So now I get to the main reason for going to Japan in the middle of summer. August 7th I headed out to what would be my second big concert in Tokyo. Previously I saw the reunion of Japan X back in 2008 at Tokyo Dome. This time the concert was at Akasaka Blitz.
Where to start with this? Some time ago I started listening to Malice Mizer and watching their videos, especially Bara no Seidou. I kept wishing I could have been there for that concert, it was so amazing. Sadly Malice Mizer went on hiatus a year or two before this and were no longer performing. Two of the members began their solo careers while the bassist, Yu~ki, pretty much retired from music. Guitarist Közi has done well with various different music projects including his band ZIZ. Mana, Malice Mizer's other guitarist, also has quite a fan following with his band Moi dix Mois and his fashion line Moi meme Moitie.
In 2008 Közi performed on stage with Mana at a Moi dix Mois concert and the next year they created the first Deep Sanctuary live where he performed again with Mana. 2010 Yu~ki joined them for Deep Sanctuary II where they performed a couple Malice Mizer songs. Every couple of years since then there has been a Deep Sanctuary concert where they performed a few songs together.
So back in March this year they announced a new Deep Sanctuary concert. Personally I really needed something to look forward to since things were not going well for me. Being able to see the one band I wished I could have seen when they were together? That would help. Along with my finally returning to Japan after being there during the Great Touhoku Disaster. I didn't realize how much that kept me from returning prior to this.
However if you are not actually in Japan, it's almost impossible to get tickets to concerts there. It's bad because it actually hurts Japanese musicians and performers. With the Olympics coming they really need to change this situation. Also wonder how much more tourist dollars they would get from people traveling to Japan to see their favorite musicians in concert? Without the help of a friend living in Tokyo I would not have been able to go to this concert. I really appreciate that she did this for me. For five months after that I was frugal and saved money.
So August 8th found me at Akasaka Blitz with a lot of other people wearing all kinds of outfits despite the heat.
I don't have many photos since that wasn't allowed in the venue. But here are a couple of the fans outside. People even cosplayed various band members in Malice Mizer outfits. The majority of people there were female.
Along with people wearing Moi meme Moitie outfits. As for me, I was wearing a Moi meme Moitie long skirt with a Kambriel velvet camisole and a h.NAOTO lightweight cardigan with lace. Finding things that would look good that could handle long distance travel along with not being super hot in that weather was a challenge. Thus the mixing of brands. It worked.
After getting into the venue I decided to purchase a t-shirt in case they sold out. Along with using my drink ticket which in the heat was actually a good thing. Went into the theater to find it pretty full. It was standing only and I ended up in the back on the floor. There was a bit of a wait for the concert to start. I began to regret my choice of boots because I started to have some pain from standing. I really need to find a pair with foam platform soles or something. Would help with being able to see over people too.
Instead of this being a review of the concert, I'm going to make this more of a recounting of the experience. There are a few reviews online both in Japanese and English. Because even now Malice Mizer and the band members have a lot of fans.
First up was Közi and ZIZ. I'm so use to American concerts where the audience goes crazy when the band appears, yelling and clapping. However in Japan that isn't the case. It was so quiet when ZIZ came out and started to perform. Which was even stranger because they have so much energy! I would define their music as New Wave/Euro Dance and it is very relatable and fun. I so wanted to dance but there was no room and everyone was just standing in place. Don't get me wrong, the crowd was into the performance, they did applaud and more at the end of songs. It's just in Japan people tend to be polite at concerts.
For me, I really enjoyed ZIZ. Közi is a great performer and handled the vocals really well. I enjoy his recorded music but the live performance was even better. So here is the ZIZ set list:
6. SPIEGEL WELT
Most of the songs were new ones. Spiegel Welt is a song Közi did with his friend Ken Morioka. Morioka-san passed away this year and there was a lot of emotion on that stage during the song. ZIZ ended with my favorite song SUPERBSAW and it was great! I really hope I can see ZIZ perform live again some day. So much fun, totally exceeded my expectations.
Roadies cleared ZIZ's equipment from the stage and moved in the drum set and more for Moi dix Mois. Another break but it wasn't too long. This would be an interesting set for me because I could have seen Moi dix Mois in Seattle at their only live performance ever in North America. But I had just moved so didn't do it. Mana's use of costumes and never speaking in public during his musical career has made him seem almost like a fictional character and not a real person. Could I bridge this cognitive dissidence that could happen with seeing him in person?
The crowd was starting to get into the concert more by the time Moi dix Mois took the stage. Very strong performance and great vocals by lead singer Seth. All dressed in black the band members were very much in sync. You would not know they haven't performed live that often since the sad passing of their guitarist K. He was remembered by the audience and band members including guitarist Ryux touching mimed tribute to K at the end of their performance.
Here is the Moi dix Mois set list:
SE. Sacred Lake
2. Front et Baiser
3. Beast Side
6. Immortal Madness
7. Dead Scape
8. Material Death (new song)
9. Ange - D side holy wings -
10. Je l'aime
SE. En Lumière
They played a bit longer than ZIZ and the crowd was really getting worked up. I know I saw some head banging going on. The songs were mostly hard rock/visual kei with classical influences and while the band was working very hard they also were more animated than many of their videos show. Everything was on cue and the only thing that seemed to be a problem, at least for me in the back of the audience, was the kick drums on Tentation were so loud it made it hard to hear Seth's singing. It was like they were fighting with each other. I don't know if it was because the drummer Hayato uses two kick drums and both were happening in the song or if it was a problem at the sound board where they should have pulled the fader down on them (Sound engineer experience happening here). Other that that Moi dix Mois was really impressive and I was totally blow away by Mana's guitar playing. I look forward to new music from them and if we are lucky they will tour not just in Japan in the near future.
Another break while equipment was moved around. Then the fog machines kicked in and the lights went down. It was time for what everyone came for. The return of The Earl and Malice Mizer.
Mana has been super kind and uploaded the opening music for this online. He remade Yami no Kanata he~ for the concert. I'd think this is could be though of actual new Malice Mizer music. Imagine this with Közi standing on the left and Mana standing on the right. If you are thinking this sounds rather vampirish, well it is. Malice Mizer shows weren't just music concerts, they were theater with various members playing parts. Acting out vampire stories was part of that. They even made a vampire horror film. So it was so Malice Mizer to start their set this way and to have Yu~ki recreate his favorite character The Earl.
Set List for Malice Mizer:
SE 闇の彼方へ〜 (Yami no Kanata he~) 2016 long version
2. Apres Midi E-Type (recorded instrumental)
3. Beast of Blood
5. Au Revoir (recorded instrumental)
As the opening notes for Transylvania began with Mana on guitar and Közi playing Yu~ki's bass, The Earl Yu~ki appeared wearing a top had and swirling his cape. The crowd went nuts, screaming and shouting. Not only did Yu~ki sing the lead (which he never did when Malice Mizer was active except one cosplay concert) he also recited the speaking parts which are from Interview with the Vampire. It was amazing.
There was a monologue, or MC, after this between Közi and Yu~ki where he spoke of how many times Mana emailed him asking him to sing Transylvania. They were so animated while they spoke. Even though I understood very little of what was being said their body language and voices showed they were very happy to be there and with each other.
Meanwhile Mana had snuck off stage. He returned wearing a white ruffled apron and was pushing a cart with a birthday cake on it. So many lit candles! The reason why the concert was being held in the middle of deathly hot August was to celebrate Yu~ki's birthday. More chatting, Közi attempted to get Mana to speak but Mana instead put his head down. Yu~ki stuck his finger in his cake to taste it and then tried to get Mana to dab his face with a napkin. It was vintage Malice Mizer being played out before us. And it was great.
Közi lead the audience in singing Happy Birthday Yu~ki-chan which we all happily obliged. Mana somehow changed out of his apron, got his guitar, Yu~ki picked up his bass and Közi took center stage to sing the song Beast of Blood. Nice moment was when he leaned on Mana near the end of the song.
Közi then got his guitar and they began playing N.p.s. N.g.s (No Pains No Gains). Both this song and Beast of Blood are really great songs for concerts and the audience members were singing along and waving their arms. For me it was like traveling back in time, being in the middle of one of their concert videos.
The members left the stage only to return once a recording of the instrumental Au Revoir began playing. Közi and Yu~ki walked out while Mana rolled out on a Razor type scooter. They threw balls into the audience. I have no idea what was in them since I was so far back there was no way any of them would get to us. The music continued to play while the three remaining Malice Mizer band members took their bows, hugged each other and I swear there were tears happening. At one point Közi grabbed a mic and sang out "Motto!" which was part of Au Revoir's lyrics. This went on for a bit while the audience started singing to Au Revoir. The singing continued long after they left the stage and the house lights went up. It truly was magic. I had hoped the band members could hear it and from what they wrote afterwards they did.
Just a couple notes from the concert. Moi dix Mois drummer Hayato played for Malice Mizer also. Malice Mizer's drummer Kami passed away in 1999 and he was never replaced. Instead he is thought of as an eternal blood member and even at the concert everyone was thinking of him. Another band member did double duty. Sugiya plays bass for both ZIZ and Moi dix Mois so it was fun to see him perform with two different types of bands. Something else I noticed was the number of younger people at the show that were clearly there for Malice Mizer. Most of them would have been children when the band was active so this is really remarkable.
While I wished they could have played a lot more songs, I was happy because they did more than they had in prior Deep Sanctuary concerts and all the extra parts including Mana recreating Yami no Kanata he~ just for this concert showed they put their all into this. It really meant a lot to the fans that were there.
So it was over and I gingerly walked out on my sore feet. I wanted to show my appreciation for ZIZ so I bought a ZIZ shirt and also their new EP. I think the only size was this really large one. Funny since everything in Japan tends to run small.
This is the Deep Sanctuary V shirt. I wish I had also bought the dress style then. I thought I might get it online but they sold out at the concert. I like the angel design and choice of colors on this.
I could write so much more about the concert, Mana, Malice Mizer...but I will instead say that I'm very glad I had the chance to go to this concert. And now I want to see ZIZ and Moi dix Mois again. So I'm scrimping and saving and looking into how a ticket could be bought in the future if it means going back to Japan. Which I will do even if there isn't a concert.
Thanks for reading this really long post. I swear the rest of them for my trip will have more photos.