Japanese music icon Yoshiki descended upon Baltimore Sunday August 10, 2014 to perform an intimate and emotional live show for lucky attendees of the 21st Otakon Convention. The headlining musical act, Yoshiki has reached great acclaim for his work with the heavy metal band X-Japan as well as numerous side projects and solo endeavors.
Upon the start of the performance, the audience was treated to a video with depicting Yoshiki’s past successes: the wildly successful X Japan Reunion World Tour, the anniversary performance of the Japanese Emperor’s enthronement, the 69th Golden Globes composition, and a memorable drumming performance at the Tokyo Dome. Appearing immediately after he went into a performance of “Miracle VTR,” working up the crowd and teasing with what was to come. Smoothly transitioning to “Forever Love,” he demonstrated why he is one of Japan’s most iconic artists with strong and emotional piano playing and an involved and absorbing performance.
Ending “Forever Love,” he took a moment to thank the audience for attending and receiving an enthusiastic roar of approval, before performing a mesmerizing rendition of “Anniversary.” Afterwards, Yoshiki took to the microphone again, this time introducing Katie Fitzgerald, vocalist for his music project, Violet UK, who would perform for the next two songs. Some quick exchanges revealed a love of crab cakes before returning to the stage. First was the theme song “Hero” from the most recent Saint Seiya animated film, Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary followed by an arranged version of X Japan’s famous song “Tears,” written about the death of his father.
Returning to the microphone, Yoshiki would take a moment and get serious for a bit; recalling how the death of his father shaped his musical persona and recounting the formation of X Japan, their break up, the death of close friend and bandmate hide, and their subsequent reunion. It was a rare moment of the man behind the music that left nary a dry eye in the house. After that revealing confession to his fans, he would perform the tribute song “Without You” and the brief but sweet “Kurenai” before allowing his strings section, the “Yoshiki Sextet” albeit minus 2 members have a transitional segment. Here, violinists Michelle Hassler and Desiree Hazley, along with Kiara Ana Perico on Viola and Leah Metzler on Cello took command, delivering a beautiful and introspective series of music that encapsulated the feelings of love and loss associated with Yoshiki’s music and life.
Next was a terrific performance of “Art of Life” before the frenzy stirring appearance of PATA and HEATH from X Japan, in a show of support for Yoshiki. Each performed a short solo and Yoshiki had a little fun with them on mic before an attentive and thankful audience. Disappearing off stage PATA and HEATH teased the fans for X Japan’s upcoming show at Madison Square Garden this October. Yoshiki then announced the winner of ticket, including airfare, to the MSG show, a lucky fan named Sandra V. who quickly became the envy of a room full of fans. The conclusion of the show brought us Yoshiki’s beautiful arrangement of the X Japan classic “Endless Rain,’ a fitting and emotional ending to the day’s concert.
Stalwart applause and cheers brought Yoshiki and Co. back out for a bow and his appreciation to the fans was evident and genuine. As the elated audience filed out, the classical arrangement of “Say Anything” ushered fans out to spread the good word of X Japan. At the press conference earlier in the weekend, Yoshiki said that he’d “seen a lot of fans come and go. When you are on top of the world you may forget. We exist because of the fans.” Judging by the outpouring of support and cheers, there will be no shortage of love and support from those in Baltimore and around the world, indeed “We are ALL X!”
X Japan: Yoshiki, PATA, and HEATH
Yoshiki Sextet: Michelle Hassler, Desiree Hazley, Kiara Ana Perico, and Leah Metzler
- Miracle VTR
- Forever Love
- Without You
- String Transition
- Art of Life
- Endless Rain
- Say Anything