Could there have been a better way to satisfy the crowd’s bloodlust than by lead singer Hiro being shirtless and covered in blood? Fans and those new to the band certainly took notice. Nocturnal Bloodlust brought a darker (and bloodier) touch to the event, opening with creepy vocals, dark red lighting, and dark fantasy music. Things got heavy with DESPARATE, the crowd starting to headbang.
Not letting the mood drop, Natsu drop-kicked (or kick-drummed) the crowd into Jūsō. Hiro sang with fierce emotion and fierce vocals, showcasing to the crowd his talent for energy and varied vocals. Showing a side of Nocturnal Bloodlust that is a mix of catchy rock and heavy metal, V.I.P. gave the crowd a new flavor to sample. Masa‘s bass brought the song together, breathing fight into the song. Daichi revved up the tempo with his guitar while Cazqui picked wicked solos with his 7 strings. The day couldn’t have been complete without a dose of the heavier side of visual kei and Nocturnal Bloodlust certainly delivered in both performance and appearance.
02. 銃創 (Jūsō)
Pulling in a large crowd to the Summit Stage, BY-SEXUAL was not one to disappoint anyone looking for old school Osaka punk rock. Aside from reuniting once before to raise support for the Tohoku earthquake back in 2011, the band hadn’t performed together since the late 90’s. On a blue and purple stage, guitarist Ryo started up the introduction to PSYCHIC DANCE. Fans could finally hear those classic guitar solos performed live in this song and HYSTERIC. CAT’S MOOD brought an upbeat feel to the crowd while still keeping the energy up. Definitely some cool cats.
The sound of trumpets sounded off the start to Okita Souji ha B Cup and the crowd jumped into the catchy rhythm of Den‘s bass. Ryo’s guitar solos here, too, were not to be missed! A surprise to everyone, Glay fans rushed and made their way closer to the stage upon the guest appearance of guitarist Hisashi who amiably joined in BE FREE. The crowd went wild knowing this was a unique performance unlikely to be seen again.
Sho‘s vocals in SO BAD BOY really brought back the standoffish punk feel to the stage, and Ryo and Den got together for a shredding session on stage, guitar breathing into bass and bass breathing into guitar. Fans could really see the unity hadn’t quite left the band, despite the distance in time. Throughout the performance, drummer Nao was as ferocious on the drums as his blue hair was crazy and blue, reminiscent of his classic style. He put in so much effort, strength, and heart into fast punk rock beats that sweat dripped from his face. He ended NON! off strongly, leaving the crowd hyped and punked out.
01. PSYCHIC DANCE
03. CAT’S MOOD
04. 沖田総司はBカップ (Okita Souji wa B Cup)
05. BE FREE
06. SO BAD BOY
Gargoyle marked a slight change of pace, as their thrash metal style brand of rock was a contrast to the bands that had gone before them. Opening tracks Kanzen na Doku wo Youkyu Suru and Halleluyah set the pace as the songs were fast and loud and had equally fast lights to match. Halleluyah showed some variation with a nice funky guitar breakdown that led into a blistering solo.
Singer Kiba introduced the band to the crowd by saying that “Next year is our 30th anniversary”, and received a warm round of applause by the fans that were impressed by Gargoyle’s staying power.
Yaban Kairo had poppier vocals and nice harmonies, but was still driven by a frantic guitar line. The band members all gave short MCs to help motivate the crowd and Gargoyle’s final two songs saw things get harder and faster than at any point during the set. Just when it seemed that Shinu koto to Mistuketari had become as heavy as it would get, final song Kage Ou upped the bar and outdid it. Katsuji’s drums set a frantic pace, but it was one that the rest of the band, and the crowd, could keep up with.
01. 完全な毒を要求する (Kanzen na Doku wo Youkyu Suru)
03. 野蛮回路 (Yaban Kairo)
04. 死ぬこととみつけたり (Shinu koto to Mitsuketari)
05. 影王 (Katsuji)
Another crowd-pleaser for those who love a heavier sound, lynch. picked up hard and fast where Gargoyle had left off. It was a smooth transition from old school heavy to a modern heavy sound and really emphasized the evolution and core of visual kei. The echo of a piano and heavy guitar notes signaled the start of LAST NITE, and fans went wild with loud cries and threw their hands in the air. Hazuki‘s smooth vocals were a welcome lullaby amidst the heavier and punkier vocals of the event.
Wearing what seemed to be a ninja mask, drummer Asanao significantly changed the tempo of the event with heavy drums for ADORE, while Hazuki showcased his ability for deeper metal vocals with some real power behind them. MIRRORS kept things rocking with guitarists Reo and Yusuke belting out a mad rift.
Things got way heavier with GALLOWS and the crowd couldn’t resist headbanging. A fan favorite that even newcomers could enjoy, the band was really on their game with this song. Some fans headbanged so hard it looked like it might have hurt! Hair was flying through the flashing stage lights. Not as heavy as GALLOWS–but still heavy–pulse_ put the spotlight on bassist Akinori who really brought the unique nu metal feel. Ending with a more recent single, EVOKE certainly evoked the fusion of typical visual kei vocals with metal vocals and served as a well-rounded song overall to unite the genres.
01. LAST NITE
The hall was full for Glay, and the crowd responded with enthusiasm and laughter to singer Teru’s cries of “We are…Glay!” as he took his place on stage. YOU MAY DREAM started Glay’s show with a bang, as smoke shot out across the stage and fireworks exploded. The crowd sang along to the chorus line and the energy in the hall was tangible.
For Dystopia, Teru showed off his guitar skills by starting the song as the sole guitar player, but the rest of the band soon joined in. Glay’s actual guitar players found time to shine in Cho Onsoku Destiny, as Hisashi divided his time between singing backing vocals and covering the wide area of the Summit stage.
Teru spoke about meeting X Japan’s Yoshiki and hide, and this lead into a cover of X Japan’s Joker. The stage was bathed in hide’s iconic colors of yellow and red, and Hisashi and Takuro impressed with fast guitar work and dueling solos. Takuro was especially impressive as he ran all over the stage to the cheers of the crowd.
For Beloved and Glorious, the lyrics of both songs were displayed on the video screens in the hall. Takuro’s acoustic guitar playing that started Beloved wasn’t immediately recognizable as Beloved, but as the song changed the crowd roared their approval. The crowd kept the noise going throughout Glorious as they sang along to the chorus, no doubt helped by the lyrics on screen.
Acid Head began with a solo by Takuro, and that was quickly followed by jets of fire that continued throughout the song. Bass player Jiro roamed the stage as the fire continued to burn through the chorus lines and the song was brought to an impressive end by support drummer Toshi. The final song of Glay’s hour long set was the ever popular Yuuwaku, and from the sleazy bass line from Jiro, to the smoke that again filled the stage, it was a strong way to end a pleasing set.
01. YOU MAY DREAM
02. デストピア (Deathtopia)
03. 千ノナイフガ胸ヲ刺ス (Sen no Knife ga Nou wo Sasu)
04. 超音速デスティニー (Cho Onsoku Destiny)
05. Joker (X JAPAN cover)
07. グロリアス (Glorious)
08. 彼女の”Modern…” (Kanojo no “Modern…”)
09. ACID HEAD
10. 誘惑 (Yuuwaku)
Tokyo Yankees had a tough slot on the bill as they were sandwiched between two of the headliners – Glay and Luna Sea. Their fans were out in force, however, and the non-fans in the crowd gave them a warm reception as they ripped through their punk tinged set.
Since the death of singer Ume in 2007, the vocals have been shared between the other band members, and bass player Yoshi’s stance as he sang brought to mind memories of the late Lemmy, from Motorhead. Yoshi did the majority of the vocals, but guitarist Nori also sang a few tracks, most notably the second song of the set, Serial Killer. Nori impressed with his rapid riffs and solos, such as in the last song of the set, Hollywood Heartbreaker.
Tokyo Yankees kept a fast, furious and aggressive pace throughout their set. Though they had a difficult position on the timetable, they delivered an impressive and high energy set.
01. Preemptive Strike
02. Serial Killer
03. Kill the Buster
04. Dive into Field
06. Drugstore Cowboy
07. Rat Race
08. Hollywood Heartbreaker
LUNA SEA were fifteen minutes late taking to the stage, but all was forgiven as the hall was bathed in starlight, courtesy of a few strategically placed disco balls. The five members of LUNA SEA were dressed in sharp white as a beautiful piano piece played them on stage, but the calm and tranquil start to the show was soon destroyed by the fierce, hot opener FATE. The fierce pace continued into Deja vu, as pyro exploded and guitarist SUGIZO nailed the first of many impressive solos of the night.
“Let’s go back to Extasy Summit, 24 years ago!” said singer Ryuuichi, before leading the band into PRECIOUS, a song from Luna Sea’s 1991 debut album. The darker sound of FACE TO FACE was matched by an impressive use of the stage, as bass player J’s intro was bathed in red light and occasional bursts of fire that continued throughout the song. This darkness was contrasted by the next song, In Silence, which started with a light acoustic intro from guitarist Inoran.
Ryuuichi advertised LUNA SEA’s forthcoming shows at the Saitama Super Arena and said that LUNA SEA would “make new history”. This was a fitting introduction for Time is Dead, another song from LUNA SEA’s eponymous debut album. Always a live favorite, the crowd in Makuhari loudly sang along with the backing vocals of the chorus lines.
TONIGHT and ROSIER displayed the band’s connection with their fans, as INORAN and SUGIZO asked for more activity and louder cries from the fans and were quickly given them. SUGIZO’s solo before ROSIER was especially effective at gaining a loud reaction from the crowd.
The final song of the set, WISH, began with a coordinated jump from the crowd and the sight of LUNA SEA streamers shooting from the stage to cover the lucky fans down the front. The crowd were in fine voice as they sang along, and the band quieted until only Shinya’s strong and always impressive drumming remained so that the crowd could be heard more clearly.
LUNA SEA’s setlist contained many of their most popular songs, and included several that had been played at Extasy Summit 24 years ago. It was a set designed to please, and from the crowd reaction, it achieved its goal.
04. TRUE BLUE
05. FACE TO FACE
06. IN SILENCE
07. I for You
08. TIME IS DEAD
A difficult slot to be in, LADIESROOM was the the not-so-calm before the storm of X Japan. Not failing to bring the feel of classic rock, however, the band truly brought out the atmosphere of an 80’s band all about sex and rock’n-roll. With both eat a peach and SEX, SEX & ROCK’N ROLL, vocalist Hyaku got the crowd thinking of the sexual side of rock with wild displays of grabbing his crotch and letting the mic hang between his legs. Everything about his conduct and higher pitched vocals brought the wild 80’s back to the present.
Shoot it!! brought a flavor closer to punk, with the support drummer providing some great beats and showing off his skill by spinning the drumsticks in his hand like it was second nature. Band leader and bassist, George was really tying the band together in GET DOWN. Bringing in the softer side of the 80’s with blue lights, acoustic guitar, and a slow jam, the crowd was swaying side to side. All that was missing in Wonderful Tonight were lighters in the air. The gentle song set the mood for love.
01. eat a peach
02. SEX, SEX & ROCK’N ROLL
04. Shoot it!!
05. GET DOWN
06. Wonderful Tonight
As expected for X Japan, the event area was full of fans, from end to end. Staff asked the crowd to make room, but despite their efforts, the crowd poured event outside, where some unfortunate fans were unable to see the show. Some fans managed to get the crowd riled up, shouting “We are X,” and glow sticks formed an “X” throughout the venue. Further building up the hype was some video from the band’s world tour, showing footage of various concerts and fans across the world, set to the haunting classical tinged Miracle.
As the band walked on stage and the dying seconds of Miracle rang around the venue, the entire crowd threw up “X” signs.The band thanked the overwhelming crowd and asked everyone to keep X in their hearts. The “X”s in the air quickly faded away as JADE began, accompanied by fire and smoke. The fans were eager to join in with the catchy chorus line, and their voices rang out loud and proud as drummer YOSHIKI watched while standing upon his drum stool. It only took a second for the crowd to recognize the opening to Rusty Nail, and when they did a loud roar echoed through the hall. The volume of the roar was only beaten by the volume of the pyro that exploded as the guitars kicked in.
After Rusty Nail came the first of a few MCs that were scattered through the set. YOSHIKI had left his drum kit and was seated at his signature crystal piano, as he welcomed the crowd to Visual Japan Summit. He started playing the piano, and then paused so that he could remove his neck brace, much to the warm laughter of both himself and the crowd. YOSHIKI’s piano led into the emotion filled Forever Love, and was dominated by Toshi’s clear and strong voice.
Kurenai started with the customary slow, solo guitar intro, and the guitar playing came courtesy of a video of hide, that played on the large screen behind YOSHIKI’s drum kit. Toshi was facing the video screen as he sang, and he became so overcome with emotion at the sight of hide on the screen, that he couldn’t continue singing. Luckily, the fans came to the rescue and were the voice that Toshi couldn’t be at that time. When the rest of the band kicked in, streamers shot out across the lucky fans in the first few rows and Toshi was able to recover and continue.
YOSHIKI spoke about the show that day and thanked the other artists and the fans for making it such a good show, although he saved a few good-natured criticisms for X Suginami. He also reminisced on the 25 years as a band. “Who here is 23 years old?” YOSHIKI asked. “You guys weren’t born when we did Extasy Summit!” YOSHIKI also took the time to welcome Pata back to the stage, after the guitarist’s illness earlier this year forced the band to postpone some concerts and delay the release of their long awaited new album.
YOSHIKI was seated at the piano again, ready to play the intro that would lead into Born to be Free, but he forgot that he still had Toshi’s mic. He simplified the piano part so that he could play it one handed as he gave the mic back to Toshi, but then started talking again so that he could promote X Japan’s documentary, “We Are X”. After a short playfight between the two old school friends, Toshi had his mic back and X Japan burned their way through Born to be Free, both figuratively and literally thanks to the fire bursts on stage.
X saw the entire crowd jump into the air and make the X sign with their arms, as the tone on the stage turned playful. Toshi teased the cameras, and SUGIZO stood behind YOSHIKI and teased the drummer as they ripped through X Japan’s signature song. The song paused towards the end and two memorial pictures were displayed on the side screens, in memory of Taiji and hide. YOSHIKI prowled around the stage shouting “we are…!” as Toshi took his seat at the drums. After each band member had also shouted “we are…!” to the crowd, YOSHIKI went back to his drum kit and saw out the rest of the song from up high as his drum kit was raised high into the air.
X Japan left the stage, but the break was short as World Anthem played them back on stage. YOSHIKI was back on piano and a montage of X Japan as they had appeared through the years since their debut was played on the back screen as ENDLESS RAIN flowed through the hall. The music faded away until only YOSHIKI’s piano remained as the crowd sang, and then even the piano disappeared as the crowd kept on singing. The last song of the set was ART OF LIFE. It started with more fireworks, and was an apt end to X Japan’s long performance.
X Japan took their time leaving the stage, as they made sure to say goodbye to the fans and to thank them. SUGIZO took many selfies with the crowd, several of which he posted to his social media accounts, and a professional photographer took a shot of the band with the crowd. He also bowed deeply, giving his love and gratitude to the fans. X Japan’s set started late and ran late, so unfortunately some people had to leave before it was finished, but timing issues aside, X Japan delivered a powerful show.
03. Rusty Nail
04. Forever Love
05. 紅 (Kurenai)
06. Born to be free
08. ENDLESS RAIN
09. ART OF LIFE