BUCK-TICK’s 異空-IZORA- Album Tour Begins
An optimistic vitality on opening day
Ongaku to Hito
25 April 2023
text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Seitaro Tanaka
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉
2023.04.19 at J:COM Hall Hachioji
“BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-”. I got to watch the first day of this simply titled journey. From start to the very end, it truly was the world of 異空 -IZORA-.
It might be obvious. For 35 years, the band has continued to enchant us with a worldview based off their latest album whenever they release one. It’s not unusual that they would perform all of their new songs, including the instrumental pieces. But I was shocked to find that they stick to the typical style of doing all of that in the main part of the show and then bring on a bit of a festive mood with some past favourites in the encore. It was the world of 異空 -IZORA- through and through, from start to end. I was once again reminded of their confidence and commitment to this masterpiece.
It would be misleading to simply describe it as “dark” but 異空 -IZORA- is an album made heavy by reality. That’s mainly due to Sakurai Atsushi’s mental state which gets redirected into a variety of stories telling of narratives like war, children being sacrificed, even the band’s personal presentiment of an end looming over them, the feeling of being trapped with nowhere to run, and other similar themes. When these are the things that get verbalised in all the songs, it is probably inevitable that [the album would] steadily grow heavier, more serious. But despite this, the concert depicting the world of 異空 -IZORA- was definitely not a sombre one at all.
I have to refrain from naming specific songs, but new songs were connected to old songs to bring out a different nuance from the album. The magic of such song selection was truly magnificent. Their single, Mugen LOOP -LEAP- was paired with a fantastical love song from recent years to create the atmosphere of popular Showa-era songs which transcends time and space. Similarly, their other single, Taiyou to Icarus was sandwiched between a rock’n’roll track we haven’t heard in a while and a nostalgic song that was released in the 90s, starting up yet another different story to tell. Singing of imminent death in Taiyou to Icarus, Sakurai does not break that storyline but instead continues it by depicting the healing, comforting, and salvation of souls in the afterward.
Past experiences complement the present; I believe Boogie Woogie makes for the best example of that. This rock song which Sakurai describes as “a story from over 35 years ago recreated using the latest technology” takes us on a journey looking back at BUCK-TICK’s history of moving from city to city and stepping up on stage once night fell.
The five members of the band are usually all over the place [in terms of dressing], but on this day, Imai Hisashi and Hoshino Hidehiko wore somewhat similar outfits, creating a kind of symmetry with Sakurai in the middle which looked great. The brothers Yagami & Higuchi standing firm in the back, the two guitarists with different music styles, and the charismatic vocalist. It’s late for me to realise now, but this is what harmony looks like.
Imai now stands on stage without the need of a cane, kicking his legs everywhere without restraint. As we headed towards the end, what I really wanted to remember and take note of was the glory of Sakurai’s story-telling ability as he blooms madly in profusion alongside Imai’s guitar solo warping space and time.
This is the power of a band who has kept going and renewing themselves throughout this time. The same members have the same shared times together and kept creating with a trajectory towards the latest album. The overall structure remains intact even when songs from 30 years ago are lined up alongside their latest tracks. Or rather, whatever they’ve done thus far appears to complement the present, so much so that it makes me feel as if the old songs might’ve been put there to make the new songs shine even brighter.
There is no doubt that the heaviness in 異空 -IZORA- is definitely something that came about from facing reality, but thanks to past songs and their level of experience, they managed to maintain the balance even now, without letting things get too serious. There were a number of instances where it looked as if the members of the band themselves were aware of this too.
What made such a show even more exciting was the voice of the audience. Masks are still mandatory. But cheering is now allowed and we could see from the member’s expressions how much morale it gives them. Thunderous applause, everyone singing along to the melody of the chorus, the various calls of “Accha~n!” “Imai-sa~n!” that could be heard between songs. In the past, this could’ve been thought of as something that would ruin their pitch-black world, but hearing this for the first time in three years, I now realise that it is really a reassuring courage, or rather, nothing but a show of support for the band.
I believe the reason why they are capable of so unapologetically releasing an album like 異空 -IZORA- is because of their past of continuity, and in a similar sense, because they have so many fans. War, death, trauma, distortions…… With these words, it sounds like an album close to despair, but these were turned into works of art, stories that could only become a form of entertainment because they have fans who are capable of digesting it. Maybe that is something they came to realise because COVID-19 happened. Even as we tremble at the prospect of an imminent end, nevertheless, BUCK-TICK continues on with certainty. An optimistic, forward-looking vitality. This was the only thing I felt with the start of this tour.
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-〉
Saturday, 13 May 2023 — High Staff Hall, large hall (Kanonji City Meeting Hall)
Sunday, 14 May 2023 — Kurashiki City Auditorium
Saturday, 20 May 2023 — ROHM Theatre Kyoto, main hall
Sunday, 21 May 2023 — Kobe Kokusai Kaikan Kokusai Hall
Saturday, 27 May 2023 — Pacifico Yokohama National Convention Hall
Saturday, 3 June 2023 — Japan Special Ceramic Industry Civic Center, Forest Hall (ex. Nagoya Civic Hall)
Saturday, 10 June 2023 — Hondanomori Hall
Sunday, 11 June 2023 — Nagano City Arts Center, main hall
Saturday, 17 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Sunday, 18 June 2023 — Orix Theater (ex. Osaka Welfare Pension Hall)
Saturday, 24 June 2023 — Ueno Gakuen Hall (Hiroshima Prefectural Culture and Arts Hall)
Sunday, 25 June 2023 — Fukuoka Sunpalace Hotel & Hall
Saturday, 1 July 2023 — Sapporo Kanamoto Hall (Sapporo Civic Hall)
Sunday, 9 July 2023 — Sendai Sun Plaza Hall
Saturday, 15 July 2023 — Takasaki City Theatre, large theatre
Monday (holiday), 17 July 2023 — Shizuoka City Culture Hall, large hall
Saturday, 22 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre
Sunday, 23 July 2023 — Tokyo Garden Theatre
Source: Ongaku to Hito