D Tour 2012 'Danzai no gunner' Tour Final

live report - 11.25.2012 19:01

In the scorching heat of a Japanese summer, D reprised their roles as vampire prince Justice and his four knights at Shibuya AX.

Having shown a remarkably wide range of themes and musical styles, from mystical fairytales in Torikago goten ~L’Oiseau bleu~ to the world of Chinese triads in Huang di ~yami ni umareta mukui~ to a post-apocalyptic future in Dying Message, their most recent single, Danzai no gunner, saw D return to their epic vampire saga. On the day of their tour final at Shibuya AX, the blazing August sun was still beating down mercilessly when a typically mixed audience of male and female rock-, punk-, casual-, gothic- and Lolita-styled fans began to file into hall, which felt warm and humid despite air conditioning. As usual, the dominant colours worn by the crowd were D’s signature combination of black and red, but quite a few had donned brightly coloured yukata in a bid to stay cool.

The stage decoration was simple, yet elegant: the back wall was covered with a large black silk banner showing the intricate crests of Justice and his four knights. At 6pm sharp the lights died, white flashes pierced the darkness and the members of D appeared to the sound of thundering techno beats. As always, their elaborate costumes complemented the theme of their current CD perfectly and combined aristocratic black with the colour of the element associated with each band member: gold for drummer HIROKI’s earth element, red for bassist Tsunehito as the female fire vampire, green for guitarist HIDE-ZOU, who is in charge of wind, navy for guitarist Ruiza who commands water, and finally princely silver for vocalist ASAGI.

They were greeted by a deafening roar from the crowd and, without further ado, launched into In the name of justice, the powerful rock tune that had given ASAGI's character his name. Almost immediately, Ruiza, HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito pushed to the very edge of the stage, head banging to the rousing beat, while ASAGI jumped onto the vocalist platform, his richly embroidered coat tails flying. Red light, shot through with pink and white, engulfed the stage as Ruiza teased a first solo from his guitar, his infectious smile lighting up the auditorium. Tsunehito pirouetted with the grace of a ballerina as he set the heavy rhythm, landing on one knee, while HIDE-ZOU oozed cool confidence and HIROKI worked his drum kit with tireless enthusiasm. By the end of the song, the band had transported the audience far away from the summer heat into a dark, dangerous world populated by vampires, zombies and other fantastical creatures.

The tempo stayed fast and furious with Underground road and DAY WALKER, which showed a different, experimental side of D that pitched heavily distorted electronics against operatic vocals and tribal shouting. The fans head banged in unison with HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito as the clear voice of Ruizas guitar soared above the relentlessly pounding rhythm.

After a short MC that welcomed everybody to the tour final, the storm continued with Quartet ~mayonaka no shijuusou~, which blended heavy guitar riffs with exotic harmonies and described the first meeting of Justice and his four companions. One by one, ASAGI pulled the musicians to the front of the stage, singing to them with one arm around their shoulders. With loud cheers the crowd welcomed them before both the band and fans descended into wild head banging. Ruiza's intricate guitar solo and the combination of ASAGI's falsetto in the chorus while white light painted circles on to the floor were especially impressive.

Gentle strings then gave way to an explosion of electronics and passionate guitars over a hot, pulsing bass line in Luminous Flame, the first song from the current single, which explores the relationship between Justice and Tsunehito's character, Carbuncle. A faithful ally, but also secretly in love with Justice, she has been tricked by Odile, the daughter of an evil vampire, into believing that he has been captured and sets out to save him. On his platform, ASAGI danced and twirled to the catchy chorus that sent the hands of the fans dancing through the air. Black Swan then saw the treacherous Odile try to beguile Justice in a sub plot inspired by Pyotr Tchaikovsky's ballet, Swan Lake. White strobe lights flashed frantically as scintillating Middle Eastern melodies interlaced with fast, heavy bass and guitar. Ruiza, HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito twirled and head banged tirelessly while shredding their instruments, their rough shouts contrasting with ASAGI's clear voice, who ended the song with a long drawn out a cappella note that earned screams of admiration from the audience.

As ASAGI's rose-encrusted microphone stand was carried in, it was time for the first ballad of the evening, Solitude ~Saigo no tegami~. Tsunehito hugged his bass close as ASAGI grasped the microphone with both hands and, together with HIDE-ZOU on backing vocals, closed his eyes and sang with genuine feeling. Blue and green circles danced across the stage, changing to purple and red as the sweet, soulful melody rang through the venue.

The mood changed completely with Koori no bohyo as Ruiza's and HIDE-ZOU's riffs tore into the solemn silence. The fans bowed together like one man to the rise and fall of ASAGI's arm while Tsunehito jumped up and down on one leg and Ruiza posed on the platform for another extensive solo, before joining the others to head bang wildly at the edge of the stage.

White spotlights focused on the drum kit as HIROKI now had the opportunity to show off the full extent of his skill with an impressive solo of his own. As the lights changed from purple to yellow, he worked his way from the cymbals to the bass drum, playing ever faster and harder until he finished with a staccato rhythm that had the fans cheering and punching the air.

With HIROKI remaining cheerfully in charge, the audience clapped along to the beat of his drums while the other musicians reappeared and took turns to fire up the crowd. Finally ASAGI returned, pointed his microphone at the fans, encouraging them to shout louder, and reclaimed his place on the platform, fiercely punching the air with his fist as the pounding rhythm and tribal shouts of Desert Warrior began to shake the hall. Green light washed across the stage as HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito jumped up and down at the edge of the stage, the bassist pirouetting to the Middle Eastern harmonies and landing elegantly on one knee.

Then a huge black flag inscribed with a white crest was carried in and D briefly abandoned the world of vampires for the much loved classic, Night-ship "D". ASAGI pranced up and down to the catchy melody, waving the flag as he sang, while the crowd's own red and black flags swayed from side to side in unison with the men on stage, safely guiding those lost at sea back home.

Ruiza's guitar cut into the ensuing silence as he led the charge into Dying message, the energetic rock tune that had reached number one on the Oricon indie charts. Red and green spot lights flashed as the fans punched the air while ASAGI danced on his platform, dramatically whirling his long overcoat, before changing to yellow for HIDE-ZOU's solo. Having just painted a vision of the future, D then travelled to the past with the biblical references of Eve no keifu. Industrial electronics, voice distortion and rhythmic shouting, carried along by a throbbing rhythm, were set against clear vocals and a sparkling guitar solo courtesy of Ruiza in an unusual composition that showed off the band's experimental side. The next song was equally daring as the deceptively gentle title God bless you revealed an explosive mix of bristling electronics, heavy guitar and aggressive screaming, which mellowed into an emotional chorus. As white zig-zag shapes were projected onto the floor, ASAGI swayed to the sweet melody before it was HIDE-ZOU's turn to solo.

The mighty Meteo ~mubi no koku~, named after Justice's horse, then saw D resume their vampire story. The furious rhythm, with impossibly fast drumming, operatic screams and tribal shouts chasing each other at breakneck speed, indeed resembled the thundering hooves of horse in full flight. Red light flooded the stage as Ruiza, soon joined by HIDE-ZOU, took to the platform, fingers flying confidently over the strings of his guitar as he sent a blistering solo skywards, while the audience cheered both of them on with open arms.

An hour and a half into the concert, the band and fans finally had the opportunity to catch their breath as the musicians paused to chat about the tour, before demanding once more for the crowd to give everything. They also had exciting news: a new mini album, a new tour based around a forest theme, and a concert at the large CC Lemon Hall next April as part of their upcoming ten-year anniversary celebrations.

As if to make up for the short break, D subsequently cranked up the tempo even more. ASAGI howled like a wolf, heralding the violent Toki no koe, a fierce rallying cry to assemble under Justice's banner that was followed with great enthusiasm by the fans. Switching to deep death growls, he commanded the crowd to surge back and forth like a giant wave to the rise and fall of his arm, while Ruiza, HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito tirelessly changed positions, taking turns on the platform and at the far corners of the stage.

The band was about to attack the last song when Ruiza interrupted the programme flow and, in a touching gesture, presented ASAGI with a huge bouquet of red roses for his impending birthday. As the blonde guitarist led the audience in a heartfelt "Happy Birthday" chant, the vocalist accepted the flowers with a brilliant, yet humble smile.

The set reached its climax with the urgent, metallic sounds of Danzai no gunner , the current single. Having set out to save Justice, Carbuncle has herself been captured and her companions rush, guns blazing, to her rescue. Silver streamers were shot into the air with a bang and rained down onto the fans, who caught them midair and used them as sparkling pom-poms as they thrust them aloft to the rousing beat.

The musicians took their time to say good-bye, but the audience wasn't ready to let them leave just yet and so they returned after long minutes of shouting for a first encore. Ruiza and HIROKI now wore tour t-shirts and, having thanked their fans for their support, the blonde guitarist introduced the merchandise with disarming natural charm. Before long, however, D returned to the land of the undead with the grandiose Grand Master, heavy guitar riffs and galloping drums firing up the crowd. The classic Dangan then stepped up the tempo yet again as band and fans jumped up and down to the staccato rhythm while ASAGI pulled out a gun and bared his chest, taunting the crowd and willing them to shoot him.

One encore wasn't enough, though. In the darkness that enveloped the stage, acoustic guitars were installed left and right of ASAGI's ornate microphone stand to allow Ruiza and HIDE-ZOU to play both acoustic and electric guitar during Yoru no me to ginyushijin. Enchanting harmonies of flute and classical guitar conjured up a gallant, less war-like vision of medieval life in a beautifully atmospheric presentation that would have been perfectly suited to a European castle festival or Renaissance faire. The mood changed again drastically from historical and mellow to cutting-edge avant-garde with the brutal, yet mystical 7th Rose. Angelic vocals led into a furious storm of bone crunching guitar and bass, pitched against a daring mix of high falsetto and deep death growls. As Ruiza, HIDE-ZOU and Tsunehito head banged to the violent beat, ASAGI directed the crowd again and again to bow at his command.

The third and last encore was dedicated to renewing the emotional bond between band and audience as ASAGI and the fans sang the spiritual EDEN together in a deeply moving duet. Having thanked their audience once again and having thrown picks, drum sticks and water bottles, the musicians had all but left the stage when the vocalist surprised everybody by announcing one last song, Dearest you. The five men took turns shaking hands at the edge of the stage and then the fans and band jumped in unison as the sweetly melodic rock tune concluded with a burst of energy. Finally, when after long minutes of cheering, waving and throwing even more picks and drum sticks only ASAGI remained on stage, he put one finger to his lips, motioning for the crowd to be quiet, and then yelled into the silence: "I love you all!"

With Danzai no gunner, D have added another chapter to their colourful vampire saga. Tonight's concert, which combined superb musical skill with a talent for storytelling, showed why, after almost a decade in a fiercely competitive scene that sees bands come and go at a bewildering pace, D are still at the top of their game. On stage they are a force of nature and their music is varied and highly original. Their stories are full of twists and turns, with philosophical insights and complex characters you can't help but care about, and in our shallow, materialistic world their message of chivalrous love is heartwarming. We wish them the very best for the future and look forward to their ten year anniversary next year.

Set List:
1. In the name of justice
2. Underground road
4. Quartet ~mayonaka no shijuusou~
5. Luminous Flame
6. Black Swan
7. Solitude ~Saigo no tegami~
8. Koori no bohyo
-Drum solo & session-
9. Desert Warrior
10. Night-ship"D"
11. Dying message
12. Eve no keifu
13. God bless you
14. Meteo ~mubi no koku~
15. Toki no koe
16. Danzai no gunner

Encore 1:
17. Grand Master
18. Dangan

Encore 2:
19. Yoru no me to ginyushijin
20. 7th Rose

Encore 3:
21. EDEN
22. Dearest you
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