Japanese band L’Arc-en-Ciel returns to Korea to connect with local fans
From start to finish, it was obvious what brought Japanese band L’Arc-en-Ciel back to Seoul on Saturday night: the fans.
They came en masse, decked out in the band’s t-shirts and towels. A few imitating vocalist Hyde’s notorious dark, vampiric style, while a few others were decked out in kimonos. And they left just as happy and excited as they arrived.
The show started off jam-packed with energy and with explosive technology. The entire back of the stage was taken up by a screen that displayed crystal clear animation to complement the music. The opening video took on an alien theme, introducing the tour and the band.
Once they took the stage, however, all eyes were on Hyde as he danced from one side to the other and then kept every audience member in a trance with his captivating and sensual voice. Even those in the seated sections took to their feet and jumped in time with the music.
“Hello Korea friends!” he called out in Korean to the audience. “Long time no see. Did you miss me? I missed you.” The singer blew kisses at the crowd and flirted with them throughout the whole show.
Japanese rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel performs for the crowd during their 20th anniversary world tour at Jamsil Indoor Stadium, Seoul, Saturday. (Sony Entertainment)
The band played a mixture of old favorites such “Ready, Steady, Go,” made popular by anime “Fullmetal Alchemist” and “Driver’s High” and songs from their latest album “Butterfly.” No matter the song or the album, fans joined in, singing every verse.
And each member took a few minutes during the show to interact with the crowd.
Ken told a story about how he went shopping in Insa-dong and Dongdaemun and showed off his gifts ― two taekwondo figures, a toy cellphone, woodcuts and more. He also talked about the Korean movie “Sunny” and how the band thought it was great.
“It was really fun,” he exclaimed, also speaking in Korean. Later on he asked if the audience dug the show, and got a lively cheer in response.
In accord with tradition, bassist Tetsuya, with his gravity-defying hair, brought out a basket of bananas and tossed them to the crowd while asking “Who wants to eat my banana?” It’s something the bassist does at every show, and he ended the night by tossing more and spraying the crowd with banana water guns, before tossing them out as well.
True to form, the members were decked out in their famous loud style. Hyde taking on the qualities of a vampire with his all black ensemble and smoky eye make-up. Ken resembled a vintage soldier in a military-inspired jacket, while Tetsuya sparkled in a shiny vest and prim, but paint spattered plaid coat, complimented by his hot pink bass. Drummer Yukihiro was silent throughout the show, but made up for it by playing his heart out on the drums.
And even though the crowd waited about five or more minutes for the encore, L’Arc-en-Ciel didn’t disappoint, playing for another 30 minutes.
“Do you want to play with me again?” Hyde asked as they closed the show. “Did you have fun? Me too. Me too. … We’ll come back.”
Grad student Jee Hsieng has been a L’Arc-en-Ciel fan for nine years and this was his second show. He said even though he is unfamiliar with most of their newer songs, the concert was great, especially Tetsuya’s banana bit, which he remembered from the first show he went to. To him, what makes the band so great is that they are one of the first Japanese bands to crossover to the U.S.
“They were the first to incorporate rock music into anime, which popularized Japanese rock and helped mainstream it,” he said.
Office worker Miji Shin said it was her first show and she wasn’t as familiar with the band, but they left a deep impression on her with their high energy, which spread out to the audience, and their keen attention on their fans.
“And during the show, you could tell they didn’t come just to make money. They have an interest in Korean culture and they take interest in their fans,” she said, referring to the anecdotes about shopping in Korea.
She said Hyde’s voice also left an impression on her.
“It’s so sexy. It’s mesmerizing.”
By Emma Kalka (firstname.lastname@example.org