BUCK-TICK leads into the future
at their concert in hometown, Gunma
Ongaku to Hito
22 September 2023
text by Ishii Eriko
photos by Yamauchi Hiroe, Aoki Sayaka
〈BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO〉
2023.09.17 at Gunma Music Center
The closing of their 35th anniversary year. Held in a retro two thousand people-capacity hall at the Gunma Music Center in Takasaki with a relatively small stage and sound system that one could hardly call the best. This is also a venue that BUCK-TICK hasn’t utilised in a while.
I recall the gathering of twelve thousand people in Yokohama Arena one year ago where state-of-the-art LED screens were used. That marked the start of their momentous 35th anniversary of the band’s debut. In terms of the scale of the fireworks launched, it was by far the most spectacular and flamboyant stage. The weight of what they carry was also another factor which added to it. In the year since then, I’ve constantly felt like something was weighing me down
Frankly speaking, it’s the pandemic and the war. We have entered a time where things which we’ve always had without question, like good health and peace and children’s laughter are increasingly under threat. No in-person concerts could be held for their previous album, ABRACADABRA and the subsequent tours which came about afterwards had shows that they had no choice but to forgo due to members of the band getting injured or catching COVID-19.
Perhaps they could’ve made the choice to use this opportunity to take a break, but with the thought of their remaining time counting down in the back of their heads, none of the members of the band bring themselves to do so. There is no time to waste. Anniversary campaigns came one after another, a new album which they originally wanted to release as two CDs, a tour schedule that had already been set……
The words we hear right at the start of 異空 -IZORA-, “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore”, sounded as if they could’ve been Sakurai Atsushi’s true feelings just before the celebration of their 35th anniversary year; beyond grateful that they can celebrate with everyone. But at the time, the audience weren’t allowed to make even a sound. We couldn’t follow their lead to celebrate at all. Watching their performance of Aikawarazu no Are~ on that stage left such an impression on me that it felt like a horror movie I could never forget, and the one and only new song they performed, Sayonara Shelter, brought the reality of Ukraine in front of our eyes. The celebratory mood was nowhere to be found.
The number of war-related songs only increased in their new album. Like Campanella Hanataba wo Kimi ni (花束を君に / A Bouquet for You) and Taiyou to Icarus (太陽とイカロス / The Sun and Icarus). Furthermore, the despair of no escape evolved through concrete characters in Warukyuure no Kikou (ワルキューレの騎行 / Ride of the Valkyries) and Hizumi (ヒズミ). What I saw during TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- which ran from April to July was Sakurai’s incredible performance with the way he wholeheartedly engulfs himself in the narratives. The band, pressed by an imminent reality, is applying this to the stage, showing us how they turn it into entertainment through radical performances. I believe that it is in this foundation where the anxiety of “Can’t run away There’s nowhere for me anymore” exists as a constant.
The final chapter and, at the same time, the end of their 35th anniversary year. A concert which marks two ends is a little different than the usual. The selection of songs did take into consideration the flow of the tour, but with the inclusion of songs like ICONOCLASM and Ningyo -mermaid-, which were not in the original lineup added to the momentum and added a festive joy back into the show. Even more striking was the removal of Jonathan Jet-Coaster, a song thematically similar to Taiyou to Icarus from the setlist. In short, the sense of confrontation against war had been eased just a little bit.
They’re not telling us to forget all the bad things. They’re also not a band who’s all-smiles, always saying that things are alright. But with the weight of reality carved into a number of songs which they perform in earnest on a near daily basis, perhaps the stage is where they can find a break from reality. The band continues even after the anniversary year concludes. In that case, what will the five of them start going forward? Unlike Takasaki City Theatre, unlike Takasaki Arena, it is the cosy Gunma Music Center that is the closest possible stage to the band’s starting point.
The first time BUCK-TICK took the stage here was in 1988 for their SEVENTH HEAVEN tour. The very next year, they suspended activities due to Imai’s scandal and it was on this very stage that they made their come-back. For all their tours up until 1993, they held the final two days of concerts at this venue so there’s no doubt that this is a closing location filled with precious memories. Digressing, during the encore, Imai took a 360-degree video of the audience floor and the stage with his smartphone. That video also includes a heartwarming scene of Yuta dashing in to try and get in the shot. Whether it was during their performance, in their expressions, or for the MC, the five members of the band seemed comfortable and relaxed.
The encore. Sakurai begins his self-introduction as the transgender lady, Hizumi-chan. Beginning with the words, “Father, mother, I love you, good bye……”, the way we all got sucked deep into the bog of Hizumi is the greatest masterpiece, the nightmarish highlight that grew out of TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA-. Singing the words, “The traffic lights turn red” “If it’s going to be this way”, what she has her eyes stuck on is a reality where it’s all too late. Merciless is the pen of lyric composer Sakurai where “rampaging” takes the place of “approaching” in the final line of the song; alluding that the future which should’ve continued as planned is about to get a sudden shake up and lose all equilibrium. I would even say that it is too cruel, too disturbing to write something like this.
But Hizumi-chan has grown through the tour and now, she refuses to sing that aloud. After singing “The next train is…”, Sakurai goes silent and at the end of the chorus sings, “Ah〜”. But it is intentional enough as it is. Just like that, the curtains close with Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし / I, Nameless) and the show ends with QUANTUM II. Thus far, everything goes on as per normal, but on this day, the band heads backstage. And then, the second encore starts again.
Sakurai sounded happy delivering his MC. With a “Thank You!”, New World’s sparkly melody which made it feel like we could just about see the little droplets of sound began. This radiance was a true lifesaver. That something which had hung on since their Yokohama Arena show. That rainy gloom which never seemed to clear. Of course, neither COVID-19 nor the war has gone away. Even so, BUCK-TICK heads into a new world. The memories of one year ago which felt like an unforgettable horror dissipated in the white light. “Cut through this infinite darkness”. After a long time, we could finally catch a glimpse of BUCK-TICK inviting us into the future.
SE. QUANTUM I
2. Warukyuure no Kikou (Ride of the Valkyries)
4. Zangai (残骸)
5. Ai no Harem (Harem of Love)
6. Sayonara Shelter destroy and regenerate-Mix
7. Campanella Hanataba wo Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You)
8. THE SEASIDE STORY
9. 人魚 -mermaid-
10. Mugen LOOP -LEAP-
11. Boogie Woogie
12. Noraneko Blue (Stray Cat Blue)
13. THE FALLING DOWN
14. Tenshi wa Dare da (天使は誰だ)
15. Taiyou to Icarus (The Sun and Icarus)
17. CLIMAX TOGETHER
18. Cuba Libre
20. Hizumi (ヒズミ)
21. Na mo Naki Watashi (名も無きわたし)
22. New World
SE. QUANTUM II
【Concert archive information】
BUCK-TICK TOUR 2023 異空-IZORA- FINALO
18 September 2023 (Mon/Holiday), Gunma Music Center
For more details on the performance or archived streaming, please visit
LIVE Blu-ray & DVD
『TOUR THE BEST 35th anniv. FINALO in Budokan』
■Limited Edition Blu-ray（BD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK）
■Limited Edition DVD（DVD+2SHM-CD+PHOTOBOOK）
■Standard Edition Blu-ray（BD）
■Standard Edition DVD（DVD）
SE. THEME OF B-T
01. Go-Go B-T TRAIN
02. Alice in Wonder Underground
04. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
05. Moon Sayonara wo Oshiete
06. Melancholia -ELECTRIA–
08. Maimu Mime
09. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
10. Dance Tengoku
12. Sayonara Shelter
15. Muma -The Nightmare
16. JUST ONE MORE KISS Ver.2021
18. Memento mori
19. Dokudanjo Beauty -R.I.P.-
20. LOVE PARADE
21. Yume Miru Uchuu (夢見る宇宙)
22. Kodou (2022MIX)
[Limited Edition bonus (applicable to both Blu-ray and DVD versions)]
・LIVE CD [x2 ] included
・64-page photobook included
・Comes in special packaging
〈THE DAY IN QUESTION 2023〉
Friday, 29 December 2023 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo
Doors open 17:30, show starts 18:30
Designated seating; ￥11,000 (w/ tax)
Source: Ongaku to Hito