SCREW’s NEVERENDING BREATH at Akasaka BLITZ

Live Report

by chi.yow, posted June 14, 2014

On April 20, none other than Akasaka BLITZ played host to SCREW’s 8th anniversary live NEVERENDING BREATH AT AKASAKA BLITZ. As the lights went down and the digital opening music started up, the audience began to clap their hands in welcome. Cheers increased in volume as each member stepped out until the venue was filled with roars of anticipation as vocalist Byou took his place at the front stand, ready to rock out the night with his equally pumped bandmates.

Starting off was their upcoming single “FUGLY,” a retro dance number which had the crowd jumping from the start with neon glowsticks in hand to transform the venue floor into a giant club. Bassist Rui stepped up to the center podium, slapping out a skillful bass solo before passing the spotlight over to guitarist Kazuki for a wild guitar solo, fingers flying across the strings. As Byou growled out the last line, the stage was engulfed in smoke and Kazuki opened “CAVALCADE” with heavy guitar, joined shortly by rhythm guitarist Manabu and a synthetic backtrack. Drummer Jin aided in setting the frantic pace as the fans continued to jump and pump their fists to the lively beat. As Byou sang out the signature lines while making gunshot motions at the crowd, spotlights moved from individual band members to the crowd, the audience caught in the lights responding accordingly by turning away as if they had been shot.

Jin got the crowd riled up for “Masquerade,” calling out as he smashed into the opening with the aid of Kazuki and Manabu. Byou recited the lyrics with ferocity as he threw intense looks around the crowd while they carried out the accompanying choreography that mainly consisted of fist pumping and methodically ‘bowing down’ to the heavy guitars. “Get You Back” was no different as the spotlight shone on Kazuki, the beginning signaled with a heavy guitar solo while Byou directed the crowd from side to side before a headbang-fest. Strobing lights to Jin’s rapid drumbeats added to the demanding atmosphere and the audience rose to the challenge with every growl and command that Byou threw out to them.

“Welcome to NEVERENDING BREATH. Let’s have fun tonight.” Byou kept the welcome simple and short in order to send the audience back into a headbanging frenzy for “VANQUISH,” the vocalist aggressively screamed and growled as he crazily scratched at his chest. Rui played to the crowd from stage left, taking the center momentarily for a solo—followed by Manabu and Kazuki in turn. The violence continued with “VII CARDINAL SINS,” Byou crouching down to the floor as he belted out the lyrics, fluctuating between deep death growls and higher-pitched shrieks amid the relentless drums and heavy guitars. Next, “Anaphylaxis” continued the almost literal neck-breaking pace as the audience continued to headbang in time with Jin’s constant drumming. Byou reclined on the front podium to command the crowd as he sang.

There was a brief blackout before the lights slowly relit the stage for “Sono koe ga kikoenaku natte ano ko ga moumienaku natta,” signaling a respite for the fans from active choreography as the members stood calmly at their stations to play the melancholy tune. Byou displayed a range of emotions, lingering mainly in sadness and injecting tones of rage with a phase of growling between. The somber atmosphere continued with “ANCIENT RAIN,” Manabu opening with a short guitar solo while taking the sole spotlight before Kazuki’s acoustic guitar drifted in accompanied by lights seeming like a rain shower. Byou’s voice took on a more melodic quality for the ballad while he remained stationary at the center of the stage. The ticking and tocking of a clock, mixed with music box-like tones, led the transition to “Jashin ni Tadaru Komoriuta,” another one of SCREW’s musically peaceful songs in a repertoire that had Byou wandering about the stage as he spun a poignant tale with a slight purr. This was also one of the few songs of the night that featured extensive guitar solos from Manabu who took the focus as the lights dimmed around him.

A slightly eerie opening sequence predicted the return of the harder songs and the stage exploded into light once Jin and Kazuki took the lead for “The Abyss.” Byou immediately called for the audience to pump their fists to the beat before he started in with a series of barking growls, continuing to add high and sensual whispers when he wasn’t calling out the lyrics with a slight drawl. In a quick switch to more playful and light-hearted numbers, “ZOWIE” was up next as the crowd remained in a state of constant movement. The set choreography had everyone dancing from side to side when they weren’t brandishing their towels or throwing their heads about as per Rui’s cues. “Wing-Ding” then proceeded to amplify the high spirits created as Manabu dashed to the center stand, receiving a playful smack from Byou as if to reprimand him for stealing the focal position. However, Rui and Kazuki soon followed so that the four could jointly call out for the audience to jump. Each member, including Jin, also took a turn to sing a line of the chorus for fans to repeat—some a little less faithful to the original lyrics than others—before finishing with a mass frenzy of jumps and headbanging.

“Hey BLITZ, I love you guys. Today is our 8th anniversary so we’re now only one year under Sadie,” Byou joked before requesting that the audience keep bringing everything they had for the night. Smoke erupted once again from the stage as guitars ripped through the air for “DEEP SIX.” Jin’s constant drums kept the audience’s fists active as Byou sang and growled to the heavy song. The vocalist then held up his fingers to draw the crowd’s attention before directing them to dash and jump from side to side for “UNWORLDLINESS KINGDOM,” Kazuki and Manabu joining in once everyone had the timing and rhythm. There was also a moment of fans piling onto the rail with Byou perched just out of reach to encourage more to dive in.

The band continued to give their crowd a work out as “DIE.KILLER.DEAD” sent everyone into yet another round of intense headbanging in time with Jin’s furious and demanding drums. When they weren’t attempting to dislocate their necks, fans followed Manabu’s prompts to jump if they still had the energy. Byou shared his microphone with Kazuki for a yell before Rui concluded the song with a strong bass line. However, the madness was not quite over yet as the digitized intro for “Barbed wire” brought even more heavy choreography. Manabu and Rui were especially spirited as they played to the audience or held miniature face-offs against each other. At that, the main show finished with a bang, Byou calling out one last “BLITZ!” before the band departed the stage.

As this was an anniversary show, the crowd immediately called the band back for an encore which began with “Muraky Heavy March.” The military-stylized song gave fans a chance to call out their favorite member’s name in a kind of game that lasted for several rounds. Kazuki cheekily smacked his behind at the audience during the third round before creeping over to join the others who were crouched behind the front podium to playfully pop up when their name was called. Kazuki’s winding guitars then led into the light-hearted “delete,” giving a preview of what else purchasers of the yet-unreleased single FUGLY could expect.

“Thank you for the encore! Yo, BLITZ…” Byou made a vulgar slurp as he licked his lips in satisfaction, to the amusement of the audience.  “Next up, can everyone sing together? Let’s keep having fun!” With that, the band presented their major debut song “XANADU.” During a quieter interlude, the crowd responded to Byou’s request and sang along with the vocalist, their voices filling the hall without accompaniment for the following repetition before Byou rejoined them to take over for the finish.

“Hey BLITZ, keep yelling! You still haven’t shown enough spirit yet tonight. Keep bringing it!” Byou demanded before Kazuki and Manabu’s heavy guitar work once more dominated the stage in “VEGAS,” Byou working the crowd with Rui’s aid as he blended falsettos and whispers in with his slightly nasal style of singing. There was no break allowed as Jin immediately unleashed a mad storm of drumming for “Zansatsu Fiction” and Byou rapidly recited the lyrics along to the frantic pace. A random jazzy interlude provided a brief respite but only for a few seconds before the deception came to an end—courtesy of Jin who powered through and forced the audience to do their best to keep up. Rui launched a few picks into the mass as if to congratulate them for their efforts before the band left the stage again.

Clearly, the audience still had energy to burn as they called for a second encore that was readily granted. A few of the more drained members might have regretted this decision later as “S=r&b” was the chosen song to restart the show. For the first few minutes, Byou tested the audience on their knowledge of the key chorus in a miniature rehearsal led by Jin. However, the floor soon transformed into an absolute festival of chaos as brave individuals took chances at rolling forward over their fellow attendees for the violent song. Rui playfully sprayed down a few girls as they journeyed toward the front rail while Manabu had a small jam session at center stage with Kazuki.

As the smoke cleared and fans fixed their appearances, Byou stepped forward to thank the crowd for attending the commemorative live. “Thank you so much for the encores, as well as for being here today. Let’s hear from each of the members, starting with Jin.”

“Thank you so much for coming today. Personally, after seeing and experiencing so much leading up to SCREW’s 8th anniversary, it makes me really happy to be able to see everyone’s faces here at BLITZ. Thank you so much.” As Jin paused to collect his thoughts, the audience called out encouragingly. “This atmosphere and air is, how do I say this, it’s really amazing and feels safe. I hope everyone takes away some of these feelings today; and especially the guys, please continue to do your best. So next, let’s have Rui speak.”

Rui waited for the calls to subside before giving his words. “It’s been about six months since the announcement. Many things have happened since then and we, as SCREW, did our best to get through everything. I’d really like to thank everyone for the support. There are so many people here. I feel that SCREW—these five people—together we can do anything, so thank you so much for everything today.”

Manabu was next to give his comments. “Today’s our 8th anniversary. Thank you so much, Akasaka BLITZ. I’ve only been in the band for a little over seven years. Despite this, I’ve seen a lot happen in these seven years so there’s a lot I want to say to express my thanks. However, the right thankful words aren’t quite coming to me. I guess all I can say is, ‘Thank you so much.’ Also, please continue to keep listening to SCREW’s songs.”

After a moment of applause, Manabu had fellow guitarist Kazuki answer to the fans’ calls. “It really has been eight years, hasn’t it? Being in a band, you can do pretty much anything unlike if you were by yourself. These five people, we can do a lot with everyone’s power; like reach stages like this one to sing and perform on. Thank you so much. We’re going to continue from here.”

Lastly, Byou spoke. “We have something coming out on the 23rd but thank you so much for coming to today’s live. I’m really grateful. There were times I didn’t know what I was doing in this world. Sometimes the only thing I felt sure about was SCREW. To make it this far, it makes me really happy. Next, from here, we’re going to continue to do our best so please keep supporting us!” The band took a small bow to further express their thanks before Byou continued, “So we’re going to put all of our feelings into this last song. We want to hear more from you.” The cheers increased in response to this final request until the band deemed that the volume and spirit was acceptable to continue on with. “You guys, let’s keep going!”

After a night filled with increasingly demanding songs, the band concluded with the spirited “Nanairo,” further expressing their gratitude to fans with smiles all around, especially as the crowd sang along when prompted by Byou. Following a finishing group jump, a series of announcements were made that included a new album and the next nationwide tour, as well as a series of one man lives that will take place in Tokyo, leaving the audience with a variety of events to look forward to as the band continues to expand their reach.

Set list

  1. FUGLY
  2. CAVALCADE
  3. Masquerade
  4. Get You Back
  5. VANQUISH
  6. VII CARDINAL SINS
  7. Anaphylaxis
  8. Sono Koe ga kikoenakunatte ano ko ga moumienaku natta
  9. ANCIENT RAIN
  10. Jashin ni Tadaru Komoriuta
  11. The Abyss
  12. ZOWIE
  13. Wing-Ding
  14. DEEP SIX
  15. UNWORLDLINESS KINGDOM
  16. DIE.KILLER.DEAD
  17. Barbed wire

Encore 1

  1. Muraky Heavy March
  2. delete
  3. XANADU
  4. VEGAS
  5. Zansatsu Fiction

Encore 2

  1. S=r&b
  2. Nanairo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

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