DuelJewel Reborn With Anastasis
On July 6, Nippon Seinenkan hosted one of the most nervously anticipated shows of the year: the return of DuelJewel vocalist Hayato after his year and a half absence for vocal rehabilitation. The band literally rolled out the red carpet for the singer’s homecoming and the stage was decorated with royal red and gold banners hung above a two-tiered stage, the scene for ‘“anastasis”- the rebirth’.
A dramatic video introducing the members played as the crowd clapped in time to the rousing electronic beat, their Polaris rings already flashing brightly in the dark hall. Val(drums), Natsuki (bass), Shun (guitar), and Yuya (guitar) all took their places. “After a year and a half of silence,” the video proclaimed, “Hayato is back.” The vocalist slowly rose up from a trap door in the floor and took a deep bow that was met with fevered cheers.
The band wasted no time kicking off with the explosively energetic “62.” Yuya looked so happy to have Hayato back onstage that he was practically doing flips. Hayato’s grin was just as blinding as jets of dry ice burst upward from the stage and Shun’s heavy growls provided backup for “against.” The fans moshed back and forth as the two guitarists and Natsuki came forward to greet them and Val’s heavy hits kept the hard pace of the song. The audience then suddenly became a sea of twinkling rainbow lights as the fans all put on their glowing rings, cued by the light electronic notes of “Polaris.” A few sound balance problems had plagued the first songs but by the time of “Polaris,” these were being sorted out and fans could hear that Hayato was indeed back, his voice confident and clear. The odd balance meant that “Hana Uta~Sakura Ryouran” was practically all bass but the fans danced enthusiastically to the classic DuelJewel number, counting and hopping along with the members.
“Don’t you think we’ve gotten even better in this year and a half?” Hayato asked the crowd. “We’re so thankful to see so many people here. It’s been a long time but I finally came back. You’ve got to put a whole year and half’s worth of enjoyment into tonight.”
Heavy guitar and thick bass brought about the gothic “Vamp Ash.” The devilish atmosphere of the number merged well with the band’s new red and black image and Shun tossed his long extensions as he played a fierce guitar solo. An orchestral instrumental “Key-1145” then led into the spooky “Room-1145.” The video screen behind the band played sepia-toned scenes of a little girl seated in a bare room with a half-threatening, half-maternal woman hovering over her. The scenes cut between the child’s feet dangling off a chair, a bare lightbulb and a subtle flash of the woman’s knife, creating an unsettling sense of dread as Hayato hit his eerie falsetto notes.
The members then left Val alone on stage and the fans were treated to a display of the drummer’s creativity and technical prowess. The first half of the drum solo was a unique performance infused with music from a classical choir and Val twirled his sticks between each powerful beat. A special camera set up put the fans directly in the drummer’s seat and on the video screen, they could watch each beat close-up. The second half was a more traditional drum solo and strobe lights flashed away. Natsuki then returned to add some bass to the rocking scene, joined shortly after by the guitarists as they dove into the mosh-friendly instrumental “Knot.” The fans still had plenty of love for the four-member version of DuelJewel, calling and jumping as each member took a turn in the spotlight.
Hayato then returned and offered up the vocal version of the four-member release, “DICE.” The song had a heady beat and underground feel brought out by crashing drums and strong bass. Hayato and Yuya danced around each other while Shun played intricate guitar lines and the fans followed along with the equally intricate choreography.
“Life on” provided a change of pace with its gentle pop melody. Natsuki made a big jump down from the top tier, bypassing the stairs entirely with his flying leap while Hayato put his heart and soul into the number. Natsuki and Yuya kept the mood light, though, by poking at and teasing each other incessantly. “Otsukare Summer” was next, the quick song perfectly capturing the jubilant mood as fans twirled their towels around their heads and swayed dizzily back and forth.
“It’s hot,” Hayato said as the lights came up. “I remember when I first realized I was having trouble with my throat. We were all really worried but I wanted to continue. I feel like I might cry so don’t look if that happens! I think the other members all have a lot of memories from the past year and a half, and you, too. Listen with those memories and put all your of power into this until the end.”
The crowd began to growl and shout as angry red lights flared for “outsider.” Hayato gave a big kick before lying flat on his back to kick and play as the fans jumped to the beat. “ONE SHOT ONE KILL” was even heavier, plumes of dry ice coming up to create a smoky atmosphere. The hard yet catchy number had a militant air emphasized by the trilling guitar lines. A drum roll led into the aggressive “ASHTAROTH.” Natsuki ran a bow across his bass strings to add a wailing note to the music and the wailing then turned to gowls and screams as the band finished off a hot main set with the violent “trust.” Hayato hit the floor, headbanging on his knees while Shun took over the center to the delight of his fans. Natsuki spat water on the reaching fans then yanked the video camera out of a crew member’s hands and took it on parade, filming the crowd at close range as they brought the set to a sweaty, happy conclusion.
After a short break, the members returned in t-shirts for the encore. Yuya tried to entertain the crowd with coquettish faces and sexy dancing which prompted Hayato to affectionately scold him. “After a year and a half, you’re still a moron,” he said, laughing. He then addressed the crowd. “Thanks for coming here and sweating and yelling for us! Let’s hear from the members.”
Shun was first. “There are a lot of gigs happening today so thanks for coming here. We’re so happy to be back together as a five-member band, though I wish we’d had more time to prepare. Umi (from Vistlip) gave me an energy drink for today. I think we can get even bigger from now on, so please stick with us.”
“I think this is the first time you’ve put together such a cohesive emcee,” Hayato praised the guitarist.
Natsuki was next and he flashed a cute peace sign and a grin. “I think everyone wants to say it, so here we go. On the count of three, let’s yell, ‘Welcome home, Hayato, you pervert!’” The crowd yelled enthusiastically and the vocalist attempted to look embarrassed.
“Hey, hey, hey!” he protested. “My mom is here! Did you guys really come all this way to call me a pervert?”
“I think the first time we had to do a show with just the four of us was the most nervous I’d ever been in my life,” Natsuki continued. “But everyone supported us so I’m really grateful.”
Yuya made a show of looking nervous before taking a galloping run to the microphone. “How are you feeling? We’re back together! But I always had Hayato with me.” He pulled out his much-loved Hayato cardboard cutout. “Our vocalist is very sexy. I’ve kissed this plenty of times.” He continued to baby the cardboard version as real-Hayato looked on bemusedly. “Welcome back, Hayato!”
“The staff tease me for how much I love Hayato. But he’s really been working hard.” He got the crowd to call for fake-Hayato as the vocalist continued to protest that he should get billing over the miniature version.
Val roused the crowd further with cheers. “I have so much I want to say. It’s been so long since we’ve done a live together that I was a bit apprehensive, wondering what it would be like. But as soon as we started the first song I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is it!’ A lot of bands supported us, like Kra… and Kra… There were others, too, but Kra said we could mention them,” he admit. “Our families are here, too.”
This prompted a shout-off between Natsuki and his father on the second floor balcony, the bassist’s dad clearly beaming with pride.
Val then went on to say, “I didn’t tell my dad that we left our label so this is the first he’s hearing of it right now but I wanted to show him that we can play such a big place all on our own.” Proudly, he finished with, “We’re going to continue fighting on so thank you for supporting us.”
“I’ve spent a year and a half away and I think some here only know the four-person version of DuelJewel,” Hayato said, taking the microphone back. “Nice to meet you, I’m the vocalist, Hayato. If you wondered who was singing in the recordings at the shows, that’s me! When I realized my voice was going and the doctor said I had to take a break, it was like everything went black. I couldn’t see. But the other members said to take care of myself, that they would guard my place, and I knew that I had to return to the stage. Coming back is like a dream. Let’s put our all into these last songs. Do you still have voices to give?”
“Konsui×Ke×Ke Doll” started with a wild, electronic wail with cool beat scratches interspersed throughout the funky melody. Natuski, Yuya, and Hayato began an odd, bouncing circle dance and Shun gave them a quizzical look followed by a shrug to the audience as he continued to play.
“It was a dark road but you lit it for me. Thanks to you, I was able to come back. I sing this last song for you with my gratitude. ‘Will~andante.’” Hayato’s voice rang out in the hall and the fans joined in, voices clear and strong. More than a few had happy tears rolling down their cheeks as they finished the optimistic number.
The video screen then lit up as the band left and while the announcement of a fall tour had the fans screaming, the stylish and sexy video preview for the upcoming single “It’s Just Love” had them rapt.
The band returned again. “I think you saw, but we have a new tour and single!” Hayato announced.
“It’s ju…just…” Val was helpfully prompted as the video screen behind him flashed “It’s just love.” “Yes! And our tour is, ‘It’s just live’! The final is at Akasaka Blitz!”
“This really is the last song,” Hayato told the crowd then, “but it’s the first song of our new start.” Streamers exploded over the crowd and were waved about in time with “Tales.” The band kicked and danced as the lovely melody built up into a powerful finish. “That was DuelJewel!” There were hugs all around both on-stage and in the crowd and the fans held hands as everyone jumped together.
When the live was over, the feelings of relief, happiness, and excitement were palpable. With ‘“anastasis” –the rebirth,’ DuelJewel have officially overcome their dark days and been reborn, pushing through their troubles to reach a deeper and more dynamic level of performance. Even those who haven’t kept up with the band in a while will want to give the new DuelJewel a listen with the fresh single or check out their comeback tour to see how far they’ve come and how even a band with such a long history can still find new ways to evolve and delight.
- Hana Uta~Sakura Ryouran
- Vamp Ash
- Life on
- Otsukare Summer
- ONE SHOT ONE KILL
- Konsui×Ke×Ke Doll
- Never Blue
There are 41 photos in this visual kei exclusive.