Japan X - Wembley Arena, London (UK) - 4 March 2017
If you ever dismissed X Japan as a wannabe Poison/Metallica combo with uber extravagant Punk Goth hair, the documentary 'We Are X' and their Wembley performance (which no doubt will be released on DVD) will change your mind. The thing is, maybe they would indeed have just been a Japanese version of stuff originating elsewhere had not tragedy and human experience given them another dimension entirely.
The movie shown before the performance shows how acutely the band are aware of triumph through adversity, the sadness of suicides of former members and tragic family circumstances have elevated the band from party monsters into beautiful ephemeral heroes to their fans and a rich life experience has led them to celebrate their musical talent in ways which made for a very diverse live show. As an extension of parallels with Classical composition drawn previously by Metal artists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads, the band have brought exquisite quality Classical musicianship into their live show in such a way that it would make sense to Mozart. There are award winning quality performances of Yoshiki on piano (looking like an angel) and Sugizo on violin (looking like a beautiful 18th century dandy). Not only does this sit well with the more sedate demeanour of the band as they progress through life, but it dignifies the whole event.
While Yoshiki's drumming is still astonishingly powerful and Toshi's voice almost the ultimate for power ballads, there is relatively little in the way of very heavy material in the show, despite pyro firepower, but the experience was little short of spectacular. It's not that the band did not play a cross section of material from their career, but they have just changed, it's a more reflective, careful yet intense approach, often the result of loss, which has produced something precious in its quality and the X Japan fans recognise this and embrace it. The crowd display the passion and devotion they are famous for, and despite two encores and a really long show there was no let up in energy or atmosphere. The band keep the fans attention till the end, exemplified by the extensive chanting of "We Are X" and the jumping/cross hands sign they make till the dying embers and the band leave the building.
Yoshiki explained during the show how important bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie were to them, and because guitarist Hide always wanted success outside Japan but never really saw it before he died, the poignancy of this Wembley date to the band is searingly obvious. This was important to them but they needn't have worried, it was a triumph.