BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- Concert Report
5 January 2024
Text ＝ Okubo Yuka
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
Come, let’s get started──
When 29 December’s BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- at the Nippon Budokan was announced with those words, it felt as if they lifted our gaze which had been downcast for so long. This was three weeks after the news came on 24 October that their vocalist, Sakurai Atsushi had passed on.
This was a period when everyone quietly watched and waited to see what BUCK-TICK would do going forward after being hit by the greatest sadness in their history. Honestly speaking, that announcement was such a bright light that I subconsciously wanted to look away. Given that no details were announced about the show itself, I believe there were many who felt worried too about how it would turn out.
But it’s easy for us to imagine the extraordinary determination the band members had put into this show title. BUCK-TICK Genshou (BUCK-TICK Phenomenon / バクチク現象) is a title that they also used in 1987 for gigs they played around the time of their major debut, and for the first show they played after a six-month hiatus on 29 December 1989 at the Tokyo Dome. In other words, this term represents turning points for them.
Imai Hisashi (guitarist) appeared on the BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023- stage with the same bright red hair he had 34 years ago at their show in Tokyo Dome. The moment I saw him, my anxieties were blown away despite tears welling up in my eyes.
As the hall turned dark, powerful clapping sounded in time to the SE which played; THEME OF B-T. Higuchi Yutaka (bassist), Yagami Toll (drummer), Hoshino Hidehiko (gutarist), and Imai Hisashi came on stage in that order. After the words reading “バクチク現象 (BUCK-TICK Genshou)” came up on the crimson red screen, Sakurai’s silhouette appeared on the centre platform where he always stood.
“Come let’s get started, we’re BUCK-TICK!” With Imai’s shout, the first song started; Shippuu no Blade Runner. Instead of a mic stand in the centre of the stage, a few spotlights came together to shine down. Perhaps it’s because there’s no mic there, but it felt as if Sakurai’s singing came down upon us from the skies above.
Like a ray of light in the midst of despair, the glittering rock melody sings, “Tonight (I) bring to you a treasure a promise (今夜 お前に届けよう 宝物だ 約束だ)”; a perfect description of this show. It felt as if they handed “hope” to us in the palm of their hands. A string of up-beat songs were played Dokudanjo Beauty-R.I.P.-, Go-Go B-T TRAIN, GUSTAVE, telling the audience to raise their heads and look up even if they are tearful.
Both Imai and Hoshino fired up the stage with more aggressive performances than usual. The energy in the hall went up every time Imai said a few words, like “Don’t miss the ride!” during Go-Go B-T TRAIN, and “Miaows. Hope you all have a good time today.” during GUSTAVE. During FUTURE SONG -Mirai ga Tooru- which features Sakurai and Imai’s duet, Higuchi tried imitating Sakurai’s movements, and Hoshino also sang, overlapping with Sakurai’s voice.
Most unexpected of all was when I realised during Boogie Woogie and Yagami’s powerful up-beat drumming that at some point my tears had rescinded and I was genuinely enjoying the show. I have nothing but admiration for the band and their ability to fire up the audience like this even though they all must have been in deep sadness at the beginning of the show.
The atmosphere took a turn in the mid-section of the show, reflecting vividly and sadly Sakurai’s absence by beginning with Itoshi no Rock Star where he sang alongside ISSAY (DER ZIBET) who passed away last August. During Itoshi no Rock Star, unbearable sobbing in the audience grew louder as we watched concert footage of the two of them on that day on screen.
Next was Sakura which started with an oriental-sounding instrumental by Imai. In this song, the screen and even the ceiling of the Budokan was filled with cherry blossoms dancing in the air; a sight so beautiful yet it added to the sadness. Adding on, Lullaby-Ⅲ and ROMANCE came after that like a sort of funeral march, letting us listen to the songs which strongly accentuated Sakurai’s aesthetic perspective one after another.
This show did not feature Sakurai’s footage throughout. Rather, there were a few songs where we could only feel Sakurai’s presence with his voice. Especially towards the end when they put together songs during which you could almost see him singing right in front of you.
Like the Latin-style dance track Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-, Taiyou to Icarus where he flies freely through the sky with arms spread wide, and during Memento mori where the audience actually had lights shining on them as if in sync with Sakurai’s movements in the video footage.
Smoke carpeted the stage floor in Muma -The Nightmare and the audience raised their arms into the air as if he reigned before our eyes, while during DIABOLO, the four members of the band looked like a circus troupe elevating Sakurai as the ringmaster. It was a moment when they distinctly carved out his profile as a vocalist precisely because he’s not around.
The encore started with Yagami’s drum solo and after the first song, STEPPERS -PARADE- was played, the band members who have yet to make any public statement thus far began to talk about their present feelings one by one.
Choking on his tears, Higuchi said, “BUCK-TICK is a live band so I believe we grew through our live shows. And it’s also something that’s created together with everyone. Although Acchan has gone to heaven, BUCK-TICK will always be five. I don’t know what kind of future it will be, but one thing I know for sure is that we’ll continue as BUCK-TICK with everyone.”
Yagami eased the air when he commented, “I never thought my delinquent younger brother would say such admirable things.” Then, he added, “You could say it’s unprecedented, the situation it’s turned out to be. Should we continue, or is it better to stop? We gave it a lot of thought. But given that we have all of you fans like this… we would like to keep going as BUCK-TICK.”
“We managed to take a new step forward today. My sincere thanks to all of you for making your way to the Budokan despite the uncertainty. You were worried, weren’t you? Everyone was worried. But the Parade will still continue from here on out. I’ll say again:
The Parade goes on,” said Hoshino.
After him was Imai. “Life sure is unforgiving, huh? So dramatic it’s almost hilarious. But it isn’t funny. Hell, you really died. Huh? It’s okay, because we can go on. We’ll go together,” he said to a loud round of applause. “Acchan’s died but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a fact of life. So we may be sad, we may cry, but don’t agonise over it. Rather than focus on his death, that he’s not here anymore, instead cherish the fact that he lived, that he existed with us in the same space,” he went on. “Next year, BUCK-TICK will make new music, and a new album. It’ll be the newest, bestest BUCK-TICK so please look forward to it. But please be prepared. Next, we’ll be three. But even then, the Parade continues. Then it’ll be two, then one, I think I’ll probably be the last one standing. And even then, we can keep going, so I want to take everyone along,” finished Imai with this powerful statement.
After that, they moved on to flying the words “LOVE” and “PEACE” high in Eureka before going into LOVE ME which began with Sakurai’s MC where he said, “Everyone, let’s love ourselves.” It was here when a hiccup happened for the first time where Sakurai’s singing and the video footage differed from the four members’ live playing. The band looked determined to find some way to turn this around. It was the most human expression I had ever seen on them.
Coincidentally, Sakurai in the video also seemed to have a bit of a bitter smile on his face. Even though anxious, the audience also tried their best to help by singing the chorus with all their strength. When the singing ended, the playing did too in perfect timing, and we saw Sakurai off the stage as he waved, saying, “See you soon. We’ll meet again. For sure.”
The last two songs were COSMOS and Na mo Naki Watashi; what seemed to be a deliberate choice of two songs which massively filled the hall with messages from Sakurai. And the second encore, started with Sakurai’s words of “Let’s go! Into the future!” as the band leapt into New World. The light from countless mirror balls spread throughout the venue and the powerful light of the five’s performance brightly illuminated a future yet to be seen.
After the show, past music videos were shown on the screen, followed by an announcement that they will be holding a concert at the Nippon Budokan on Sunday, 29 December 2024. I believe every single promise like this one would become the hope which leads into the future going forward. BUCK-TICK has walked into unprecedented territory. I hope to continue enjoying the Parade led by this band who has decided to continue forward as five. Because it’s always BUCK-TICK who stirs our hearts with surprise and emotion.
Although we can wipe away the tears
we will never be able to wipe away the loneliness, so
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again
in a place where we can share our sorrows and joys
let’s go and see BUCK-TICK again
BUCK-TICK Genshou -2023-
Date/Time: Friday, 29 December 2023 Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Venue: Nippon Budokan
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
Source: JVC Music