X Japan Rocks Madison Square Garden

Article by Eder Guzman
Photo credit Shinji Kikuchi

X Japan performed at Madison Square Garden on October 11. This appearance at New York is a special one, since they made their U.S debut in New York at a Rockefeller center press conference more than 20 years ago, in 1992. They have come full circle, having played Yokohama Arena on September 30 and October 1, and Madison Square Garden, promoting their “X Japan World Best” compilation album.

X Japan has Toshi as the lead vocalist, and also playing the acoustic guitar. Yoshiki plays the drums and piano. Pata plays rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Heath is the bass player , and Sugizo plays violin and lead guitar. They broken up around the end of 1997, yet they could not stay away from the scene. Yoshiki and Toshi were said to have been working together in 2007, and it become official in 2008. Last time they played in New York was in 2010, when they did an all-American tour, visiting in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto and New York. Last time they were in New York, they timed it so that it coincided with New York Comic Con, yet it was difficult. After the suicide of their lead guitarist, Hideto Matsumoto in 1998, they were still hurting.

On July 11, 2011, former bassist Taiji also turned to suicide, by hanging himself after he was arrested. He was left brain dead, and on life support after the incident, and his mother and fiancée decided to pull the plug. Thought with all that hardship, they stil have Toshi and Yoshiki . Last time that X Japan came to town, they made it so that it coincided with Comic Con so that they could attend it. They did the same this year, on October 10, making sure their band had access the Comic Con crowd which would be the most likely be receptive to a Japanese Visual kei band.

On this night, they performed for a crowd of full of people from all ages, from 3 year olds to those in their early 50’s. All attendees were given a clunky wristband without being informed what they were for. Most of the seats were unused during most of the performance, as almost everyone stood up and cheered for all the songs they played. There was also a sizeable crowd of people at ground level, with glow sticks, whose eyes followed Yoshiki running down the runway, spraying bottles of water at everyone, and being received to raucous screams.

He had a spectacular time drumming, on his drum set, which was placed a moveable stage that traversed down the runway, and was erected about 35 feet into the air. As this was happening, the huge screen behind the band was being covered by large rows of interconnecting lights that were lit and folded into a huge X for the crowd. There was honorable and sad tribute for Hide, and they performed a song, with Hide accompanying them.

They also showed a slideshow of X Japan from their inception, and all the different concerts they had, and Yoshiki and Toshi speaking about how they met. They spoke fondly of the good times, and dearly of the bad times. The whole crowd was with them, and they fondly bid farewell. Yet it was not over, since they came out to play even more grandiose music on the piano, with confetti exploding and falling all over, and flames shooting off of the stage. We were left with Yoshiki yelling out their famous refrain “WE ARE EEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXXX!!!”

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