Duel Jewel Twilight Meteor Shower Tour Final at Shinjuku Blaze

Live Report

by Kate Havas, Leela McMullen, Mio Nagasaki, posted September 14, 2011

Brand new and shiny Shinjuku BLAZE was the perfect venue for Duel Jewel, who despite having rolled around the VK scene for over thirteen, are always reinventing themselves with new sound and style. The Twilight Meteor Shower tour final was no exception, fans storming the new venue for goods long before the concert and lining up around the central square in Kabukicho. From outside, you would never guess the venue was so spacious, fitting eight hundred people, yet it filled up easily. Even so, the height and length of the stage made viewing easy – just as well, considering the constant Duel Jewel antics that none could suffer to miss.

The band’s entrance, set to a piano with a digital beat, was like a fashion show, and stunning costumes caught the eye, both black and white and smooth and sparkly. Bassist Natsuki’s sequined black jacket with white ribbon laced up the back was simply gorgeous. Duel Jewel obviously know what the neo-visual is all about. Hell, they’ve been wearing it since before it had a name!

Kicking off with some newer music, the live began with a surprisingly heavy hand, “The Greed,” which inspired instant, widespread head-banging throughout the floor. Meanwhile, the heavy undertones of the music and deep growls from guitarist Shun seemed at odds with the calmer vocal melody, gentled even further by the velvety smooth tones of vocalist Hayato. The heavy opener concluded with a raised fist from each of the members. Then, with whining guitar embellishing the instrumentals, “Code:Liberate,” kept things heavy with a melody reminiscent of Gackt’s “Vanilla.” Here, the new venue’s faults became obvious as the music and main vocal drowned out even the heavy growling from bassist Natsuki, indicating some issues with the balance which continued throughout the show.

Nevertheless, “NIGHT WALKER” sped things up cheerfully, the crowd jumping, hands in the air and swishing back and forth to mark the rhythm. The band’s heavy core prevailed, however, as a session of wicked growling that had the first few rows crushed up and jumped on the backs of girls who were bent over the front bar for just such a purpose. Grinning rather uncharacteristically, leader Shun’s hyperactivity continued into “Eien ni yume wo kasanete,” the guitarist spin-hopping about his corner of the stage while Hayato coolly slashed the air with his mic. “sin” then brought the marathon of harder music to a close, Baru hard at work from the opening drum riff. Hayato would yell for the crowd to head-bang and then squat down, head swinging on his neck at half time. The final beat saw the vocalist lash out with a kick that brought down the lights.

“Shinjuku you guys are on fire, huh!” exclaimed an enthusiastic Hayato. “The Twilight Meteor Shower tour final is here at last! Standing here on this stage for the first time, I want to challenge both us and you to make this live all that it can be. Let’s heat it up! Send your true feelings up to this stage! You’ll never be able to see this live again… Let’s make this live together, just you and the five of us!”

“Konsui×Ke×Ke Doll,” fast, with a digital touch but also melodic brought about a whole new realm of hyper music and was swiftly followed by the endlessly cheerful “Never Blue.” Yet Duel Jewel have a talent for mixing the heavier trends of visual kei into a brighter sound, and even the heart-warming tones of “Never Blue” were tempered with some serious head-banging, shouts and diving on heavy accents. Hayato egged on the crowd with a yell of “Hey, Shinjuku! Come at me with everything!” The final straw was a cheesy leap into falsetto that really made the number. The ballad, “Noah,” calmed things down though drums and guitar maintained some life under the lovely melody. Halfway through, the guitarists executed a duet with the same overhand technique. A spotlighted Baru rolled out the final drum solo with military flair which led into the piano-toned intro of “Shine of air.” The soft, summery feel of the number was influenced by the gentle glitter of sequins under dim lights as Hayato’s sweet falsetto floated over the swaying crowd. The music turned powerful as the lyrics dissolved into an easy to follow chorus of “la’”s, encouraging the crowd to sing along.

“You can shout louder, Tokyo,” Hayato encouraged the crowd as the band jammed after the bright tones of “Azure.” When he was satisfied, “Life on…” turned Shinjuku BLAZE into one big party room, Yuya jumping with so much energy he seemed like a cartoon come to life. A pause delayed the final lyrics, Hayato finally waving dramatically on the last “Bye bye!”

Puns abounding, Yuya joked around with the fans, turning a traditional enka number into a parody about a hakuchou (white swan) grandpa and asking them all to hold up their “hakuchou” (glowing rings from the goods booth.) Yuya then introduced the coming number, teaching the crowd the actions expected of them. As he sang, Shun humored him and began to play, Natsuki and Baru joining in lightly while the crowd followed his dance instruction. “Lovely. Well, there you have two types of actions. But in Osaka, in the intro…” Once more, the number picked up with Yuya marking the melody until he stopped it once more. “We discovered that if you drop the rhythm just a little, it turns right into Latin music. Very relaxing.” This time as the band helpfully played the example, the guitarist’s hips swayed and shifted in mimicry of latin dance.
“What? Your clothes are even Latin style so what’s the problem?” asked Hayato when Yuya hesitated. “It’s like a Samba carnival.”
Laughing, Yuya concluded his corner“This is too much. Duel Jewel’s incredible… Anyway, please try those three sections, okay?”

“That was Yu-chan. Thanks!” said Hayato, still chuckling. “It’s been a while since we’ve had furitsuke (actions) to learn and do together like this. Since today is the tour final, let’s perfect “Polaris,” okay? Everyone put your hearts into it and wave those hands! Got it? Let’s go!” After that enigmatic practice, it was time to put the motions into use, “Polaris” a beautiful sight when the lights went down and hundreds of colorful, glowing rings took to the air. The image was a gorgeous precursor to the catchy chorus melody with the lyrics “Kimi dake ha kagayaita.” (Only you were shining.) The sweetness was then followed up by the darker, “against” and “Outsider.” Then, beginning with tantalizingly rhythmic “Mxxder marble,” the band whipped out three of its heaviest songs, culminating in “Reincarnation Flow” and Trust.” Low and husky with an angry grunge, the dark pit of the last number vamped over and over as the fans were treated to a central view of each member in turn, with only a fleeting reminder of the pretty chorus at beginning and end. A long lead-out wound up with a flying round-house kick from the vocalist, incredibly executed in those tight leather pants. Grinning ear to ear, the band bid their farewells, Yuya flapping about with the crowd copying before he took his leave.

The show couldn’t possibly end there, though. The crowd were awarded a short break to realign their spines, but the band were back onstage in no time, clad in pentagram emblazoned tour shirts. “In Nagoya and Osaka, we’ve been starting the encore with the cover we recorded, “Jupiter”, but this is Tokyo. Today, we’re going to play “Akane iro no machi” for the first time in a long while.” Shun played out the majority of the number on his acoustic guitar, switching to electric only for his solo, over which Hayato sang sweet nothings. Despite an invitation for the crowd to sing along, Hayato’s silken toneskept the crowd silent in appreciation. With a gentle cymbal roll and a “Thank you,” the special performance came to an end.

“Well, then. Shall we hear the members’ voices?” Hayato teased. “Who do you want to hear?” Despite an overwhelming chorus of “Barubarubarubarubaru!” from the fans, Hayato had other ideas. “Every so often, why don’t we try starting with Shun-sama?”
“Hey,” greeted the leader. “’I’m sure that even today, you guys have gathered from afar, but Duel Jewel will roam about again and increase our fan-base even more… On a personal note, “Sixty Two” from this Polaris release has truly been made by you and us at lives over the past year. Quite simply, it’s like ‘See what happens when we work together with you guys? It’s just that awesome!’ It was made for showing off that result. As lame as it sounds, it’s like… our love letter to you-” The giggling crowd cut him off. “Oi! What are you laughing for? Sometimes we’ve gotta say something serious. Anyway, so releasing the singles Vamp Ash and this time Polaris, a release with a three great songs, I think that an awesome future is still spreading out before us, so from now on, fight on with us together, okay?”

Next up was Natsuki. “Hey. You know, that “Polaris,” yeah? It’s amazing. Looks like a planetarium from up here. [in English] Nice.” The crowd applauded but Natsuki waved them down. “No, I’m the one who wants to clap you. Thanks. Well, after touring only three locations, today’s the final. There’s only a little left. There’s nothing for it, you’ll just have to have so much fun that you don’t want to hear any more! It’s okay if you have fun before you go home, right? Have fun and go home!” The polite hints eventually turned into the bassist yelling the crowd into submission before he relented once more. “I’m having as much fun as possible, so you guys do so, too. Got it? Right. That’s all.”

With a leap forward, Yuya claimed the crowd’s attention and Natsuki and Shun kicked back on the drums platform to relax and enjoy the show. Introducing the next new number as “Sixty tsu,” Yuya quibbled over pronunciation. “Sixty Two he said, begging for any native English speakers to help him out. “Did you listen to the CD? It’s extremely easy to understand and easy to get into. So, what shall we do?” He began to stumble through the song,obliviously showing the crowd the ‘hail Hitler’ pose he propsed to integrate into the number. Later, the rest of the band joined in with swing drums and bluesy guitar. “Careful not to turn it into Bossa Nova!” Once more, Yuya sang and danced. “Let’s really try this one day!” he exclaimed. “If we dropped the tempo just a little bit Hayato would sing it in a super sexy voice.”
Hayato wasn’t having it. “I think this can be called the ‘Yuya version,’ you know?”
“This is how bands are born,” laughed the guitarist. “Anyway, please enjoy “Sixty Two.””

Lastly, Baru hyped the crowd up with a chant of “TMS!” (Twilight Meteor Shower) and gave his thanks to the crowd. The drummer then encouraged everyone to turn their rings around and raise their hands so that the crowd themselves could experience the warm glow of the colorful rings. Babbling on, he explained how happy he was to see familiar old faces as well as new ones throughout the crowd. After the Earthquake, we decided to come up with a goal… In December we’ll release an album! It’s gonna take some time to get this album done, but then, starting in December we’ll tour over ten locations! The final will be at Shibuya O-East where we haven’t played a oneman for a while! Thinking about that wonderful scenery, I can work hard for the next half a year. You know, in half a year, a baby that’s born will turn half a year old!” He was greeted by choruses of disbelief at the obvious statement. “Anyway, we’ll spend the next half a year doing what we can to prepare for the view to come!”

“That was Baru!”” said Hayato. “He announced it before I could, but we’ll be returning to O-East. I think this will turn into the longest tour in Duel Jewel’s history. And a long awaited full album, too! With the album release and the tour staring in December, we’ll be working hard this year preparing for everything, so you guys stay safe until then, okay? This isn’t the time to be catching colds! Make sure you’re in tip top condition to make it the best live it can be! We’re going at it full steam, so you guys better keep up! You still got it in you today? Let’s go!”

The fun continued throughout the heavy digital beat of “62” then “Partytime!!” sent the towels flying, Shun and Yuya facing off like angry children while Hayato kindly dabbed the sweat from Natsuki’s lips. In fact, Yuya paid them just as much attention, dabbing Natsuki’s lips with his own in a kiss that sunk the bassist to his knees. Thanking the crowd, Hayato promised that Duel Jewel would always be with their fans under one sky, and always be there for them. With the house lights up to light the fans’ grinning faces, “Tales” had the musicians can-canning while the crowd joined hands, taking dainty little side-steps. Later, Yuya received the pointy ends of Shun’s and Natsuki’s boots as they aimed their can-can’s at his can. Following the number, the bullying continued as Yuya struck up a ninja pose on the central platform and Shun and Natsuki tried to carry him away, all in lighthearted fun. Joining hands at Hayato’s request, the whole venue jumped as one, lending a note of finality to the hyper night, though the hijinks continued for a time before the band finally took their leave.

As fans began to file out and the pit began to empty,Duel Jewel ran back onstage, Yuya crying “”Oi! Get back here!” The surprise second encore of “Paranoid Trash” was full of wild movement. Through the wicked pace and relentless beat, Hayato managed to maintain a sense of melody, the line of which grew steadily more complicated. The band couldn’t have chosen a more epic finish, nicely capped by Hayato’s second flying roundhouse on the very last cymbal crash.

What an end to a great show!

Set List

  1. 「The Greed」
  2. Code:Liberate
  3. 「NIGHT WALKER」
  4. Towa ni yume wo kasanete
  5. sin
  6. Konsui×Ke×Ke Doll
  7. Never Blue
  8. Noah
  9. Shine Of Air
  10. azure
  11. 「Life on…」
  12. Polaris
  13. against
  14. Outsider
  15. M××der marble
  16. Reincarnation Flow
  17. Trust

Encore 1

  1. Akane iro no machi
  2. 62
  3. Partytime!!
  4. Tales

Encore 2

  1. Paranoid Trash

VK Exclusive

There are 30 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Kate Havas first became interested in Japanese fashion and culture in college when manga, anime, and visual kei were just beginning to make their way to America. An art and English major with a love of clothes, Kate signed onto ROKKYUU in order cover fashion and report on Tokyo trends, but was quickly also recruited to the music side of things and has been having an adventure expanding her knowledge of all things VK since. Follow her on twitter at keito_kate!

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Mio Nagasaki is a freelance photographer lending her time, skills, and love for the genre to ROKKYUU Magazine.

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