X Japan prove their status as rock royalty at Madison Square Garden 2014
If you were at Madison Square Garden on October 11, you were left with no doubt that you were in the presence of rock royalty. Legendary Japanese rock band X Japan made their U.S comeback after a 4-year hiatus, and this time the group brought the stage theatrics, special effects, and haunting stage presence that cemented their legend status in the first place.
X Japan was formed in 1982, and since then has inspired scores of musicians across Asia. From Korean artists such as The Trax to famous Japanese bands such as L’Arc-En-Ciel and Dir En Grey, X Japan’s influence on the visual kei movement and Japanese rock genre has been evident all through to 2014. However, it is only recently that X Japan fixed its eye on the U.S market, and if the show at MSG was any indication, it looks like the band is here to stay and dominate.
Photo Credit: Billboard Magazine
X Japan’s MSG show can only be described in one word—majestic. From frontman Yoshiki’s entrance, standing atop his drum set bathed in light to the haunting classical track “Miracle” to the flames that shot out of the sides of the stage; the first track “Jade” was intended and succeeded in being a spectacle. What was jaw dropping was the energy and the flair that these fifty-something-year-old musicians brought to their performance as Yoshiki effortlessly switched between raging drums and his prodigious piano solos. To say that the band opened the show with a bang would be an understatement.
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Most of X Japan’s sold-out concert consisted of their speed-metal classics, including “Silent Jealousy,” “Rusty Nail,” “Kurenai,” and the eponymous “X”—however, it was definitely in spectacle and theatrics that the band wowed the audience. Sugizo showed off his talent on the violin, playing a medley of classical hits before melding into the beginning of “Kurenai.” Similarly, Yoshiki led an almost unbelievable drum and piano solo that involved his platform moving down the stage and being raised several feet into the air as he tirelessly played his drum solo. Another standout in the special effects was that every concert goer was given a bracelet that lit up to the beat of Yoshiki’s drum during his solo—an addition that spellbound music fans and critics alike. Photo Credit: Yoshiki's Facebook
However, the true star of X Japan’s show was without a doubt the main man, Yoshiki himself. Rarely can a concert be called epic, but Yoshiki added a flair of drama to the heavy metal concert, breaking down during renditions of “Forever Love” and “Endless Rain,” where a video montage of the bands’ former members brought the audience to tears. The members of X added on to the emotion of the moment by reminiscing about their dream to perform in America and the troubles they’ve encountered—from the deaths of guitarist Hide and bassist Taiji to the 10-year silence between founding members Yoshiki and Toshi. At the end of the speech, Yoshiki and Toshi roared the audience to life with calls of “We Are X!” and a promise to “keep on rocking” with their 2015 World Tour.
What I took away from the X Japan concert was something that is hard to find in American music today—the ability to create a loving, loyal fan base, create a new legion of fans, and maintain the quality of music production through the years. Madison Square Garden was filled with a mix of Japanese and American fans, young and old; proving that the band’s music transcends age and national barriers. Right from Yoshiki’s thunderous entrance atop his drum set to his exit, crowd surfing among fans and roses, one cannot deny the fact that X Japan isn’t just a legendary Japanese rock band, but a legendary rock band that breaks the barriers of language, nationality, and generations to create an unbelievable, unforgettable show.
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