LUNATIC FEST began at 9:30am, but for some of us it began even earlier than that. How long have we waited for something like this? And finally, a lucky few were able to see this spectacular show. The lines were like what you would expect from Japan, long, tedious, but full of energy as well all packed in to Makuhari Messe. As we entered, the area was already full of colors and lights, the merch area was separated from everything while connecting to the food hall that also had various booths such as h.Naoto and Fender with everything from clothes members of the various bands have worn to their instruments that were available for lottery and purchase.
Entering the hall that held the musical stages of FATE, MOON, and SHINE, Makuhari Messe could not have been the more perfect choice. The hall itself is huge, lending to a ton of space to move around and be comfortable. The stages were set up at 3 corners of the hall and with the way the time schedule was set up, I was highly impressed by the level of professionalism from the staff at how there were no overlays in bands. Because of large screens all around the hall, fans were able to see and hear all of the bands playing from where they were standing to wait on the next band to go on.
SIAM SHADE took the stage at 14:35 playing a set beginning with RAIN and launching into the high energy D.Z.I. with the crowd cheering along. Shinya made a surprise guest appearance on the stage to sing the beginning of 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou stating that it was the “famous song!” Of course for this song everyone was full of energy for the band, singing along every single lyric.
The energy didn’t stop as the band launched into Still We Go and Dreams. Dreams was a song that I was particularly excited about, and it seemed the crowd was one with the band as they chanted along with the lyrics. Siam Shade is a band who began in 1991 and carved out a legacy that their seniors could be proud of. Disbanding in 2001, it was a delight that they have reunited in 2007, 2011, 2013, and now 2015 for Lunatic Fest. The band finished out their set with the high energy BLACK, GET A LIFE, and Don’t Tell Lies with the crowd chanting along most powerfully “Don’t you fuck with me, I won’t fuck with you, Don’t you bring me down, I won’t bring down you, Don’t you fuck with me, I won’t fuck with you, Don’t you bring me down, I won’t bring down you, I won’t break you.” During GET A LIFE. Siam Shade is set to perform their 20th anniversary live on October 18th at Saitama Super Arena.
DIR EN GREY went on at 4:05 beginning with and Zero and launching into SUSTAIN THE UNTRUTH. I was prepared for the push, but as always, a few people had to be pulled from the barriers due to the push from front to back and side to side paired with heat exhaustion and dehydration. If there is anything I recommend for this, it is drink at least two bottles of water before you decide to go into the middle of a DIR EN GREY show. Moshing generally isn’t allowed, but the push to get the the front generally does the same job at a Japanese live. The set continued with high energy packed rendition of both 激しさと、この胸の中で絡み付いた灼熱の闇 and 朔-saku-. Those of us up towards the front were finally able to catch a break with THE FINAL as the entire crowd sang long lyric by lyric, beat by beat. By now that song is etched into our flesh and our hearts.
A surprise came when the lights dimmed. But DIR EN GREY had only just barely begun their set. Suddenly, from the middle of the stage, a spotlight appears and standing there is Sugizo of LUNA SEA with his violin. Poised and elegant, he draws his bow across the strings producing the melodic strangled sounds from his instrument. The lights raise a bit, and DIR EN GREY goes on to play the most touching rendition of 空谷の跫音 I have heard yet. The song is new off of their album ARCHE, but the band has been playing it in their live sets since last year. By now it is a staple with their backdrop of floating lanterns included. DIR EN GREY is a band who never fails to paint the perfect picture of their unique world. The band picks up the pace once more by ending their set on Un deux, an intense rendition of Revelation of mankind, and .羅刹国. In typical DIR EN GREY fashion, the band takes their bows and leaves the stage just as they came, truly a band into the music more than their image and yet creating a mesmerizing image that gets stuck to your senses none the less. DIR EN GREY is preparing for their next tour NEVER FREE FROM THE AWAKENING which begins September 10th.
Then the waiting began, another push even though the next band hadn’t come on yet, and yet everyone knew who was coming, how could you not? The tension in the air thickened as the wait was prolonged. Chants of “We Are X! You Are X!” rang from the front of the arena to the back.
At 5:35 the lights lowered and the crowd held up their arms and glow sticks in an X formation as if to worship their rock gods. The X Japan logo flashed on the screen then the Op. Miracle began to play, flashes of religious scenery flashed across the large back screen, as well as scenes from X Japan’s most recent world tour. At his drumset, Yoshiki suddenly appeared along with Toshi, Pata, Heath, and Sugizo.
The set began with JADE, a song that also had an overseas release. Launching into the high powered Rusty Nail, the band has not lost their touch with the classics as they kept the energy going with Kurenai, and by this time the crowd is wild for the members who give them life. After Kurenai, Toshi began his MC and mentioned that X Japan had a new song they were recording called Kiss the Sky, and if everyone would sing very well, no screaming, if it would be okay to record the crowd’s voices for the track. As if anyone would say no to X Japan. Kiss the Sky was a melodic, emotional song paired with equally melodic chanting from the crowd. I believe people will be quite pleased with the melody once they hear it. Once done with the new song, Yoshiki stayed at his beloved crystal piano and began to play ENDLESS RAIN, to which I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house.
To lift spirits, the band began BORN TO BE FREE and the energy was back just like that, just like X Japan to tug emotions from one extreme to another. With the final song X, the crowd could barely be contained as they all jumped in unison with their arms stretched up high into an X formation. On the screens to each side flashed ‘In Memory of hide.’ and ‘In memory of Taiji’, a touching tribute to band members still dearly missed by not just the band members, but the entire Japanese rock community. X Japan is now recording their new album.
As if the crowd couldn’t be more energized, a 30 minute set change took place and the crowd was free to get drinks, but many stayed to get the best seats for the headlining act of LUNATIC FEST, LUNA SEA.
At 7:05 the band took the stage, Ryuichi looking as elegant as always with Sugizo poised to the side to work his magic. J and Inoran stood to the left of the stage, J exuding his general stance and Inoran being a fan favorite from the beginning appearing confident with his typical spiked hair. Finally Shinya came in on his drums that were lit in red LEDs with a rainbow and unicorn on the bass drum.
Starting with LOVELESS the crowd’s energy never once died as they played through Rouge, JESUS, Tonight, and fan favorite Gravity. With Sweetest Coma Again, the stage was bathed in red and orange as Ryuichi crooned the lyrics out into the mic, moving from side to side in a mesmerizing dance. The set continued with I for You that the crowd sung energetically to almost as loud as Ryuichi.
The band then revealed that they had a tribute for hide of X Japan as well and launched into an enthusiastic rendition of PINK SPIDER that the crowd was more than ecstatic to sing along to and put in 100% of themselves. Following the band finished out their set with STORM, Time if Dead, and finally ROSIER to which Ryuichi seemed to accidentally forget the lyrics, but the crowd was more than happy to sing along for him until the chorus where he joined back in just as enthusiastically.
Once the band exited the stage, the chants for encore began almost immediately. Waiting seemed to take forever but the band finally came back out and began to invite members out on stage from the other bands such as Yoshiki from X Japan, and Toshiya from Dir en grey. Yoshiki brought out hide’s signature yellow guitar with hearts to play as a guest along with LUNA SEA, and Toshiya on bass a strong version of PRECIOUS and WISH.
Like that the night was over. It all felt so surreal leaving Makuhari Messe, but if there is one thing that can be said, is that we have witnessed a wonderful part of music history.
Written by: K