“We brought hide to you.”
Yoshiki said with a hoarse voice; but then again, not many people in the venue didn’t have a hoarse voice by then.
It was five o’clock and colourfully dressed fans stood in pockets around the venue, some bearing hide dolls, some bearing gifts, but all came bearing the desire to see X Japan LIVE. Instead of choosing a venue that previous Jrock bands have graced, X Japan opted for the historical Massey Hall. It holds more than a hundred years of history and is currently the home for an orchestra; but on October 7th, it received yet another history lesson. Minutes before doors opened, what started as small groups of eager fans turned into a line that seemed never ending. Everywhere one looked, there was an X Japan fan. So much so that the every day working people walking by couldn’t help but ask “who or what is X Japan?”
The answer certainly depends on how much time you have.
In short, X Japan is a legend, an inspiration – a league of its own.
An hour before the show, the filled Massey Hall buzzed with exercised patience in wait for the headliner to take the stage. The opening band was a six-man band titled “Vampires Everywhere” that tried to pump up the almost reserved crowd who at least were listening intently enough to offer applauses at the end of each song. Retrospectively, one could suppose that it is to be expected when opening for a band of X Japan’s calibre.
Between the removal of the opening band’s instruments and the presentation of X Japan’s equipments, sporadic shouts of “we are X” erupted from various areas of the venue. It sounded a little unrehearsed at first, but soon the unanimous chant of “we are X” filled Massey Hall as the background music to the staff members’ task of setting the stage. The chanting continued ’till the very last second before the lights dimmed and then, it was just a cacophony of excitement and energy that could not be contained. It wasn’t just the young teenager who jumped up and down; it was the working adults in business suits, it was the child who was infected by the buzz around her, and it was also the elderly woman who stood and watched with a smile on her face.
If anyone had any doubts about living a dream, when the band appeared with Yoshiki (drum) poised atop his drum set, all doubts subsided. Sugizo (guitar) took his place on the right side of the stage as Pata (guitar) and Heath (bass) added to the ensemble from the left. When Toshi (vocal) took his place in front of his microphone stand, breaths were held, heartbeats stopped and eyes ceased to blink as the show finally began.
The opening beat of Jade illuminated the venue and from then on, nothing mattered but the music and the band that had finally graced Toronto with its presence. Through the medium of music, all unspoken words, hopes, wishes, and dreams were communicated on a two way street between the band and its loyal fans. Anyone remotely familiar could tell you the set list without a stutter. It contained a balanced mixture of new and old, starting with Jade, Rusty Nail, Silent Jealousy, Drain, Kurenai, Born to be Free, I.V., X, Endless Rain, and finally, Art of Life. Each song was greeted with the same fervour, regardless of English or Japanese, language posed as no barrier when the fans’ voices became Toshi’s voice in moments when he would kindly turn the microphone to the crowd.
Between the explosive songs, Sugizo (guitarist) stood atop the stage and captivated the audience with his violin before conducting the audience for a pseudo-contest in cheering. Pseudo-contest because even without his conducting, the audience wasn’t going to lose itself. Yoshiki (drummer) soon joined Sugizo on his Kawai piano and together they concocted a show in a show that entranced the venue.
hide may not be able to join them, but his presence was felt in Toronto. From the dolls that were held up high to the calls of “hide” that resonated from fans and finally to the traditional introduction of the members during the song “X”. “On guitar, hide!” Undoubtedly, many could not help the tears that ran with their make-up. The originally six-minute song was extended with the volley of “we are X” and “you are X” with Toshi leading the audience. And when Yoshiki took hold of the microphone with Toshi smashing the drums, it was yet another round. Just like the old times.
After a well-deserved rest for the band, they resumed the previous rush with Endless Rain. Yoshiki came out with a Canadian flag wrapped around his shoulders with the words “Revival of X Forever”, he spoke of the tour, of the band, and –of course- of hide with his voice hoarse but his sincerity vivid. Art of Life served as the finale of the concert, and although it was a more condensed version of the originally thirty-minute song, a taste was all that was needed for the crowd to explode. Needless to say, the concert ended on a high, and it only seemed to have encouraged the members to take turns taking pictures with the audience before joining hands to salute the crowd.
Yoshiki said “We love you, Toronto”, but it certainly can be said that Toronto loves X Japan just as much, if not more. Even when the lights were turned on and the stage empty, the magic remained. Many stood in their spot and watched as the stage was taken apart piece by piece, practically none in a hurry to leave. It was as if by simply being there, they could relive the past two hours again, and again, and again.
Live Report, Guest Submission: Christina L.