BUCK-TICK’s Only In-Person Concert in 2021 at Nippon Budokan
On Wednesday, 29 December 2021, BUCK-TICK held their concert Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～ in Nippon Budokan. BUCK-TICK’s performances at Nippon Budokan started in 2000 with TOUR ONE LIFE, ONE DEATH, and since then, the only time they performed elsewhere was in 2019 when they moved their venue to Yoyogi First Gymnasium because of refurbishment works at Nippon Budokan. In light of the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, they also made their one and only in-person concert that year a Nippon Budokan show. And this year, their national tour which was supposed to commence in October had to be cancelled due to Imai Hisashi’s injury, making this show the one and only in-person concert for them this year too.
The concert Blu-ray & DVD release of the concert they performed last year at Nippon Budokan on 29th December, ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020 went on sale on the same day as 2021’s performance and along with it was the announcement of their upcoming first release for 2022, the concert Blu-ray & DVD release of Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～ on Monday, 7th March. Adding on, they announced their activities planned for 2022 after the concert ended with a fan club-exclusive concert in July, the Yagami Toll ～60th Birthday Live～ on 19th August, the 35th Anniversary Special Live on 23rd and 24th September, a national tour which begins in October, and finally, their annual concert at Nippon Budokan on 29 December.
They also further announced that in spring of 2023, a new album is going to be released. With a teaser website set up for their 35th anniversary too, expectations are high for BUCK-TICK’s activities in 2022.
Below is the official report from 29 December 2021’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～ in Nippon Budokan.
“Come, come on over and have a looksee”¹
The curtains were raised on BUCK-TICK’s Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK～ in Nippon Budokan with that beckoning call on 29 December 2021 in Nippon Budokan, Tokyo.
A buzzer signalling the start of the show resounded around the hall and as the instrumental piece played, a video leading us to the back of a circus tent played on the gauze screen which hung at the front of the stage. This is the same introduction from their Streaming Live Misemono-goya ga Kurete Kara ～SHOW AFTER DARK which happened last July.
Just as the show title suggests, today’s concert is billed as a two-part show that would follow in the footsteps of the Streaming Live and up until the end of the introduction, I’m sure everyone, myself included, was expecting to see the same bewitching, alluring, and salacious worldview we witnessed in the real world. There was no time to waste.
BUCK-TICK is holding this 29th December concert for the 21st year in a row, but it was only around a month and a half ago when they announced that it will be happening. Having had to cancel their national tour because of Imai Hisashi’s (guitarist) leg injury, they had been debating whether or not to do this until the very last minute. If they decided not to go ahead with this concert, it would mean that they’d have had zero in-person concerts in 2021. That would be a first for them since their debut. Even in the COVID-19-dominated year of 2020, they had just one in-person concert on 29th December. Their strong desire to see [their fans] altered the course of their decision of whether or not to hold the concert. It’s easy for us to imagine that preparations kicked off at a rapid pace once the decision was made.
When that same introduction as the Streaming Live ended, the band could just barely be seen behind the title logo, inducing a huge round of applause. Then came the booming of the timpani sounding high. With a “Come, come on over and have a look-see”¹, DIABOLO marked the start of the show.
Lively circus visuals coloured the gauze screen with images of trapeze artists flying through the air and bears on bicycles, and behind it, the band played on, swaying their bodies, relaxed. Entertaining the audience with a silk hat in hand, Sakurai Atsushi (vocalist) wandered the stage, going from right to left and back. When he theatrically sang, “Adieu, goodbye”², the screen fell away and the band was unveiled. I could feel the spike of excitement in the hall at that moment under my skin. The audience can’t be vocal with their support this year too, so they responded with a loud and extended applause. We could see Imai lying on a chaise lounge kicking his legs up in the air. And on his feet, he clearly wore high-heeled boots.
“Welcome, it’s great to see you. Please enjoy yourselves.”
Following this short greeting, they kept the excitement going by treating the audience to Muma -The Nightmare. All at once, we were transported into the underworld.
In hindsight, this was impulsive. If they kept with the format they had in the Streaming Live, which had an acoustic set for the first act, then it’d be a little more reassuring that Imai’s still-healing leg wouldn’t be overstretched, and at the same time, we’d still be able to enjoy a similar worldview that of July’s. But hasn’t BUCK-TICK always been one to entertain us with possibilities and potentials far beyond what we imagined?
In reality, the expressions of the audience who have raised their two hands to the provoking Muma -The Nightmare with its high tension song and ensemble, was filled with ecstasy. Imai strut around the stage with his cane as he played his guitar. When I laid eyes on him, I had probably already fallen truly and deeply into the dream bestowed upon me by the incubi³.
Following DIABOLO and Muma -The Nightmare, there wasn’t a single title track that was performed in the first act, but it was a lineup of highly intoxicating songs that immerse you in their world when you listen to them. It felt as if each song took us on a trip to a foreign land.
Led in by the jingle of Sakurai’s ghungroo⁴ was Rakuen, then torches were lit aflame during Shanikusai -Carnival-. Just those lights alone made for a mesmerising performance. Imai played a tune from Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes in a short interlude that led into Lullaby-Ⅲ, where Higuchi Yutaka (bassist) played a jitterbug rhythm on his upright bass and Sakurai played the role of the foxy madame of a bar as he swayed with his rouged lips and black feather boa.
Claps sounded to the beat of Hoshino Hidehiko’s (guitarist) Spanish guitar in Zekkai, and in Living on the Net -Acoustic Ver.-, two acoustic guitars strummed at a 16-beat rhythm reminiscent to that of Kecak⁵. Yagami Toll (drummer) drummed a tight beat as they brought us into a neo-futuristic world in Hikari no Teikoku, and then took us on a jaunt through outer space in Eureka. Then came the final song for the first act, Boukyaku. The emotionally rich soundscape and song drew us into a realm of nothingness. Sakurai’s haunting humming to the outro of the song made it linger all the more.
The second act opened with BABEL. With up-tempo tunes from recent years like Kemonotachi no Yoru and Datenshi YOW-ROW Ver., along with acoustic arrangements of certain numbers, 8 out of the 11 songs performed were singles.
Compared to the first act which was dominated by songs that sang of scenes, the songs in the second act painted emotions. Sakurai and Imai’s duet in Villain depicted outright hatred. The nihilism lying hidden beneath the negotiation took centerstage in Maimu Mime where Sakurai performed both the man and woman roles with differences in his vocal tone and gestures. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE was sung with flowing and elegant vocals released from stress. And in this act, they performed an absolute gem of their arrangements, Keijijou Ryuusei -Acoustic Ver.-. Between the interlude into the next song, Imai’s plucking of the Kagome Kagome⁶ melody was exploding with lyricism. Sakurai’s voice was also even more vulnerably beautiful than usual.
Bringing us nostalgia by the buckets was JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021. I believe there’s probably a good number of people who remembered the thrill of hearing the whispers of “I want you, I love you.” and “I‘ll kiss you.” added arbitrarily at the end. It was refreshing to hear the jazzy acoustic arrangement of Uta Ver.2021, and Sakurai sounding lascivious as he exposed his thighs during the performance of ICONOCLASM Ver.2021 arranged to a shuffle beat. Basking in the afterglow of that, the booms of a timpani sounded once again, signalling the end of the show as it woke us up from this long dream we’ve had.
The last number of the second act was Alice in Wonder Underground. The light-hearted number brought us back to reality and yet, the intro of that same thundering timpani brought back the memory of DIABOLO, the first song in the first act and Imai singing the line “Come, come on over and have a look-see”, leaving us stuck with the strange feeling of having wandered into a parallel world where the show was just beginning now.
Although there was a 15-minute ventilation break for infection control between the first and second acts, the esoteric worldview that we were constantly immersed in from start to end left me in awe.
In the encore, they performed their latest single, Go-Go B-T TRAIN and its B-side, Koi live for the very first time. A requiem for dearly departed loved ones, the performance of Koi saw Sakurai dressed in a long, red satin kimono as his ephemeral yet beautiful and strong voice sang in the graceful ensemble woven from the silence.
Following that, they dove into Go-Go B-T TRAIN with Sakurai beating on his red tambourine. Higuchi’s bold bass sounds and strong presence, Yagami’s heavy and tight drumming keeping the foundations strong, the heavy riffs born of Imai and Hide’s two guitars, and Sakurai’s steady voice all came together to sprint forth powerfully as one.
In light of the cancellation of their autumn tour also named Go-Go B-T TRAIN, Sakurai said, “At last, we’ve boarded the B-T TRAIN. Here and now, I’d like for us to forget about what’s happened this year and look forward to doing lots of concerts next year.”
During the members’ introductions, Imai said, “Thank you for waiting. It’s not the first time that I’ve somehow gotten myself into situations like this so, I hope for your continuous support.” He then stuck his middle finger up before turning it into a peace sign, tickling the audience.
And closing off was the upbeat Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.-. In the brightened hall with the lights turned on, the band and the audience celebrated the grand finale face to face with the strongest sense of togetherness they’ve felt on this day.
BUCK-TICK will celebrate their 35th anniversary in 2022. In July, they will hold a fan club & mobile website members-only concert. Yagami Toll ～60th Birthday Live～ will be held on Friday, 19th August. Their 35th Anniversary Project will commence in September. An Anniversary Special Live YOKOHAMA ARENA is planned for 23rd and 24th September, Friday and Saturday respectively. They will go on a national tour in October. A concert will be held on Thursday, 29th December at Nippon Budokan. And finally, a new album will be released in spring of 2023. The band’s upcoming activities were announced one after another after the show, further exciting the audience.
Each member’s thoughts towards their 35th anniversary were actually already printed on posters by to the escalator at the Kudanshita underground station, the station closest to Nippon Budokan. The common message put forth by them was, “Let’s go Let’s head into the future⁷.” These words were the same words from Sakurai’s powerful statement during the MC right before New World, the last song they played at 29 December 2020’s Nippon Budokan concert.
The B-T TRAIN has just started running again to cut through this infinite darkness and head into the future. I hope that you won’t miss out and will have fun on this train ride through a year to remember.
Misemono-goyaga Kurete Kara 〜SHOW AFTER DARK〜 in Nippon Budokan
2021.12.29 Nippon Budokan
Act I SE [Instrumental]
- 夢魔 -The Nightmare [Muma -The Nightmare]
- 楽園 [Rakuen]
- 謝肉祭 -カ－ニバル- [Shanikusai -Carnival-]
- 絶界 [Zekkai]
- Living on the Net -Acoustic Ver.-
- 光の帝国 [Hikari no Teikoku]
- ユリイカ [Eureka]
- 10. 忘却 [Boukyaku]
- 獣たちの夜 [Kemonotachi no Yoru]
- 堕天使 YOW-ROW Ver. [Datenshi YOW-ROW Ver.]
- 舞夢マイム [Maimu Mime]
- MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
- 形而上 流星 -Acoustic Ver.- [Keijijou Ryuusei -Acoustic Ver.-]
- JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021
- 唄 Ver.2021 [Uta Ver.2021]
- ICONOCLASM Ver.2021
- Alice in Wonder Underground
- 恋 [Koi]
- Go-Go B-T TRAIN
- 独壇場Beauty -R.I.P.- [Dokudanjou Beauty -R.I.P.-]
【35th Anniversary Teaser Website】
¹ First line of Diabolo
² Line from Diabolo: 御機嫌よう さようなら (Gokigenyou Sayounara)
³ 夢魔. Apart from being the word for “nightmare”, it’s also what an incubus or succubus is called in Japanese. Quite literally, it’s meant to be a demon that appears in/through a dream, or torments you in your dream.
⁴ It’s supposed to be a musical anklet of many small metallic bells strung together. It’s usually tied to the feet of classical Indian dancers but in the show, Sakurai holds it in his hand.
⁵ Kecak is a form of Balinese Hindu dance and music drama that was developed in the 1930s in Bali, Indonesia. Since its creation, it has been performed primarily by men, with the first women’s kecak group having started in 2006.
⁶ Kagome Kagome is a Japanese children’s game and the song associated with it. In this game, one player is chosen as the Oni and sits blindfolded. The other children join hands and walk in circles around the Oni while chanting the song for the game. When the song stops, the Oni tries to name the person standing directly behind them. Here’s a… not creepy version of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4vPvzX9PMM
⁷ The line “行こう 未来へと、行こう。” [Ikou Mirai e to, ikou] that is found above the words NEW WORLD for YOU. See all the “posters” here: https://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/linguasounda/b-t35th/