X Japan – The New and the Old


For the first time in the long history of X Japan, the country’s premier rock band performed a solo show outdoors and they did it with “seven members.” Of course, one of those members was the late guitarist Hide, who died in 1998 but is still given honorary band membership. But during their shows at the weekend the five current members were joined for the encore by bassist Taiji, who last played with the band 18 years ago.

The two shows at the Nissan Yokohama Stadium drew 130,000 fans, who were treated to a 12-minute drum solo by band leader Yoshiki. It was the first time for him to perform the hyper-speed solo (he is said to play at 800 beats per minute) since he underwent surgery for a hernia last year. So it was made all the more dramatic by the 10m-high revolving drum stage and the neck brace he wears since the surgery. With the song “Tears” playing in the background, Yoshiki tearfully thanked his fans, saying, “Each and every one of you is the wind beneath our wings.”

X Japan Taiji, Heath

The band performed 11 songs, including the new track “Jade.” And as they got ready to play “X” for an encore, vocalist Toshi called an old friend onto the stage to join them. Taiji (photo left) was a member of the band for its first three albums and was the man behind the extravagant stage costumes and hairstyles that largely defined the visual kei rock image. he left the band in 1992 due to “musical differences” and went on to perform with Loudness and D.T.R.

The stadium shows, which cost an estimated ¥1 billion, were the Japan leg of a world tour that hits North America on September 25 and is said to be heading to Europe early in 2011.