- One, to wave a flag at the Glastonbury Music Festival.
- Two, to go to any one of the rock festivals in Japan.
- And three, to see all three of my favourite Jrock bands (L’arc-en-ciel, X Japan, LUNA SEA) play and rock out like I’ve never rocked out before.
In chasing these dreams, to date, I’ve flown to Taipei and enjoyed the hybrid pop/rock sounds of L’arc-en-ciel, risked the flood-wrought lands of Bangkok to witness X Japan’s reunion, and most recently, flown to Singapore to see LUNA SEA’s return to form.
To put things in context, even though I currently live in Melbourne, I’m a native of the fair shores of Singapore. I do go back there quite often, but mostly for weddings and other important events. LUNA SEA’s performance on the 8th of February, counted as an important event. In high school, when I first listened to their album Eden at a friend’s request, I was introduced to the perfect blend of hard rock and catchy pop riffs and was firmly placed on the road to becoming obsessed with Jrock in its many forms. When they broke up in 2001 after two epic farewell concerts in Japan, I was quite devastated, and for the next twelve years, could only rely on the albums I had to tide me over. Those were dark times, my friends.
Until it was announced that the members of LUNA SEA had come back together, reforming the band and going on an Asia tour! They were to perform for one night in Singapore, their last stop for the tour and for the first time in twenty-three years. When I found out about this, blood rushed to my head, heart palpitations began, and I feverishly emailed my friends in Singapore straightaway to procure these tickets.
We got them.
I then purchased budget airline tickets and that was that. Sure, my friends and family shook their heads in consternation and explained the importance of saving money, but I told them with a heavy heart and sigh, I had no choice. No choice in this matter at all.
And flew off to sunny Singapore, bags and wide grin in hand.
I arrived in Singapore one day before the concert. Met some friends, had some food, and then concert day arrived. Outside the theatre, Singapore LUNA SEA fans (SLAVES as they’re called) clothed in iconic black thronged the lobby floor. It was an interesting mix of ages, from teens to middle-age (I belonged to the latter category sadly). Many were at the make-shift merchandise store, but the store was not as packed as I had imagined. I bought myself the obligatory T-shirt and went over to a group of SLAVES that had brought a massive red flag to welcome the band to their first-ever Singapore performance. They invited me to write a note for the band, which I did, and I was very bemused at the level of fandom shown here. This feeling of bemusement stayed with me as my friends and I made our way into the theatre and found our seats. We waited.
And as we waited, our anticipation grew until it blossomed into full-on excitement as the seconds ticked down.
Then, the lights went off. More than three thousand fans got to their feet. They screamed. I screamed. LUNA SEA walked onto the stage to their respective instruments – Jun ‘J’ Onose on bass, Inoue ‘Inoran’ Kiyonobu on guitar, Sugizo on his triple-axe guitar and Shinya Yamada on drums. Frontman Ryuichi Kawamura got to the microphone, looked at the audience, and said one word: “Love”.
The opening strains of Loveless came in, and while not a fast piece, it’s LUNA SEA’s everlasting starter and the crowd loved it. Once Sugizo’s guitar wails faded away at the end of the song, the band shifted gear and threw themselves into power-hits Deja Vu and G, ordering us to scream. We obeyed with wild abandon. Singapore had waited a long time for this and LUNA SEA delivered with stunning showmanship. While the band played hit after hit, Inoran ran around the stage with guitar in hand, even spinning in circles at times; Shinya matched that energy and threw his sticks after every song; J kept rousing the crowd with his antics; Ryuichi and his sonorous, silky voice was the epitome of cool; and Sugizo had sex with his guitar. Yes, you read me right. It’s hard to explain, but the man just oozes sex, and shows it in his playing. He was on his knees, jumping in the air, hands sidling up and down the guitar neck. The music his guitar made reverberated throughout the crowd and we screamed his name many a time. When Ryuichi rubbed Sugizo’s body in a blatant show of fan-service, well, the resulting squeals could match the music for volume. Sugizo also showed off his violin skills during the popular ballad, Providence. He made his violin sing with his tender ministrations, played it up for the crowd, and we loved it.
While LUNA SEA played most of their backlist such as the sublimely desperate Gravity and the high-octane Storm (a personal favourite), they also showcased two songs from their latest single, The End of the Dream. Rouge and The End of the Dream both had much heavier riffs than their older pieces and allowed for very fun head-banging. They were rawer, had a less-pop-more-rock feel about them and I am quite looking forward to the new album.
After a blistering bass solo by J and an awe-inspiring Shinya drum solo, after the wild Rosier (where J threw a microphone stand off the stage) and the perennial favourite Tonight, the set alas, was over. The band members took a bow and walked off the stage. We of course, wanted our encore, and demanded their return. The SLAVES started singing the bridge for Love Song and got the whole theatre going. The sing-along turned into cheers as the band returned to the stage. They had changed into their Singapore LUNA SEA fan T-shirts, and Sugizo was wearing a special one the SLAVES had made for him. Ryuichi thanked the crowd for their support in Japanese, and broke into LUNA SEA’s most famous ballad – I For You. This was followed by Believe before Ryuichi began an introduction of the band members, all of whom did a cheeky solo to the crowd’s adulation. All too soon, the members were thanking us all for coming, telling us how much they loved us, and that they would be back soon. Definitely.
Their last song, Wish, was an apt one to end the night. It sang of longing and looking towards tomorrow. We embraced the song and sang along. We shouted out their names as the band members took their final bows of appreciation. We tried for another encore after they’d left the stage but the lights came up and like a dream, it was all over.
I looked at my friends. We were exhausted. My feet had blisters on them and my neck ached and would ache more the next day. My ears were ringing and I was sure I had lost my voice somewhere. My friends were in the same sort of pain, but we also shared a common thought. We had just witnessed one of the greatest Jrock bands perform live in front of us. And as we trudged back home, as I took the next plane back to Melbourne, I knew that this wasn’t the End of the Dream for LUNA SEA, nor was it just a fulfilment of one, but the beginning of a fantastically new one.