“For the First Time, I Wanted to Live”

I went for my first ever X Japan concert last night, thanks to a client I met some 3 years ago who has since become a friend. The last Visual Japan Summit concert doesn’t count since it was an event including tens of other bands.

When news of Yoshiki’s sudden surgery broke a few months ago, I was already informed that we got the tickets so I was worried that the concert would be cancelled. But Yoshiki being Yoshiki decided to carry on with the show by changing it to an acoustic live. It was X’s first ever acoustic live performance.

Initially, I had thought it was a pity my first X concert wasn’t going to be the powerful metal I had seen so many times on DVD and also at the last Visual Japan Summit, but it was a precious experience since it was the first and probably only acoustic live X is ever going to hold. Besides, I had experienced their powerful performance once at the last 14-hour event, so this unexpected change in content was a very refreshing take.

To be frank, it wasn’t too acoustic as it was more classical with brief moments of heavy music dedicated to Hide and Taiji.

Before the concert began, X’s documentary We Are X was played to the audience. I didn’t pay too much attention to the show since I’ve already seen it with the same friend. The performance was scheduled to begin at 6, but with X being X, nobody actually thought they were going to start on time. Their show in Osaka started 1 hour 10 minutes late. But we also forgot that the concert was broadcast live on paid TV channel WOWOW, which means it had to start on time. As the clock struck 6, there were still empty seats around. But before we realised, Yoshiki and Toshi appeared on stage and the melody of Forever Love began as Yoshiki ran his fingers across the keys of his transparent Kawai piano set in the middle of the stage where drums were supposed to be.

The songs went by one after another and there came a song request segment. Someone shouted, “Forever Love!” And Yoshiki went, “さっきやったじゃん (we already did it just now)” Then he realised that those people missed it because they didn’t expect the show to proceed as scheduled and entered the Yokohama arena late.

Yoshiki’s voice was soft and weak as he was and is still undergoing rehabilitation following surgery. But when we requested for X to be played, he did what he wasn’t supposed to do (i.e. scream). But it wasn’t too unexpected as Yoshiki is Yoshiki after all.

At the concert, the legendary band’s leader spoke about his dark place. Since his father died, he’s never not thought about committing suicide. He had thought enough is enough and X has done what they could. He had wanted to retire the band. The monster in him never died. Not until recently, when the surgery was decided, he felt scared. For the first time since his father’s passing, he thought “まだ生きたい (I still want to live)”

The man literally said, “For the first time, I wanted to  live.”

That was a very powerful statement. For someone who’s reached the pinnacle of music despite being haunted by the demon of suicidal thoughts for decades, he finally feels he wants to live.

While we don’t know for sure how long it will take him to recover, and we don’t know if he will be able to play drums the way he used to after his recovery, it sure gives me a lot of hope to be able to catch them live again. With Pata’s hospitalisation last year and Yoshiki’s recent surgery, I think I am willing to pay more to watch as many of their performances as I can before age catches up with the members.

I believe it will remain one of the most memorable moments in my life.

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