Japanese supergroup, The Last Rockstars, has landed in the U.S. The band’s shining roster includes Yoshiki (X-Japan) on piano and drums, vocalist HYDE (L’arc-en-ciel), and expert guitarists Sugizo (X-Japan and Luna Sea) and Miyavi. Following an explosive live debut in Tokyo, the band trekked stateside.
The night started on a freezing Manhattan evening. The queue for Hammerstein Ballroom stretched down the block and around the corner for this not-to-be-missed J-Rock spectacular. The sight transported me back to October 2014 when X-Japan played the world-famous Madison Square Garden. Who knew the sheer star power this new lineup of musicians would have? I was about to find out.
The show started with a haunting voice cutting through the dark. The slow, angelic singing belonged to a disembodied head projected on screen; it slowly, mechanically introduced each band member. A cloud of fog erupted as the EDM-spiked intro to the eponymous track, “The Last Rockstars,” began. Some heavy riffs ensued before giving way to Hyde’s majestic voice. One of the first CDs I ever purchased in my life was by Hyde’s original band, L’Arc~en~Ciel, so to hear his voice in person for the first time was a spiritual experience.
The band plunged into a variety of covers from the member’s individual projects. The energy raged with “6or9” by HYDE (another chance for his vocals to shine) and “Beneath The Skin,” by X-Japan, the masters of 80s and 90s rock in Japan.
Then we got to see the real magic happen in the form of an instrumental segment, kicked off with a Sugizo/Miyavi guitar session. Miyavi has had vast success in his nearly 30-year-long career, selling out many international concerts and festivals. His and Sugizo’s wicked duet was mind-numbing. Then Sugizo brought out the electric violin for a heart-wrenchingly beautiful solo to which Hyde added vocals.
Next was Yoshiki’s turn. The dual-instrument virtuoso is always a sight to see. Loving to be in the lead, his blasting drum solo commanded attention with an unmistakable groove. The fierce energy gave way to delicate ease as he traded the drumsticks for piano keys and played a nostalgic snippet of X-Japan’s “Kurenai,” a remorse-tinged ballad.
The instrumental interlude offered an intimate vignette of each artist’s long career thus far. However, they would not let the crowd fall too far into wistful sentimentality. Before long, the commotion began again with another high-energy song, “Born To Be Free.”
A few more covers followed, including Yoshiki and Hyde’s song “Red Swan” from the wildly popular anime, Attack on Titan, and Miyavi’s “Bang.”
The night ended the way it began with “The Last Rockstars” ringing out into the night. The four rockstars gave a final bow to their absolutely unforgettable US debut.
The Last Rockstars
6or9 (Hyde Song)
Beneath The Skin (S.K.I.N./X Japan Song)
~ Sugizo & Miyavi Guitar Session ~
~ Sugizo Violin Solo ~
~ Sugizo & Hyde Session ~
~ Miyavi / Sugizo / Hyde Acoustic ~
~ Yoshiki Drum Solo ~
~ Yoshiki Piano Solo ~ (Kurenai Piano Snippet)
Born To Be Free (X Japan Song)
Honey (L’arc-En-Ciel Song)
Bang! (Miyavi Song)
Red Swan (Yoshiki Song)
Glamorous Sky (Hyde Song)
The Last Rockstars
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