X JAPAN CONCERT 2010 REVIEW & LIVE PHOTOS: NORTH AMERICAN TOUR, VANCOUVER. YOSHIKI, TOSHI, SUGIZO, HEATH, PATA, HIDE.


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We are X Japan! When the Jrock legends announced their first North American tour, some naysayers raised their brows at Yoshiki’s ambitions. Did the Visual Kei musicians deliver in concert? Above and beyond and beyond. Fans walked away speechless, and as you can see in the photos — X Japan is in fine form and visibly having fun. (Thank you to the band’s management for the tickets and the photo pass.)

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I couldn’t take photos of the opening band, Vampires Everywhere!, so here is Sugizo in motion. My friend Bo writes: “I approached the opener with some trepidation after hearing tales of their rather abrupt departure from the stage in Los Angeles (X Japan fans apparently threw objects and booed). However, I found them to be a whimsical romp through the world of Screamo and actually quite enjoyed their song, though it was a bit on the long side… Oh, I just found out that they actually performed multiple songs and they just all sounded the same. How awkward.

Vampires Everywhere! was an energetic maelstrom of sound that somehow managed to find monotony amidst chaos. Perhaps they were trying to produce the musical equivalent of being bitten by a real vampire: first things are frantic and intense, but very quickly you begin to feel nothing at all.”

Snark aside, I urge concertgoers to be respectful during the opening performance. The group was invited by X Japan, and while their sound may not be to everyone’s liking, I don’t think that ever warrants cat-calls or launched tomatoes…

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Not long after, a chorus swirled and the stage illuminated in blue… and there he was, Yoshiki, standing above his drums. Toshi, Sugizo, Pata, Heath. They took their positions, held up their arms and hammered into Jade (a new song). From start to end, the audience was hysterical, screaming out their names and waving X-shaped glowsticks.

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And then: Rusty Nail. Silent Jealousy. Drain. X Japan’s classic songs, resurrected and fired out of a cannon (like the flames on either side of the stage).

Yoshiki’s live drumming was on fire. His years of headbanging messed up his vertebrae, which is why he wears a neck brace (as he explains in an interview with Kirsty Evans).

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X Japan, so famous for their range of sound, transitioned from speed metal to a sweeping violin interlude by Sugizo. It was one of my favorite moments of the show.

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Yoshiki’s piano playing is more urgent and expressive than ever. He can’t help but throw in Visual Kei flourishes — sweeping back his long coat-tails and ending a tremulous run with a bang — and crumpling to the ground. (I was only allowed to take photos for the first three songs, so unfortunately this moment isn’t captured.)

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Toshi has one of the fullest voices I’ve ever heard in concert. We all held our breaths when he sustained a note… and kept it ringing… and ringing…

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Bassist Heath. Solid. Hard. Icy.

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Rhythm guitarist Pata. Sweeping. Flowing. Harmonic.

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In place of the departed Hide: lead guitarist Sugizo. Glam. Resonant.

Yoshiki speaks: “I signed his band a long time ago, Luna Sea. So I’ve known him, it’s almost twenty years we’ve been friends. We’re not really replacing Hide, Sugizo is like a sixth member of the band. Hide is still there.”

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Kurenai. Born to be Free. I. V. “As pioneers of the genre, X Japan certainly puts on a great visual show. Musically, they stand alone at the top,” says Bo.

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We are X! We are X! We are X!

Yoshiki spoke in English. About how they’ve been waiting a long f-ing time to be here in North America. How it’s a dream come true. How we made it happen.

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The climax. The encore: the unmatchable Endless Rain. Yoshiki’s gentle chords… then nothing but the voices of the fans.

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My friend Bo only recently started learning about Visual Kei, and has this to say: “Musically, the intensity behind every note was palpable even from my seat in the back of the theatre; instead of blasting the audience with a wall of noise, they took the audience on a real journey through the ups and downs of each powerful song. I didn’t understand the lyrics, but I didn’t have to; the music said everything. Yoshiki’s beautiful piano runs, Sugizo’s chilling violin, and the piercing tone of Toshi’s voice would repeatedly draw us in before the full band would take us on a wild ride. By the time the night was over, this neophyte was a convert, standing at my seat, my hands in the shape of an X above my head, singing along to a song I had never heard before in my life.”

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The last song, The Art of Life. “We never replaced Hide,” said Yoshiki. “He’s still performing with us in our hearts.”

For many of us, this is the first time we’ve seen X Japan live. Did the band meet your expectations? Floor you? What were your favorite moments in the show?

Japanese Word of the Day: Hisshou = Victory
Song of the Day: X Japan = Endless Rain (in Vancouver, appropriately)

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SHARE & COMMENT

  • http://twitter.com/princekukiko Prince Kukiko

    very interesting that tomatoes were launched at the opening band. =_=
    not cool, but good that X-Japan had a wonderful concert.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Oh ahah I didn’t mean literally tomatoes… but people were throwing bottles and random trash, from what I heard…

  • http://twitter.com/Dravarious Yukiro Dravarious

    Great review!! I wish I couldve been there
    and Im glad they^re still going strong ~^^

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      I was impressed by them… I didn’t have the highest expectations because I was afraid they wouldn’t deliver, but they did.

  • ZillowZollow

    Great review and lovely pictures! Wish I was there!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Thank you! I was pleased with the photos. I used to take amateur pics at rock concerts as a teen, so it was fun to get back to it.

  • Wendyf610

    Heath is amazing, Toshi’s voice is wonderful, and the concert was once in a lifetime amazing! Great coverage!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      You’re right = once in a lifetime. *_*

  • Hachi

    Thank you so much for the review and the pictures. Both were really amazing <3

  • Amber

    Thank you for the awesome review! Love the photos! <3

  • Mayoine

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaay~ ♪♪\(*T▽T*)/♪♪

  • Ildi

    WOW!! GREAT PICTURES! and awsome report! :3 I’ll have to spam all my friends, mwahahahaha,
    thankies! <3

  • http://twitter.com/henja henja

    As stated previously. Utterly speechless for X Japan. Actually it’s the day after the show and I have lost a bit of my voice, so yeah, speechless.
    My main quandary is why does X Japan, one of the biggest names in Japan/progenitors of Visual Kei decide to bring such a no name band? (I’m not trying to hate here) It’s just that they could have easily grabbed any decent Visual Kei band from Japan most likely (to great applause no doubt) OR even a bigger western band OR a band with a similar sound OR no band at all and just had a longer set (intermissions and such). I just find it a tad perplexing why they went with the seemingly worst choice possible.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Hm, possibly it might have been a business decision and not a musical compatibility one… perhaps Vampire’s record label or management was convincing… but I’m just speculating here.

  • Emi

    I didn’t hear that anyone threw anything in LA. Just lots of booing.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      :( At least I hear that this was unique to LA, and it was fine everywhere else..

      • http://twitter.com/miscastdice Evan S.

        Again, I was in LA and I was booing, but I didn’t throw anything nor see anything thrown. I think that was HIGHLY exaggerated by people trying to defend Vampires Everywhere. Butthurt rumormongering: not limited to jrock but sure convincing among jrock fans.

  • Stefania

    great review carmina!! the 3rd to last photo is my fav. well taken, love! I think you perfectly described the show even though I was at the LA one. I had high expectations for the show since I was lucky enough to see tid bits of a live performance and rehearsal at the h.naoto x yoshiki foundation fashion show. hearing toshi’s voice then, sugizo’s beautiful violin and yoshiki’s intense drumming/piano playing I knew it would be the most epic concert of the year.
    unfortunately the sound in the balcony sucks at the wiltern and always has but had a good view of them the whole show. I missed seeing the opening band and wasn’t aware of the booing. that’s too bad.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Thanks love! <3
      Ohh how lucky you got to attend the Naoto X Yoshiki fashion show… both in the same room, ahh!

  • Melissa

    Again such good work. Amazing photos and bang-in descriptions of the members. Thankyou

  • Mina

    I saw them in Seattle. It was real intimate, even from the 3rd row Balcony I was so close! I missed the opening band >.< My favorite part of the show were Sugizo & Yoshiki's solos. Pyrotechnics made me giggle, & Toshi's voice gave me chills. It felt like I was seeing an old friend & when it was over I was sad. Like a true friend, I hope they will return again, soon. XoXo

  • Felin

    Love your description about each member. Esp Heath (solid, hard, icy) & Pata (sweeping, flowing, harmonic) (^^b)

  • Clare

    Love your hair! ;D

  • Kitsune

    SECOND PHOTO IS AWESOME!!

  • Hanami

    Definitely love the pics of Heath! He’s got that irresistible “I will kill you and feast on your soul” look! I love it!

  • http://twitter.com/NeoBlitzkrieg Kigan

    I had the very intense and lucky pleasure to be right up front at the LA show, standing only feet from Sugizo and having a front row view of Yoshiki’s piano. When they played together, Yoshiki on the piano and Sugizo on the violin, and the melody of Kurenai began to ring out I lost myself. My boyfriend said I was crying heavily but I don’t remember it at all. All I remember is seeing and hearing Kurenai’s melodic opening in a gorgeous piano and violin duet.

    That pretty much sums up the entire night for me.

    On the note of the opening band, I’m literally disgusted and ashamed to admit I was at the LA show. Ashamed to admit I was at an X Japan concert, when someone mentions this. The utter disrespect was sickening. No I didn’t particularly like the music, because its not my style, but they weren’t a horrible band. I honestly felt bad for them. Several of us in the pit were yelling back at the idiots, as they were literally a few feet behind us behind the second divider wall… thing (I don’t know what its called XD The Wiltern floor is sectioned off into 3 small levels). Even the Japanese people with us were telling them to shut up and be respectful, in both Japanese and English.

    Its just sad really, that those people are what sticks out in people’s minds when they think of X Japan fans. Not only are you being stupid and disrespecting this opening band, but you’re disrespecting X Japan and making them look bad since they invited this band to play with them. The whole thing just disgusts me.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      The song was so beautiful… ahh!
      I also felt horrible about what happened in LA… it’s too bad that this became the topic of everyone’s discussion. Overall though, the press reports of X Japan’s tour has been positive, both with regards to the band and their fans… so I’m optimistic that it’ll turn out fine.

      • http://twitter.com/NeoBlitzkrieg Kigan

        I agree. I’ve been reading all of the reports so far, and I’m happy to see there’s no mention of any bad people in the crowds. Even the LA reports focus on X Japan and not the doodoo that was going on in the crowd during the opening band. Hopefully this will just be another bad story that circulates amongst the Jrock community as a “don’t do this please” example.

        • http://twitter.com/miscastdice Evan S.

          People throwing shit from the floor COULD NOT reach the stage. I know because I tried to throw a PRESENT (a stuffed toy that wouldn’t hurt anyone) to Yoshiki from lower floor during the end of the show, and of course it didn’t make it to him (a staff member got it to him though :) ) The only way an object COULD HAVE PHYSICALLY REACHED THE STAGE was if it was thrown from pit.

          So please take the butthurt and elitism (omg we on the floor didn’t pay enough even if we didn’t know in advance we’d not get into the pit, we must be horrible fans because we didn’t like VE either, WAAAHHHHHH) and gtfo. Thanks.

          • http://twitter.com/NeoBlitzkrieg Kigan

            Excuse me? You seem to think its perfectly ok to be disrespectful to a band because you don’t like their music. I’ve news for you, I didn’t like them either. You don’t have to boo and harass the band because you don’t like them. Despite what you think it does reflect badly on X Japan and the fans as a whole.

            If you don’t like the band, just shut up and don’t say anything. Clap when they finish if you want, but if you really hate them that much then just don’t do anything. Its not really that hard.
            I never said they aren’t true fans, nor did I ever say or confirm that anything was thrown, because it wasn’t. (I didn’t even see anything try to throw something. I don’t know where that rumor came from, maybe someone way in the back threw a cup or something and it landed a few feet in front of them. Hell if I know but I didn’t see anything thrown.) What I’m saying is that disrespectful behavior reflects badly on both fans and band, and this can be said for ANY band. Look at the people who booed Dir en grey during the Family Values tour. Those people were looked down on by Jrock fans. It works both ways.

            If you really hate an opening band and are pissed off they were put on the tour simply for business (which you don’t know for sure by the way, I’ve read they were both invited and placed on the roster for business, so until something is confirmed stop making assumptions and spreading them like facts) just… keep quiet and don’t harass the freaking band. If you want to talk shit about the band on the internet or with friends, whatever. Go for it, I’ve told plenty of people that I didn’t like the band and blahblahblah all that. Just don’t sit there and harass/disrespect an opening band when the main act is trying to attract new fans and exposure. Whether you like it or not it reflects badly on them in the minds of people just getting to know them.

            It may not be in the main media, but the stories get around.

            To La Carmina, I apologize that my comments started a flame war on your blog. This was not my intention. Perhaps I could have worded them better.

    • Bo

      agreed; Vampires Everywhere is bland but not terrible, and snarky reviews aside they deserve credit for getting up there and doing their thing. Going to the NYC concert tomorrow night; hope to see if VE grows on me a little and can’t wait to see X again!

      • http://twitter.com/NeoBlitzkrieg Kigan

        I think a few years ago they could have been very popular, when that style of music was just hitting the scene and super goth (as I like to call it XD) was all the rage in the dark rock community. No doubt now they could gain a strong following with people who are in to that style of music, but I feel it was just a bad pairing with X Japan =/ Ah well. Kudos to them for sticking it out though.

    • http://twitter.com/miscastdice Evan S.

      Uh, actually more people were booing than were whining about the people booing. VE sucked, and while I have apologized for booing I am not going to stand by while people spread the rumors of thrown objects (none were) or insist that somehow we’re not true X fans because we hated an act placed on the ticket for business reasons.

    • http://twitter.com/miscastdice Evan S.

      I’d also like to add some more food for thought: so, you seem to have this idea that disrespecting and looking down on other people is fine and good. So what makes you (who hate fans with different opinions of VE to the extent of trashing them and demanding them to shut up and not share their thoughts) better than the people who wanted VE to shut up and stop disrespecting X with their shitty, lazy performance?

  • http://www.myspace.com/shadowpal2 shadowpal2

    …ok hang on…since when does somebody boo out a band that opens for a group like X Japan?!?!?! That makes no sense…an opening band helps make sure that your tank of fuel is full and your ready to be ignited as the main performance takes stage. It’s not like the opening band is there to compete and try and show that they’re much better than X Japan! Jeese…it’s not a competition – it’s a living, breathing religion known as ROCK. Nearly all bands speak in the same language in that regard…they JUST WANT TO ROCK. Please be respectful! I’m no fan of screamo…but c’mon and understand that they just want to enliven the audience (though X Japan could easily…and have done it in an instant).
    Now as for X Japan…boy does that sound just awesome…jeese – I don’t know what else to say. Hide sama =( … I just can’t get his image out of my head, that playful attitude of his…I never experienced it up front and close…but just looking through the medium of television/internet/dvd – I was just touched and still am. A picture is worth 1000 words. There are 23 pictures here. I may be speechless…but there’s just too much I want to say. How about…We are X!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Mmm, yeah… it reflects badly on X Japan AND their fans…
      The overall reaction from both hardcore fans and newbies to X Japan seems to be… a loss for words! A successful tour, hands down.

  • Jen

    you took some good ones!

  • Utsuma

    thank you for the photos. i wish i were there. you captured the experience.