Ryuichi Sakamoto Diagnosed with Throat Cancer

sitesakamoto.com:

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Music was better twenty years ago. :P

me in 1994 ^_^

~YAY!~

[slightly better sounding but not by much youtube version]

Luna Sea rockers Sugizo and Inoran talk life at 25

From the Japan Times:

“Our 25th anniversary show was a celebration. I think everyone in the band feels the same way, but we only have feelings of gratitude. That’s what has been the biggest difference between then and now. Before, we wanted everyone to blindly follow us. I think Luna Sea is a very sadistic band — I mean, our fan club is called ‘Slave’! But we have a much more refined attitude now than we did in the ’90s.” - SUGIZO

“When we did the ‘shūmaku’ gig in 2000, we promised to each other that we would all go out into the world while we were in our 30s, absorb things and regroup. We did exactly that. That was the point from which we were able to start again.” - INORAN

“I feel there’s something very close in the Luna Sea sound to the guitar work and psychedelic feel of shoegaze bands. On songs such as ‘Wish,’ ‘Rosier,’ and ‘Storm,’ I tried really hard to replicate the sound by using effects, like playing fast with a wah-wah pedal, or using tape-echo and harmonizers. I couldn’t figure out how they did it, so I just made it into my own thing…. At the time, the word ‘shoegaze’ didn’t exist yet. I think young shoegaze bands now use the term with no hesitation, but I reckon Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine probably dislikes the term. It’s like ‘visual-kei,’ which is also a word that doesn’t describe the music. Behind that guitar noise there was house music, and I liked bands such as Primal Scream. So I think what I try to do with the Luna Sea sound comes from trying to express all that psychedelica, house and drug culture in a rock, guitar-band format.” - SUGIZO

Babymetal To Support Lady Gaga at Five US Shows

image

via Blabbermouth.net:

BABYMETAL — the heavy metal offshoot of the Japanese pop idol group SAKURA GAKUIN that performs a distinctly Japanese mix of schoolgirl J-pop and death metal — will support pop superstar Lady Gaga on five shows in July and August:

Jul. 30 - Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Arena
Aug. 01 - Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
Aug. 02 - Stateline, NV @ Harveys Lake Tahoe 
Aug. 04 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Energy Solutions Arena
Aug. 06 - Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center

BABYMETAL will also play a headlining show at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on July 27.

YOSHIKI | “YOSHIKI CLASSICAL WORLD TOUR PART 1”
San Francisco, CA - Davies Symphony Hall (4/28/14)

The day I saw X JAPAN’s Blue Blood Tour Bakuhatsu Sunzen Gig on VHS was the day I tumbled down the visual kei rabbit-hole. I was captivated with the band’s bombastic stage presence, gravity-defying hair, and their beautiful melodies combined with intricate instrumentals. Although more famously known for their speed metal songs, my favorite part of the video was YOSHIKI’s piano solo. The unusual mix of Bach’s Fugue in G Minor with X JAPAN’s “Unfinished” was like the calm in the middle of the storm. As I looked into more of X JAPAN’s catalog, I was fascinated by how heavily they were influenced by classical music, incorporating works, such as Tchaikovsky’s Seranade for Strings in C major and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, in the background of YOSHIKI’s grandiose drum solos. Songs like “Alive” included Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and “Rose of Pain” with Bach’s Fugue in G Minor. It was this unlikely combination of rock and classical music that initially drew me to X JAPAN and YOSHIKI, forming the soundtrack of my youth.

As I watched YOSHIKI’s concert at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, my head was filled with nostalgia. Like Anton Ego in the movie Ratatouille, I was transported back to my childhood days, listening to J-Rock, flipping through the pages of magazines like SHOXX, and scouring the Internet for hours on end.

It was the second stop of his “YOSHIKI CLASSICAL WORLD TOUR PART 1,” and the last performance in the US before heading to Mexico, Europe, and Asia. Being only the second large-scale production since his “2002 Symphonic Concert” at the Tokyo International Forum, it was a rare opportunity to see the rock star drummer perform entirely on piano, and drew fans near and wide from the US and Japan, including Shinya of DIR EN GREY.

Opening with the song “Miracle,” a short video about YOSHIKI and X JAPAN was shown on a large LED screen, introducing the artist to those unfamiliar with him and his history as one of Japan’s biggest rock legends. A burst of cheers erupted around the hall, as the artist entered the stage, sat down at his piano, and opened with X JAPAN’s famous ballad “FOREVER LOVE.” The gentle melody flowed from YOSHIKI’s piano like a music box, while images of stars flowing through a purple galaxy filled the background, giving the vibe of a classical performance within the atmosphere of a rock stadium.

The set list spanned across YOSHIKI’s entire career, including songs from X JAPAN, Violet UK, as well as his solo, all beautifully rearranged especially for the tour for piano and a string sextet, dubbed the “YOSHIKI Sextet,” making the night’s performance a truly unique live experience. It was a celebration of his previous works, Eternal Melody and Eternal Melody II, and his new international release, Yoshiki Classical, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Classical Music chart in 10 countries.

While mainly an instrumental performance, guest vocalist Katie Fitzgerald appeared for Violet UK’s “Rosa” and the newly unveiled Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary theme song, “Hero,” in addition to a special appearance by X JAPAN’s Toshl for “I.V.” and “Tears.”

Songs like “Anniversary,” composed in honor of the 10th anniversary of Japanese Emperor Akihito’s enthronement, and his piano solo, which included Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite (op. 20), covered the entire length of the piano in a myriad of cascading arpeggios and were a testament of YOSHIKI’s technical abilities.

Despite his shy persona, YOSHIKI addressed the audience between songs and shared some personal stories. “Tonight’s the second date, but it feels like I’ve toured the world already,” he confessed, and thanked his agent for talking him into touring. As he warmly greeted his friend Marc Benioff in the audience and played “Happy Birthday” for Marc’s mother, the concert felt like a small casual performance, despite the hall’s 2700 capacity.

While YOSHIKI smiled and laughed with the audience most of the night, the air became rather emotional in the second half of the concert. Hesitating as he spoke, it seemed difficult for him to gather his thoughts while introducing the song “Without You.” “I wrote this song for hide. He passed away after X JAPAN. He’s still the guitarist of X JAPAN. Sometimes, we take life and everything for granted. TAIJI also passed away. While you can, please give all your love to those you care about. I dedicate this song to hide, TAIJI, and my father.” 

The lights dimmed, as the music accompanied the LED screen filled with an assorted montage of X JAPAN’s past performances with hide, the reunion with TAIJI in 2010, and other concert scenes, interspersed with photos of hide and his funeral, YOSHIKI as a young boy, and his father, who committed suicide when he was 10 years old. Weaving in and out between the piano and the violins, the requiem ended with the sextet slowly fading out, segueing into a short rendition of X JAPAN’s major debut single, “Kurenai.” The main theme passed from YOSHIKI to the concertmistress, before leading into a beautiful violin cadenza.

Continuing to the next song, YOSHIKI turned to the keyboard behind him and played the main phrase of the piano solo from X JAPAN’s epic 29-minute piece, “Art of Life.” As the notes continued to play on loop through a sequencer, he warped the sound with a low pass filter effect on an adjacent DJ controller, giving the song a modern twist, then returned to the piano for an adlibbed solo. Inspired by Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony No.8, the song depicts YOSHIKI’s early life and how he felt suicidal following his father’s death. The feeling of confusion and insanity filled the tense atmosphere, as accented dissonant chords battled against wavelike runs, while the sextet was divided into 2 separate counter melodies spaced at differing intervals, like a round. Slowly building up momentum, the soaring strings joined together at a full fortissimo, and with the wave of YOSHIKI’s hand, ended in a dramatic and abrupt cut-off. As the piece transitioned into the finale, the key changed from A minor to C major, signifying YOSHIKI’s emergence from the darkness and finding the strength to continue living. The main theme flowed from the piano to the 1st violinist, before ending with all instruments in unison. Like the roar of a full orchestra, the grand masterpiece finished with a definitive, anthemic grace. It was a powerful performance that conveyed the message of life through the language of music.

Towards the end of the concert, YOSHIKI announced that X JAPAN will perform at Madison Square Garden on October 11, 2014. YOSHIKI asked, “Is Toshl still here?” as his friend joined his side, and mentioned that Toshl just learned of the big news earlier that day. With feelings of surprise and excitement, Toshl commented, “I will do my best!”

The night ended with X JAPAN’s “Endless Rain.” As requested by YOSHIKI on Twitter, the audience joined in at the last chorus, singing, “Endless rain, fall on my heart and its scars. Let me forget all of the hate, all of the sadness,” mimicking the traditional ending at X JAPAN’s concerts.

YOSHIKI and all the performers gathered on stage and made their final bows, while rose bouquets and an American flag signed by fans were brought to the front. Meanwhile, YOSHIKI amped up the crowd with his screams of, “We are…!” while the audience shouted back, “X!” and raised their arms crossed in the X sign. After taking some pictures with himself and Toshl in front of the crowd, the two waved goodbye and exited the stage.

The night was a celebration of YOSHIKI’s life and music. Showcasing his background as a classically trained pianist, it was a performance that blurred the line between the rock and classical genres. As a longtime fan of X JAPAN, it was interesting to hear his two halves come together and present his songs in a brand new light. However, most impressive was YOSHIKI’s ability to channel his past experiences into his work and connect with the audience through his music. Whether on drums or piano, or with a band or orchestra, his music has the power to resonate within the hearts of people around the world.

Setlist:
SE - Miracle
Forever Love
Golden Globe Theme
Rosa
I.V. ~ Tears
Anniversary

-Intermission-

Amethyst
Piano Solo
HERO
Without You
Kurenai ~ ART OF LIFE
ENDLESS RAIN
SE - Say Anything

For more information on YOSHIKI and his “YOSHIKI CLASSICAL WORLD TOUR PART 1,” please visit yoshiki.net.

Special thanks to JQ Magazine and Davies Symphony Hall for their coordination and making this review possible.

Also in JQ Magazine“Yoshiki Classical World Tour Dazzles San Francisco with Surprise X Japan Guest”

Sukekiyo live on 2014.05.02 in Nippon Seinenkan, Tokyo

photo by SUGURU NAKAMURA

There are strong old school VK vibes in this setup. Would love to see this in person.

Via: Kyo Official on Facebook

Hikaru Utada Weds Italian bartender

Channel NewsAsia:

Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada married Italian bartender Francesco Calliano at a church in the Italian seaside town of Polignano a Mare on Friday.

TOKYO: Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada married her Italian beau Francesco Calliano, on Friday, reported Japanese media.

The 31-year-old singer had previously revealed in a post on her website that she met Calliano, 23, who is a bartender at a London hotel, through a mutual friend, and was “drawn to his courage and values regarding family, friends, work, life, love”.

About a hundred guests turned up for the wedding ceremony, which was held at a church in the Italian seaside town of Polignano a Mare.

It is Utada’s second marriage.

She married Japanese photographer-actor Kiriya Kazuaki in 2002, but they got divorced in 2007.