so waaaaaaaaay back in ‘96 i took kayo to our first concert, X Japan at the Tokyo Dome, 12/30/96.

or rather, she took me, because i didn’t know how the fuck to buy a ticket or nav the trainage. 

so just now in aug 2014 she’s watching Toshi do “Forever Love” (our wedding song) on some japanese talk show that aired yesterday, and she goes “Are they playing here soon?” and i’m like “…yeeeeeessss… do you want to go? It’s the Garden. It’s not like theyre gonna sell it out.”

So see you there maybes.

Aldious’ District Zero Tour ~Live at Shibuya O-EAST~ (2014) looks WAAAY better than their 2011 live dvd. [cdjapan]

was there ever a kagerou live dvd?

Deg live @ Nishi-Azabu in like early ‘99?

dir en grey overseas tour 2013 ghoul @ theater of living arts (2013)

We’ve had a bunch of really well written, in-depth DEG live reports here on jrocknyc lately, so I thought I’d do more of an ‘observations at the dir en grey concert from a sometimes fan who is very ambivalent about the latter half of their career.’

-I think I keep going to DEG shows (this one was my 5th if you count family values) because I loved them in the early 2000s and figured ever seeing them live was near impossible. There’s still a lingering feeling that them coming to town is a can’t miss event, even though I haven’t listened to their last couple releases all the way through.

-The opening band, Dagoba, was too mindless/repetitive heavy riffs for my tastes, but their excitement to be playing was infectious. Very rarely are bands so earnestly grateful on stage. The singer couldn’t help but smile even while headbanging.

-Props to the goth/lolita girl in the crowd wearing what looked like a bedazzled squirrel skull hairpiece in the middle of her giant wig. She stole everyone else who’d gotten dressed up for the show’s thunder.

-Dir en grey came on stage and during their entrance and throughout the first song seemed fired up to be playing (for them at least…) Their commitment to be playing their new style has been a topic of conversation here on the blog lately but I felt like this was the most engaged they’ve been at a U.S. show.

-The problems I have with their new music were front and center during the first half of their set-list, it’s all just so plodding! Dead tree was greeted with huge cheers I suspect not because it’s a great song (it isn’t) but because it was the first track they played with some real momentum. All the songs prior, despite being heavy, prompted no real response from the crowd other than standing around listening intently.

- Speaking of Dead tree, am I supposed to feel awkward when they project a bunch of A-bomb footage on the screen behind them during this song?

- The praise for Kyo’s vocal control lately is spot on. Back when they first started touring the U.S. and he was in his ‘scratch myself up and just shriek for 40 minutes’ phase it was all just so grating. Now everything from his operatic falsetto to his guttural growls are executed perfectly. Kyo’s bit where he sang in a camera that was projected on the screen at the rear of the stage was engrossing and a bit creepy, his day of the dead makeup and sheer veil (scarf? sari?) were used to great effect.

- re: the remakes. I recognized unknown.despair and bottom of the death valley, but had no idea until I looked it up that they had played karma or karasu. (Toshiya really ruined the opening to the new BotDV didn’t he?)

- Given a list of all their songs they’ll actually play, I don’t think i could’ve crafted a better encore than they did. Kasumi to end the main set was a great choice too.

- All in all, Dir en grey impressed me at this show. They’re still playing material I’m not crazy about, but doing it better than they’ve done in a long time. I’m a bit old and jaded now, but the kids in attendance for their first DEG show were all sweat and smiles by the end.

dir en grey | tsumi to batsu (live 2013)

Performances like this prove to me that Dir en grey are just as passionate about what they’re doing as they were ten years ago. In fact, I’d say there was a period there — around the Withering and Marrow era — where they didn’t seem as into it. That drive to create and entertain seems to have been renewed. Maybe it’s finally being comfortable with the heavier style, or maybe it stems from Kyo’s constant battles with his health. Regardless, I’ve watched this several times and always get chills.

Kyo is a playing a character here; a sick, twisted deviant on the verge of completely leaving his humanity behind him. His twitchy, otherworldly movements and wide vocal range make it all the more convincing, and having his face super zoomed in from three different angles and displayed on large screens is a brilliant touch.

You can argue that this “isn’t music” because it’s so sludgy and nearly devoid of melody, but you can’t deny that this is a band that is fiercely devoted to their craft. This isn’t phoning it in, this is knocking on your door and looking you in the eye, grinning maniacally while choking the life out of you.