Yoshiki, 23.05.2014, Tempodrom Berlin

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yoshiki live in berlin 2014 3 20140526 1046031699The first thing you noticed upon arriving at the Tempodrom in rainy Berlin was the very diverse audience. Next to several women in bridal dresses were earnest gentlemen and ladies in formal evening wardrobe, another group was marked as X-Japan or JRock fans by their band shirts. You could spot several Yoshiki cosplayers, either in the plain ‘white shirt black trousers’ look he prefers today or in the colourful coats Yoshiki used to wear on stage or in PVs in the early 90s. Especially adorable was a little child, maybe 3 years old, dressed up in a miniature version of the blue ankle long princess coat we know from the PV of ‘Celebration’.

After a slightly chaotic entrance everyone found their seats in the only half sold Tempodrom. The organiser closed the upper part of the venue and placed those who bought tickets for the cheaper seats on spare seats further down.

The show started with a recording of ‘Miracle’ which accompanied video footage of an interview with Yoshiki. He explained how he came to play the piano as well as drums and how those instruments reflect two sides of his life and personality. The interviewer earns some laughs by stating: “I’m glad you don’t do to the piano what you did to the drums”. The large screen on stage showed alternating pictures of Yoshiki on stage with X-Japan, destroying drum sets, and of his classical performances as pianist or conductor. The video ends with Yoshiki stating “With the fans I feel life” as he enters the stage physically to open the concert with a short version of ‘Forever Love’. He was accompanied by six women playing violin, viola and cello.

After the applause and some loud cheers, unmistakeable from enthusiastic X-Fans, Yoshiki introduced the next composition, the theme he wrote for the Golden Globes. The screen on stage was now used to present matching colour themes for the songs, in this case golden sparkling animations.

When standing up to announce the next song, Yoshiki seemed to be a bit nonplussed by the audience’s reaction and forgot what he wanted to say. He gave his well-known shy laugh, tugging his hair behind the ear before he recovered and introduced Katie, the singer he works with on his project Violet UK. He made some fun of himself explaining how the X-Japan fans tease him for delaying the band’s new album and asked Katie how long they are working on the Violet UK one now. Katie answered that they started when she was still a student, around eight or nine years ago, to which Yoshiki replied “Well, it’s quality over quantity”. After that he introduced the next song ‘Rosa’, the theme song for the animation movie ‘Goemon’. While the screen showed red and rose colours, Katie filled the dome with her magnificent voice which was perfectly balanced with the instruments. It’s moments like this when you learn to appreciate venues who were specially built to be concert halls.

The last song before the short break was ‘Anniversary’, the theme Yoshiki composed for the Emperor of Japans 10 year coronation anniversary. He introduced it by explaining how he freaked out when first asked to work for this special occasion and how honoured he felt. After the last notes of the song the audience at the Tempodrom first was totally silent before exploding in applause and cheers.
The second part of the evening was opened by the string sextet playing ‘Amethyst’ on their own, lighted with blue and purple spots. Yoshiki came back to the slightly misty stage after this and played an improvisation of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ and a composition from Beethoven.

Before introducing another movie theme he composed, Yoshiki earned some more laughs and sympathies from his audience when he explained his love for Currywurst. “I eat it breakfast, lunch, dinner.” Those who went to X-Japans concert in Berlin 2011 could not be surprised by this confession.

The Saint Seiya theme ‘Hero’ was sung by Katie and the screen showed scenes from the animated movie. The wonderful atmosphere was just corrupted by some flash lights of people taking pictures with their cell phones.yoshiki live in berlin 2014 8 20140526 1401430993

Yoshiki blended the end of this song perfectly and without further introduction into the opening part of ‘I.V.’, a song maybe just the fans in the audience knew. Contrary to this, the next song must be known to everyone who ever heard about German rock music and caused a sensible tension in the audience. Again without introduction, Yoshiki blended from ‘I.V.’ into The Scorpion’s world hit ‘Wind of Change’. He played it with so much passion, along with the wonderful string sextet, that it can just be described as an homage to German rock music, to the history of this song and the city he was playing it at. The following lasting ovations were well earned and continued after he explained that, after arriving from Moscow the day before, he went to see Berlin and the city strongly reminded him of this song.

When he continued his MC, giving a short history of X-Japan, you could already sense the tension in his voice. He visibly struggles for some seconds before talking about the loved ones he has lost over the years naming hide, Taiji and his father. “Give all your love to the people you love while you can” may be the most moving sentence of the evening. He dedicated the following ‘Without You’ to them and while the performance was beautiful and perfect, the pictures on the screen moved several people in the audience to tears. The videos and pictures of the early years of X-Japan, the lives, smiling and joking hide and Taiji, scenes from ‘The Last Live’ and not least pictures of young Yoshiki and his parents tug at ones heartstrings. The maestro himself seemed totally absorbed in his music, really playing from the heart. Maybe the uncommented, immediate switch to the intro of ‘Kurenai’ and the completely red screen helped not only the audience to recover from this emotional experience.

Again he switched without interruption from ‘Kurenai’ to X-Japans longest track ‘Art of Life’ and only the change of the images on the screen, now showing a kind of cobweb pattern, indicated this to those who did not know the song. In addition Yoshiki changed the instrument, turning to an electric piano next to his grand piano, on which he played the first beats of the song. To blend in the transition back to the grand piano, the sounds of the electric piano were distorted and the sextet joined in again. The audience got so lost in the music that the applause after the short break, indicated by Yoshiki raising his hand, had a bit of a delay. It was silenced immediately when the sextet took up the melody of ‘Art of Life’ again but the fans exploded into standing ovations at the last notes from the piano. Their applause echoed through the Tempodrom while presents and flowers were handed to Yoshiki.

He got happily excited about two paintings of himself, which he commented with “I’am sexy, half naked”. The audience laughed with him and they had a little chat that ended with Yoshikis “Thank you all” and the announcement of the last song. A slight murmur of disappointment came up before a German flag with signatures and pictures of the fans was handed to him. After a short search it found its place on the electric piano. The following applause was boosted by Yoshiki joking again about his liking of currywurst.
Before the concert could come to his great final, Yoshiki introduced his sextet and Katie, adding “And on drums…no no, piano” to the amusement of the audience and offered to do some stage diving like on his rock concerts.

He mentioned that the following song was the first ballad he ever composed and it showed him again how important classical music was to him. With "I will come back here, because without music I can't survive" the last song of the evening started. The fans raised their glowing sticks to an X in the air while they enjoyed the song's touching atmosphere, which was underlined with falling rain on the screen. With the start of the refrain the mirror ball reflected little lightdots into the audience and the the chorus, softly sung by the fans, filled the arena. Besides ‘Without You’ that was a real moving moment.

Again with standing ovation the song ended and Yoshiki was loaded with more flowers from the fans. No one wanted to stop clapping hands and cheering as well when Yoshiki already left the stage. While ‘Say Anything’ was playing as SE the fans screamed for an encore. However there was none but for all that Yoshiki came back, shaked some raised hands in the front row, which piled up in front of the stage.

Everyone was visibly happy. "We are X" were the last words from the evening's superstar, as he left the stage, leaving behind an amazed, happy and maybe little sad audience.

1. Miracle
2. Forever Love
3. Golden Globe Theme
4. Rosa
5. Anniversary
6. Amethyst
7. Improvisation into Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky)
8. Hero
9. I.V.
10. Wind of Change
11. Without you
12. Kurenai
13. Violin Transition
14. Art of Live
15. Endless Rain
16. Say Anything (Video)


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