LUNA SEA DUAL ARENA TOUR 2023
October 7-8, 2023 K-Arena Yokohama Live Report
On October 7 and 8, the LUNA SEA DUAL ARENA TOUR 2023 kicked off, featuring the iconic Japanese rock band, LUNA SEA. They graced the stage to perform their classic albums, [MOTHER] and [STYLE]. [MOTHER], released in 1994, marked a turning point in the band’s career, showcasing a distinct evolution in their sound and artistry, solidifying their legendary status. It was followed by [STYLE] in 1996, which earned the band their first #1 title on the Oricon Albums Chart. The tour is aptly named the ‘DUAL ARENA TOUR’ because each performance spans two nights in each location, with a unique theme for each of the two nights.
Approximately 30 years have passed since the release of these albums and undoubtedly, times have changed. Today, people prioritize “safety, security, and convenience” above all else, and these luxuries are more abundant than ever. However, as demonstrated by their electrifying performances at K-Arena Yokohama to kick off the LUNA SEA DUAL ARENA TOUR 2023, it’s clear that LUNA SEA remains unwavering in their commitment to deliver shows filled with “madness, challenger spirit, and heart and soul”.
The first day of the double-bill on the DUAL ARENA TOUR is titled “MOTHER OF LOVE, MOTHER OF HATE“. It’s a reimagining of the LUNA SEA CONCERT TOUR 1995 “MOTHER OF LOVE, MOTHER OF HATE”, which began on March 17, 1995, following the release of [MOTHER]. The original tour featured 31 performances in 27 locations nationwide and drew approximately 63,000 attendees.
As the band’s entrance music played and the members took the stage at K-Arena Yokohama, they were met with thunderous cheers from an audience that had finally readjusted to post-pandemic concerts. SUGIZO cradled a triple-neck guitar, and the concert began with “LOVELESS“, the opening track from [MOTHER]. The band’s extraordinary rendition of this euphoric song signaled that this tour and the “new legend” of LUNA SEA would unfold with great joy.
In between songs, the vocalist, RYUICHI, repeatedly used the phrase “new legend“. While the album [MOTHER] left an indelible mark on Japanese rock history, these words could be perceived as a declaration that LUNA SEA will once again lead new shifts in the music industry. However, RYUICHI’s words carry a deeper meaning. In 2019, the singer underwent surgery for lung cancer, followed by vocal cord surgery in February 2022. As a result, RYUICHI has been unable to perform at his peak over the past few years. Nevertheless, during their two-day performance at K-Arena Yokohama, the joy promised by the opening song, “LOVELESS”, came to life. Declaring himself an “immortal vocalist”, RYUICHI delivered vocals filled with madness and compassion.
It’s not just RYUICHI; the entire band, LUNA SEA, has weathered turbulent times, evolving and deepening with each challenge. The two-day performance at K-Arena Yokohama emphasized this point. Every note in their songs sounded powerful, but what truly set them apart was the band’s incredible groove. There was no doubt that LUNA SEA was in prime form to create their “new legend”.
Presented during the first half of the Day 1 performance, “FACE TO FACE” was nothing short of spectacular. While [MOTHER] boasts a repertoire of incredible songs, “FACE TO FACE” left a lasting impression on me when I first heard it back in the day. Often, what once seemed cool can lose its lustre over the years. Nostalgia remains, but the original coolness tends to fade. Surprisingly, even in 2023, the slightly updated version of “FACE TO FACE” continued to exude an overwhelmingly cool vibe. The secret behind this enduring coolness remains elusive, making me hopeful for an opportunity to interview the band members about it someday.
In conjunction with this tour, LUNA SEA plans to release self-cover albums of both [MOTHER] and [STYLE] on November 29. If this awe-inspiring live performance of “FACE TO FACE” is any indication, these albums are sure to leave as profound an impact on listeners as they did when first released.
It wouldn’t be a LUNA SEA show without an incendiary mid-set drum solo from SHINYA, and this was another highlight of the Day 1 performance. SHINYA always puts his heart and soul into every stroke, a drumming style that must be experienced in person to be fully appreciated. His style is a stark contrast to our current era of social media, and it remains an essential element of the band’s identity.
During the latter part of the show, the audience was treated to a mesmerizing display of past footage featuring LUNA SEA, allowing everyone to witness their unmatched stage presence, characterized by a boldness that set them apart. In contrast, the band members on the 2023 stage exuded a different kind of aura, one filled with compassion. It’s astonishing to think that, in their fifties, they have managed to surpass the coolness of their twenties when they were one of the era’s most prominent bands, known for releasing a series of timeless albums. This achievement is likely attributed to the fact that both LUNA SEA as a band and its individual members have steadfastly resisted the allure of “safety, security, and convenience.” These rock gods have remained true to their authentic roots.
The Day 1 show concluded with a heartfelt performance of the song [MOTHER]. The band played it with great compassion, and this deep and gentle rendition sounded better than ever.
During this tour, the band also invited the audience to take photos and post them on social media with the hashtag #LUNAPIC, much to the delight of the fans.
Day 2 was titled ‘UN ENDING STYLE‘, a recreation of LUNA SEA CONCERT TOUR 1996 ‘UN ENDING STYLE’, which followed the release of LUNA SEA’s classic album [STYLE] in April 1996. The original tour began on July 16, 1996, with two dates at Yokohama Arena and went on to attract 120,000 attendees over 16 shows in nine locations across Japan.
The show at K-Arena Yokohama started with the first song from [STYLE], “WITH LOVE“, followed by the second song from the album, “G.”. The first half of the show, up to the intermission, primarily featured songs from [STYLE], with the exception of the inclusion of the 1993 song “SLAVE.” The songs from [STYLE] sounded particularly impressive. [STYLE] carries a ’90s industrial and psychedelic vibe, and it was fascinating to see how these elements resonated in 2023. Although the arrangements remained largely unchanged, these [STYLE] songs surprisingly sounded modern in 2023. This may be attributed to the band’s collaboration with producer Steve Lillywhite on their upcoming self-cover albums.
In fact, the new versions of “LOVELESS” from the [MOTHER] self-cover album and the rerecorded “G.”. from [STYLE] were released in advance, and their sound was remarkable. They felt much like the work of a Western band, with a broad sonic range and a direct sound. Yet, the band members’ strong musical abilities prevented them from being overshadowed by such impressive production. The band’s evolved sound came across live as impressively as it did in the new recordings.
More specifically, the songs performed on Day 2 seemed even rawer than they did back in the day. In particular, J‘s basslines were sublimated into raw, human-sounding rock, and they were especially danceable.
The combination of INORAN and SUGIZO, two very different guitarists, was also nothing short of fantastic. INORAN’s guitar playing was unmatched in accuracy and warmth, while SUGIZO’s playing was both aggressive and precise. The blend of these two musicians infused their detailed performance with emotion and humanity.
As the trio of J, INORAN, and SUGIZO traversed the extensive K-Arena Yokohama stage, they provided a full-scale live experience that was both physical and visually stimulating.
During the middle of the set and in the encore, LUNA SEA performed fan favourites such as “Dejavu“, “ROSIER“, and “WISH“. However, Day 2 primarily aimed to showcase the new [STYLE], and the concert culminated with the [STYLE] track “FOREVER & EVER“, one of LUNA SEA’s most enduring songs. RYUICHI’s vocals, SHINYA’s drums, J’s bass and backing vocals, INORAN’s guitar and backing vocals, and SUGIZO’s guitar, violin, and backing vocals each had a warm tone, creating an incredible ensemble. Standing on the precipice of LUNA SEA’s “new legend,” it was evident that this period of euphoria would be everlasting.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the start of LUNA SEA’s “new legend” live and in person. From the promise of the first song on Day 1, “LOVELESS”, to the sense of assurance in the final song of Day 2, “FOREVER & EVER”, experiencing both nights of the tour together tells the complete story.
Don’t forget to check out the music videos for the lead track “LOVELESS” from the “MOTHER” album and “G.” from the “STYLE” album, which will be released on 29th November.
‘LOVELESS’ music video: