When One Ok Rock played New York City in January, they promised that they would return later this year. And they kept their promise! 6 months later, the band has returned to the States for a full-length tour, titled “Ambitions World Tour 2017” which includes dates in North America, Europe, South America and even Australia! ‘Ambitions’ is a fitting name for their album and tour, as the band has ambitions to be known outside of Japan.
On July 28th & 29th, 2017, One Ok Rock took the stage for two nights at Playstation Theater in NYC, a stage that they have played multiple times in the past. The night started out with openers Palisades and Set It Off – both bands had sounds that complimented One OK Rock’s sound and got the crowd warmed up and ready for the main act of the night.
Anticipation rose as the lights went down and the Ambitions album introduction music started playing. One by one, the members walked out on stage and went straight into Bombs Away. The night was off with a bang with this high-energy song! The audience sang the English lyrics right back to Taka as he started the song at the microphone stand, but as soon as the chorus hit, was moving around stage in a way he is well known for.
Following the track listing off of the Ambitions album, Taking Off was next up, another song that kept audience screaming the lyrics back to the band. The band made good use of the large width of the stage, Ryota and Toru both moving about to the very edges and engaging the crowd on the floor and the platforms on either side of the stage.
Throwing it back to 2013, the band played Clock Strikes, which generated loud cheers – old songs always get a positive reaction. This song was performed in the original Japanese version, which does contain lyrics in English. Taka asked the audience to sing back the chorus and they gladly indulged. Towards the end of the song, the crowd sang the “woah woah oh oh’s” and Taka kept asking everyone to sing more and sing louder – which everyone did as he spun around near the drum kit before finishing the song.
The lights went dark for a few seconds after Bedroom Warfare ended. As the lights rose again and they began playing the music for Bon Voyage, Ryota, Taka and Toru all were at the far back of the stage and with choreographed moves, moved as one in time to the beat of the music to the front of the stage and then back again. Once at the back, a spin and a few headbangs before repeating the motion once more before the lyrics began. It was a fun and unexpected way for the song to begin! The Japanese version of this song was performed.
As you may or may not know, One Ok Rock were set to open up for Linkin Park on 4 of their east coast tour dates beginning July 27th, just one day prior to this NYC concert – unfortunately, with great sadness, Linkin Park cancelled their tour due to the passing of lead vocalist Chester Bennington. Linkin Park are one of the bands that were an influence on One Ok Rock becoming a band.
“Tonight we decided to do a cover of a song of Linkin Park. I hope this reaches Chester. This song is called One More Light.” Taka said as the audience became somber and quiet to hear this tribute. It’s a very emotional song on its own, but now, the song takes on so much more meaning and everyone in the room felt it. The song was performed as the original was, very softly with just guitar and some soft bass. It was a moment of reflection. This song was performed at both dates of the New York City show, replacing “Hard To Love” at previous shows, since this was One Ok Rock’s first show since Chester’s passing. As the song finished, one fan yelled loudly enough for all to hear, “Thank you Taka!”
Following that emotional cover was another quiet and powerful song – Take What You Want. It started off acoustically, only a few chords of music and Taka snapping his fingers to get the beat. After the first verse, Taka and the band stood there in complete silence. The crowd also remained silent – for the most part. One person ruined the silence by shouting but was quickly shushed by everyone else. The silence was powerful and lasted for well over a minute and a half. “Can you hear me?” Taka sang as he broke the silence, making chills run through your body, “I’m trying to hear you. Silence strikes like a hurricane. I’m singing for you, you’re screaming at me. Its hard to see your tears in the pouring rain.” As the verse finished, the band became playing music once again and went into the standard recorded English version of the song. At the end of the song, Taka had the audience sing back, “Woah woah woah,” saying, “Come on New York!” As the song ended, Taka thanked the crowd and then made a heart with his hands above his head.
Following that was a fully instrumental interlude. It wasn’t any specific song but Toru, Ryota and Tomoya all rocked out hard on guitar, bass and drums, showing off their skills on their respective instruments. The light show that went along with it was spectacular, colors changing and flashing along with the beat.
A song that will always be a crowd favorite is The Beginning. As soon as the opening chords started, the crowd screamed in knowing and delight. The stage was dark except for a few spotlights – as the lyrics began, the lights turned up and Taka was once again center stage. The audience sang along to the entire song, start to finish, even the Japanese lyrics. The Beginning feels like a song that will always remain on One Ok Rock’s setlist, since it creates such raw energy and passion from the fans.
Speaking of raw energy – Mighty Long Fall is another song that is always intense when performed live. During the chorus, Taka, Toru and Ryota were all jumping and Taka motioned for the crowd to jump too. Later in the song, Taka asked the fans to make a circle pit and they obliged – in the back of the floor, a large circle pit formed just as Taka requested, moshing around to this dynamic song. As the song reaches its climax, everyone was jumping or headbanging or moshing to the song, with Taka himself spinning around and jumping on stage, bounding from one side to the other and back again. Despite it being the end of the night, everyone and the band themselves gave 200% to this song.
Taka voiced wanting to come back to New York again and that he would see everyone again soon. “We’re gonna play the last one for tonight. If you guys know the words for the next song, please sing as loud as you can.” They ended the night by performing a fan favorite from Ambitions – We Are.
To make the night memorable, Taka jumped down onto the barricade to the cheers of fans. He held out the mic, indicating the audience should sing the chorus parts, before he jumped back on stage to continue singing the last song of the night. Before the band could even walk off stage, the crowd began shouting, “encore! Encore!”
It didn’t take long before the band reemerged to indulge in the requests for one more song. As the beat started, Taka took out his cell phone and took video of the crowd. “Who’s having fun tonight?! Alright, we’re gonna play one more song just for you guys. It’s called: American Girls!”
The energy kept going for this last song of the night. Taka must have been feeling the energy too since towards the end of the song, he once again jumped into the crowd and running towards stage left, lept onto the balcony, reaching for hands to help lift him stand up higher on the railing! He continued singing, having the audience sing along before he leaned back and had the crowd hold him as he crowd surfed, all the while continuing singing!
This was a night to remember for all who attended and indeed those who attended the second night as well! While the shows were not sold out, you wouldn’t have known with the intensity of the crowd and the passion the fans showed. Thank you One Ok Rock, and New York looks forward to seeing you again next time!
I Was King
One More Light – Linkin Park cover
Take What You Want
Mighty Long Fall
For full gallery of photos, please visit Flickr here.