Drumming icon Pat Torpey of Mr. Big fame passed away on February 7, 2018 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Torpey had been battling the disease for several years and was eventually rendered without the ability to play the instrument, though through his bandmate’s insistence he took on a percussion role for tour dates thereafter and would contribute vocals. On the band’s 2017 album Defying Gravity, he would act as “Drum Producer” while Matt Star joined the band in the role.
Torpey had sustained friendships throughout the music industry and served as an influence on many, including the current B’z drummer Shane Gaalaas who took to Instagram to mourn his passing. For the 1999 B’z album Brotherhood, Torpey and Mr. Big bandmate Billy Sheehan contributed to “girigiri chop (Version 51)“—an album-only version of the year’s number-one single. On October 8, 1999, Torpey and Sheehan appeared alongside B’z on Music Station for a live rendition of the song, which also included “Brotherhood“.
Mr. Big remains one of the most successful international acts in Japan where the bulk of their touring efforts are focused. Apart from the aforementioned B’z collaboration in 1999, bassist Billy Sheehan also appeared on all dates of B’z LIVE-GYM 2002 “GREEN ~GO★FIGHT★WIN~”, and frontman Eric Martin would team with Tak during his 2004 solo project TMG (the Tak Matsumoto Group) alongside Night Ranger bassist and vocalist Jack Blades. Both members also appeared in the 2012 Only Two documentary covering B’z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free- in North America.
In recent live appearances, including those for television and as part of B’z LIVE-GYM 2017-2018 “LIVE DINOSAUR”, Tak Matsumoto has utilized a litany of guitars from his massive collection. This includes several of his signature models from the Gibson Custom Shop, but an inclusion that caught particular attention was what appeared to be the 1999 Gibson Les Paul Tak Matsumoto signature guitar in Canary Yellow. This was unusual because the guitar was last used as part of B’z LIVE-GYM 2001 “ELEVEN” and has not seen the live stage in the year since.
Distinguished music webzine Barks today published their customary report on the equipment used by Tak during the tour. Along with specifying the guitars used for each song along with the amplifiers and effectors, there are accompanying images of the exact instruments played. Most interestingly, the photoshoot did not include the aforementioned Canary Yellow signature, nor did it identify the guitar by a specific name. A blurb accompanying the article explains the omission thusly:
“Although it was not possible to photograph due to being a prototype, a Gibson Les Paul signature model in Canary Yellow was used during four songs. This appears to be a different model from that used in the past, so stay tuned for additional information in the future.”
Tak’s history with Gibson guitars dates back to the early 1990s. In 1994, after B’z had topped the Japanese music industry, Tak became the owner of an extremely valuable guitar: an original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, serial number #9-1156. The instrument, now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, is not used live as a precaution but has been used during recording over the years. A reproduction of this guitar was made as a limited edition for the Japanese market in 2016.
By 1999, after B’z made headlines with B’z The Best “Pleasure” becoming the best-selling album in the country’s history and its similarly successful companion B’z The Best “Treasure”, Gibson approached Tak with the prospect of becoming their latest Les Paul signature artist, and the first from Asia. In time, Tak has become the guitarist with the most signature instruments produced by Gibson.
Whether the guitar will be reproduced and released akin to his past signatures or is a private reissue prepared to commemorate the band’s thirtieth anniversary has not been confirmed.
B’z have just wrapped up the final date of B’z LIVE-GYM 2017-2018 “LIVE DINOSAUR” in Osaka with a surprise announcement taking place straight after the members left the stage — an upcoming Pleasure tour!
The band’s official website has also been updated with the dates of B’z LIVE-GYM Pleasure 2018, with a two-day special fan club event taking place in Hawaii on September 28 and 29, titled “B’z PARTY Presents Pleasure in Hawaii”. The two-day event will include a talk session and an exclusive concert. A new video has also been posted to coincide with these announcements.
The full setlist of the Osaka finale is posted after the break to avoid spoilers.
B’z LIVE-GYM PLEASURE 2018 Tour Dates
2018/07/07 Okinawa Convention Center
2018/07/08 Okinawa Convention Center
2018/07/14 Sekisui Heim Super Arena
2018/07/15 Sekisui Heim Super Arena
2018/07/21 Ecopa Arena
2018/07/22 Ecopa Arena
2018/07/28 Hiroshima Green Arena
2018/07/29 Hiroshima Green Arena
2018/08/04 Nissan Stadium
2018/08/05 Nissan Stadium
2018/08/11 Ehime Prefecture Budokan
2018/08/12 Ehime Prefecture Budokan
2018/08/22 Sapporo Dome
2018/08/28 Nagano Big Hat
2018/09/01 Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome
2018/09/02 Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome
2018/09/06 Toyota Stadium
2018/09/08 Toyota Stadium
2018/09/09 Toyota Stadium
2018/09/15 Yanmar Stadium Nagai
2018/09/16 Yanmar Stadium Nagai
2018/09/21 Ajinomoto Stadium
2018/09/22 Ajinomoto Stadium
Fans that attended the band’s January 14 LIVE-GYM show at the Saitama Super Arena were greeted with an announcement as they entered that the show would be filmed. This was the second of two shows at the venue, with the band performing the same setlist on both nights as well as wearing the same on-stage outfits. This marked the first time during the tour that the two power ballads early in the setlist that had been alternated throughout remained constant for consecutive shows.
Most likely, pick-up shots were also filmed as a precaution on the first night in the event additional footage was needed during editing. This was similarly the case with B’z LIVE-GYM 2006 “MONSTER’S GARAGE” and its celebrated home video release. The show was primarily filmed at Tokyo Dome, but certain portions from their showings at Nagoya Dome and Fukuoka Yahoo! JAPAN Dome were supplemented as well.
A home video release of B’z LIVE-GYM 2017-2018 “LIVE DINOSAUR” is expected to follow later this year, in May, June, or July. To avoid spoilers for those attending the remaining shows, the setlist for the prospective home video is preserved below.
Just three days ago, B’z cut short a show at FM802 ROCK FESTIVAL RADIO CRAZY 2017 due to illness affecting Koshi’s throat as covered in a previous report. Today, the band have returned to the live stage in strong form at Nagoya Dome with a complete showing. Following the earlier cancellation, fans on Japanese social media encouraged Koshi to take a break and not push himself for the show performed here. The band performed two shows at the same venue, after which the band will have a one week break. Further dates will see the tour running through February 4, 2018 in Osaka.
A new unreleased song has also been used as an Ending SE since December 23rd, where it debuted during the Fukuoka Yahoo! JAPAN Dome showing.
The full setlist is posted below to avoid spoilers for those attending the shows, along with tallies on when each song was last played live.
The B’z appearance at FM802 ROCK FESTIVAL RADIO CRAZY 2017 yesterday was cut short due to illness. Koshi Inaba took the stage with the band as scheduled, but a hoarse throat led to a change of plans. The festival appearance was only set to run for fifty minutes, yet after the second song, Koshi signaled to drummer Shane Gaalaas to pause the performance.
It was apparent early that his usual voice was not intact, so after some apologies and leaving the stage, it was unclear if the band would be able to perform further. Some time later, the entire band reappeared and it was then Koshi was met with cheers of “It’s fine, it’s fine!” and “Don’t overdo it!” from fans in attendance. Koshi then said, “Sorry, I can’t let you hear that voice for the rest of the show. But I can sing a little more, if such a voice is okay? Please sing along!” This led to a loud chorus forming for the duration of both remaining songs.
After performing what would be the fourth and final number, Koshi promised to return in the future and bowed deeply before leaving the stage. A swell of support has manifested on Japanese social media in the wake of the event.
This is only the third B’z show in their history to see its setlist truncated, with the previous instances coming during 2000 and 2003 due to inclement weather. The latter, as part of B’z LIVE-GYM The Final Pleasure “IT’S SHOWTIME!!”, was cut short when the outdoor show was threatened by a typhoon. Five songs were left from the setlist that day, but performances from the previous night were substituted as part of the home video.
B’z are scheduled to perform on both December 30 and 31 at Nagoya Dome as part of B’z LIVE-GYM 2017-2018 “LIVE DINOSAUR”. To avoid spoilers for upcoming shows on the album tour, the brief setlist is included below.