X Japan: Live at Madison Square Garden, New York City

x-japan

X Japan are, without a doubt, Japan’s most enduring and influential rock band. And yes, even though they are, by the by, a Metal band, their sound, their aura, and their tendency to do it big and loud, is very much based in the kind of spectacle rock at its finest is supposed to create. Taking on Madison Square Garden was the band’s dream concert since they began to see their dedication turn into liquid success shortly before the untimely death of guitarist Hide, who is, in spirit, still considered by fans and the band to be part of the action.

Untold amounts of anticipation could be sensed around the venue, sitting atop the historic Penn Station in the center of New York. Fans milled around, periodically erupting into the signature call-and-response warcry of “We Are! X!”, and judging by how much X Japan merch and hide/80s Toshi cosplay was to be seen, nobody cared about being ‘that guy’. To date, Iron Maiden or Kiss can get away with that, is how huge X Japan is as a force of rock history. With every minute that wasn’t 8:00 pm Eastern time, I swear my heart crept closer to my throat as the symphonic rendition of ‘Amethyst’ played over the speaker. Upon the fateful hour’s arrival, the grandfathers of J-Rock themselves stepped onstage, glorious as they ever have been, kicking off with a one-two hit of ‘Jade’ and ‘Rusty Nail’, pyrotechnics included, mercilessly hooking the already engaged audience with the mighty power metal number ‘Silent Jealousy’, which certainly got heads banging vigorously as Madison Square Garden has probably never seen.

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Following a new song entitled ‘Beneath The Skin’ from an upcoming album -which I’m sure will be off the charts- entertaining guitar/bass duel where Pata and Heath demonstrated the chemistry that enables them to time and time again wow the general populace of the world with both spur-of-the-moment innovation and precision mastery. Loosing the more standard hard rock number ‘Drain’ before an epic violin solo by Sugizo, the time was ripe for ‘Kurenai’, a piece as invigoratingly metal as it is tastefully composed. Another new song, ‘Hero’, had Toshi inviting the audience -and Yoshiki too, but he said “No fuckin’ way”- to sing along with the chorus, complete with words on the screen. The guys in X Japan are nothing if not interactive. After the appropriately titled ‘Born to be Free’, the band takes a well-earned intermission while Yoshiki, composer extraordinaire, took the stage hitoride to grace us with a piano solo featuring Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’, and even ‘Star Spangled Banner’ made an appearance at one point too. So meaningful was this concert to the band, and just being able to finally give American fans the show they were waiting for, it was impossible to see this as hackneyed in the slightest, and I’m unpatriotic almost to the point of treason sometimes.

Yoshiki’s mindblowing drum solo, complete with symphonic backing, was a whole show in and of itself. Reaching and maintaining heights of climactic power I could have never imagined while his drumset hovered about on a glittering platform, and select wristbands throughout the audience did the same, it was a testament to the amount of time the band has spent in perfecting their art. Speaking of art, I cried at last when, after a moment to let Yoshiki cool down after his time as a comet, the band played ‘Forever Love’, displaying images of old concerts, them just hanging out, and enjoying all that rock allowed them to as the massively creative individuals they are. The real tearjerker was arguably Yoshiki’s telling the story of the band’s trials and struggles over the years, of his and Toshi’s nearly half-century of friendship, and their gratitude for having fans and professionals that cared enough to bring to life the event of which I type. Restarting the rock with their comeback song, ‘I.V.’, followed by the endlessly anthemic rager ‘X’, and plenty of throat-rending shouts of “We Are!” by Yoshiki, always to a louder and more impassioned response of “X!” from the crowd, they took leave of the stage once again, but no one was fooled. They still hadn’t played ‘Endless Rain’ or ‘Art of Life’ yet.

I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from here.

Ending with an acoustic version of ‘Forever Love’ over the speakers as the band pelted the audience with roses -to say nothing of the confetti, streamers, and fireworks- and Yoshiki’s body itself -they weren’t ready for that stagedive-, I was left in emotional rapture. I’d laughed, I’d cried, I’d screamed like a barbarian, I’d cried more, and I sure as hell cried a little more. Literally a once in a lifetime concert, among the best live music events I’ve witnessed, and, come to think of it, the only concert I feel funny about calling a ‘show’; it would seem blasphemous to ever think of X Japan as a gig I decided to see. It was more of a spiritual obligation. After all:

We are X.

Sean Pierre-Antoine with XJapanMSG cosplayer

Sean Pierre-Antoine with XJapanMSG cosplayer

X Japan on Facebook

SEAN PIERRE-ANTOINE

X Japan Planning Massive Show At Madison Square Garden Next Month

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Ground-breaking and beloved international rock favorites X Japan are closing in on their long awaited comeback show, their first in three years, next month at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Led by Yoshiki, their 11th concert in 20 years at the storied venue has been much hyped, befitting of their status as icons, cult pop taste makers and showmen beyond compare. In the bands’ 32-plus years of existence they have at times defied classification, but have aligned themselves musically with thrash, progressive rock, symphonic metal and other styles, all done in concert with the flair of biggest production spectacles around. This event is the start of a likely very busy slate from X Japan who are planning a new album for release in 2015 from Warner Music.

Watch the trailer for the MSG concert here:

 

 

From The Press Release:

Internationally renowned rock icons X Japan announced today that tickets for their highly anticipated October 11th concert at Madison Square Garden will go on sale this Friday at 10:00AM EDT at http://www.ticketmaster.com/XJapan-tickets/artist/723909. The Madison Square Garden concert event is sponsored by New York Comic Con.

X Japan, led by co-founder, drummer, pianist and songwriter Yoshiki, will return to New York City for their first concert since 2010, performing both fan favorites and previously unreleased music from the band’s decades of recordings. This Madison Square Garden concert marks a significant milestone for the band who made their U.S. debut with a Rockefeller Center press conference over 20 years ago, which presented the fierce J-Rock stars to an American audience. The band is finally fulfilling the promise they made to the fans to return. The group has since toured 16 countries, sold over 30 million albums and singles combined, and sold out Japan’s 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome a record-setting 18 times. The concert trailer for X Japan Madison Square Garden can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/qI-zQehlQaI

X Japan has had a notoriously tumultuous career, even among the world of rock, which includes the loss of two of its five founding members to tragic death. Amid death and breakups, the band has steadfastly maintained X Japan’s vision and this year brought themselves together to perform where their U.S. story started, in New York City.

In line with October’s Madison Square Garden concert, Yoshiki and X Japan will appear at New York Comic Con, where Yoshiki will participate in a panel with Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee and discuss the pair’s collaborations, including the comic based on Yoshiki, Blood Red Dragon. New York Super Week is an immersive and inclusive experience that will bring the energy, passion and color of the entire pop culture universe to every corner of all five boroughs of New York City. Featuring concerts, comedy shows, gaming events, lectures, podcasts, storytelling, food tastings, and more – New York Super Week will take place October 3-12, leading into the East Coast’s biggest and most exciting convention – New York Comic Con.

About X Japan

X Japan returns to the United States this October bringing their legendarily edgy brand of rock to New York City for one night at the iconic Madison Square Garden. The concert event marks the band’s first show together in 3 years and will feature fan favorites as well as previously unreleased and never before performed music. X Japan is revered in their native Japan and around the world as a genre-defining and boundary pushing group, and have mesmerized audiences across the globe with their incendiary live performances. With worldwide sales of over 30-million, they’ve headlined a staggering 18 sold out shows at the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome known for historic concerts by Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi. Since forming in 1982, they’ve continued to challenge not only themselves but rock n’ roll as a genre.

X Japan first landed on American soil in 1992. Signed to Atlantic Records at the time they held a massive press conference at Rockefeller Center debuting their eye-catching personal style. Embracing a combination of flamboyant futurist imagery and Japanese history, X Japan’s “Visual-Kei” style would go on to immensely influence the anime and cosplay that’s so commonplace today. Prior to the group’s 1998 breakup they released five albums —Vanishing Vision [1998], Blue Blood [1989], Jealousy [1991], Art of Life [1993], and Dahlia [1996]—solidifying a sound that’s equally scorching and soaring.

The death of original guitarist Hide profoundly shook the band, but in 2007 Toshi and Yoshiki, friends since childhood, reunited. They paid tribute to Hide on tour by utilizing a hologram of the deceased guitarist—long before 2Pac’s appearance at Coachella – during that first Japanese reunion run. After hitting sixteen countries, the United States tour commenced with a triumphant debut performance at Lollapalooza 2010 and was followed by sold out shows from Los Angeles to New York.

In 2011 X Japan faced another deep loss with the death of original bassist Taiji. The band continued with him in spirit, and X Japan were named Best International Rock Band at the Golden Gods Awards in 2012.

In 2014, Yoshiki, Toshi, Pata, Heath, and Sugizo embodied that mentality in working on the upcoming release on Warner Music, scheduled to be released early next year.

Buy tickets to the show:

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