ONE OK ROCK – ELECTRIC BALLROOM – LONDON – 16/12/2014 – REVIEW
Last year it was the O2 Academy in Islington, with a crowd of only a couple of hundred people. This year, fans arriving at the Electric Ballroom more than an hour before showtime on Camden High Street found an already impressive queue, snaking its way down the road and up the next shady street corner along with the K9 unit. Evidently, Japanese rockers ONE OK ROCK have only been growing in popularity this year, with this London concert selling out quickly. Teaming up with Ghost Town for their performance, the band played a short but sweet ten song setlist, featuring their latest singles, a selection of songs from their 2013 album, Jinsei x Boku = (Jinsei Kakete Boku Wa), and a special acoustic version of love song ‘Wherever You Are’.
For those who attended the last show, the set-up didn’t yield many surprises. An atmospheric build, Tomoya (drums), Ryota (bass) and Toru (guitar) coming onto the stage, and finally vocalist Taka appearing for the first song of the night, ‘Deeper Deeper’, followed by its counterpart single, ‘Nothing Helps’. The crowd instantly burst into action, with jumping, fist-pumping and headbanging, and the band reacted with plenty of energy despite almost two months of touring across South America and Europe. ‘Deeper Deeper’ was a strong opener, as the claps of the introduction built up some tension, and the explosive main riff was a dynamite stick to the front rows- although even towards the back emotions were running high!
Next up was ‘Re:make’, which got everyone belting both English and Japanese lyrics at the tops of their voices, while the atmospheric breakdown of ‘Clock Strikes’ allowed for a moment of peaceful unison. Following these two tracks, Taka left it to Toru to lead an instrumental interlude, inducing wide spreading bouncing that sent tremors through the floor. And following this short break, the band took their show to the next level, with the latest single, ‘Mighty Long Fall’. Released at the end of July this year, this song was begging to be played live, with its high octane chorus and instrumentals- and the audience loved every second of it, barely stopping for breath.
After a sequence of faster tracks, ONE OK ROCK placed their energy on the back burner and focused on some emotional impact, with the beautiful ‘Be the light’. The instrumentals rang out over the crowd, who stood still and waved their arms from side to side, and the moving lyrics were enough to bring a tear to the eye. There was no time to let the mood drop too far though, as the band swiftly followed up with the partner single to ‘Mighty Long Fall’, ‘Decision’, which brought a more carefree and enthusiastic atmosphere to the packed venue. Finally, ‘NO SCARED’ gave an aggressive edge to the movements of the audience, as hair began to fly and necks began to pull.
The main set came to an end with, ironically, ‘The Beginning’- which they commonly perform as their last song. It was a good choice, inspiring a sense of happiness in everyone despite the knowledge that the night was almost over. Even as the band disappeared from the stage, fans were calling for an encore and clapping their hands. The set had felt relatively short, and the chanting quickly swelled to screaming for their return- and return they did, with a special acoustic version of ‘Wherever You Are’. Singles and couples alike danced together, sharing in a final moment with the band, before they said their final goodbyes and left everyone to piece themselves back together.
It was a shame not to hear more from the band, and not to hear more of their older work, but as a display of ONE OK ROCK’s current direction, this concert was right on the money. And as if this strong performance wasn’t enough, Taka jokingly complained that since they were bringing a new album out next year, they would just have to tour again next year!
The new album, just announced for February 11th and entitled 35xxxv, will hopefully bring fans even more great music following ‘Mighty Long Fall’, and it looks like ONE OK ROCK is set for another year of excitement in 2015.
Words by Lauren du Plessis