X Japan @ Madison Square Garden

MANHATTAN, NY—Japanese rock and metal legends X Japan took the stage Oct. 11, 2014, at Madison Square Garden for a concert with a varied selection of music played during the night, such as some of the very fast metal that X Japan was famous for on their earlier recordings like Vanishing Vision and Blue Blood, classic ballads, and telling stories about the band’s beginnings.

The night began with the Yoshiki song “Miracle,” which led into one of the more recent X Japan songs, “Jade,” that had a quite dramatic drum and guitar attack with flames rising up on stage and set the stage for a very well-received night, building up into songs like “Rusty Nail” and “Silent Jealousy” that made the entire arena silent in awe. “Beneath The Skin” was a power ballad composed by Yoshiki and guitarist Sugizo that gradually increased in intensity that was brought in as a new X Japan song.

“Drain From Dahlia” followed with the singer Toshi getting the audience to repeatedly clap their hands with peaceful and distorted vocals intertwined to give a truly hypnotic vibe. “Kurenai” had a good number of people in the audience pumping their arms in the air. By the halfway mark of the song, Yoshiki’s drumming was extremely furious, and showed one of the most memorable moments of the night.

Newer songs introduced into the setlist like “Hero” and “Born To Be Free” really lit the crowd up with excitement when they were played. Yoshiki had a piano solo which was followed by a very electrifying drum solo with images of Hide and Taiji on the screen in tribute to them. While “Forever Love” was going on, Yoshiki walked over to Toshi and embraced him in a touching moment. This was the most peaceful moment of the concert.

As the show was nearly finished, “X,” a speed metal classic from Blue Blood, was performed. This was the most extreme song of the night. As the track was ending, smoke billowed up from the stage, while a fantastic dual guitar attack along with some wild drumming was overshadowed a bit by the extreme amounts of flames flying up onto the stage.

Yoshiki went on to say that he met Toshi when he was four years old, and how they started a band together when they were 10 (they started X when they were 14). He reminisced about when their car would break down, not having money for a hotel, and he joked that it was because they spent their money on beer. He then looked back on performing in arenas, and even the Tokyo Dome. Yoshiki noted that Toshi and himself didn’t speak to each other for 10 years after former guitarist Hide passed away. He said X’s dream was to come to America with Taiji and Hide, and noted that the X Japan concert was being broadcast to Japan.

After Yoshiki finished telling his stories, the band reprised their song “Forever Love.” He then leapt into the crowd, while the whole band came forward and held up a banner that said “MSG 10-11-2014.” Toshi jumped on Yoshiki’s back, and was carried about 50 or 100 feet back to the stage, and then they both collapsed, thus ending an unforgettable night at the Garden.

(Photo by Robin Pullman)