On February 18th and 19th, VAMPS hosted a two day rock festival, featuring a luxurious line-up of hard rock bands from two countries opposite each other across the Pacific. Following a sweaty and wild night the night before featuring NOTHING MORE, [Alexandros], Gerard Way, and of course VAMPS, everyone was craving for more on the second day.
The live reports are separated into Day 1 and Day 2. Each day featured 4 bands, alternating between an American band and a Japanese band, with the final set by VAMPS on both days.
*See here for the report for Day 1.
DAY 2 – Thursday February 19th
The line-up for the day was: Buckcherry, sads, Sixx:A.M., and VAMPS.
With the heat from Day 1 blasting away the rain, excited fans gathered on Day 2 around the outside of Budokan under a clear but still slightly chilly spring sky.
The stage remained the same as the first day, but there were clearly more people attending on Day 2. The small sections which were slightly empty previously were all filled, and the all-standing arena area was packed with anticipating fans.
At 5:58pm, the lights went down and the crowd let out a loud excited cheer. Although the show hadn’t even officially started yet, the crowd clearly couldn’t wait any longer for a night of rock ‘n roll waiting ahead. Almost everyone stood up when the rock tune blasted through the speakers and the name of the first band flashed on the screens hung above the sides of the stage, introducing:
Buckcherry (40 mins)
The crowd cheered and clapped loudly welcoming the start of the night by the hard rock 5-piece band from California. The band opened the night with their debut single from 1999, “Lit up“. With a husky voiced Josh Todd (Vo.) rocking through the classic American hard rock number, the crowd quickly heated up as they clapped along to the rhythm. They continued rocking hard for “Broken Glass“, singing along to the chorus of the upbeat “All night long“, and released some real steam with “Somebody Fucked With Me” while Keith Nelson (Gt.) showed off his guitar skills during the solo.
Josh thanked the crowd with a simple “Arigatougozaimasu!” before singing emotionally for “Sorry” and the crowd responded with arms slowly waving from left to right. After the slow song, Josh removed his shirt and jacket to reveal his signature CHAOS tattoo as if to let the fans know what’s to come: “Say Fuck It” (ICONA POP cover) that turned the whole venue into a party with everyone singing along, and “Ridin’“. After yelling “We love you, Tokyo! We love you, Japan! Thank you VAMPS!” the band ended the set with “Gluttony” and “Crazy Bitch” that got everyone dancing. They took a picture and waved to the cheering fans before exiting the stage.
After 15 minutes of set change, the venue darkened and cheers from fans roared through the venue when the name of the next set flashed on the screen:
Sads (40 mins)
Cheers and jumps from fans shook the venue as the members appeared onto a red lit stage. Fans made devil horns with their hands and raised them high into the air to welcome the band. As hard guitar riffs from K-A-Z (Gt.) started off their first song, “See a pink thin Cellophane”, Kiyoharu (Vo.) walked onto the stage with a mic stand held up high and the crowd went wild. Kiyoharu, dressed in a black military styled jacket with gold buttons and red leather gloves, provoked the crowd, “Hey Budokan!!! Please get wild!” before entering the fast paced punk rock song, “HATE“. Green lights flashed as Kiyoharu‘s distorted vocals sent fans into a craze, punching the air with their fists chanting “Hey!”
“Hello everyone. We’re honored to be invited to such an amazing fest. Whenever we play fests… well, we don’t really play at fests…but either we just break stuff or get frowned at. But you know, we’re sharing the stage with VAMPS, Sixx:A.M. and Buckcherry today so we’ll play properly!” Kiyoharu joked. After a puff of smoke, he continued, “Let’s go Budokan!”
Heavy guitar riffs started up again for “Tell me what you lie“. Kiyoharu removed his jacket and gloves to show a loose black vest and a red elbow-band before dancing and singing here and there on the stage. Keiuke Kubota (Ba.)’s low notes led the intro to “SPIN“, a slightly eerie and dark song. Kiyoharu‘s vocals went from rough and husky to melodic singing and emotional yells for the chorus, leading to K-A-Z‘s equally emotional rollercoaster of a guitar solo.
After just one slow song, they were ready to rock again with “WHITE HELL“. Kiyoharu showed off his badass rocker stage presence, which at one point, he carried his mic stand on his shoulder to one end of the long stage and just dropped it there as he drove the crowd with a sexy dance. The haunting guitar solo kept raising the temperature inside the venue and the crowd cheered in unison for the end of the song. “We got 3 more songs to go and they’re fucking cool so let’s all have some fun!” Kiyoharu continued in a mysterious voice after he put on a military hat, “Welcome…to the ‘GOTHIC CIRCUS‘.” The song took us to a bizarre and slightly mad world. After walking left and right to salute the crowd, Kiyoharu provided some fan service, such as sitting at the edge of the stage and played with his tongue with his fingers, or putting his arm around K-A-Z‘s shoulders.
The punkish song “SANDY” was next. Everyone was dancing with their arms in the air. Female fans screamed as Kiyoharu hugged K-A-Z from behind and kissed his head, then K-A-Z stepped down to get closer to the fans in front to play the heavy outro. They wrapped up their set with the heavy number, “WASTED“; with Kiyoharu‘s screams and yells, and K-A-Z delivering a sick guitar solo and the crowd headbanging up a storm. Forty minutes was over in a flash; “Bye bye~” Kiyoharu said to the cheering fans as the band exited the stage.
20 minutes went by and the anticipating fans gave a roaring cheer for:
Sixx:A.M. (40 mins)
With Mötley Crüe having just wrapped up the Asia leg of their final tour only 2 days ago, which was actually only held in Japan (Kobe, Nagoya, Tokyo 2 days, Fukuoka), the hype to see Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe’s bassist)’s solo project, Sixx:A.M., was simply off the charts. There were also a lot of other reasons, such as HYDE mentioning that the first guitar copy he played was a Mötley Crüe song; or just the simple fact that Mötley Crüe is an American hard rock legacy. Regardless of the reason why the crowd that night was crazy for Nikki Sixx, it was announced at the end of the show that VAMPS will be touring in the U.S. together with Sixx:A.M. starting from April. Surely it was just as exciting for VAMPS themselves as it is for VAMPS‘ fans.
The band started with “Let’s Go“, an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll number that was a perfect first song of their set. It was easy for anyone, hell, everyone to get into. One just can’t help but nod their head to the rhythm and sing along once we caught on. This song just grabbed me on the get-go, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Perhaps it was the simple but straightforward and tight guitar and bass riffs, perhaps it was James Michael‘s (Vo.) confident, clear yet rocking vocals, perhaps it was the repeated singing of “Let’s Go”, or all of the above. Whatever the reason was, it got everyone clapping and loudly chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey!” throughout the song.
The next was an emotional, beautiful and powerful song titled “Stars“. The two female singers added beautiful backing vocals on top of James‘s already impressive vocals. But one of the highlights at this particular set was when HYDE entered the stage to join them at the second verse, which drove the crowd crazy. Following an emotional and skillful solo by DJ Ashba (Gt.) on top of Nikki‘s solid bass line, James and HYDE switched back and forth for a beautiful collaboration on the last chorus. HYDE gave James a hug, and in return, James said “Arigato!” as HYDE exited the stage to an excited crowd.
Following the upbeat and bright number “Gotta Get It Right“, was a change of pace with “DRIVE“. A grand piano was moved center stage where James played it for the song, who also showcased his wide vocal range with impressive high-tone in this power ballad. After the lyrically uplifting and catchy rock number, “Life Is Beautiful“, we were back to a beautiful and slightly sad piano version of “Before It’s Over” centered on James‘s vocals and piano, and ended in an emotional instrumental outro.
Taking us on a rollercoaster ride, the last two songs “THIS IS GONNA HURT” and “LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL” took us back into the head-nodding, fist-pumping and jumping world of rock ‘n roll. They gave a bow to the crowd and left the stage for the final act of the day.
The band wrapping up the 2-day fest was none other than the host, VAMPS. Once the lights went down, the crowd gave deafening loud cheers, claps and ground-shaking jumps. The silhouettes of the members slowly appeared among the smoke screen under the blood-red lit stage.
VAMPS (40+10 mins)
The crowd was driven to madness with the heavy, tight and mean sounding guitar rhythm of the first song – “EVIL“. Right from the beginning, HYDE had an overwhelming presence on stage with his piercing glares straight into the camera shown on the screen. For the breakdown, fans from down in the arena to all the way up on the second floor could be seen in a uniform headbang style known in Japanese as the oritatami which literally translates to “folding” where they bend their bodies forward and backwards.
Next, yellow and purple lights flashed for the heavy and upbeat number, “LIPS“. HYDE danced and everyone else dispersed to all around the stage. K.A.Z played at the edge of the stage to provoke the crowd of jumping fans in front of him. For a few times, HYDE would point his mic at the audience, urging fans to sing along. The venue was united once again for the clapping and oritatami headbangs for the breakdown, followed by K.A.Z‘s playful solo on top of the tight rhythms from the bass and drums.
As if it wasn’t enough to drive the fans nuts from the get-go, the last song from the previous night, the devilish and mysterious sounding heavy rock ‘n roll number, “DEVIL SIDE” was next. From the tight bass intro and mesmerizing husky vocals from HYDE, who was then on guitar, to the all-out headbang fest to the breakdown section between the first chorus and second verse, the song was oddly captivating. Fans screamed “DEVIL SIDE!” in unison. HYDE ran to the far left to high-five fans on 1F while K.A.Z took over center stage and eventually knelt on the ground for the screaming guitar solo.
Before starting the next song, HYDE provoked the crowd, “Hey Budokan! Let’s have some fun! Do as you like! ARE YOU FUCKING READY?!” Eerie guitars and haunting vocals reverberated for “DAMNED“, which they didn’t play the night before. HYDE‘s singing went from growls to yells then slowly descended into madness along with K.A.Z‘s haunting guitar solo. In contrast to the dark song, lights turned bright for VAMPS’ ultimate party rock song, “REVOLUTION II”. The crowd chanted “BANG ON STOMP EVERYBODY” following each short guitar riff. HYDE once again brought out VAMPS’ black flag, “Get louder, come on!!! BANG ON STOMP EVERYBODY!” The rest of the instruments came in and the venue turned into one big party with everyone jumping with their arms high in the air. Thunderous cheers responded to HYDE every time he pointed the mic to the crowd. They paused in the middle of the song with only the drums and the crowd chanting “BANG ON STOMP EVERYBODY” in unison while HYDE ran around the stage driving the crowd. The fans gave everything they had but it was way too early to rest, because what came next were the upbeat rock numbers, “AHEAD” and the super high-energy live favorite “BLOODSUCKERS”.
“ARE YOU BLOODSUCKERS?” HYDE provoked with coarse voice, “GIMME MORE!! MORE! There isn’t enough blood!! Gimme more!!” Everyone in the venue from arena to 2F descended into madness. However, energy-thirsty HYDE wanted even more, “You can still give more, right? Are you all__________?!” To which everyone yelled “BLOODSUCKERS!!” for about four more times, and the crowd headbanged like they’ve never headbanged before for an endless repeat of the song.
If you think VAMPS will let fans off this easily, you’re too naive! The heavy and upbeat anthem for VAMPS, “SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL” came up next to wrap up their main set. Every time I thought the crowd couldn’t get any crazier, it would exceed my expectations. VAMPS lived up to being the host of the amazing 2-day event with their overwhelming presence throughout their set, which swept through the crowd like a tornado. All the fans were singing, dancing, jumping, clapping along to the badass riffs and tight rhythms. “I love you all! Oh yeah!” HYDE said in English before leaving the stage.
After about 10 minutes of encore chants, VAMPS reappeared on stage. HYDE started with an MC:
Really, thank you. I’m really happy, thank you. I’m really thankful for all the bands, for not backing out last minute (laugh) I’m also thankful to all of you. I’m having a lot of fun. For the last song, I want to do it with everyone. Come on, Sads, Kiyoharu-kun! Oh hey, we have double “KAZ” (laugh) Can I call one more? Can I? Can I? You know who it is, right? Call for him!!! Come on, Nikki!!
Then it was high-fives all around. Kiyoharu appeared to have changed his clothes, now wearing a pair of burgundy skinny pants and a black hat. After everyone was settled on stage, HYDE suddenly said, “I kinda want to cry. (smile) Let’s go! Are you guys ready?!” before playing a cover of Mötley Crüe’s “Live Wire“. While VAMPS played their arrangement before during their nationwide tour “VAMPS LIVE 2014-2015”, they played the original arrangement for this night. Everyone was walking around the stage, jamming with different people standing near them. Fans and members alike used up the last bit of their energy, but with big smiles on everyone’s faces.
When the song ended, the crowd gave a thunderous storm of cheers, claps and whistles. At this moment, Nikki handed HYDE the bass he was using. HYDE beamed and hugged it tightly with his left arm while they gave each other a big hug. HYDE kissed the bass in his arms and waved goodbye to the crowd. It was truly a beautiful and touching way to wrap up the memorable two-day hard rock fest.
(Thu) 2015.02.19 @ Nippon Budokan – Setlist
- Lit Up
- Broken Glass
- All Night Long
- Somebody Fucked With Me
- Say Fuck It
- Crazy Bitch
- See a pink thin Cellophane
- Tell me what you lie
- WHITE HELL
- GOTHIC CIRCUS
- LET’S GO
- GOTTA GET IT RIGHT
- LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL
- BEFORE IT’S OVER
- THIS IS GONNA HURT
- LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL
- DEVIL SIDE
- REVOLUTION II
- SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL
EN1. LIVE WIRE
Live Report by: JIN