■GACKT/【GACKT’s -45th Birthday Concert- LAST SONGS】Report
2018.07.04(WED) at Shinkiba STUDIO COAST, Tokyo

On Wednesday, July 4th, GACKT held the “GACKT’s -45th Birthday Concert- LAST SONGS” on his birthday. Shinkiba STUDIO COAST was filled with passionate fans, including international fans, who made their way there after a fierce fight for tickets. The event opened with a history of his music videos with his age and the year shown together, when he was 26 years old in 1999, 27 in 2000, and so on. When it arrived at 2018, the curtains fell and GACKT, dressed in a luxuriously draped white outfit, appeared as he was enveloped in loud cheers. The first song was his first solo single, “MIZERABLE”. He sang lightly, at times with power, and as he suddenly raised his right hand, the music stopped, flaunting his charisma which dominated the atmosphere in the venue.

“It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? GACKT’s voice is all raspy now,” GACKT greeted with a wry smile. It looks like he wasn’t in his best condition, and he apparently ran a high fever after his appearance on a radio show on the previous night. However, he said, “Even with this dried out voice, (I want to pierce) into the depths of your heart”. And as per his enthusiastic words, he put his entire heart and soul into performing in every moment after that.

After each song ends, time was set aside for MC. “The explanation for the song, well whatever. Because I know. How much all of you love this song,” he prefaced before going on to perform the song “FLOWER”, a single from 2009. GACKT struck a daunting pose, throwing out a punch like a boxer as he sang valiantly, and in the interlude, the members of GACKT JOB, too, headbanged fiercely together. His vivacious voice echoed, as if overflowing with passion.

From then begins a grandiose session as the guests appear. With the silly summons, “It’s O Jiro-kun!”, Golden Bomber’s Kiryuuin Sho (Vo). Even as Kiryuuin appeared nonplussed as he said, “Stepping out was difficult…… (lol)”, he showed his adoration for GACKT, speaking of how he watched on, saying, “I think of the all the LOVERS (※the name of GACKT’s fans)as my fellow compatriots so. I, too, also had the thoughts, “Back then, this song!” running through my head as the opening video played.”.

To this junior of his, who has professed to being a big fan since his MALICE MIZER days, GACKT put him on the spot with things like a “Kiryuuin Sho-style GACKT song ranking”, and a request to “Express the song without the song name” for the next song they were going to perform. Kiryuuin Sho showed his guts, doing his best to keep up even while faltering.

“I never thought that I would sing this song with Sho. You cried a little at the end of (movie) “MOON CHILD”, didn’t you?” (GACKT), “I went for the preview when I was 17!” (Kiryuuin Sho). After this exchange, they performed the song “ASH”. As CHACHAMARU (Gt) and YOU (Gt) played the intro on acoustic guitars, the two of them stood close together. GACKT hit Kiryuuin’s shoulder with his right hand, and sang as if nothing happened, delivering the signal. In due time, the electric guitars roared in and as Sato (Ba) joined in, the sound transitioned into heavy rock. Kiryuuin harmonised with GACKT in a higher pitch, performing a spirited and powerful duet with him.

The two of them continued to talk cheerfully, about the time when GACKT sent a message to 15-year-old Kiryuuin on his radio show, when he treated him to wine that costs 270,000 yen (※There was even pricier wines listed but GACKT chose it with due care) at a high-end yakiniku restaurant when Golden Bomber had their big break, and other incidents. “Even now, I still have that (wine) bottle displayed. That’s how happy it made me,” GACKT said, reminiscing.

Following this was the performance of “LOST ANGELS”, introduced as “my own self-proclaimed ‘Divine Comedy’”. This magnificent song that brings about a dramatic story world was sung ardently, with the two of them singing in alternates, and then harmonising in the chorus.

“Please give a big round of applause to this little brother of mine, Kirishou, who came to attend this birthday live!” said GACKT, praising him as he gave him a hug and a handshake. Kiryuuin bowed numerous times before he left the stage.

The next person to come on stage was JON, who he worked together with in YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz (below, YFC). GACKT still keeps YFC’s album in his car. “There are songs that I really like, and just as I thought that I would never sing them again, we’re performing them here, like this, and it makes me happy. How many years has it been?” GACKT asked, and JON replied in fluent Japanese, “Today makes it 6 years!”. Indeed, their disbandment live at the Nippon Budokan was held on GACKT’s birthday in 2012.

Standing under the spotlight with their backs to each other’s, the two of them started to sing “YOU ARE THE REASON”. Energetically singing a melody that makes one feel the bright lights, they turned to face each other during the interlude as they headbanged. With a close-up of the happenings on stage being caught on the big screen, it was like a scene from their past lives being captured, bringing attention to the passage of time. Raising their hands to the ceiling, as if grasping for something, the two men sang passionately.

As the song ended, calls of “YFC” soon grew, and to that, GACKT said, “I never thought that I would hear these YFC calls again…… Don’t you think that this is a really nice moment for those who have never experienced YFC? Whether you have attended (YFC’s lives) or not, there’s still one more song that you might not have heard before. I’m really happy to be able to sing this song, which the band holds very dearly, at such a time.”. After sharing his thoughts, he performed “NOT ALONE”. GACKT himself clapped, putting on a four-on-the-floor rhythm as they two voices came together. With a dazzling smile on his face, GACKT looked to be in a state of contentment as he sang.

Lastly, they waved and the audience waved back too. Exchanging a firm handshake and a strong hug with JON, GACKT said with deep emotion, “We’ve made it here with JON. I never thought that I could sing with him like this again.”. It was as if he was taking in the moment.

Next was YOHIO, who urgently flew in from Sweden to make his appearance. It appears that the first time they met was when he was only 15, and in perfect Japanese, YOHIO, the young talented man with blond hair and blue eyes, said to GACKT , “I’m turning 23 in this month. Isn’t that fast?”. GACKT has performed with YOHIO on his stage before, and it has been 5 years since then.

“You’re the youngest little brother among them all. This is my personal opinion, but Sweden is a country of beautiful people. But I’m not fond of him solely because he’s adorable. It’s because his singing ability and his musical sense stands out from everyone else’s,” stressed GACKT. “I don’t have much growth potential myself (lol), so please do support him,” he said to the audience.

What they performed was “Sakura, Chiru…”. YOHIO first started singing the verse with his beautiful crystal clear voice, followed by GACKT singing the the bridge strongly, valiantly, and both their voices then came together in the chorus. In the second part of the song, they reversed the order GACKT sang first with a languorous and bewitching beauty, followed by YOHIO’s vivacious voice, and then overwhelming by showing off each of their own expressive abilities in the harmonisation that came next. As the song ended, YOHIO almost seemed to jump when he hugged GACKT. Thunderous applause and cheers resounded through the venue.

Next, GACKT invited DIR EN GREY’s Shinya (Dr) on stage with the introduction, “The one who practiced a lot just for this day, who came set on one song, my precious junior”. When GACKT asked, “Shinya, you came here having practiced singing properly, right?”, Shinya said, “…… Singing!? (lol)”. They are friends even in their private lives, and Shinya has also just appeared as a guest on GACKT’s blog magazine official channel.

“Shinya, you don’t seem to fit in with DIR EN GREY, do you? The rest of them are so fierce but you’re like the lone character who goes strawberry picking (lol)” (GACKT), “It’s no thanks to GACKT-san that I’m a strange character…… (lol). But I’m fierce on the inside” (Shinya). As they chatted, they brightened the mood in the venue. As Shinya moved to the drumset and went on standby, GACKT said to Baru (Dr), “You can just watch Shinya on drums on the side. Study what is lacking”, including an affectionate dig to his GACKT JOB member.

“To all my fans who have been supporting me since way back when, I hope from the bottom of my heart that these feelings of mine can be conveyed to you. “DEARS”.” With that title call, screaming cheers erupted. With GACKT singing with every bit of energy he had and Shinya drumming behind him, a tremendous energy poured out in this beautiful movement. The playing which convey the strong emotions for this song and the love and respect for GACKT was a masterpiece. When the performance ended, Shinya waved his hands sweetly and left the stage. The fiery end lingered for a while, refusing to cool down.

“You may wonder “He knows someone like that!?”, but he has, once again, come with his well wishes”, “There was a time when I thought of releasing a cover album, and at that time, I kept practicing his songs” said GACKT, as he welcomed, singer-songwriter K. Hinting at K’s marriage to Sekine Mari, GACKT jabbed, “You’re younger than me and you’re already living in bliss (lol)”, and K said, “Sekine (mother-in-law) automatically came along (lol). She comes to my home around 9 days a week (lol)”, making him laugh.

K, who has a thing for muscles, said excitedly, “When I came to rehearse on stage, I casually touched his arm, right. It was wonderful!”. As humorous K set the pace of the conversation, not only were there laughs, but their mutual respect for each other as musicians was also displayed. GACKT said with great admiration, “Singing with his piano playing feels really really wonderful”. They also spoke of how they stopped the chorus, wanting to focus on the piano instead. When they spoke of one day producing an album together, they both of them got excited, and K, too, praised the piano playing in GACKT’s songs.

With his body in a non-optimal condition due to a high fever, GACKT requested the audience to enjoy this once in a lifetime performance, saying, “My voice is probably almost like (the sounds of auction being held at) Tsukiji market now…… (lol). As to how this song will sound with this voice and with K’s piano, please do enjoy it.” And with that, the two of them performed “LAST SONG”. GACKT, who stood behind the grand piano as he sang, did indeed look like he was in pain, but that singing voice had the power to move hearts with the way he expressed his earnest feelings.

“K’s piano playing is unique.” As GACKT said, some parts sounded jazzy, and even in its graceful moments, there was a certain playfulness to it…… It is distinctive, yet ultimately, this was an enchanting performance with a prudence that moves closely with the song. As K played his beautiful flowing music, he occasionally cast his warm gaze at GACKT, as if in considration for him. It was like a telepathic “duet” between the two of them.

“It’s quite the great start to my 45th,” GACKT said as he looked back on the performances thus far. In the past, he would’ve gone on an irritated rampage at his voiceless condition but now, he recognises the change in himself, saying, “Being able to say ‘things like these do happen after all’ is a form of growth as well. I’ve grown up, haven’t I?”. He once again reiterated his feelings towards his fans too, saying, “I’m really happy that all of you are gathered here with me for my birthday. Coming together here, from different places all over, I’m sincerely thankful for that.”. “I wanted to sing with my usual voice but…… There you have it, this is a live after all. I’ll take my revenge on this. Because I want to be able to deliver great songs,” he added, and to that, the audience on the floor cast their voices back at him, “We’ll wait!”.

“This is the song that means the most to me thus far. With this song, I was able to express what I wanted to.” “Even if you are in a country without four seasons, I wanted to let you feel them through music,” he explained, leading into “Setsugekka -THE END OF SILENCE-”. It began with the piano, then the string instruments were added in, and soon, drums that sounded like traditional Japanese drums came in as GACKT’s singing started low. In the brilliant ensemble woven by the whole band, GACKT twisted his body and sang with all he had until his voice dried up. Evoking memories of the ending of 2016’s “LAST VISUALIVE”, the audience was moved by the marvel of GACKT, as a musician, as an performer, as he brings forth the magnificent world of a story that goes beyond space and time. His heroic form as he sang the final line with his life<In hopes that it reaches you…>, one cannot suppress the goosebumps that ran across their skin.

The main portion ended, and in the encore, a cake was brought onto the stage. A gorgeous band performance, along with a strings section, started playing, and the fans sang “Happy Birthday”. When GACKT blew the candles out, he put cream on Kiryuuin Sho, who came back on stage, saying “Will you stop doing things that aren’t discussed in the meetings? (lol)”.

“We also have comments from those who could not be here today,” Kiryuuin prefaced, and first, was a congratulatory video from HYDE that was shown. “Happy birthday, Gaku-chan.” “Recently, I did something like a Kakuzuke Check with wine, and as expected, I failed. Basically that means that I don’t know what wines I’m usually drinking (lol)” said HYDE, rambling in his own pace. To that, GACKT burst out in laughter, saying, “That’s got nothing to do with the birthday at all”.

“We haven’t met up recently, but please give me a treat next time (lol)” said HYDE. “Why the hell! You give me a treat instead! (lol)” GACKT retorted. As the video played, he looked up at the screen with a genuinely happy smile on his face.

Next was a message from YOSHIKI (X JAPAN). “You’re so young that it makes me wonder, ‘Aren’t you actually only 25?’. GACKT more grounded than I am after all~” he said with a warm tone as he conveyed his congratulatory message. The audience bubbled in much excitement at the comment videos from his two famous friends.

“Thank you…… But I’ve been thinking recently. It’s the same for the both of them but, they’re both older than me, right? When I was 20, YOSHIKI seemed like a super scary person. The fact that I couldn’t get into that world of hierarchical relationships, it’s like I started out wrong,” GACKT said, looking back to the days when he couldn’t find his place in the Visual-Kei scene after he first came to Tokyo. The young GACKT wasn’t mellow at all, had different thorns than those that he has now, and was quick to get into fights too.

After his days with the band, GACKT went solo. “Around the time when I was 28, I happened to meet YOSHIKI in Los Angeles. And on that day, we opened 16 bottles of champagne between the two of us,” he said, speaking of how he spent a vicious night with YOSHIKI, and following which, they grew close enough to drop formal suffixes. “When I spoke to YOSHIKI about starting a band together (S.K.I.N.), it was bad timing since it was just after I had a fight with SUGIZO,” he said (However, SUGIZO showed up at his birthday party one year and gifted him a power stone, reconciling their relationship. It is apparently still displayed in his house even now).

While reminiscing about his ties with such friends, GACKT was immersed in nostalgia as he said, “Becoming mature is a good thing.”. Even in himself, his awareness for his juniors have changed too.

“I’m grateful that they choose to stick with me. I guess being able to think of wanting to do whatever I can for them is another one of those things that I cultivated as I grew older. I’ve come to think “growing up isn’t that bad a thing, I guess”.”

“What everyone has is me, I guess. This might be out of character but, a sincere thank you!”

“I’m proud of everyone who has made it through each year to reach this point in time. Everyone is part of history to me. And I am just one page in your memories to everyone. I want to be a man who has the ability to bring encouragement to everyone. I look forward to our future together!”

After a long expression of emotional gratitude, he once again showed his appreciation for his guests who took part, saying, “I feel like I’ve found so many wonderful little brothers.”. And lastly, he said, “One might say that this is unlucky to bring up, but even if I ceased to exist, I hope that this song will be one that pushes you to take that first step forward when you listen to it.” leading in to his performance of “P.S. I LOVE U”. His sorrow-filled falsetto that brings tears to my eyes even now squeezes the audiences’ hearts. GACKT sang passionately, as if speaking to the fans standing before him, or even to future listeners, unleashing his feelings far away. The audience watched over him in stillness as his figure, enveloped by a bright light, disappeared off to the back of the stage.

The youths who once admired GACKT, his friends who have worked with him as a band, the musicians who respect his music as much as he respects theirs…… The stories that have been woven with each of the guests have not only been condensed and sublimated in words, but also in song performances in this short period of time. Although GACKT himself was frequently chagrined by his dried out voice from his high fever, his singing voice overflowed with energy, sufficient for the feelings that he conveyed. GACKT will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his solo debut in 2019. With whom will he weave new stories going forward?

Source: excite.co.jp

Translation: GACKT ITALIA Team

Translation @ GACKT ITALIA