Dec 06

[live report] A Message of Hope from LUNA SEA to the Brave

While I was more than ecstatic when I heard I would be covering LUNA SEA’s charity live on October 22, something made me feel a little bit awkward. As my live report of their two shows from December 2010 can attest, I am a big, sappy fan of this band. No other artist can create such an awe-inspiring aura of pure emotion while making it seem so effortless and natural. LUNA SEA’s recorded albums alone are excellent tear fuel. Combine that with the fact that the October show was dedicated to raising money for victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and I was prepared to shamelessly weep like my tears could solve all the world’s problems.

But that didn’t happen. That’s not to say LUNA SEA didn’t move me. It’s just that this time, they moved me in a different direction.

Instead of thumbing through their vast discography of melodramatic material, LUNA SEA chose a different path: upbeat, high-energy numbers with a few splashes of tears. Because, after all, what is a LUNA SEA show without a few wet cheeks?

Placing songs like “DEJA VU,” “True Blue” and “G” at the top of the show was a smart move. They could have easily gone the sappy route with something more somber, but that would be too obvious and most likely would have dragged the whole concert down. Perhaps the band realized that their audience didn’t want to be beaten over the head with more bad news. Instead, LUNA SEA got the audience out of their seats, jumping, cheering, and – dare I say it – having fun.

After the last reverberations of “G” faded away, vocalist Ryuichi Kawamura asked the crowd to bow their heads in a moment of silence. Twenty thousand voices went quiet, and Saitama Super Arena became perfectly still. Not a cough, not a pin drop, not even the sound of my own heartbeat reached my ears. It was a respectful, tasteful minute where all thoughts went to the tens of thousands of people who perished in and the hundreds of thousands more directly affected by the earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

LUNA SEA’s newest song, “PROMISE,” soon followed. Dedicated to the victims of the quake, this song follows the anti-melancholia M.O of the evening by being uplifting and inspiring. LUNA SEA has taken an event that is frankly horrifying and depressing, and made it feel real without looking at the pessimistic outcomes that plague the daily newspapers. As the simple, modest lighting flashed behind Kawamura, he sang of light in the darkness, and meeting loved ones again. Is it cliché? Maybe a little, but find me a face in that audience that wasn’t beaming with hope.

A few other numbers continued the hopeful theme, with “Ra-se-n” and its powerfully rhythmic melody, followed by the ethereally beautiful violin in “Providence”. These felt different from the last time I saw the band live. Maybe it was the fact that they were performed soon after the moment of silence, but this time they conjured images of people losing so much. However terrible their lives seem at the moment they will regain their strength through the love of those around them. In the end, they’ll persevere.

But the majority of the show was decidedly more fun than you might expect from LUNA SEA. While Shinya’s drum solo was probably a bit simplistic, his enormous smile displayed on the screens beside the stage was contagious. While bassist J dueled with Shinya, I could almost feel the atmosphere in the arena change. Leave it to Shinya to set the mood back to giddy.

What followed was the usual set of “Desire,” “Rosier,” and the like. Not that anyone was complaining.  The concert soon turned into a giant LUNA SEA sing-along. I didn’t expect any dusty old, rarely played numbers from yesteryear, but it would have been interesting to hear something they rarely play live, if only to shake it up a bit.

The show was named Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Charity Live LUNA SEA FOR JAPAN A Promise to The Brave. In that lofty title, the key word here is most certainly – brave. It’s OK to cry, but is that what those who passed want us to do? Absolutely not. LUNA SEA wisely created a set that was simple, yet full of life and courage.

Official LUNA SEA website – http://www.lunasea.jp/