Ongaku to Hito
November 2022

A Parade Headed For The Future

text by Ishii Eriko
photographs by Seitaro Tanaka (tanaka seitaro photo office)

“THE PARADE” -35th Anniversary-

Instead of the celebratory mood on this 35th debut anniversary, the production and staging of this live concert were strongly influenced by the atmosphere of the current deadlocked times and the reality that dreams and ideals alone are not enough to live on. Yet, the band’s stance of choosing to face this head on instead of running away was most characteristic of them. Part of it was probably a reaffirmation of what’s most important of all to the five of them. The significance of living in the now, despite the non-existence of forever. This is an in-depth report on two days that held out such hope for tomorrow.


What we’ve thought of as routine until now has, at some point, rapidly become less so. Time again, this is what ongoing historic events show us.
I always thought that BUCK-TICK was a separate entity, that they’re special, but is this really true?

The weather held out on the first day right up until it was time for me to leave home. It was a rainy day, as per the weather forecast. It rained on the morning of the second day and continued throughout the day too. Memories of〈THE PARADE~30th anniversary~〉from five years ago came to me. It was held at Odaiba’s special outdoor stage under clear autumn skies and there were lively food stalls selling beer and takoyaki and other snacks all around. All of it feels like an unexpectedly distant memory.

When we become adults, time doesn’t flow as precisely as it does in an hourglass. More often than not, we would say that something that happened approximately three years ago happened “just the other day”. And we can remember what happened around 10 years ago “like it was yesterday”.

But five years ago with BUCK-TICK feels quite distant. To list what happened since that event, they completed production of an album and went on tour, during which Sakurai Atsushi got hospitalised due to an emergency and then made a full recovery and comeback at their Nippon Budokan show. The COVID-19 pandemic came when they started work on their next album and they could only hold concerts through the screen. Furthermore, they had to stop a tour because Imai Hisashi broke a bone, so on and so forth.

The turbulence didn’t end. Just as they started going on tours with their fan club & mobile site members-exclusive tour, Sakurai was tested positive for COVID-19 and some of the shows had to be postponed. It’s truly been a step forward and a step back at the same time, with good news coinciding with a heartbreaking event. When you think they’re finally making progress, something unexpected puts a stop to it.

There’s no one to blame, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. All there is to do is hope and pray. That BUCK-TICK stays safe and sound. That BUCK-TICK will be able to continue being BUCK-TICK.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a crisis. It just gets me thinking that there’s a real sense of urgency, that what we’ve thought of as routine until now has, at some point, rapidly become less so. Time again, this is what ongoing historic events show us. I always thought that BUCK-TICK was a separate entity, that they’re special, but is this really true?

Despite an appearance that tens of thousands have hailed as unchanged since debut, anyone who lays eyes on post-recovery Sakurai will be able to tell that in reality, (I don’t really want to say this either but) some signs of deterioration were evident and he looked worn out. Imai can already stand on stage without a cane, but should he be running around in 10 cm heels? Don’t push yourself?

Even as I consider their actual age in this manner, I remember a pleasant feeling, similar to being patted on the head that, no, it’s precisely because they go this far that they’re BUCK-TICK. Did anyone ever think that they were an ordinary band? One you could find anywhere? One that takes the easy way out of everything? If that were the case, I wouldn’t have followed them for so long. They wouldn’t have been able to bring us here.

Yagami Toll’s hair, slicked up towards the heavens even as he celebrates his 60th birthday, seems to hold the band’s willpower in it. What emerged at the band’s 35th anniversary was less of a joyous celebration and more of an immense determination to get through it all.

Let’s first look at the set list. The number of songs that were performed on both days is surprisingly high. Five years ago, 〈THE PARADE〉had boldly varied selections of songs between the two days where only four songs were played on both days. Also, if you try to look for songs that were performed back then and also on this year’s two days, you’d realise that there are only two; New World and Aku no Hana.

If anyone were to ask whether the set lists were reinforced by their most popular songs, like their debut releases and singles that are well-known to all, I can already imagine them replying to this with a straight face and another question: Why should they have to?

Surprisingly, or rather, unlike what you’d normally expect, BUCK-TICK’s anniversary doesn’t involve a line-up of hit songs made up by their all-time bests. By performing extreme once-in-a-lifetime setlists, they mean to say that their best is being delivered by their present selves.

May this beautiful lie light up your life
Band activities that continued in this way were eventually called “the Parade”

Extreme setlists. They were brilliant from the very first day. The curtains rose to the tune of unsettling guitar sounds with ICONOCLASM, but the performance that transported us into a futuristic sci-fi city was the most impressive thing I’ve seen in relation to this song, more so than when it was first released and anytime in the 10 or 20 years since. My head was spinning from the advances in technology. 

Different images were projected on the screen in front of the stage (you’d think it was a silk screen, but it’s a movable LED screen!) and in the back. Watching the stage from the front, the two overlap to create a more semantic, three-dimensional other world. The five performing band members were separately projected on screens on either side of the stage, but I don’t feel like smiling despite the band looking well. It’s the chilling sensation of being drawn into something dangerous to any extent, of an overwhelming unknown taking everything away from you. And this is only the start of the show.

Next, images of what looked like an ancient Roman temple appeared on the screens. At the same time, the screen in front of the stage rises, finally giving us a full view of the Great Devil King with his arms outstretched in the centre of the stage. This is the majestic BABEL. It was a little heartbreaking for me to see the contrast between his dazzling makeup and his sunken cheeks which betray his recent illness.

Furthermore, a line like〈Collapsing and yet/We are BABEL (頽れて尚/我はBABEL | Kuzuorete naoWare wa BABEL)〉carries a reality it has never had before. He was probably standing here with the same determination to go all the way to the very edge with his performances too. Despite such a presence, his eyes said it was all or nothing. There was no room for playing around. Gothic entertainment in the form of love, death, and life at stake was already complete with these two songs at the start.

On top of perfection, there was future elaboration on the finer details. I never could have imagined how much production and stage settings were involved. Scenery of sleazy entertainment districts that had retro trams running across them was featured during Maimu Mime, which appears to be a favourite in recent years.

Both music and vocals were monopolised by Imai in Aikawarazu no “Are” no Katamari~, but the bright red front screen had hands groping around as if seeking something through the glass while the back screen had an oversized close-up collage of Sakurai’s various facial expressions. The two together created a picture quality that of a horror film that the audience will never forget. 

Making a complete 180° in Rakuen, beautiful mosaics with Islamic patterns were all around, turning the whole screen into a gorgeous palace. Sakurai sang with a veil over his head, looking like a beautiful Arabian queen. I could almost see camels nearby.

The performances on the second day were also superb. Horses running through a thick forest of trees and mists rolling in with a full moon illuminating the dark night in all its realism were presented to us in MOONLIGHT ESCAPE, which was positioned as a contrast to the previous day’s Maimu Mime.

And in Dance Tengoku, a brilliantly coloured heart (not a lovely heart, but an illustration of an actual organ that looks like it came out of a science textbook!) bounced around chaotically, while in BOY Septem peccata mortalia, Sakurai got down on all fours on his own and flashed his thighs and knee-high stocking repeatedly during the depraved erotic song. Thrilling as it was, I kept wondering in the back of my mind whether it was pleasure from male or female genitalia he desires, no, I have no idea what we’re being shown anymore. Every song had an extraordinarily high level of entertainment taken to the extreme.

Roman temples and trams and an Arabian queen. Alternatively, moonlight and hearts and the all-too-erotic knee-highs…… Looking at this with a calm mind, you might laugh at what I’m saying here. At what a mess it all sounds like. The performance of each song is clearly beyond the realm of simple backgrounds in X style. 

Countless lights transform the stage into an aurora borealis or a starry sky, and Sakurai reigns over the stage, transcending gender. It’s all a fascinating concoction, but you get goosebumps from the pride and experience of the performers who don’t give you a chance to think that these are all mere props. Their spirit is conveyed through each tone of voice and each movement of a finger.

May this beautiful lie light up your life. Band activities that continued in this way were eventually called “the Parade”. All that is left for them to do is carry on al the way to the end with whatever time they have left. As long as there is still life left in them, they will perform to the end.

That’s the stage I thought they were at. But——

At the end, there was an outpouring of feelings that could make a person cry
I believe that is what we call
the forward-looking, hopeful love

Reality was steadily encroaching on their flawlessly constructed fictional world. This was brought to life in the second half. They performed the same setlist here on both days. REVOLVER, Guernica no Yoru, and Sayonara Shelter; the trilogy of anti-war songs that concluded DISC 1 of their best-of concept album.

Of course, no one thought to label them with such a word at first. REVOLVER can be enojoyed as a flamboyant and suggestive dance tune on its own. But Sakurai’s personal memories are part of Guernica no Yoru and the soliloquising line “What about me?   What shall I do?   I sing of love, of romance (僕はどうだい どうすればいい 愛とか恋だとか歌っている / Boku wa doudai   Dousureba ii   Ai toka koi da toka utatteiru)” that comes in the second half is something that goes completely beyond fiction. My heart ached with an inexplicable conflict. The gunshots in the music sounded louder than ever. My vision clouded over time and again. Even though the music was ever so beautiful.

The performance of their new song, Sayonara Shelter was also unforgettable even though it featured no stage effects or props of any kind. It was just the band lit by blue lights. There was no need for any explanation. Lyrics that were written from the perspective of someone experiencing the happenings of Ukraine pierce with a rawness that cannot be dismissed as a mere fantasy. This is how far they’ve come with their composition. This is how far they had to sing their song. This one song with lyrics written by Sakurai as a result of these impending times very clearly tells us where BUCK-TICK stands now.

To put it bluntly, things like their 35th anniversary and whatever they’ve done in the past don’t matter at this point. The two-day setlist eloquently states that this is what needs to be communicated now. This is, without a doubt, the highlight. BUCK-TICK’s best probably lies in showing us the truth. As if out of concern and to provide some relief from the painful reality, Sakurai wore a mask and blew kisses numerous times. This was an expression of love, or perhaps, an expression of farewells.

After making us think so much, suddenly, we’re thrust into Go-Go B-T TRAIN. This was tremendous fun, like the sudden high-pitched laugh echoing through the hall. Impending reality flips into a half-defiant positivity. Pink tulips bloom madly everywhere. A broadly-grinning Higuchi Yutaka. Imai Hisashi shaking his hips with the groove. Hoshino Hidehiko looked cool but there was some hint of joy on his face. Yagami Toll watched over  them all from above with the gaze of a father watching over his energetic children.

In reality, all the members of the band are in their late 60s, but it was a moment that reaffirmed that the youthful energy that came with their rock ‘n’ roll tracks was still intact. It can’t be said that they’re eternal and unchanging. Physical ability diminishes with age. But even so, Sakurai Atsushi slaps his tambourine hard, calling upon everyone to go as far as they can. The audience claps in response.

〈Let your love burn   Run B-T TRAIN (愛を燃やせ 走れB-T TRAIN / Ai wo moyase   Hashire BT-TRAIN)〉. The decadent and ridiculously powered song resonates as a theme song for the energised BUCK-TICK and their fans. At the end, there was already an outpouring of feelings between both parties that could make a person cry. I believe that is undoubtedly what we call the forward-looking, hopeful love.

The encore followed with a ballad for the first time in a long while. On the first day, Sakurai had an air of formality about him as he said, “Now, recording is underway to great feedback. There’s no time for sentimentality.” But on the second day, we saw him giving a cheeky pep talk to his fellow band members.

He said, “Good thing is, we have a lot to do. Starting tomorrow, Anii and Yuta will begin rehearsing for the tour. Imai-san and Hide will write new songs. They’ll get started at daybreak.” Adding on to that, he said, “And I, will sleep.” Hearing him speak with such a chuckle-inducing tone of voice was exceptionally rare. Even though they were running on a tough schedule, they certainly seemed more relaxed between these two days of concerts.

Lastly, Imai threw a peace sign as he spoke into the mic, “Thank you, this was awesome.” Yuta, and even Hide and Anii also added to it with ‘Thank you’s of their own. When we exited the venue, the rain that stopped in the evening had completely dried up and a pleasant breeze was blowing.

As written earlier, I don’t think it was a happy-go-lucky celebration. But despite that, the fireworks shot in the ending video were beautiful. Before this all began, I came with a beseeching feeling, but by the end of these two days, I’m smiling with this thought in mind:  May BUCK-TICK go on and continue as BUCK-TICK, always.



03 唄 [Uta]
04 月下麗人 [Gekka Reijin]
05 舞夢マイム [Maimu Mime]
06 狂気のデッドヒート [Kyouki no Deadheat]
07 禁じられた遊び -ADULT CHILDREN- [Kinjirareta Asobi -ADULT CHILDREN-]
08 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマりがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり(2022MIX)[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Karamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari]
09 楽園 [Rakuen]
11 ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
12 さよならシェルター [Sayonara Shelter]
13 Go-Go B-T TRAIN 
14 Memento mori 
15 New World

01 Django!!! -眩惑のジャンゴ- [Django!!! -Genwaku no Django-]
02 悪の華 [Aku no Hana]

01 恋 [Koi]
02 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
03 Solaris



01 エリーゼのために [Elise no Tame no]
03 Tight Rope 
04 見えない物を見ようとする誤解 全て誤解だ [Mienaimono wo Miyou to Suru Gokai Subete Gokai da]
06 ダンス天国 [Dance Tengoku]
07 BOY septem peccata mortalia 
08 相変わらずの「アレ」のカタマりがのさばる反吐の底の吹き溜まり(2022MIX)[Aikawarazu no “Are” no Karamari ga Nosabaru Hedo no Soko no Fukidamari]
09 楽園 [Rakuen]
11 ゲルニカの夜 [Guernica no Yoru]
12 さよならシェルター [Sayonara Shelter]
13 Go-Go B-T TRAIN 
15 New World

02 悪の華 [Aku no Hana]

01 忘却 [Boukyaku]
02 夢見る宇宙 [Yume Miru Uchuu]
03 鼓動(2022MIX) [Kodou]







Translation: Yoshiyuki
Pictures: Yoshiyuki