LUNA SEA | 2012-2013 Live The End of The Dream in Nippon Budokan (1/13/13)
Today was special because it was Shinya’s 43rd birthday. To celebrate, there were a lot more Shinya cosplayers, as well as fans wearing birthday party hats and dressed in cow costumes. There was also a banner for people to sign and write messages on.
As my seat was on the west side, I had a fairly good view of J and INORAN, and I saw that there were some massive candles lit in front of INORAN’s amps. From this angle, I could also see Shinya’s female roadie crouching down the entire time, helping him out with various things (otsukare~!).
With the past two nights covering the Future and Rising Eras, it was easy to guess that today’s theme would be Beginning Era -Imagine For My new Moon-. As expected, it seems like the early songs get the loudest reactions from the crowd, with today’s set list receiving the most of the first weekend’s concerts. Although Shinya’s drums always impress me, today they sounded especially tight.
The concert started around 3:15 PM, and like the previous nights, opened with Moonlight Sonata. The bright lights suddenly turned on, as the guys kicked off the show with FATE, getting the audience to raise their fists and shout the song’s title. RYUICHI wore a black hooded cape, reminiscent of the LUNACY Kurofuku Gentei Gig, which he tossed off during the next song, Déjàvu. Even though this song was played the last two nights, it wasn’t until today that I noticed when RYUICHI sings, “Mirai kako ima hitobito no dorama shinaro wa itsumo déJÀVU,” fans jumped at the end.
“Budokan, how are you doing?” greeted RYUICHI. “It’s still too early to say it’s night, but let’s get tonight started! Are you ready? Are you ready???!! Next song! JESUS, DON’T YOU LOVE ME?” J got the crowd stirred up, shouting, “HEY!” on the offbeats, as everyone followed. The distinct sound of SUGIZO’s flanger-esque guitar riff to SLAVE filled the arena, as they continued on into the next song without stopping. The crowd started madly head banging, the smell of shampoo adrift in the air, with the members running around the sides of the arena. Next up was their first Oricon Chart topping hit, TRUE BLUE, before stopping for another MC.
RYUICHI spoke briefly about the current music scene and how it’s gone down. LUNA SEA has been around for close to 30 years now, and although the times have changed their music won’t, and they’ll continue to make their dreams come true. So let’s dream the big dream together!
SUGIZO switched to his Nise-Kiku Navigator before kicking off into their new song, ROUGE, followed by the enigmatic SANDY TIME. Right before SUGIZO’s violin turned guitar solo, Shinya’s tom-toms reverberated throughout the arena, complementing the power of the trance-like atmosphere.
The lights went dim, as the guys got ready for the slower section of their set list. The spotlight above SUGIZO lit up, images of stained glass appeared around the stage, and he began playing Providence. Like the previous night, he made a slight alteration to the rhythm during the second repeat of the chorus. After a brief pause, the lights changed their focus to two giant mirror balls hanging above, filling the domed roof with sparkling stars for the next song, MOON. Just like the old days, RYUICHI held his arms above his head, with both hands clasped around a small pocket-size mirror, reflecting a beam of light. As the song progressed to the guitar solo, the lights changed from bright blue to white, and the mirror balls began to rotate, the stars moving around the ceiling, creating a feeling of traveling through space. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the Budokan concerts.
The lights faded out, and after a brief pause, RYUICHI spoke a few words about the band’s new goals, before breaking out into The End of the Dream. The lights went out once again, leaving a lone spotlight on J. ”You guys ready?! Ikuze~!!!” Just like the previous nights, he got everyone to cheer for him, as he repeated the same bass solo, with SUGIZO, INORAN, and Shinya joining him at the end. RYUICHI came back on stage, and INORAN started playing the descending staccato chords of BLUE TRANSPARENCY ~Kagirinaku Toumei ni Chikai Buru~. RYUICHI went, “Whoo~!” as the music sent the audience into another head banging frenzy. Just as they were about to finish the song, the lights dimmed, highlighting Shinya, who went straight into his drum solo without taking a break. As usual, he asked us all to scream his name loudly, putting his hands around his ears like he couldn’t hear us. The other members reappeared on stage, with INORAN once again playing the chords to BLUE TRANSPARENCY, segueing back into the song for another chorus or two of head banging.
Keeping the audience going, next up was TIME IS DEAD. This song was one of the most exhilarating, as the crowd continued to enthusiastically shout, “Time is dead! The world is dead!” with INORAN and SUGIZO until the very end. Just like the last two nights, the guys ended their main set with ROSIER, with J throwing the mic stand after his monologue, and then TONIGHT.
During the break, the usual “en-ko-re” clapping suddenly changed to the birthday song. Somehow, after a few rounds, the song changed to, “Happy birthday, dear SHINYA!!!” as everyone started screaming his name, like it was his drum solo. After about 10 minutes, Shinya came out on stage, bowed in all directions, and blew kisses to us all. The other members appeared, SUGIZO wearing a peculiar white shirt with strands of blond hair attached to his right shoulder and left hip. RYUICHi said, “Congrats, Shin-chan! Finally, we’re having a concert on Shin-chan’s birthday. He cries very easily.” Introducing the next song, he continued, “This song is for you all, I for You.”
RYUICHI announced it was time to introduce the members. When it was INORAN’s turn, he mocked SUGIZO’s intro from last night, playing a bit of the 007 theme, then broke out in a sly smile. Next up was SUGIZO, who shouted, “Budokan! I love you~!” Then, “ON VOCALS! RYUICHI!” and introduced him as, “The most narcissistic vocalist,” to which RYUICHI replied, “Stop calling me narcissistic (onaru) and let’s go with eggplant (onasu) instead.” (???) He pointed to SUGIZO’s guitar and made another funny comment, but I didn’t catch it – sorry!
Continuing on, RYUICHI announced the next song, “IN MY DREAM!” INORAN played the opening chords, and right after Shinya’s entrance, all the members, except Shinya, suddenly stopped playing, leaving Shinya very confused, as he played on for another bar or two. To his surprise, a birthday cake was rolled onto the stage. SUGIZO played the birthday song on his guitar, while RYUICHI led everyone in another round of “Happy birthday Shinya!” INORAN lit the candles, and after blowing them out, Shinya gave a few words. “I’m speechless. It started when I was in high school and SUGIZO helped me buy my first drum set. And now, several years later, everyone is congratulating me on my birthday. Thank you so much!” Everyone cheered, as he continued, “But earlier, the way you screamed my name when singing ‘Happy Birthday’ made me think of my mom scolding me when I got a zero on my test in elementary school!” As the arena filled with laughter, Shinya ended his speech with, “I’ll remember today until the day I die!” The guys returned to their positions and played In My Dream (With Shiver) for real, during which INORAN directed a video camera to show Shinya up close on the screens above.
Ending the encore set was BELIEVE, where the members slowed down towards the end and RYUICHI pointed his mic to the audience to sing, “Hitori demo, kogoete mo, yasashisa tokimeki afurete… “ And then finally, WISH.
After handing their instruments to their staff, the guys joined hands at the center of the stage and we all jumped up into the air together. SUGIZO took a few pictures of the crowd and himself, and then INORAN tapped him on the shoulder, offering to help him take a few. As J went around throwing bass picks out, he grabbed the birthday banner from one of the slaves and wrapped it around Shinya’s shoulders. After shaking hands with the people leaning over the sides, INORAN, J, and SUGIZO all left the stage earlier than usual, leaving Shinya alone, throwing drumsticks out to the audience. He looked around, surprised that everyone was gone, took a deep bow, and then exited the stage.