[Live Report] The Day In Question 2020
Ongaku to Hito
31 December 2020
Text = Kanemitsu Hirofumi
Photos = Tanaka Seitaro (★), Watanabe Reina (▲) (Tanaka Seitaro Photo Office)
BUCK-TICK’s annual December 29 live show at Nippon Budokan.
This day’s promise is the light of hope
BUCK-TICK〈ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020〉
2020.12.29 at Nippon Budokan
Making a promise.
That is to believe in that promise, and fulfill it. That is what gives us the light of hope.
For BUCK-TICK, this is the 21st time they’re playing a show on December 29. The venue for last year’s show had been moved to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium because of refurbishment, but ever since 2000, they have always held a show at Nippon Budokan on this very date. Under normal circumstances, they would have traveled around the country, going on tour for their latest album ABRACADABRA which was released in September, and would likely make this annual show the final date of that tour.
However, because of the spread of COVID-19 infections, they turned that into a film concert and called the tour “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. The announcement that they would be holding this particular December 29 show only came out one month prior too. It was apparent that they had been negotiating and planning for measures to the very last minute, and eventually, it was decided that the event was to be held with an audience after reducing the seating to half the usual capacity and including various preventive measures.
Looking at the seating arrangement in the arena and the stands, seating had been considerably reduced and it was clear that they had put social distancing into consideration. Also, they would normally have many close friends and acquaintances in attendance on this day, but there were no guests invited at all. I could feel that they wanted to increase the fans’ chances as much as possible to give them an opportunity to watch the show.
The main set of this show followed the setlist of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. With the exception of Luna Park, which was performed in the encore rather than the main set, the song order did not change and their outfits were the exact same too. This is the ABRACADABRA album tour part of today’s show and it let the audience feel their will to make the show feel as if it was their usual tour final. Doing nothing special and going about with things as per normal might just be the biggest show of rebellion in these present times. And that attitude was what accompanied the thoughts of the fans who attended “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” which ran 26 shows in 23 locations all over Japan.
Release an album, tour a lot, feel the fans’ reactions, and build up the worldview while heading towards the final show; that’s the band’s usual style but now, live shows can’t even be held in their usual formats. Majority of them are one-night-only, special shows in light of the COVID-19 crisis. It felt to me that this show was an attempt by them to go back to normal life where tours are a regular occurrence.
Ironically, the show’s title was the incantation of ABRACADABRA. In the unrest caused by COVID-19, they’re holding a concert with the audience at less than half capacity but even that is in danger of becoming an impossible situation in these circumstances. Is it okay to hold a concert? Is it alright to go and watch the show? While this conflict goes on somewhere in both the performers and the audience’s hearts, that show title and the way they handled the show had the power to dispel that unease. In this situation where the audience are not allowed to raise their voices, the endless applause from the audience between songs were a manifestation of their feelings.
Also, upon performing ABRACADABRA before an audience, the true essence of this album became apparent. Without any strict theme, a sound unbound by anything rang free. The “deviant vibe” which Imai expressed was a daring digression from sort of format which aimed for something alternative. But no matter how avant garde it gets, Sakurai’s vocals and his worldview inevitably bring in a touch of humanity. His awareness for not only the in-person audience but also those invisible ones beyond the cameras only enhances his expressiveness.
That is why Eureka, the one song on the album which Imai wrote to relieve himself of the frustration with this COVID-19 crisis had an overwhelming destructive power on this day. Everyone’s desire to repaint this dark, depressing atmosphere with hope became one. The audience swayed with “PEACE!” signs. I am sure that this sight must have been one that he had been visualising and longing for since the recording of this song. Smiles were everywhere. This band understands well that nothing comes of anger or hatred or despair alone.
And the last song of their main set, Boukyaku. It is never peaceful, because there will always be this sort of ineradicable feeling somewhere in us. That is also something that exists, for sure. The fact that they sing about this makes their music real. Nothing in this word is perfect; everything has its own cracks and distortions. And it is from there that light shines through. That’s why we love and cherish them.
A number of songs in the encore had been changed in comparison to “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. Most of them were songs which appear to spread hope and shine a light on the future. Between those songs, Sakurai said this:
“The next song is about how you’ll be able to cherish the people you love when you cherish yourself. I would like to dedicate it to the medical professionals.”
Those words included a message addressing the delicate situation surrounding infection cases. However, at the same time, there is also a sense of realisation coming from him, who had been in denial of hurting himself, of all people. And the song which they performed was LOVE ME. Last year, there was the joy of being able to perform as a band and the feeling of being loved in performing this song. While this year, they’re singing about how everything, including in this global situation we’re in, can only be solved by how we think about things in the end.
“And now, let’s go! Into the future!”
Right after Sakurai’s signal, we were led into their last song for the night, New World. We will cut through this infinite darkness. The light that can be seen ahead is hope. Embracing it, we will live on.
After the members have left the stage, they announced on the screens that there will be a national tour in autumn of 2021, and that on December 29, on this same date, there will be a show at Nippon Budokan. In all honesty, we have no idea what the virus situation will be like, how the audience capacities will be set, whether we can hear the cheers of the crowds, or whether things will be good enough for a live show to be held in teh first place. There is no doubt that it is all still an unknown. However, this promise gives us hope, and allows us look forward in life. And most importantly, it becomes a promise that has been and will continue to be kept between them and us over 20 years.
This show was one that was filled with such hope and love. And everyone of us is hoping very much that we will be able to meet here again next year, in 2021.
Thank you for tonight
It was an unforgettable night
May the new year bring
much happiness to everyone
I hope you have a Happy New Year With love
01 月の砂漠 (Tsuki no Sabaku)
02 ケセラセラ エレジー (Que Sera Sera Elegy)
03 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver (Kemonotachi no Yoru)
04 SOPHIA DREAM
06 凍える (Kogoeru)
07 舞夢マイム(Maimu Mime)
09 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. (Datenshi)
10 ダンス天国 (Dance Tengoku)
11 MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
12 ユリイカ (Eureka)
13 忘却 (Boukyaku)
01 FUTURE SONG – 未来が通る – (FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga Tooru –)
02 Luna Park
03 世界は闇で満ちている (Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru)
05 LOVE ME
01 Alice in Wonder Underground
02 LOVE PARADE
03 New World
Source: Ongaku to Hito