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Tak Matsumoto’s latest solo endeavour takes a different turn compared to his last solo album 「New Horizon」 which was inspired by his previous work with Larry Carlton. His new album 「enigma」 is the product of Tak’s self-reflection regarding his career and his musicianship. Even now, it remains a mystery to him if he has become the musician he is supposed to be. An enigma. On this tour, titled 「The Voyage」, Tak Matsumoto takes the audience on a journey through his career, supported by lighting effects and videos.
This is the first time for me to go to one of Tak’s solo shows, and I was very excited to see what kind of performance Tak has got in store for a big venue such as Nippon Budokan! I am used to instrumental guitar performances by the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. However, not in such a huge venue.
Over two years have passed since the home video release of B’z LIVE-GYM Pleasure 2013 ENDLESS SUMMER -XXV BEST-. The band has had their share of singles, albums, and solo works in the interim, but it is with the recently-released B’z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT- that the band makes their big return to the live stage on DVD and Blu-ray.
Today, we have for you an exhaustive review and report on the band’s latest release. Please be advised that this review is written to be mostly as spoiler-free as possible with regard to the specific surprises of the show, but the song inclusions and beat-by-beat moments are discussed at length. Additionally, translations and summaries of Koshi’s dialogue with the band and the audience are included for those seeking clarification.
Read on to see exactly what awaits in the band’s latest home video offering and feel free to offer your own thoughts as well.
After twenty-seven shows over two months, B’z have just wrapped up the hall and arena leg of their latest tour, B’z LIVE-GYM 2015 -EPIC NIGHT-, with a two-night showing at Okinawa Convention Center. We published a full live report on the April 2nd show in Yokohama here that you may wish to read to get more details on how the shows have been playing out.
The tour saw a great many songs from their latest album EPIC DAY performed, as well as the revival of several older classics. For a full rundown on every song played—including how frequently each made an appearance—and some speculation on what the dome tour could bring, continue reading below.
So, about one week later, after my first ever B’z dome concert in Osaka, which I was able to attend thanks to a friend from the UK, the fateful day approached. I’m of course talking about B’z 25th anniversary day: September 21st, 2013. 25 years ago, on that day, B’z debuted with their first single Dakara Sono Te wo Hanashite and their self-titled debut album B’z. And right when B’z announced this 25th anniversary tour, I knew that I wanted to get tickets to the September 21st show. I just had to.
The last time I wrote a live report, I went to the United States for the first time to see B’z for the first time. This year, I finally had saved enough money to be able to go to Japan. It was a huge dream of mine to be able to attend the PLEASURE 2013 tour. And so I made my way to Japan on September 6th. First time in Japan, first ever Pleasure concert experience. I was so excited.
Read on after the break as it’s incredibly long!
This was my first time in New York, let alone the U.S., and my first time at a B’z concert. Sad, I know, but going to Japan is expensive and tickets are hard to come by. I am glad that B’z finally came to the east coast of the United States ‒ somewhere I could afford to go. And I always wanted to go to New York, too. So I had to take the chance.
The long wait
The day before the concert, I was going to Times Square where the Best Buy Theater is located. I checked out the line in front of Best Buy Theater to see if there’s anyone already lined up for B’z, but there was a line for a different show that night. I was also supposed to meet up with Z:RO ‒ two guys from Boston who are doing B’z covers. Unfortunately they were stuck in traffic, so I headed back to my hotel to get some rest and be ready for the concert next day.
I got up at 6 AM on Sunday so I could be at the concert venue by 8 AM. When I arrived at the venue, Z:RO was already there as they had stayed there the whole night. But they weren’t the only ones. About thirty Japanese fans ‒ mostly female ‒ were camping in front of the venue, too. We talked a lot and time went by fairly quickly, I think. Later, a couple more people I knew online joined us in the wait for the great show.
So many people were passing by and asked us what we were waiting here in line for. Some even asked if we were waiting for the iPhone 5… in front of a concert venue. The best thing above all, though, was that a woman of the staff came up to us and talked to the singer of Z:RO. She said “Shane showed us your video”. That was pretty awesome considering Tak and Koshi could’ve seen their cover of Love Bomb!
We also asked one of the staff members if he was willing to sell his staff shirt as they looked really cool… To “How much?” he replied “Pain and suffering.” We were up for it but he didn’t get back to us. Bummer!
As soon as we made our way into the venue and checked our bags, we found ourselves ready to rock in front of the stage in about 3rd row. We decided to position ourselves in front of Tak’s microphone stand as we wanted to catch all of the guitar picks that Tak was going to throw into the crowd. When the concert started at around 8 PM, everybody got excited and started jumping around. Unfortunately, there were a couple of eager Japanese fans who started pushing hard from the side as well as from behind. Sometimes I could barely keep myself on my feet. Almost fell on the ground at one time. I kept pushing back until I finally gained some space to enjoy the concert without getting pushed around.
Tak and Koshi and the rest of the band were bringing so much energy with them, it was amazing! They were performing each song so enthusiastically that I really enjoyed it! And I have to say that you can really see Koshi’s age. We all know that Japanese people look young, but you could really see that Koshi is 48 years old. And we were so close to the stage, so we got a good look at them. After a couple of songs and the famous B’z no LIVE-GYM ni youkoso, Koshi talked about what New York meant to them and how they were recording there back in the 90s. Recall that B’z was also shooting part of their PV collection FILM RISKY in New York.
Tak inserted a couple of Jazz/Bluesy jams to give Koshi some time to change clothes or to bridge songs. Koshi made us scream really hard during Juice and he showed us that he could scream for about a minute. The crowd, of course, wasn’t able to match him.
One more thing worth mentioning is that they filmed the performance in New York as well as the crowd before the show. We are hoping for a DVD release of some sort!!
After the concert
Once the concert ended with the last song of the encore, we headed out into the lobby where we bought the merchandise we desired. After we’d all gotten what we wanted, we went outside and were waiting for Koshi and Tak to come out in the back alley. A white limousine drove up into the alley and about 30 minutes later, Shane and all the other support members were coming out and getting into the white limo. We waved as they drove off and thanked them for the great time we had.
After another while, Koshi was literally running to his ride, ducking so that nobody could take a picture. Especially all the Japanese girls that were also waiting with us. As he went past us in his car, he was waving back at us. When the car had to stop in order to turn in on 7th Avenue, all the Japanese girls went crazy and ran onto the streets to the car, just to see Koshi.
All in all, I gotta say that no other concert I’ve been to matches the atmosphere of a B’z concert. It was so amazing and energetic. Simply unbelievable. I’m so glad I came to New York and I had a great time with everybody I met there! I hope they’ll come back soon!