L’Arc~en~Ciel, a Japanese rock band, began performing together in 1991 in Osaka. They have produced 11 studio albums and are one of the 50 best-selling artists of all time in Japan. Members include hyde (vocals, guitar), tetsuya (bass, backing vocals), ken (guitar, backing vocals), and yukihiro (drums)– lack of name capitalization is an intentional stylistic decision. The band is notably very popular with anime fans all over the world, as they have composed and performed songs for various anime and video games throughout their 20-year career. They have even traveled to the United States to perform for stateside fans at anime conventions, and hyde, who is also a very popular solo artist (and has a second band called “Vamps”), has performed concerts of his own in venues like the Anaheim House of Blues.
The first night of the sold-out 20th anniversary show opened to reveal tens of thousands fans, all in rain slickers and ponchos, awaiting the arrival of their rock idols. The members of the band made a grand entrance in a stretch Humvee and strode confidently and proudly to the stage. It is hard to believe that these men are in their early 40’s, and this is especially true of hyde who looks more like a very pretty high-school age girl with a rock star attitude. There is not a line on his face and he looked like the epitome of a star with his makeup, long hair done in tiny braids, and a sort of pirate captain’s jacket.
L’Arc~en~Ciel (whose name means “rainbow” in French) really know how to fire up their audience, all of whom were familiar with every song they played. hyde’s rich voice and high energy, supported by his talented band mates was very familiar to fans, both in the recorded show at the stadium and in the L.A. theater audience. I found myself clapping and pumping my fist in the air, even though I knew the band wasn’t actually there to appreciate it (as did others around me). The rain poured down on fans in the stadium, and on the band members but that didn’t seem to take away from the enjoyment and fun of the show.
The screening condensed a selection of songs from both nights into an hour-and-a-half-long show. This allowed the L.A. audience to get up close with the excitement of both sold-out shows in a reasonable amount of time (and we didn’t even have to get rained on like the live audience). Between shows we were treated to a brief backstage scene of the band getting pumped up for their second night performance. 20 years is a significant length of time for a band to be together performing and writing songs, and hyde took a touching moment before the finale to thank the fans, his band mates and their staff for being there– “Thanks to you, we are here today.”
The music ranges from epic sweeping ballads to high energy anthems to more poppy fare, and even songs like Shinshoku –lose control- which was mysterious in parts and bad-ass in others. You can’t beat a song that includes shooting jets of fire in its performance. If you’ve never heard L’Arc perform before, here is a selection of some of my favorite songs they performed those two nights: Blurry Eyes (from the anime DNA2), Anata (“You”), Ready Steady Go (from the anime Full Metal Alchemist), Stay Away, Link, and Hitomi no Juunin.
The encore finale ended in a rain of confetti throughout the stadium. L’Arc~en~Ciel is definitely a band of epic proportions; a legend in their own rite. All proceeds from their “20th L’Anniversary L’ive” show were donated to provide earthquake relief for the areas affected by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster. As a fan, I am impressed by their philanthropy, love of their fans, amazing sense of style, and endless musical talent. Thanks are also due to Live Viewing Japan for bringing this wonderful event to theaters throughout the U.S. Long live L’Arc~en~Ciel, long live the music.