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[Live report] L’Arc~en~Ciel’s light and fire spectacle at Japan’s National Stadium

L’Arc~en~Ciel at Japan’s National Stadium was held on March 21, 2014 in Tokyo.

L’Arc~en~Ciel enlarged image

This was L’Arc~en~Ciel’s second time playing at Japan’s National Stadium. The last time was a year and 10 months ago for the tour finale of the 20-year anniversary WORLD TOUR 2012, a tour that hit 10 countries and brought in 45,000 people. This show broke the band’s attendance by bringing in 80,000 people in one day and 160,000 people in total. News of the instantly sold out tickets ignited the hearts of eager fans.

Fans that stepped into the venue on the first day must have been amazed. The stage was visible 360 degrees, a first for the national stadium. There was more. An unprecedented performance that surpassed any other show was getting ready to start.

High-rise buildings in the background were lit with the sunset as the outdoor show began. CG came on the big LED screen, and smoke came out amidst a huge sound. Four capsules then appeared from below the stage as if there were straight out of a sci-fi movie. This show had to be called a spectacle at this point.

Ken started playing arpeggios and the stadium erupted in cheers as they opened with “Get Out From The Shell”. Just as the title implies, their sound busted the shell open and took it to a more and more emotional space. The next song, “SEVENTH HEAVEN”, rang out into the national stadium as if to turn it into a paradise. Yukihiro, wearing red extensions in his hair, hammered out 16th note beats on the drums as Ken, wearing a wine red beret and sunglasses, went over to the stage left runway. Tetsuya, sporting bright green hair, danced on the stage right runway and hyped up the crowd. The stage had a track that went all around it, so the cheers from behind the stage were also intense.

“KOKURITSU! Let’s get started. Can you get loud? Use your voice and strength to ignite KOKURITSU!”

After Hyde’s speech, they went into the call-and-response intro of “REVELATION”. At the same time, a countdown started on the LED screen. When the countdown reached “0”, the Olympic cauldron ignited. Hyde took off his black veil and waved a flag with the letter “L” on it. The concert instantly heated up.

The verse, “The blue sky is blinding,” from the song “GOOD LUCK” rang out next. The acapella intro to “BLESS” felt like it was sucked into the beautiful blue sky. The song was used as the theme to the NHK Vancouver Paralympics, which it made the vocal solo even more appropriate for the national stadium.

“Thanks for waiting. We are L’Arc~en~Ciel. You made it out. We’re glad to meet you. We never thought we’d play the national stadium again, so we are honored. It’s been a while since the band got together. But since we are a band, we can play even after a year and a half (laughs). We’re usually not that social, but today we’ll be nice. We’ll be nice with all our hearts. Let’s have fun!”

They followed Hyde’s words with the huge hits, “HONEY”, “Winter Fall”, “New World”, and “READY STEADY GO”. But as Hyde said, what energized the stadium the most were the four band members’ amazing performances and the current power of the band. The last of the surging four songs featured a fierce drum solo by Yukihiro.

The band promoted their self-produced merchandise as they always they do. They then told the audience to put on their “L” logo ponchos and LED wristbands that were given to them when they entered the stadium. As the lights went down, the 80,000 spectators wearing white ponchos and the white stage became a canvas for a magnificent projection mapping video show. As the energy swelled, a giant balloon was inflated behind the stage and became part of the video mapping show as well.

The 3D-modeled projection mapping utilized over 100 projectors and was the biggest in the world. You can imagine the scale of the projection if you consider that the Sochi Olympics closing ceremony utilized 132 projectors.

As the drum beat reached its peak, the balloon split and the band members appeared to the song “The Fourth Avenue Café”. During the song, the LED wristbands on the audience members lit up to spell out “L’Arc~en~Ciel”. Hyde told the crowd, “You are being controlled by me”, as the wristbands changed between seven different colors. “MIRAI SEKAI” and “ANATA” brought a sense of kindness and strength to the air. The swaying LED wristbands created a feeling that added to the already intense emotion of the music. It was truly a performance where the audience and performers became one.

Images of migrating whales were projected and Ken’s guitar solo played along with it. The band then returned to the main stage to continue the performance. The next song was, of course, “MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM”. Green laser beams shot across the crowd for “CHASE”. Red lasers and LED wristbands made “XXX” an even more splendid song that it already is. Flaming torches on stage set fire to “Wild Flower” and “DRINK IT DOWN”.

“Are you feeling it? We wanted to put out a single before this concert, but as you can see, the day has already come. It’s a shame (laughs). I had a dream of at least being able to play it at the stadium.” Hyde’s words brought joy and sorrow, but this news about this present for the fans changed the stadium’s cheers into screams. “Dreams do come true. We made it. Will you listen? ‘EVERLASTING’”.

The new song was classic L’Arc~en~Ciel with a minor key melody and dark atmosphere. Twin guitars by Tetsuya and Ken were an added element. The next track, “Blame”, was an acoustic song that Ken strummed. The song is off of their second album, “Tierra”, and is rarely performed live. The crowd screamed for this rare performance.

The concert then went into its climax. Ken’s “Caress of Venus” was followed by “Driver’s High” and “Link”, songs that you can’t help but move to.

“This is such a beautiful view. All of you have become spotlights, and it’s great. That’s why each and every one of you is important. We’d be happy if you keep supporting L’Arc~en~Ciel. I can feel your smiling faces, and I’m glad we did this. Please listen to our final song ‘NIJI (Rainbow)’.”

The LED wristband’s flashed in seven different colors during the chorus, and rainbow colored fireworks were shot up to finish off the first day.

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On Saturday, March 22, 37 movie theaters in Japan broadcast the show live. The United States, Mexico Brazil, England, France, Taiwan, and Hong Kong followed and allowed the L’Arc~en~Ciel concert to be simultaneously enjoyed by fans all over the world.

Day two of L’Arc~en~Ciel at Japan’s National Stadium started under beautiful blue skies. The concert opened again with CG video, but with different images. The crowd’s anticipation grew stronger.

A spotlight hit the stage and a synth bass beat started playing. The intro to “CHASE”, featuring Ken’s guitar, started. They then went into “SEVENTH HEAVEN” and created a combination of sound pressure and hardness.

The audience was on their feet from the opening. Ken and Tetsuya faced each other and played during the middle of “REVELATION”, as smiles appeared on the band members’ faces. “GOOD LUCK MY WAY” and “BLESS” increased the energy level, and “NEXUS 4”, which was only performed on Day two, featured Ken’s fast guitar playing. “Metropolis” and “KASO” were performed on the sub-stage. Hyde, Tetsuya, and Ken sat on the drum riser and played “KASO”. Ken played staccato guitar over the piano intro and Tetsuya played the fretless bass on this different arrangement of the song.

The climax was during the new song, “EVERLASTING”. Hyde first talked about the song.

“I though this next song should be like a movie soundtrack that Ken would write and only L’Arc~en~Ciel could perform. When you’re in a band for 20 years, these feelings are communicated without words. They made the song exactly like I imagined it. I’m not used to performing it yet, so it’s fresh to me. I was able write some really nice lyrics to it, so please listen.”

The new song was minimal and featured a sequenced bassline. The melody kept changing as the song went on. Tetsuya played guitar on the song and helped create a deep and pleasant sound with tough arrangements.

The stadium came to life as it moved with LED wristbands. As the audience moved in unison, the intensity of the night grew. “ANATA” was the closing song for <L’Arc~en~Ciel at Japan’s national stadium >. Hyde spoke his thoughts about the national stadium before they went into the song.

“I always thought it was a great place. There’s no other place you can just stare at a flame and sing. It’s deep. I’m honored to be able to play at the national stadium one last time before our rebirth. I hope to be able to play here again after our transformation. Until then, L’Arc~en~Ciel might stay the same. But when I see this magnificent spectacle, I think we are a wonderful band. I realize it again. Please come with us.”

The stadium went dark and the LED wristbands made it look like a starry night. It was not an intense and aggressive number like the preceding songs. The simple yet powerful song brought the chorus to a sing along. The image of the band members looking out over the crowd and soaking it all in was a memorable last scene.

As the last note rang out into the stadium, 30,000 balloons floated into the air. 1000 fireworks were shot from the stage and <L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 at Japan’s National Stadium> came to an end.

After everything was over, the LED screen displayed the band’s future. The release of their new song, “EVERLASTING”, on August 13, 2014 was announced. It will come packaged with a 24cm x 28 cm DELUXE HARD COVER book of live photos and will be called “MUSIC & PHOTOS –KOKURITSU KYOGIJO KOEN Memorial Edition”. It will be a limited edition product and advance orders will start on Tuesday, March 25 at noon.

<L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 at Japan’s National Stadium was filmed with 20 4K cameras at the highest quality. A Blu-ray / DVD of the concert will be released in the autumn of 2014.

The band’s 10-country, 14-city tour was documented and will be released as a movie called “DOCUMENTARY FILMS ~WORLD TOUR 2012~” in December 2014.

Interview & text: BARKS editorial dept. Yasuo Kajiwara (*OFFICIAL REPORT)
Photos: Toshikazu Oguruma, Hideaki Imamoto, Takayuki Okada, and Kazuko Tanaka

L’Arc~en~Ciel official site
L’Arc~en~Ciel label site

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