LIVE REPORT — Requiem: YOSHIKI Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour has recently concluded, with several, unforgettable sold out performances. We had the opportunity to attend the October 20th concert at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, home to YOSHIKI after moving from Japan nearly two decades ago.
The tribute tour, which was dedicated to YOSHIKI’s mother who passed away in spring last year, was an emotional performance, interweaving classical music, a rocking drum solo, ethereal singing, and a beautiful ballet choreography that left the audience in awe and teary-eyed. Unlike other classical concerts, YOSHIKI Classical was an autobiographical unfolding of YOSHIKI’s life, as he often engaged with the audience and spoke about his history and inspirations in between songs. The concert opened with a captivating orchestral performance of “Amethyst” that segued into a video of collective past and recent footage, setting the reflective and solemn tone for the rest of the night. YOSHIKI’s childhood, family, and bandmates were the backbone of the deeply personal narrative and live performances. The theme of death and grief seemed to always be top of mind and has a lasting impact throughout his life. The death of his father, his former X Japan band members hide and Taiji, and, most recently, his mother was what ended up spurring the tour into fruition. Anger, sadness, mourning, and, lastly, hope resonated while he spoke about the healing of music.
Not only was the concert brimming with original compositions and classical covers, but YOSHIKI stopped frequently in between sets to talk with the crowd, as they often bursted out with adulation, laughter, and applause. The event was an intimate conversation of sorts, drawing the audience into the stories about his life, unlike that of a typical rock concert with his bands. YOSHIKI, the rockstar and leader of X Japan or THE LAST ROCKSTARS, often appears unapproachable, exuding a cool, confident presence. However, strip away the hard rocker façade, and YOSHIKI, as a solo artist, is actually very open, thoughtful, sometimes bashful, charismatic, and naturally funny individual. The Classical Tour showcased his personality and humanity that is rarely seen outside of a rock and roll performance.
CHALLENGES OF MOVING TO THE U.S.
While his group has performed in L.A., YOSHIKI quipped that, as a solo artist, “This is the first time I’ve played in Hollywood… I live here. I’ve played around the world, but I’ve never played here.”
YOSHIKI faced a tremendous amount of challenges when he made the big move to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams, as he reminisced about the difficulties of the language barrier. “To be honest, it was not easy. I’m from Japan. At that time, I did not speak English at all. I spoke zero English. Right now, I can speak about 70~80%.”
There were several instances that he recalled, “I want to give up. I want to go home. I want to go back to Japan.” He felt like a crippled bird. “My wings are torn, my wings are bloody red, lying on the street. I couldn’t even stand up.” Ultimately, it was the support of his family, friends, and fans that helped him keep going. “I have to stretch these wings.” These poetic thoughts and his continued perseverance were the main inspirations behind “RED SWAN,” the fourth opening theme song to the anime series Attack on Titan, that mimic those sentiments. “That’s why I’m still here.”
RECENT PROJECTS & MILESTONES
As is common in Japanese culture, the oldest son typically takes over the family business. YOSHIKI came from a kimono family, but, as he later joked, “unfortunately, I chose rock.” Some years later in 2011, YOSHIKI returned to his roots and, paying respects to his family’s ancestry, created the fashion and kimono brand Yoshikimono. This past year, YOSHIKI debuted a new ready-to-wear collection, Maison Yoshiki Paris, with a runway show at Paris Fashion Week, exhibiting his unique style and aesthetics in the high fashion world.
Divulging that he had been practicing nearly every waking moment for this show, YOSHIKI has recently wrapped up the Classical Tour, with the last stop at the Carnegie Hall in New York.
One of the most poignant moments of the night came when YOSHIKI recounted a bittersweet story about his mother and his achievements. “There are several moments of my life where I feel like I accomplished something.” After his first time playing at the famous Tokyo Dome, he turned to his mother and inquired, “Mom, what do you think? She said, ‘Did you sleep last night?’ ” to the chuckle of the crowd. “Come on, Mom, that’s all you can say?” After composing a theme song for a Hollywood film, YOSHIKI again turned to his mother. “I asked my mother ‘What do you think?’ She said, ‘Did you eat this morning?’ Come on, mom,” as the laughter in the audience grew. “There’s only one time… When I composed the song for the Emperor of Japan, that she said, ‘You did good.’ ” Last month in mid-September, YOSHIKI became the first Japanese music artist to have his hand and foot print immortalized in cement at the TCL Chinese Theater. “At that time I was wondering, what would my mother say,” a deep melancholy resonating in his voice. “Would she say you did a good job or did you eat this morning? I still don’t know,” as he dedicated the song “Without You” to his mother.
REMEMBERING HIS MOTHER
The concert tour is a dedication to YOSHIKI’s late mother. “Someday, because we’re human, we’ll die,” YOSHIKI somberly reflected. “My mother, she passed away last year… I thought my mother would live forever, but I was wrong.” In rationalizing his anguish, there was one thing that he could be sure of: “My love will last forever.” The song “Forever Love,” which proceeded, captured both sadness and enduring resolution.
Speaking about “Anniversary,” YOSHIKI admitted that he had many reservations about composing a piece for the Emperor of Japan. “I was freaking out… I didn’t think I could do it.” He had experience composing classical serenades and rock and roll hits, but nothing as culturally significant as this. Turning to his mother for advice, it was ultimately her magical words of encouragement, “YOSHIKI, you can do it,” that gave him the confidence which bore the song that would become such a significant piece in his career.
“Requiem,” is both the title of the tour and the melody that resulted while YOSHIKI was coming to terms with his mother’s passing. She was a staple and rock in his life. YOSHIKI is no stranger to this experience, having gone through the pain of losing his friends and his father at an early age. “I thought I was somehow immune to this kind of event, but I guess not. I lost my mind. I couldn’t stop crying at that time.” When medication couldn’t help, he buried himself in music to cope and, eventually, begin to heal. “If this melody can help me, this melody may be able to help you as well.”
TO THE FANS
Audience members were treated to a classical rendition of X Japan’s newest song, “Kiss the Sky”, composed for X Japan’s newest album, “which you haven’t heard,” acknowledging to the giggles in the crowd. YOSHIKI remarked, “it’s a long story; let’s not get into that,” conceding how the promised album and songs, over 13 years in the making, have not yet been released.
The performance was one of many highlights of the concert, a dedication to X Japan’s lost members who are watching from the sky, with the audience filling the auditorium with their cell phone lights, wickering back and forth, and vocalizing with the chorus.
Fan favorite, “Endless Rain,” another X Japan song, rounded out the night, as the audience harmonized with the melody to the very end.
Throughout his career, YOSHIKI has always expressed genuine gratitude, particularly to his fans. “I don’t think I would exist without you guys.” Through the ups and downs, “there are so many moments that I wanted to give up… You taught me to keep on going. So, I decided not to give up… I’m going to keep on fucking going.”
ROCK AND ROCK CLASSICAL
The show was an eclectic mix of artistic performances and sounds that could only be achieved by YOSHIKI, bringing together traditional and modern; an appreciation for the old and the new. One moment YOSHIKI is on piano, and the next, he’s moved seamlessly onto his drum set that was rolled out by stage hands just minutes prior, surprising fans while the orchestra keeps in tempo to his powerful beats. In more ways than one, it was less a classical concert and more rock and roll live, with screams and cheers from the audience coming from every direction. “This is the loudest classical performance I’ve ever had.” The coalescence of a memoir, opera ballad, ballet, music, and more centered on his loved ones was a unique and unforgettable experience for all in attendance, moving fans to tears and audible sniffles throughout the evening.
YOSHIKI’s next public appearance will be the highly anticipated tour with THE LAST ROCKSTARS, along with members Hyde, Sugizo, and Miyavi, later this month.
Update: As of 11/17,2023, THE LAST ROCKSTARS concert for November 29, 2023 has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. The Los Angeles concert date is now set for August 29, 2024. Additional international dates and information will be released at a later time. Ticketholders can expect to receive further instructions from Live Nation in the coming days.
November 21-24, 2023
Tokyo Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan
November 29, 2023 (POSTPONED to August 29, 2024)
YouTube Theater in Los Angeles
- Amethyst (Orchestra)
- Tears (X JAPAN)
- Angel (X JAPAN)
- Forever Love (X JAPAN)
- Kiss the Sky (X JAPAN)
- Serenade for Strings (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Cover / Drum Solo )
- Symphony No. 3, Op 36, Symfonia Pieśni żałosnych (Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Cover / Drum Solo)
- Say Anything (X JAPAN)
- Swan Lake (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Cover)
- RED SWAN
- Without You (X JAPAN)
- OPUS 13 in A-minor
- Art of Life (X JAPAN)
- Endless Rain (X JAPAN)
Official Website: https://www.yoshiki.net/