25 years ago on this very day, 29 May 1989, a legendary band LUNA SEA was born. To commemorate this significant day, it was announced in 2013 that a special LIVE would be held at Yoyogi National First Gymnasium. Fans flocked to the concert venue early in the day, decked out in concert goods over the years and various visual kei get-up, all ready to celebrate the band’s brilliant past as well as a new beginning. The air was sizzling with excitement as fans waited with bated breath for the concert to start.
At 7.30pm, images of LUNA SEA from 1989 started flashing across the 2 giant screens at the side of the stage. The years from 2000 onwards were met with blank screens, drawing laughter from the audience. For 2014, the date 29.05.2014 flashed and LUNA SEA stepped onto the stage amid thunderous applause and cheers.
Opening the night was Anthem of Light, the first track of their long-awaited latest album A WILL in 13 years. The song was written with the intent of making this a comeback track and the band sure did, giving an impressive opening performance with an outpour of emotions and passion which transported the audience into the new world of LUNA SEA. The birthday setlist contained new album tracks and old favourites to represent LUNA SEA of the past, present and future. The hiatus in 2000 had given room for the band to develop their individual style. Yet instead of diversion, the LUNA SEA sound now is more cohesive than before.
LUNA SEA continued the energy drive with TONIGHT, a tweak in the usual arrangement. Shinya’s fast and furious drumming sent the crowd into ecstasy, swinging into synchronised hand motions and singing their hearts out along with the chorus.
Ryuichi then took off his shades for the night’s first emcee. “29 May 1989, 5 people came together to become one in Machida Playhouse. 25 years have passed and tonight, we celebrate our formation day. We will show you guys who have gathered tonight and been supporting us all the way what is LUNA SEA Live!”
Besides the band’s excellent showmanship on stage, the cleverly choreographed lighting and zealous audience participation brought the concert to a fever-pitch. Illumination of red, purple and blue lights flashed in tandem with the beats of DESIRE, TRUE BLUE, Rouge and 乱-RUN-. The whole energy was infectious.
Ryuichi’s next emcee was peppered with humour as he jested, “We have rested far too long for 10 years. It was originally intended to be just a short break (laughs). LUNA SEA is a lazy band huh? In 25 years, we have only released 8 albums. Moving slowly like the dinosaurs. 50m perhaps? No, maybe 100m. So next year, we will release 3 albums!” Audience went “Ehhhhh” to which Ryuichi laughed and revealed that he was just joking.
The high-energy numbers then took on a slower tempo with the old crowd-pleaser gravity. SUGIZO’s guitar and J’s bass complemented Shinya’s drumming seamlessly. SUGIZO’s deft fingerwork continued to work its magic into the next song, Glowing from the new album. Ryuichi was especially emotive as he performed this slow and sexy rock song. Next up was SUGIZO’s haunting violin solo to Providence which left the audience spellbound. The audience was further kept entranced by the galaxy-like effect created by a mirror ball which emitted blue light across the whole entire venue. This provided the backdrop to the song MOON which was executed effortlessly by Ryuichi’s strong and controlled singing. At one point, the mirror ball started turning and this created a mesmerising star-spiraling effect while Shinya’s drums and SUGIZO’s guitar lulled everyone into the captivating melody.
Shinya’s highly anticipated drum solo was next. What a treat he had in store for the audience! Playing on his new luminous red drumset, what was more attention-grabbing was the East-West fusion element in his solo. The Chinese instrumental accompaniment to his powerful drumming was such a refreshing take that the audience was left awe-struck. The audience chanted “Shinya!” with every beat of his drum and Shinya found lots of joy in having the audience to repeat his name with a mischievous grin on his face and shakes of his head. Audience chanted louder and faster as spurred on by Shinya and this culminated into an explosive drumming set which literally sparked off fireworks on stage. Shinya then gleefully climbed out of his seat and blew kisses at the audience.
J then took over the baton of energy-overdrive with his bass solo. “Oi! Oi! Oi!” chanted the energizer bunny, bringing the energy level of the venue up by several notches with his electrifying bass playing. J was on fire as he worked the crowd by hyping up the different sections of the crowd to respond to his shouts of “Let’s go!” Together with Shinya, they performed a rhythm duet which drew loud cheers from the audience. As he bass played the intro of the next song, the crowd went crazy and started to head-bang. It was one of the fan favourites – Dejavu.
The crowd quiet down as Ryuichi spoke with emotions, “People who had supported us from a long time ago as well as those who are seeing us for the first time, what LUNA SEA is going to do from now will be difficult yet simple. We want to spin a sound that everyone is seeking. The five of us will put in our utmost effort and work together side by side to create new music. Our newest album “A WILL” means “one’s will”. It can also mean “testament”, pointing towards a future where it will burn brightly for us.”
The whole gymnasium broke into cheers and applause. Following which, probably the most well-known song overseas I for You drew elated screams from the audience as many members were from overseas. New songs Metamorphosis, The End of the Dream were interspersed with old classics STORM and TIME IS DEAD. INORAN and J continued to work their charms on the audience, driving them wild. Hand motions were intensive and chorus singing/chanting was full of fervour. The audience at this point could no longer contain their excitement as screams abound. The band was thrilled as seen from their smiling faces. Final number was the popular heart-thumping ROSIER. J’s rapping and mike-stand throw brought the song to a new high. Power combination of Shinya’s drumbeats and Ryuichi’s vocals gave a rosy end to the song and the concert. “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” exclaimed the band as they left the stage.
During the encore interval, the audience sang a chord-striking Happy Birthday song, warming the hearts of those present. Shortly after, the band returned on stage with Thoughts, a song filled with powerful guitar riffs and melodies from SUGIZO and INORAN. Thereafter, Ryuichi proceeded with his cheeky band introduction while audience enthusiastically shouted their names. Shinya was referred to as “The drummer of the universe; another rowdy place in the world” while J was given the title of “Prince of Bass”. INORAN was introduced as “The person most suitable to wear white in the whole universe” while SUGIZO as“Blackest in the whole universe”. SUGIZO then took over and proclaimed Ryuichi as the “Best vocalist who looks good in purple sleeves”.
Fans were then treated to IN MY DREAM and 2 other hit songs for the encore segment. Silver/black streamers were released during BELIEVE, an apt moment as this was LUNA SEA’s very first single. The concert came to a close with WISH and mass group jump. Or was this not the end yet?
Fans in the whole Yoyogi National Gymnasium remained where they were, giving rise to an audience wave in anticipation of a possible double encore. After what seemed like an eternity, the stage was suddenly shrouded in smoke, illuminated only by a spotlight. The whole mood was dream-like. Shinya’s drums boomed through, reminiscent of a heartbeat while SUGIZO’s violin provided the beautiful dove-crying effect. Ryuichi’s soul-stirring voice came floating in. It was the 1994 gold single MOTHER. What a special treat for fans as this was not a commonly-played song. The song also ended the night on a symbolic note as it signified (re-)birth for LUNA SEA as Ryuichi put succinctly across in one of his emcees, “This is a meaningful start, a new chapter for LUNA SEA. We will open a new door from here”.
For the 13,000 fans who had gathered that night, that was not the end but the beginning of a new journey with LUNA SEA to continue what is unfinished beyond an unseen dream.
Text and pictures by eefie.chan
LUNA SEA setlist 29052014
1.Anthem of Light
6. 乱 -RUN-
11Shinya’s drum solo
12. J’s bass solo
14.I for You
16.The End of the Dream
18.TIME IS DEAD
21.IN MY DREAM（WITH SHIVER）