Saturday, November 1st, 2014


L’Arc~En~Ciel Take The Garden by Storm

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A few years ago I went to the MTV Video Music Awards in Japan, and noticed something interesting. Whenever categories came up where American artists went against Japanese artists, nine out of ten times, the American would win, and not even be in attendance to accept the award. It seemed so unfair to compare American artists to their Japanese counterpart when you think about how many American bands have sold out stadiums in Tokyo while most Japanese bands that tour America have a hard time filling up mid-size venues such as Roseland Ballroom and Irving Plaza in Manhattan. That comparison doesn’t seem quite so unfair after watching L’Arc~en~Ciel (French for rainbow), a band formed in Osaka, cements its name in rock history as the first Japanese band to perform at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden on March 25th.

In celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary making music together, hyde (lead vocals), tetsuya (bass), ken (guitar), and yukihiro (drums) have taken their dynamic visual spectacle around the globe to thank fans in true rock star fashion. The show got underway with an epic opening video displaying the band member’s names carved in platinum scrolling across the screen before showing a beautiful butterfly landing in Hyde’s glove-clad palm. As the excited crowd eagerly waved their florescent glow sticks in anticipation, L’Arc~en~Ciel stormed the stage backed by the enchanting piano intro to “Ibara no Namida” (いばらの涙). The instance that spotlight dropped on hyde, giving fans their first glimpse of the international superstar, The Garden erupted into a surge of screams and cheers. Juxtaposing band members with various computer generated ethereal images, songs like “Good Luck My Way,” the theme song to 2011′s FullMetal Alchemist The Movie: The Sacred Star of Milos, “My Heart Draws a Dream,” and “Honey” all came to life in a fresh and exciting way. The visual narratives added another level of interactivity to each song, which is why concertgoers who may not be familiar with songs like 1999′s “Driver’s High” will remember it as the song that opened with a revving engine sound, pyrotechnics, and images of white smoke spreading across the three gigantic LED screens.

Some of the show’s other highlights included yukihiro’s ironclad drumming during “Fate,” the extremely loud and thunderous fireworks display that opened up the fan favorite “Ready Steady Go”; the song used as the opening theme for the popular anime FullMetal Alchemist, and ken’s entertaining anecdote about his adventures in New York City. “I came to New York a few days ago, and went to American Museum of Natural History because I love the movie Night at the Museum,” Ken told the thousands in attendance. “I saw a lot of naked mannequins, so I took a lot of pictures.” It was the most heartfelt part of the evening, and the crowd loved it. The show closed with four encore songs including a passionate rendition of 1997′s “Niji” (虹) (Japanese for Rainbow), the first single released with yukihiro on drums.

One of my fondest memories while living in Japan was when I saw R.E.M. perform at the Grand Cube in Osaka. It was so exciting to see a band that I was so familiar with in a foreign land, and I appreciated how popular they were amongst their Japanese fans. There were times when I seemed out of place or didn’t belong in Japan, but when I saw that band perform to a sold out crowd I felt connected. Witnessing L’Arc~en~Ciel not only perform at the Garden, but captivate both their local and international fans reminded me how good that connection feels. The connection is important for Japanese people living in America, as well as Americans who lived in Japan because it reminds us that we all belong to one world. So when ken asked the crowd, “Do you enjoy us?” the answer was yes, we enjoy you very much, and I’m sure the answer is similar throughout the world. Now it’s fair to compare Japanese artists to their American counterparts.

Songlist:

  • Ibara No Namida
  • CHASE -English version-
  • GOOD LUCK MY WAY
  • HONEY
  • DRINK IT DOWN
  • REVELATION
  • Jojoushi
  • X X X -English version-
  • fate
  • forbidden lover
  • MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM
  • Caress of Venus
  • Driver’s High
  • STAY AWAY
  • READY STEADY GO

Encore:

  • Anata
  • winter fall
  • Blurry Eyes
  • Niji

Slider Photo by Kazuko Tanaka
Words by Sam Frank

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