chapter of THE LAST ROCKSTARS
01. From now on
02. No God
03. Endless Story
05. Choose Me
THE LAST ROCKSTARS
01. THE LAST ROCKSTARS
02. 6 or 9 (HYDE
04. Here's The Love*
05. Beneath the Skin (S.K.I.N.
08. Folly* (HYDE
acoustic guitar solo
piano solo feat. Endless Rain (X JAPAN
12. BORN TO BE FREE (X JAPAN
13. HONEY (L'Arc-en-Ciel
Up And Down*
15. Bang! (MIYAVI
16. Red Swan (YOSHIKI feat. HYDE
17. PSYCHO LOVE*
02. THE LAST ROCKSTARS
*denotes a new song