SUGIZO held his first nationwide tour in three years, titled SUGIZO TOUR 2016 “The Voyage Home”. Prior to the 20th anniversary of his solo debut, he also released his first album in five years, OTO, which he described as “angry digital music”. The indignation and sorrow accumulated within him, from living in the world’s vicious circle of corruption and hatred, are unleashed through the music on this album.
Meanwhile, SUGIZO had deep emotional experiences during 2016. Leading figures in music history whom SUGIZO admires, such as Prince, David Bowie, and Isao Tomita passed away during the year. SUGIZO also visited Syrian refugee camps in Jordan during March. Now, his spiritual journey led him on to the stage of Zepp TOKYO on December 4th.
The show started almost an hour behind schedule. Cosmic images appeared on the stage screen while blue lights enhanced the atmosphere. Drummer komaki, percussionist Yoshiura Kenji and programmer and keyboardist MaZDA came on stage first. The ovation intensified as SUGIZO walked on to the stage. SUGIZO greeted the fans by piercing their eardrums with the high pitched choking sound of his guitar as the opening number IRA began. The mixture of the digital drum’s bass and the primitive beats of percussions and drums aroused the fans, and SUGIZO’s shredding guitar raised their body temperatures even more. The crowd shouted in excitement as SUGIZO gracefully swayed while he played a modular synthesizer through the ribbon controller in his hand.
SUGIZO switched to a v-neck guitar during the next number, TELL ME WHY NOT PSYCHEDELIA?. The contrasting beauty of clear strumming sounds and heavy strokes of his guitar thrilled the crowd. His fingers sensually picked the guitar strings as the beats intensified behind him. SUGIZO and the fans enjoyed sharing a rapturous communion while the guitarist moved around the stage to provoke them.
“Only the light will remain when we belch out all the darkness in ourselves. Let us become one,” SUGIZO said to the fans. Oneness, as if the musicians and fans are from the same tribe, was created through the graceful melody of his guitar and soul awakening beats of Yoshiura’s djembe during NEO COSMOSCAPE. Yoshiura stole the show for a while with his djembe playing at centre stage.
SUGIZO, a seeker of music theory himself, played one of his latest digital singles, Raummusik. Images of multi-dimensional space and sound system equipment were projected on the screen, the visuals seemingly expressing his experimental approach of actualizing multi-dimensional space through music. During this number, the haunting voice and invisible presence of a vocaloid flew freely above the band and the digital bass sound. Meanwhile, SUGIZO himself added a different musical texture through his sensitive strumming guitar sounds, which he later modulated into a beautiful melody by utilizing a guitar synthesizer.
SUGIZO referred to his band, including a video jockey, as “COSMIC DANCE QUINTET”. Blue stage lights and visual images of dolphins swimming gracefully in the ocean set the ambience for ARC MOON. The cosmic groove of digital and physical beats together with SUGIZO’s clear guitar sounds, sometimes intensified by his signature transparent choking, mesmerized the fans. Drummer komaki’s skilful use of hi-hats made the number even more vivid. The quintet manifested the most primitive forms of freedom and joy on the stage. The celebration of life continued with FATIMA. SUGIZO switched to a violin and he swayed as he held his bow high. The ecstatic melody of the violin flew out as his fingers and bow danced over its strings, while images of Fatima dancing in an ocean played behind him.
The stage blacked out before the performance of Lux Aeterna as guest dancer ATSUSHI from Dragon Ash walked out. The image of a decayed statue of a goddess emerged on the screen as SUGIZO’s howling guitar sounds cut into the fans’ hearts. ATSUSHI physically expressed fear and anguish in the midst of tense beats, melancholic piano, female vocals and pain filled guitar sounds which together expressed the apocalypse of human creation. Crimson stage lights changed the atmosphere as next track ENOLA GAY RELOADED started to play. Brutal, heavy guitar sounds filled the venue and the ever intensifying moves of ATSUSHI expressed the terror of atomic weapons. During the number, SUGIZO actually waved a flag which carried the statement “NO MORE NUKES. PLAY THE GUITAR” on it.
Later, SUGIZO played Decaying from the new album with guest trumpet player TOKU. A duel between his shredding guitar and TOKU’s dynamic trumpet sound sent the crowd into a frenzy. Meanwhile, Yoshiura wowed fans by smashing a steel drum container with a chain and also creating a shower of sparks with a circular saw. Following new number Misogi cleansed impurity. SUGIZO’s guitar and Yoshiura’s djembe generated maximum zeal as both players head-banged together. Finally, the band and fans were unified by a psychedelic trance number, DO-FUNK DANCE. The crowd waved their hands to a cosmic groove of funk guitar, jazzy trumpet and the beautiful playback vocal of ORIGA, who sadly died in 2015.
“I released the darkness within myself through music in my new album. It is ugly and it is not the kind of music you guys can enjoy singing to because of the anger and rotten venom it contains within. But I do feel attached to the album once the production is finished. I hope you guys enjoy listening to the album for a long time. I pray my next album is beautiful and pleasant”, SUGIZO said to the fans during his encore.
Guest pianist MAIKO joined for the encore. With her piano accompaniment, SUGIZO played David Bowie’s classic Life on Mars? on his violin. Later in the performance, SUGIZO switched to his white ESP “Prince” model guitar and included a tribute melody of Isao Tomita’s JUPITER. SUGIZO conveyed his gratitude and respect to his heroes who have departed to an eternal realm. Finally, he closed the show with TELL ME WHY?, actually singing in his own voice.
Although he is “terrified” of the hectic schedule that awaits him in 2017, as it is also 25th anniversary of LUNA SEA, he asked the fans to keep up with the pace and follow him.
02. TELL ME WHY NOT PSYCHEDELIA?
03. FINAL OF THE MESSIAH
04. NEO COSMOSCAPE
06. ARC MOON
08. Lux Aeterna
09. ENOLA GAY RELOADED
12. DO-FUNK DANCE
EN1. Life on Mars?
EN2. TELL ME WHY?
OTO Album Preview
SUGIZO TOUR 2016 “The Voyage Home” at Zepp TOKYO
live report - 01.02.2017 19:01
The long awaited one man-show of SUGIZO, who will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his solo career in 2017.
© TANABE KEIKO