Versailles at JCB Hall

live report - 15.07.2010 01:05

Versailles wowed the audience with a theatrical extravaganza

The amphitheatre-like setting of JCB Hall was somehow perfectly suited to a band unused to understatement. Although a great black curtain shielded the stage, three neoclassical balconies, each one tightly wound with roses, peaked out from beneath it. The music was equally grandiose, albeit of dark vampiric flavour. Together, these elements gave a small inkling of the spectacle that was to come.

These expectations were met as the live began with a short movie. The audience sat in silence, containing their excitement for the arrival of the four members as the movie told the story of Versailles. A deep English voice narrated the story. A young girl who had passed away in a car accident miraculously returned to life. The media were astonished at her fortune and showed great interest in her mysterious life insurance company. All journalists were given eternal life at the press conference held by the mysterious insurance company representatives, a band led by an alluring blonde gentleman. "Now," the voice boomed, "the 13th gate has opened."

As the curtain raised it was impossible not to gasp at the staging, which recalled a Phantom-esque ballroom. A staircase behind YUKI's drumkit led to a second stage that was fronted by a low wall in neoclassical style. Roses were tied around these mock walls and around the drumkit. One by one, the curtain opened for each member as the chorus and a clashing of cymbals played the powerful SE. The curtain fell after KAMIJO appeared, only to rise again for the first song, The Love from a Dead Orchestra. It revealed a spooky host of people dressed in white habits and holding candles.

The impression, visually, was nothing short of stunning. Musically too, Versailles were seeking to stun with an aural assault of guitars and ferocious double-pedalled drums. This first was an interesting opener, and although a little uneven, it had some wonderful glam flourishes and the first of many HIZAKI solos to add a touch of flair.

"Welcome to Versailles," KAMIJO managed to breathe before a burst of fireworks kicked off the thudding beat in Ai to kanashimi no nocture. His vocals were rather delightful, here adding an old-school flavour to the general melee of sound. "I wanted to see you Tokyo!" he said in his first short MC. "This is a special night for us with you all. A fun, violent, happy night."

He was certainly right about the violent part. During Beast of Desire, through the smoke, the thunderous drums could be felt in the floor. YUKI's skill with his double bass was nothing short of amazing. KAMIJO meanwhile took some time to have fun with the guitarists, approaching them in a playful manner before encouraging the audience to jump. "Tokyo I love you!" he screamed.

After the bombast of the opening songs, it was rather pleasant to hear PRINCE next. "Everyone at the back, and everyone at the front, we are sending our love with our songs. You are our treasures," KAMIJO addressed his audience as the gentle SE rang out with lasers sparkling in the darkness. The floaty, echoing guitar melody, particularly in the bridge was a delight of uplifting rock. After Cloudia was similar. Beneath the frenetic drums was a rather light, playful melody that was shown off during another delicate HIZAKI solo. KAMIJO stood directing both the lights and audience with his grand gestures, encouraging the crowd to dance along. It showed a more delicate side to Versailles that was quite welcome. The Umbrella of Glass brought yet another aspect of the band to the fore. It was an intriguing piece that began in an almost electro-ish vibe but became rather beautiful with KAMIJO's vocals deeply sonorous and hints of classical guitar lending a touch of class.

KAMIJO left afterwards, as an SE of harps and windpipes floated whimsically across the hall. It was interrupted by lasers and pulsating dark electro music announcing YUKI's drum solo, which he managed with aplomb, turning the solo act into a show as he set his thudding rhythms to ominous gothic strains. After a bit of call and response with the bassist, he was rejoined by HIZAKI and TERU, who each had their moment in the spotlight before TERU was left to his own solo piece. He smiled shyly throughout and it was somehow fitting that his solo should have a rather cute, playful sound. It almost recalled a jig and the fans were indeed dancing along. The applause for TERU was huge as KAMIJO rejoined the stage. There was little time for a break as TERU's powerful guitar notes cut through the SE for Catharsis.

It was another show of glamorous speed metal, with choral backing as the guitarists riffed on classical themes. The mix of classical with the wall of sound gave it a nice edge. It was followed by the dark and grand Gekkakou that allowed KAMIJO to show us his deathvoice.

As the song came to a close, the sudden "Bonjour Honey!" of the MC seemed so starkly comical by comparison, as KAMIJO recalled his trademark greeting to the audience from his Lareine days. The MC offered some gentle relief. KAMIJO related a comical story of a trip to the hairdressers. As cute as the story may have been, it somehow didn't fit well with the otherworldly image the band like to project. This was however related well in Zombie, one of the more interesting songs in the Versailles repertoire, with its playful melody and unusual instrumentation. The song fit the imagery of the title perfectly, as did the rallying melody of the non-too-subtly named, Shout and Bites.

"Thank you for all the pictures and things that you have given us," KAMIJO spoke to the audience as they took another break. "Together help us make a beautiful scene." His wish was granted as a thousand glowing roses filled the darkness with twinkling lights. The roses swayed from side to side in a beautifully sweet ballad that by the usual standards was rather low key. Such understated music was a delight though as it gave another glimpse of the delicate Versailles. Serenade nestled between the bombast of Princess and the finale, God Palace, was similar and offered a lasting impression of something other than ferocious drums and guitar lines.

Before the finale, the screen dropped as a film continued the Versailles mythos beyond the opening of the 13th Gate and the "true feelings of the solitude." It set high expectations for a spectacular finale and Versailles delivered. As flames shot up from the staging, the choir in their white cloaks appeared, lending their voices in a wonder of opera and thunderous metal. It was full of variety with softer verses, as well as neat pace changes between the grandiose and high speed guitar solos. God Palace really was nothing short of epic. HIZAKI spun around, twirling with his guitar as he played. How he could keep his balance while managing such precise playing was amazing to behold. As this metal symphony came to a rousing, crashing climax the fans raised their fists aloft cheering the four in tremedously loud voices.

Their calls for a first encore were answered swiftly. Versailles wasted no time either as they began to play the aggressive Red Carpet Day. It was accompanied by a frenzied laser show, making the violence of the headbanging seem even more so under the spooky green lights. "Can you keep going for one more?" screamed KAMIJO. The audience answered his question with a loud roar that soon became entwined with the grand chords of Aristocrat's Symphony, a brash orchestrated melody that had all the hallmarks of Versailles.

Still though the fans were not satisfied, and neither were the band. After a short MC, they decided to tone it down for the penultimate song. The disco ball began turning, creating a starry sky within the blackness of the hall while below the rose lights glowed a magical rainbow of colours. While this poppish ballad was a tad on the cheaply sentimental side, it was nonetheless rather cute, especially when the fans began to sing along, waving their roses from side to side in time with the beat.

As one might expect however, the live was not complete without Versailles' signature number. When such songs take on that level of popular status, their absence from a concert, no matter how many times the band may have played it at previous concerts, is sorely noticed. The feeling would be of something slightly underdressed. KAMIJO gave the proper introduction too: "Last is our killer song!!!" he shouted happily to the fans. Revenant Choir is still, despite all of Versailles' new songs, a rather stunning piece of speed metal that really hits one live. This time it came with added choral enhancement as the spooky white hooded choir returned. Together with smoke that billowed from the stage and the silver streamers that had been fired out from cannons as the show began, it was both a musical and visual marvel. KAMIJO was so wrapped up in the music that he almost toppled over as he spun around and around.

Once Revenant Choir was over, it was truly the end and the fans began to file out, chattering about the concert in excited voices. Versailles had been nothing short of a spectacle.

Setlist:

SE. Prelude

1. The Love from a Dead Orchestra
2. Ai to kanashimi nocturn
3. Rosen Schwert
4. BEAST OF DESIRE
5. PRINCE
6. After Cloudia
7. The Umbrella of Glass
8. DESCENDANT OF THE ROSE

SILENT KNIGHT
Reminiscence

9. Catharsis
10. Gekkakou
11. Zombie
12. Shout&Bites
13. Amorphous
14. ASCENDEAD MASTER
15. PRINCESS
16. Serenade

Movie - Sound in Gate

17. God Palace-Method of Inheritance-

En1:

18. The Red Carpet Day
19. Aristocrat's Symphony

En2:

20. Sympathia
21. The Revenant Choir
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