Sunday, 30 March 2008
X Japan is maybe the most famous band in Japan with its popularity reaching across the whole globe. They formed in 1982 before I was even born and gradually gained popularity though good music and extravagant appearance. They also led the first groundation for what would later be known as Visual Rock and even later Visual Kei.
X was also the first band in Japan to gain such success while being on an independent label, meaning they basically managed everything themselves. They performed for 15 years until 1997 having their farewell concert. One year later Hide, one of the five members and lead guitarist was found hanged with a towel in his apartment in Tokyo. While police sees the case as suicide certain fans believe it to be an accident. Notably some fans killed themselves in copycat suicides shortly after. Hide's death also sealed the end of X Japan, or so it seemed.
Yet 10 years later at the end of 2007 Toshi, the band's lead singer, announced their reunion with 2 reunion concerts in March 2008. Everybody was really surprised, especially since X Japan is not X Japan without the deceased Hide. Nonetheless the 2 concerts were immediately sold out and they announced a third concert, which was also sold out right afterwards. The place was to be the Tokyo Dome, usually a place for Baseball Games, barely fitting all the fans when completely filling the seat rows and the ground below with chairs.
As you might have guessed by me talking about this, I got the incredible luck of getting one of these tickets. I like the band since it was recommended to me by my good friend Kike from Spain, who also loves them dearly. I knew most of the songs by heart and knew I could really enjoy the concert to the fullest. So I decided to invest a large amount of money and go for one of the tickets.
Even before I entered the Tokyo Dome, I was amazed by the number of fans and especially by the wonderful outfits they have chosen for themselves. A lot dressed like X at the height of their fame and power and thus looked simply amazing and wonderful. I tried to take some pictures of them outside, since the taking inside was forbidden.
Once we entered the Dome, I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a huuuuge stage erected in the rear center of the dome, which split itself actually in 5 stages with 3 catwalks right through the ground audience. I made two pictures of the stage, while the band was not performing, so I hope that is ok to post them here.
the rightmost stage was right in front of us
I did not cease to be amazed, since I then noticed that our seats at section B16 (I went with three dear coworkers, also X Japan nuts) were pretty close to one of the three biggest stages and directly beneath one of the catwalks. Then I rejoiced to meet my coworkers and we exchanged screams of joy. Since we actually had seats we sat down, but of course, once only one chime was to be heard or one shape to be seen, everybody would stand up and scream.
The performance started shortly after 18 o'clock and lasted almost 5 hours until something before 23 o'clock. Inspite of the incredible length nobody got tired of screaming or clapping or singing along with the songs. The concert started with a big boom when huge curtains shading the stage fell down and the four living members of X started playing.
There is one thing about Japan that made this concert possible. Japanese have a very strong believe in deceased ancestors as well as people close to them. So it was natural for them that on this day actually all five members including the deceased Hide were performing on stage. Because of the sheer size of the stadium they had to erect several huge displays to enlarge the tiny creatures jumping around on the stage. Therefor it was easy to split and vary the screens in a way to always show all five members of the band, where Hide's part was constructed from video recordings. Sometimes it really looked like he was there on the stage, when focusing on the screens, it was incredibly awesome but also a little bit scary. One of Juan's friends, who actually had been to all three concerts later told us, that on the concert one day before, she had the luck of standing right in front of the stage. And there she from time to time had to rub her eyes, because she actually saw Hide standing on the stage. Rubbing her eyes it then was one of the other members, but she could have sworn it was Hide just one instant ago.
The first performance came to an end with Forever Love, on of X's famous ballads and a quarter of an hour of silence for Hide. Then Toshi thanked everyone for their understanding and they continued after a short break. At the next song, also a ballad, Toshi actually cried and I am pretty sure, standing close by, that the tears were natural; he was both touched and sad at the same time.
A second huge surprise was when guitarists from Guns'N'Roses, Luna Sea and Limp Bizkit entered the stage and supported X for the missing lead guitarist. (Before their entrance, Hide's part was played back from recordings). The three guys merged perfectly with the four guys from X, while adding their own rocky touch to the performance. Now having seven people including four guitarists on stage, also allowed them to spread across the stages and catwalks, so that we often were really close to one of them.
The third part ended with one of my absolute favorites KURENAI and a short fourth part was a performance of a newcomer band called h.Naoto, with some pretty interesting scary visuals. After that followed a long drum/keyboard solo of Yoshiki, where he was literally floating through the air on top of a isle including his drum set and two keyboards to his left and right.
In the break in between the vast audience would start waved by jumping up one after the other, which looks really impressive with such a huge audience. Also since every fourth person had little light sticks I could just turn around 360 degrees and stare at the sea of light only vaguely guessing just how many excited fans there were in the audience.
Then one more time they started playing two new songs, one only written for the three concerts, there other being the cool Song they wrote 2007 for the SAW IV soundtrack and simply titled it I.V. Then they continued playing some old songs and finished again with one song I had so eagerly anticipated: Endless Rain. I love the song dearly and was so curious about hearing it live, since it lasted for more than 10 minutes on their Live CD, with never ending fan chorals. And my expectations were surpassed. When the song ended all the thousands and thousands of fans continued the song for over 30 minutes never loosing the tune and always keeping the sound wonderful and beautiful. I was deeply touched by the atmosphere erupting from the audience back then.
Not enough I was immediately re-energized when after that the piano solo tunes from Art Of Life could be heared. The solo lasted for over 30 minutes and was elongated to over one hour when Yoshiki appeared after these 30 minutes and took over the second piano. Then after one hour Toshi, Heath and Patta joined in with Guitar, Bass and Vocals and created one composition of a song never to be forgotten making Art Of Life the longest song I have ever heard and fully enjoyed until the last tune.
After Art of Life the performance reached it's finale with one of their oldest sings "X" and everyone doing the X Jump (jumping up while crossing your arms to form a X while screaming X).
We are X
We are X
We are X
The finale again went on for a long long time with no one getting tired. Then X members started throwing stuff into the audience like balls and Frisbees and what else. And finally they procured a huge stuffed Hide puppet hugged it and said farewell to us the audience and finished the third and last of their three reunion concerts.
It was an incredible night I will never forget. And I still cannot grasp my luck to have seen a true legend, who was already said to be dead, back on stage. It was like a time travel into the past with a grip to the present age and stuff for many night's dreams :)