Last year, B’z performed to a packed house at Club Nokia in Los Angeles as the finale to their 2011 North American tour. On October 7, 2012, B’z returned to Los Angeles at the Gibson Amphitheater for the final live of their 7-stop Into-Free tour. Fans from around the world once again descended on the City of Angels to partake of the energy from this renowned band, filling up the Universal City Walk with their enthusiasm easily spotted by their band shirts, towels, and other merchandise.
The atmosphere prior to the show was strikingly similar to Tokyo Dome.
Coveted pit tickets sold out the same day they went on sale, which left assigned seating for the remaining fans that were lucky enough to score tickets. In the time before the show, fans wandered about the theater to take photos of the many guitars displayed from various artists, as well as a special display of Tak Matsumoto‘s signature guitars crowning the walls. Cameramen and crew walked around, engaging fans about the band and their experiences. As the time for the concert approached, more and more fans found their seats in eager anticipation. Just as last year’s tour, the Los Angeles show would be a live Internet broadcast through Ustream, which ultimately had over 200,000 viewers.
The moment Tak Matsumoto stepped on stage, the venue blew up in screams and adrenaline, starting the show with happy riffs of the first song in their latest English EP release, ‘Love Bomb’. Inaba Koshi sprang up from behind, taking to the microphone stand in an energetic dance and greeting, followed by a powerful rendition of their 50th single ‘Go for it Baby –Kioku no Sanmyaku-‘. Once the song ended, he started a short but thoughtful MC in English. Expounding a bit that B’z had been together since 1988 and that they have been in Los Angeles many times for various reasons. “This town has been very good to us,” he told the crowd. They gave many humble thanks to LA, and proceeded to reiterate in Japanese for the non-English speaking fans.
In true tradition of innovation and creativity built on 25 years of incredible showmanship, B’z continued with zealous vigor through every song. The band flowed easily through both old and new songs to the delight and fervor of both new and seasoned fans. The progression between each song was seamless, keeping the crowd going with the English version of ‘Ultra Soul’, ‘Splash’, and ‘Brighter Day’, the latter being originally written in English for their 14th album, ‘Circle’. After the mellow notes slid to an end, Inaba picked up his acoustic guitar to join Matsumoto in chords and song to gather the fans’ voices in the memorable 1990 hit song, ‘Easy Come, Easy Go‘. The opening melody to legendary blues song ‘Motel’ came drifting from the stage which caused uproar from the fans. Inaba’s performance was stellar with his soulful, powerhouse vocals blending into an emotional conversation with Matsumoto’s blues notes into a spell-binding experience, one of their best live performances of the song ever since 1994.
B’z kept everyone enchanted with a follow-up of ‘Mou Ichido Kiss Shittakara’, a classic from 1991 that had its melody updated and improvised, starting with a smooth blues feel from Matsumoto and keyboardist Masuda. The song brought tears to many eyes and slow swaying could be seen throughout the venue. Matsumoto’s legendary guitar skills were a highlight and a true complement to Inaba’s vocals. During a blues segment in the middle of ‘Negai’ – the precision Tak masterfully showcased brought silence throughout the venue. The segment led straight into ‘Into Free –Dangan-‘, with Inaba energetically leaping on stage again with a lively dance move. Inaba then began stimulating the crowd with a thunderous shout of “Los Angeles, are you ready to scream?!”. ‘Juice’ came next, with the bridge sliding into a back-and-forth mustering of the audience. The energy level of the show never faltered once with the crowd not only absorbed it, but delivered it back to make the show a true collaboration of artists and fans into an incredible experience.
Once B’z left the stage, the crowd instantly chanted for an encore. A human wave rippled across the venue that only punctuated the eagerness of fans for just a little more. The chanting ceased only when the band returned to the stage, starting with Tak’s guitar solo before bringing out Inaba’s incredible voice for the English version of ‘Home’, finally closed by ‘BLOWIN”, with fans singing along enthusiastically.
At the very end of the show, B’z gave many thanks to everyone who had attended. For a pair who has given everything to their fans at every show, this was a unique opportunity to share some of that energy back at a more intimate venue in comparison to the enormous arenas that B’z is more accustomed to performing. It was an unforgettable and touching experience with pure music straight from the heart and delivered fresh with life, robustness and professional perfection.
America wants to see you again and really soon, B’z!
Set list is as follows:
- Love Bomb
- Go for it Baby –Kioku no Sanmyaku-
- Ultra Soul
- Brighter Day
- Easy Come Easy Go
- Mou Ichido Kiss Shittakara
- Mienai Chikara –Invisible One-
- Into Free –Dangan-
- It’s Showtime!!