The room fell silent as the SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein ascended the stairs in the midst of the small crowd. Soon the sound of flashes filled the room as he began to speak.
After thanking everyone for attending, he explained how thrilled he and SiriusXM were at starting the process of presenting to America, Canada and other places “one of the world’s unique talents”. He went on to say that how too many times, one sees the focus on, in any country, the artists only in their native country, reaching those who speak the same language. He advised, “We’re always open to the concept of, ‘where else is there unique talent?'”.
“I was lucky enough,” he said, “I was at my desk one day, and I had been talking to friends [who had] said there was this unique band from Japan that was going to be playing at Roseland [Ballroom], which is only about three blocks from here. So I couldn’t help myself but check it out.
“Once you see X JAPAN and Yoshiki, you never forget.”
X JAPAN was formed in 1982 by vocalist Toshi and drummer, Yoshiki. X JAPAN’s first achieved their big breakthrough following their second album ‘Blue Blood’. From then on they have become one of the first and biggest Japanese acts to attain mainstream status – even while on an independent label. X JAPAN is also well known for and credited for being one of the pioneers of the ‘Visual Kei’ movement. The band’s popularity grew over the years, but eventually it was time to say goodbye.
After 4 full-length albums and selling out the 50,000 seat Tokyo Dome, a record 18 times, over their 16 years together, X JAPAN disbanded in 1997. After a 10-year wait, the band finally reunited with the unfortunate exception of one member, guitarist Hideto ‘hide’ Matsumoto. They performed concerts throughout Asia from 2007 – 2009 before finally making their way to the U.S. for their first ever North American tour from September to October of 2010. Their official performance debut, however, happened to be at the 2010 Lollapalooza in August.
Yoshiki has done so many great things and so much with his life in and beyond X JAPAN that this small review is not nearly adequate enough to explain it all in so brief a recounting.
The evening began with guests and contest winners making their way to the directed floor after passing through security at the McGraw Hill Companies’ building. The room was filled with the sound of mild chatter, clinking glasses, murmur of the anticipated crowd, and of course some X JAPAN in the background. Walking into the room, one could really feel how much Yoshiki cared for both his associates and his fans. Upon entering we were offered delicious wines, as well as fresh sushi from the Nobu restaurant in NYC, the restaurant owned by the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Overhead, two screens played a video, “Pop Stars you’ve never heard of.” A video, which showcased Yoshiki’s unsung achievements.
We watched the man we were all there to see. Yoshiki, and all of the great things he has done with his life. It made the moment seem surreal. Someone who has experienced so much, both good and bad. Someone who has done what others might have called impossible or foolish. Someone who through his own power made his dreams come true. Someone to whom many idolized.
Soon enough this great man, this impressive man, this surprisingly skinny man, made his way up the stairs where the president had just been moments ago. With all eyes and cameras on him, he began to speak.
He was a bit nervous at first, but simply smiled and continued to talk. He explained why he was there, why we were there, and what he wanted to bring to us. Everyone listened as he spoke and introduced the newest song from X JAPAN called, ‘Jade’. The single should be released soon, though no specific dates have been confirmed as of yet.
After we listened to Jade, Yoshiki made his way into a separate room for press to take photos and ask questions. As guests and winners we were asked to wait, but our time would come. In the mean time, I chatted with people who came from very far to see Yoshiki even for this brief time. One gentleman, Shiro Vii, came from Massachusetts, another woman, Wendy, came from Virginia, and a few other women came all the way from Japan just to attend this event. It just goes to show how powerful music can really unite people.
Soon we were asked to line up at the door to the room where Yoshiki and the press were waiting. One by one (or in groups if they came as such) each winner and guest entered the room. They were greeted by Yoshiki himself, posed for photos with him, chatted for a minute, and then left out the door they came in.
It was a nice little meet and greet and every single person I spoke with commented how friendly, calm, and how casual his attitude was, which made them feel comfortable. All except for one girl who was so star-struck by the occasion she could barely approach the approachable rock-star. She was eventually coaxed over for a photo with him before she began to cry with joy. It’s really amazing how much he has affected people’s lives, all over.
All in all, Yoshiki was more than a pleasure to meet. This for sure is a night many will always remember.
If you haven’t heard of Yoshiki, you will. No doubt, once you see X JAPAN and Yoshiki, you’ll never forget.
Guest Submission by: Youko S.
Edited by: Ali W.