My 15-year old daughter is such an avid J-Rock fan, so upon learning of X Japan’s concert in Oakland, she begged us to watch it. Since she is our only child, often, she gets her way. Fortunately, for the most part, my husband, daughter and I all like the same things. So, we thought of doing this as a family bonding time.
The X Japan concert, by far, was very different for my husband and I, so to prepare us, my daughter educated my us by having us listen to the band’s music. X Japan consists of vocalist Toshimitsu “Toshi” Deyama, drummer/pianist Yoshiki Hayashi, guitarists Tomoaki “Pata” Ishizuka and Yasuhiro “Sugizo” Sugihara, and bassist Hiroshi “Heath” Morie. Its music combines heavy-metal, ballad, and, some classical music. X Japan ranks as one of the most popular bands of all time in its country of origin, having sold more than 30 million records and filled the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome a record-setting 18 times during a career that dates back to 1982.
I must admit, I was reluctant to listen at first, especially since I am not into heavy metal. However, X Japan’s music struck a chord in me. What I like about their music is the way classical mixes with heavy metal, thanks to the band’s lead drummer/pianist/composer/co-founder, Yoshiki. He can switch from metal to classical without too much effort. He is a true musical genius.
As we lined up at the Fox Theater in Oakland CA on Sept. 28, my husband started humming “Tears,” which is one of X Japan’s ballads, to the delight of avid fans in line next to us. Immediately, you can feel the sense of excitement as we chatted with younger fans. I even made a comment that I felt out of place since I was the oldest, but the girl in line assured me that I wasn’t. Later, as we see more of the fans indoors, she was right. X Japan’s fans vary in ages, although majority of them are young, in their teens and twenties, there are those who are even past their golden years.
More excitement builds up as we, along with the other 2,000 people in the theater, waited for the concert to begin. The much awaited entrance of X Japan finally came after more than half an hour of wait after the opening band, Vampire Everywhere, finished performing. Once the X Japan’s band members entered, you could hear screaming, cheering, clapping, whistling…very deafening as any heavy metal concert audience can be. A shirtless Yohiski, standing on top of his chair behind his drums, was a remarkable sight. Seeing Yoshiki’s glass drums and glass piano, the audience already knew from then on, that there would be a lot of Yohiski’s talents will be on display. To everyone’s delight, he did not disappoint. Among my favorite parts of the concert were his piano and drum solos. However, my favorite of all is Yoshiki’s piano and Sugizo’s violin duet.
Toshi, the lead singer, has a very powerful, high-pitched voice. He belted out a lineup of old and new numbers and led the audience to some of the popular songs from the band, including “Endless Rain.” The set list included “Jade,” “Rusty Nail,” “Silent Jealousy,” “Drain,”, Violins and Piano Interlude, “Kurenai,” “Born To Be Free,” Drum Solo, “I.V.,” “X,” and encore numbers, “Endless Rain” and “Art of Life.” Missing in the lineup was “Without You,” which is my favorite, Yoshiki’s tribute to Hide.
At one point of the concert, Yoshiki said that it was Hideto “Hide” Matsumoto (the band’s former lead guitarist who died in 1998), who brought the band together again in 2007 after they split up for 10 years. Loyal Hide fans, some even wearing his signature hairstyle, chanted his name, paying homage to his legacy.
X Japan’s concert in Oakland was its second stop in its first U.S. Tour, which, according to Yoshiki, was their dream. Yoshiki, at one point, tells the adoring fans, “We want to make a career here. Will you support us?” Judging from the resounding response from the audience, sold out concert, long-lines at the souvenir stands, undoubtedly, Yoshiki’s plea was heard. The concert was a hit! I am now a fan, and so are many others who saw X Japan for the first time at the Fox Theater. More power to the band. I wish them good luck on the rest of their U.S. tour!