Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mixed Formats: Kurenai

Some music just comes across better live and visually, so I'm taking this chance to post the YouTube video of my gateway J-rock group, X Japan.  This is the 2009 live version of X Japan's Kurenai, one of their staple hits, slightly reconfigured for added dramatic flair.  The first 5 minutes offers up a symphonic-electronic duet by Yoshiki on piano and Sugizo (also of Luna Sea) on violin.  Vocalist Toshi steps in for a bit, then Yoshiki scoots up to his drum kit and Sugizo grabs his guitar for the speed-metal finale.  Reasons that this is awesome and full of win: 

- the competitive Breck-girl hair tossing and dramatic arm swoops
- the matching lucite piano (Yoshiki's signature Kawai),  violin, and drums
- the over-the-top costuming with liberal applications of leather
- Toshi so overwhelmed at first that he can hardly sing
- the video of deceased guitarist and former member Hide throughout the song's second half
- Toshi and Yoshiki at 7:40 sharing a smile: Toshi had been in a Japanese cult for the previous 10 years, estranged from his BFF Yoshiki, and they're clearly glad to be together again.
- the crowd making the 'X' sign and singing along near the end
- the unexpected reuniting of one of the most influential Japanese rock bands after a pretty shocking breakup 10 years earlier, a concert which had been repeatedly delayed for months.  The crowd is awed and terrifically excited to be there.

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