On March 12th 2016, a concert will take place that will go down in international music history: a Japanese band will headline at Wembley Arena. As a fan of the Japanese music scene, it’s easy to believe that your favourite band will always be recognised only as “a Japanese band”, and nothing more. The international scene is a tough one to break into, after all. But who better to smash the record books than the originators of visual kei? X Japan fans rejoice: Toshi, Yoshiki, Pata, Heath and Sugizo are coming to London.
Ahead of this monumental achievement, drummer/pianist Yoshiki and vocalist Toshi came to give fans a taste of what’s to come at the Hyper Japan Live Stage on Saturday, 11th July. Yoshiki kept the press entertained as the stage was prepared with a virtuoso performance of Swan Lake, and soon the fans ran into the standing space in their droves. Cramming into the 3,000 cap venue, the fans’ dedication to the pair of soon to be 50-year-olds brought the room to life, raising their arms in an ‘x’ shape and chanting the trademark slogan “we are X”. Greeted with a deafening roar, the icons played a relaxed and casual set of acoustic piano versions of several of their classic songs, including ‘I.V.’ and ‘Art of Life’, finishing with a moving rendition of ‘Endless Rain’.
As if this rare opportunity to see two pioneers of Japanese metal up close and personal wasn’t enough, members of the audience were even promised an appearance on the new album- the band’s first in a staggering twenty years. Capturing the shouts of the crowd, the pair recorded a portion of a brand new track, commenting that it was now finally complete after collecting samples from various large concerts- as Yoshiki said, “30,000 voices is not enough”.
In terms of the actual performance, Yoshiki’s piano playing was emotional and energetic, letting loose for one track as he broke down and smashed his arms against the keys. Toshi’s voice remains untouched by the hands of time, as clear and as youthful as the original recordings from years gone by- together they were truly inspirational. Despite moans of sadness from the crowd, after around 5 songs they waved goodbye and left the stage. The set went dark, and gradually the fans dispersed. However, in their wake lay the emotion of such an awe-inspiring performance, and the promise of what is set to be the most epic Japanese concert the UK has ever seen.