I wasn’t planning to blog about seeing X Japan at the Wiltern. I don’t want to become just another music reviewer who gives concert recaps that nobody reads or gives a crap about.
I mean, really, what can you say about seeing a band you thought you’d never see because they broke up years before under exceedingly tragic circumstances?
But then, this is X Japan. And I am a writer.
The leader and composer of X, you see, is this guy named Yoshiki. And I’ve written about him more than anyone or anything on the planet.
I even get sick of writing about him. But I can’t help it.
He’s just there.
He’s essentially my Dorian, Laura, Eurydice, Harlem, Godless vanity, and tiny town in Maine, all in one—that is, if I were fortunate enough to be Basil Rathbone, Petrarch, Orpheus, Langston Hughes, Sartre, or Stephen King.
Everyone needs a muse, right?
Yoshiki is mine.
He’s dedicated to music, perhaps overly dedicated, and produces, writes songs, and owns a record company. He’s a bit of a workaholic. He only sleeps about five hours of the day. He carries staff paper everywhere and has a stereo in every room of the house. He writes melodies in his head in the shower. On off days he shuffles around the house in slippers and a turtleneck. He wakes up and plays piano; he plays piano and goes to sleep. He wears wrist braces for tendon problems. He drinks, chain smokes, and wears sunglasses indoors. He has a little pooch in his tummy from drinking too much.
I think I have a right to write about X reunited [after ten years] because of my continued loyalty. See, the deceased [from suicide] lead guitarist, hide, is the band member you’re supposed to obsess over. Of course, I adore him. And I want to say I missed him at the concert. But there were so many plushies and tributes and love and general memory of him that I didn’t get the sense that he was missing at all.
And really? This was about Yoshiki, for me. And Toshi singing, and Pata, and Heath, and Sugizo, who somehow fits so perfectly into the lineup it’s like he was meant to be there.
When I first saw the ‘Tears’ video montage a decade ago, I went home and wrote a page in my journal, and I was on all counts shaking with emotion. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t handle this all-encompassing, beautiful, brilliant band. I couldn’t handle the sight of someone like Yoshiki.
I tried to meditate, to calm down, but my heart wouldn’t stop, my legs wouldn’t stop, my hands still won’t stop…
Apparently I still can’t. Because this show turned me into some kind of drunken, weightless, whirling pixie. I forgot myself. I screamed. I sang in Japanese and lost my voice. I put my hands to my mouth, at times, just looking at the stage, like I was praying, except that I don’t believe in God. Or if I do, I don’t believe he’s worthy of prayer.
I had ended up with a pit ticket, somehow. I haven’t been in a pit in years. I felt fifteen again.
I must have lost 20 pounds. I blame ‘Kurenai’. And the fact that they closed with ‘Art of Life’, then did the soundtracked encores like they had during the days of DAHLIA.
Yoshiki is a crazy bastard, and I love him. But I was NOT expecting his forty-five year old, three-neck-surgeried self to stagedive right on top of us. Seriously, Yoshiki? Seriously? YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. Or get raped. Or SOMETHING.
I guess it’s refreshing that even after ten years, he can still surprise me. But I was scared.
“People were like, groping him.”
“Including you, I’d imagine.”
“Er, no. I was trying to lift him back up.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t make off with him and shove him into the trunk of your car.”
“… see, it might be hard for you to comprehend, but I actually care about that man. I don’t want him hurt. Ever. That is what I mean when I say I love him.”
I don’t love lightly.
[Yeah, I’ve met him, if you’re wondering. I’ve chatted with him and asked him out for coffee. I’ve tried to find something that would say that he isn’t what I thought. But he asks me things, and he says thank you, and he never presumes anything.]
“This is so surreal,” I said to a group of cute young Japanese boys, who agreed.
Heath looked like Heath. Toshi looked like Toshi. I’ve seen so many DVDs of this fucking band I feel like I could play the parts for them, and yet, there they were.
Pata hasn’t changed in 20 years.
I can’t believe they pulled out ‘Drain’ [suddenly becoming a tight three-piece] and, of all things, ‘Silent Jealousy’. I don’t think they’ve played that since 1992.
‘Silent Jealousy’, I like to say, is Yoshiki’s classical training and sensibility manifesting itself in a rock song. It doesn’t even sound like a rock song; it’s more of a symphony with vocals. He uses the guitars like strings, and the melody sounds more like Mozart than metal.
Yoshiki has the uncanny ability to turn big muscley metalheads into screeching fanboys. “I touched his hair!!” yelled one of them, proudly, after the stage dive. This may also have been the one Japanese rock show I’ve ever been to that had more men in attendance than women. Perhaps it is the nature of X’s music, seeing as they’re often classified as ‘speed metal’. But they also boast bigass cheesy ballads about love and pain and roses. Yoshiki used to wear dresses and fishnet stockings on a regular basis. All of them wear makeup. hide commented more than once about not being straight [Sugizo, too]. And it doesn’t seem to matter.
Toshi sat next to Yoshiki on his piano bench during ‘Endless Rain’. It was such a small gesture, but it had such a huge meaning. He used to do that all the time, years ago, before things went sour.
I smiled. It felt like homecoming.
I caught one of Yoshiki’s water bottles. I want to keep it, but what the fuck am I supposed to do with an empty plastic Evian bottle? Put it on my bookshelf with a lipstick print on the side?
LA Weekly photographed me, while we were waiting in line. This is why.
My calf muscles still ache from jumping, my neck still doesn’t move properly, and I’ve had a headache for three days. I mean, ‘I.V.’ was fucking lethal.
I can’t believe it’s been ten years. Those unaware of X Japan’s impact can’t know what this means, but… to hear something NEW. To hear the unwavering influence of hide’s guitar and pink-dotted attitude. To see X attack the international market with nothing less than themselves. This is encouragement – unicorn – universality itself. Music exists for moments like this.
Wouldn’t trade it for the world.