XENON’s BLACK HAPPY END at Ikebukuro EDGE

Live Report

by chi.yow, posted February 20, 2014

Panorama Kyokou Xenon (more commonly known as XENON) chose a rather ironic name for their first Tokyo oneman held at Ikebukuro EDGE on January 19. However, BLACK HAPPY END was not only a tie-in with the show being the first of a two-part conceptual one-man tour, but also a play on words for another event worth celebrating that week. The Kansai-based band put on an entertaining and enthusiastic show that left the Tokyo crowd begging for more.

As the lights went out, the screen lowered to present a conceptual movie for the live, building up the tension before the band made their appearance as the screen disappeared and the curtains drew back to reveal XENON on stage, ready to take action with “Mira.” Vocalist Leo opened the show with a scream and signaled the audience to start a headbanging frenzy as guitarist Aki, bassist Tetsuya, and drummer Kurono tore into the heavy song. The high energy start carried over to “E.X.E” as Leo continued to request even more moshing from their eager fans. “Come on, EDGE!” Kurono’s hard beats played up Tetsuya’s beckoning for more as he plucked at his bass. The energy was infectious, as, in a show of affection, Leo ran over to Aki to give a brief hug before the guitarist’s quick solo. “All of you, come on!” Leo called out as Aki opened up “AGEHA” alongside a danceable electronic mix that had the audience jumping until Leo directed them to wave their arms, soon followed up by another round of headbanging.

“Tokyo! Keep bringing it! Welcome to XENON’s first Tokyo one-man, BLACK HAPPY END!” Leo formally welcomed the crowd to their show, checking to see if everyone was having fun before going on to explain their show’s title. “This is our ‘black’ concept one-man today, so we have our black clothing from Black Maria. Also, are you thinking, what kind of name is ‘BLACK HAPPY END’? ‘BLACK’ means ‘kuro’ (black). And ‘HAPPY END’: happy—happy birthday? Yes, it was Kurono’s birthday recently!” The vocalist paused in his speech to let the crowd give congratulatory cheers before continuing. “Also: surprise cake! …We have none.” Instead, Leo stated that the crowd’s shouts to the band—while they weren’t quite the same as a birthday cake—could be used to celebrate the same way.

“Welcome to black!” Leo screeched out as the show proceeded with “α-collapsion” that had the crowd jumping and headbanging once more, Aki and Tetsuya joining in the fun on occasion for the heavy song. Kurono’s rapid drums in combination with Leo’s fierce growls marked the transition to “HIGH ROLLER,” the vocalist never once giving their fans a break as he directed them in cross-floor shuffles, yelling out which direction to take before continuing to alternate hoarsely calling out the lyrics with melodic singing containing a slight vibrato. Aki occasionally held a finger to his head to request bouts of headbanging—grinning each as time the request was granted. The band kept energy high as they immediately started into “PLANETARIA,” Aki’s wild guitar notes ringing out and setting the pace. Leo held his arms above his head to sexily sway to the catchy beat before bringing the mic back down to rasp out the lyrics. Tetsuya and Aki added in their own yells to rile the crowd further, lights strobing as hair flew everywhere before Tetsuya brought the song to a conclusion, carefully picking his strings as the illumination faded.

A piano melody played as girls yelled out their favorite member’s name to the dark stage. Moments later, Leo emerged from the darkness to deliver a brief emcee, sincerely thanking everyone for attending since it had been the band’s dream, for a while, to hold a Tokyo oneman show. The atmosphere of the livehouse then shifted to a more peaceful one as electronic violin notes intertwined with Tetsuya and Aki’s guitars for “Regulus,” the first ballad of the night, in which Leo displayed the softer range of his voice to the attentive crowd. Tetsuya stepped forward for an impressive bass solo while Kurono’s drums kept the rhythm. Aki took over with a keening guitar solo, swaying calmly as he did so. As the last notes faded, white noise resounded through the space until the dramatic synthetic intro of “Alice da Vinci” sent out a spike of energy among deep bass notes. Leo put on a spirited and soulful performance with Aki providing occasional backing vocals on the blue-lit stage. In turn, Leo gestured for the crowd to pump their fists during Aki’s extensive solo until the end.

“Have you turned black? Until you turn a magnificent black, keep on bringing it!” Kicking it back into high gear with the wild “Ms.Scythe,” the crowd clapped along to Kurono’s violent drums layered with a synthetic backing track before Leo let out a series of hoarse cries and death growls that were occasionally answered by the crowd when they weren’t busy throwing themselves about to the music. Blood red lights overwhelmed the stage for a dramatic finish. The dark and heavy notes of “REIMEI” kept the crowd moving, Tetsuya swaying and bouncing along until Leo signaled for additional rounds of headbanging.

“Once more, happy birthday to Kurono! Today’s been fun, but this is the last song. So, keep on bringing it! Come on!” Leo called out to different sections of the audience—the front, middle, back, and sides—to check if everyone was having fun and still harboring reserves of energy for one more song. Once all had given the affirmative the vocalist was looking for, the band moved to “No.A.” Leo led in with a series of riling yells, transitioning into hoarse cries alongside the high electronic beat that had the front rows throwing themselves over the rail for their fellow fans to pile on. Participation in the various and mildly violent choreography was encouraged by the band with Leo demanding even those in the back to come forward between the hollow-sounding verses. As it finished with a final round of headbanging, Aki brought out one last enthusiastic guitar solo before the main show came to an end. Leo thanked the crowd and unconventionally asked for an encore call in a show of his eagerness to return. The band took a commemorative group photo with their fans before taking gracious bows and leaving the stage.

Possibly because the vocalist had been the one to suggest the encore, a few impatient individuals dared to yell out “Hurry up already!” in addition to the chant. Meanwhile, the band drew out the wait to build up anticipation for an important announcement: A short movie played details of XENON’s more extensive upcoming oneman tour before the curtain drew back once more for the band to take the stage with “QLOVER.” It was an upbeat song to jump-start the encore which had everyone jumping at Tetsuya and Aki’s shouts following Leo’s scattered growlings. Leo beckoned for fans to gesture hearts at their favorite members before the last guitar notes faded into the digital backing track.

“Thank you for the encore! Everyone has been amazing! You’re all good kids. Thank you! And now, let’s keep going until the end! Come on!” With that said, the band recharged the atmosphere with “NeXtia.” In a moment of spontaneity, Leo pulled Aki from his regular position over to the center in order to playfully duck around the guitarist, earning a few appreciative chuckles. The ever-enthusiastic crowd took to the variety of intense choreography with relish, though the band paused the music briefly in order to invite everyone to their tour final.

“We’ll be waiting for you at the tour final!” Leo declared after the song before making an abrupt departure from the stage to the confusion of his bandmates. Once he realized he wasn’t being followed, the vocalist returned with a sheepish and slightly embarrassed grin for the final shared emcees, starting with Kurono. “This was the best birthday celebration! Thank you! Today went by fast, didn’t it? I don’t have much to say but, really, thank you so much. We’ve played in Tokyo before, but this was the first oneman. Everyone, would you like to do this again? Next time, we will do our best so that we can play another one-man here. So when that happens, please come!” the drummer finished.

Tetsuya checked if it was his turn before taking up the mic. “We’ve had a number of oneman lives in Osaka already and every single one has been really amazing but today was our first oneman live in Tokyo so I’m really happy we were able to do this today. XENON has kept growing and we’re not finished yet so please wait a little for our next live here. Also, be careful going home. Thank you so much for today!”

Aki began his emcee with a “Thank you,” asking Kurono why he was sitting and was it time to go home already? “Today’s been really fun. Thank you so much! I actually have so many things I wanted to say but these two (Kurono and Tetsuya) have already said them!” Some brief apologies exchanged, Aki continued at Leo’s prompt to wrap it up. “Well, as I said before, today has been really fun—and also, Kurono: happy birthday!”

“I want to keep going. Nothing hurts for me, yet, but your arms and legs—and head, too—are probably getting sore so we’ll finish here. Before you go, please wish Kurono a happy birthday. Also, for now, this tour is finished but next time we come here on tour, we will have leveled up from the various experiences we’ve had today. So, please, definitely tell your family, friends, and spread the word in Kantou about XENON! Please tell them about my strong points and that there’s a really cool guitarist, along with a really good bassist! …And this sometimes clumsy guy over here.” The last remark earned a playful smack from Kurono before Leo requested that everyone join hands to close the show in a unified jump.

Successfully completing their first Tokyo oneman, XENON have just begun to expand their activities around the country. They’re starting with a more extensive tour in May linked to promoting their April single release, SHIKIBU, which precedes the July release of their first album titled ULTIMA. Instead of creating an end, the show served as a beginning for more things to come so keep your eyes and ears out for what XENON will bring in 2014!

Set List

  1. Mira
  2. E.X.E
  3. AGEHA
  4. α-collapsion
  5. HIGH ROLLER
  6. PLANETARIA
  7. Regulus
  8. Alice da Vinci
  9. Ms.Scythe
  10. REIMEI
  11. No.A

Encore

  1. QLOVER
  2. NeXtia

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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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