“BUCK-TICK will always be we five.”
A Declaration of the Parade’s Continuance
Ongaku to Hito
5 January 2024
Text ＝ Ishii Eriko
Photos ＝ Seitaro Tanaka
BUCK-TICK “BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-” (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon 2023 / バクチク現象-2023-)
2023.12.29 at the Nippon Budokan
“My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. …… You were worried, weren’t you?”
These words which came from Hoshino Hidehiko during the encore resonated tremendously with me. Ah, I see. We’ve all been worried up until this day.
The annual year-end Nippon Budokan show THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023 was suspended and in its place, the concert BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- was announced. The strong words “Come, let’s get started一一 (さあ、始めよう一一)” danced on the event’s dedicated website but it wasn’t clear exactly what on earth was starting. Do we really want to see a BUCK-TICK with no Sakurai Atsushi? Is it better for things to end like this? Or would someone stand on stage as another vocalist? Questions which no one can say a definitive “yes” to constitute this worry.
An unprecedented concert. At first, everything felt rigid. Cheers didn’t sound when the lights turned down. Instead, breathless voices could be heard all throughout the venue. Even when Imai Hisashi hollered, “Come let’s get started, we’re BUCK-TICK!”, it was clear to me that he was tense and a little over-anxious. Sakurai’s singing echoed in synchrony with the live music. Much of it was live singing including MCs and hyping the audience up. The screen showed footage of only Sakurai in past concerts in colour, and at the same time, the current stage was shown in monochrome; a contrast between the flamboyant demon king and reality in mourning. In all honesty, I don’t know whether I should be enjoying myself. Was that the purpose of this day?
It was in the fifth song, FUTURE SONG -未来が通る- when I noticed something different. It starts with Imai’s part, then during Sakurai’s part, Hoshino joins in too. Sakurai’s footage doesn’t appear in this song where the two guitarists sing, “Don’t be hold back, do not fear Forward! It’s the future (hiku na hirumu na susume mirai da / 引くな怯むな 進め 未来だ)”. For a moment, I thought they might be headed in a direction similar to how the remaining members of Joy Division regrouped as New Order following the death of Ian Curtis. But again, that doesn’t seem to be the main subject of the day.
Suddenly, an old music video from the time when they styled their hair standing up came up towards the middle of the show. It was Itoshi on Rockstar. It’s hard to imagine why the band selected this 1995 song which was sung alongside DER ZIBET’s ISSAY. Just before Sakurai left us, almost as if to follow ISSAY who also suddenly passed last summer, I wanted to ask him if he looked back fondly on this song which he once sang so self-deprecatingly. Of course, that is now a question we’ll never get the answer to.
Instead, what we have is an extensive record. Just what we needed was footage from Yagami Toll’s 60th birthday celebration event. I couldn’t help but laugh dryly at how in love they were as I watched Sakurai exchange mushy gazes with ISSAY while they performed that song together for the first time in 27 years. Everyone loved the way their two souls resonated with each other. Even if the both of them have coincidentally gone to heaven together, it’s oddly touching. As those thoughts crossed my mind, I suddenly caught on that we should hold a proper farewell. There was a memorial event for Sakurai himself, but I wondered how many times could we hold appreciation events for our favourite “beloved rockstar (Itoshi no Rockstar)” with all the videos and lights and music? I suppose the very first of these is happening right here, now.
The lead into the next song, Sakura was perfect too. The song which Sakurai dedicated to his dearest mother is now being dedicated to Sakurai by the band. The performance was as elegant as it could’ve been. The light cherry blossoms framing the monochrome screen, the pale pink colour of the Budokan’s white ceiling, and the image of the moon slowly filling up as the song progressed to become a gentle full moon at the end; all of it illustrated the depth of love in the production. Adding on, during Imai’s improv, Sakurai’s often-used candelabra was lit before they continued into Lullaby-III, followed by an exquisite transition into ROMANCE.
ROMANCE; a popular song which BUCK-TICK had often performed since it’s release in 2005, is one of the songs in their discography which BUCK-TICK most strongly demonstrates “the alluring colours of Sakurai”. The perfection in this song lies in the blend of goth and romance. Holding a candelabra in one hand while dancing with flickering flames in the tantalising dream that is performance footage from over a decade ago. Watching it again in the Budokan gives me the feeling that his existence is probably not the be-all and end-all. Because we have something so beautiful that has been left behind for us [to enjoy] even now. Isn’t this miracle alone sufficient?
The split second in the brilliantly-lit Taiyou to Icarus video which showed Sakurai’s silhouette with his arms spread wide was as vibrant as the 異空-IZORA- tour; so dazzling that you could’ve thought it was a “festival”. In addition, Memento Mori with flames bursting out always sounds like blood-pumping festival music. The screen is divided into three sections, with past footage of Sakurai in the centre and real-time footage of the four members of the band on either side. But the difference between presence and absence, which was initially divided between monochrome and colour, is no longer there at this point. The refrain of “Life is love and death (jinsei wa ai to shi / 人生は愛と死)” strikes our hearts deep now. If these are our only options, we’ll take them both. Before I knew it, I even started to feel a desire to laugh out loud in defiance.
The band spoke about how they currently felt during the encore. While each of their words were different, the summary of it was that BUCK-TICK will always be five people even if Sakurai is no longer physically around, that they wanted to keep going as long as there are fans around, and that although they don’t know how it’ll turn out, next year, they will start recording something new as the second phase of B-T. Hoshino even twice declared, “The Parade goes on.” And even as Imai bit back curses with words like, he said, “We may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it.” I hadn’t thought about it, but maybe that’s what I wanted to hear the most. He’s always been the person who throws one-liners like these out of nowhere. On a whim, I recalled something Sakurai once said with a straight face: “It’s possible because Imai’s like that.”
If Imai-san says so, then it will go on. BUCK-TICK will go on with Sakurai’s afterimage. This was a night that convinced me that’s fine and good. The announcement that came at the very end was good tidings for the future. On 29 December 2024, a BUCK-TICK concert at the Nippon Budokan will happen一一
SE. THEME OF B-T
1. Shippuu no Blade Runner
2. Dokudanjou Beauty-R.I.P.-
3. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
5. FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga tooru –
6. Boogie Woogie
7. Itoshi no Rock Star
11. Django!!! – Genwaku no Django –
12. Taiyou to Icarus
13. Memento mori
14. Muma -The Nightmare
1. STEPPERS -PARADE-
3. LOVE ME
5. Na mo Naki Watashi
1. New World
Sunday, 29 December 2024 Nippon Budokan
Doors open 17:00 / Show starts18:00
Designated seating: ¥11,000 (w/ tax)
(Inquiries) SOGO TOKYO 03-3405-9999
〈Advance Ticketing Information〉
■W-members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 22:00, Friday, 29 December 2023 ～ 14:00, Monday, 22 January 2024
※Applicants must be registered as a member of both the official fan club [FISH TANK] and the official mobile website [LOVE & MEDIA PORTABLE].
※Registering companions must also be W-members
■Fan club members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 12:00, Monday, 29 January 2024 ～ 14:00, Tuesday, 13 February 2024
※Registering companions do not need to be members
■Mobile members advance ticketing applications
Application period: 12:00, Monday, 19 February 2024 ～ 14:00, Tuesday, 5 March 2024
※Registering companions do not need to be members
Source: Ongaku to Hito Online