Concert report of Yagami Toll’s 61st birthday celebration

Ongaku to Hito
October 2023

text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi, photographs by Shibata Eri

Medal of a 61-year old

Yagami Toll’s annual birthday live was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La. Participating artists were originally announced as “Yagami Toll & His Merry Friends” (lol) but the drum session and band performance with these friends of his made for an interesting combination of blessings and insight into Anii’s history.



The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show
I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums


The annual birthday live held on August 19, Yagami Toll’s birthday. Just like 2021, this year’s event was held at Shimokitazawa Shangri-La.

The show was divided into two parts. The first part was a competitive jam session which gave us a stripped down look at “Yagami Toll, the drummer”. Interspersed with some words by the emcee, the first to come on stage was Tetsu (D’ ERLANGER) who looks up to Yagami as his aniki. As they performed Sayonara Shelter without drums in the backing music and Yagami Toll & Blue Sky’s Oh!My God!, we could see the unique characteristics in each drummer’s drumming style through their double performance. In this, we could also get a sense of the history of how they changed over the years to match each band’s sound. Even so, just stepping on the bass drum emits a thunderous “don!” which shakes up the atmosphere in the hall and gets the audience abuzz. Rarely do we get the chance to experience drumming in such an enclosed space.

Next to come on stage was Minato Masafumi, known to be Yagami’s sworn brother and part of the “Led Zeppelin Symposium” with whom he would always end up talking about John Bonham when drinking together. It needs no saying that the song to play was Mune Ippai no Ai wo (胸いっぱいの愛を). Blue Sky’s KANAME and Yagi Masato joined them. But unlike Tetsu’s who came earlier, this was a session where they competed against each other to prove who loved Bonzo more through the drums, rather than giving and taking because of  seniority.

And last for the first part was Higuchi Yutaka. Every year, Higuchi would make an appearance as the birthday boy bearing the cake but today, he came on stage as a bassist. He was shy when he spoke but playing to the bass-less and drum-less backing tracks of Mugen LOOP and Taiyou to Icarus, his rhythm was steady. Seeing this, it was clear to me that Yagami’s drumming was rooted in Led Zeppelin and Japan’s old-school rock music; a world apart from BUCK-TICK’s type of music. In other words, it was only after he was dragged out to Tokyo by Higuchi and became a member of BUCK-TICK that he started to drum in BUCK-TICK’s unique style.

Then came the second half. This started with a performance by Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. Joining them on keyboards was Nakayama Tsutomu, the very same producer who worked with BUCK-TICK in their early days (and a person Yagami labelled, “someone who could help if I ever needed a hand” (lol)), and guitarist Yonezawa Seiichirou. This painted a beautiful story that could only be told on this day, connecting past and present. At the same time, Suzuki Momoko (COSA NOSTRA), Kiyama Yusaku, and Tago Kunio’s involvement in Blue Sky was also a result of that “fate”. Suzuki provided the lyrics to the song Blow Wind which was recorded in their 2019 album, WONDERFUL HOME -Thunder&CoId wind-, and band member KANAME was also a part of COSA NOSTRA. Their biggest hit song, home was sung by Kiyama and produced by Tago, and Tago runs TAGO STUDIO TAKASAKI in Gunma, where Yagami recorded his own album.

The connections that Yagami Toll forged was shown through music in this show. In the encore, Yagami himself sings Carol’s Funky Monkey Baby in a grand finale. Next year, he will hold his 62nd birthday’s show. I hope we’ll always get to see his shy smile as he drums.









Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: Yoshiyuki