Ongaku to Hito: [Live Report] BUCK-TICK The Day In Question 2020
BUCK-TICK’s annual December 29 live show at Nippon Budokan. This day’s promise is the light of hope
text by Kanemitsu Hirofumi (31 December 2020)
BUCK-TICK〈ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020〉
2020.12.29 at Nippon Budokan
Making a promise.
That is to believe in that promise, and fulfil it. That is what gives us the light of hope.
For BUCK-TICK, this is the 21st time they’re playing a show on December 29. The venue for last year’s show had been moved to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium because of refurbishment, but ever since 2000, they have always held a show at Nippon Budokan on this very date. Under normal circumstances, they would have travelled around the country, going on tour for their latest album ABRACADABRA which was released in September, and would likely make this annual show the final date of that tour.
However, because of the spread of COVID-19 infections, they turned that into a film concert and called the tour “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. The announcement that they would be holding this particular December 29 show only came out one month prior too. It was apparent that they had been negotiating and planning for measures to the very last minute, and eventually, it was decided that the event was to be held with an audience after reducing the seating to half the usual capacity and including various preventive measures.
Looking at the seating arrangement in the arena and the stands, seating had been considerably reduced and it was clear that they had put social distancing into consideration. Also, they would normally have many close friends and acquaintances in attendance on this day, but there were no guests invited at all. I could feel that they wanted to increase the fans’ chances as much as possible to give them an opportunity to watch the show.
The main set of this show followed the setlist of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. With the exception of Luna Park, which was performed in the encore rather than the main set, the song order did not change and their outfits were the exact same too. This is the ABRACADABRA album tour part of today’s show and it let the audience feel their will to make the show feel as if it was their usual tour final. Doing nothing special and going about with things as per normal might just be the biggest show of rebellion in these present times. And that attitude was what accompanied the thoughts of the fans who attended “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” which ran 26 shows in 23 locations all over Japan.
Release an album, tour a lot, feel the fans’ reactions, and build up the worldview while heading towards the final show; that’s the band’s usual style but now, live shows can’t even be held in their usual formats. Majority of them are one-night-only, special shows in light of the COVID-19 crisis. It felt to me that this show was an attempt by them to go back to normal life where tours are a regular occurrence.
Ironically, the show’s title was the incantation of ABRACADABRA. In the unrest caused by COVID-19, they’re holding a concert with the audience at less than half capacity but even that is in danger of becoming an impossible situation in these circumstances. Is it okay to hold a concert? Is it alright to go and watch the show? While this conflict goes on somewhere in both the performers and the audience’s hearts, that show title and the way they handled the show had the power to dispel that unease. In this situation where the audience are not allowed to raise their voices, the endless applause from the audience between songs were a manifestation of their feelings.
Also, upon performing ABRACADABRA before an audience, the true essence of this album became apparent. Without any strict theme, a sound unbound by anything rang free. The “deviant vibe” which Imai expressed was a daring digression from sort of format which aimed for something alternative. But no matter how avant garde it gets, Sakurai’s vocals and his worldview inevitably bring in a touch of humanity. His awareness for not only the in-person audience but also those invisible ones beyond the cameras only enhances his expressiveness.
That is why Eureka, the one song on the album which Imai wrote to relieve himself of the frustration with this COVID-19 crisis had an overwhelming destructive power on this day. Everyone’s desire to repaint this dark, depressing atmosphere with hope became one. The audience swayed with “PEACE!” signs. I am sure that this sight must have been one that he had been visualising and longing for since the recording of this song. Smiles were everywhere. This band understands well that nothing comes of anger or hatred or despair alone.
And the last song of their main set, Boukyaku. It is never peaceful, because there will always be this sort of ineradicable feeling somewhere in us. That is also something that exists, for sure. The fact that they sing about this makes their music real. Nothing in this word is perfect; everything has its own cracks and distortions. And it is from there that light shines through. That’s why we love and cherish them.
A number of songs in the encore had been changed in comparison to “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”. Most of them were songs which appear to spread hope and shine a light on the future. Between those songs, Sakurai said this:
“The next song is about how you’ll be able to cherish the people you love when you cherish yourself. I would like to dedicate it to the medical professionals.”
Those words included a message addressing the delicate situation surrounding infection cases. However, at the same time, there is also a sense of realisation coming from him, who had been in denial of hurting himself, of all people. And the song which they performed was LOVE ME. Last year, there was the joy of being able to perform as a band and the feeling of being loved in performing this song. While this year, they’re singing about how everything, including in this global situation we’re in, can only be solved by how we think about things in the end.
“And now, let’s go! Into the future!”
Right after Sakurai’s signal, we were led into their last song for the night, New World. We will cut through this infinite darkness. The light that can be seen ahead is hope. Embracing it, we will live on.
After the members have left the stage, they announced on the screens that there will be a national tour in autumn of 2021, and that on December 29, on this same date, there will be a show at Nippon Budokan. In all honesty, we have no idea what the virus situation will be like, how the audience capacities will be set, whether we can hear the cheers of the crowds, or whether things will be good enough for a live show to be held in teh first place. There is no doubt that it is all still an unknown. However, this promise gives us hope, and allows us look forward in life. And most importantly, it becomes a promise that has been and will continue to be kept between them and us over 20 years.
This show was one that was filled with such hope and love. And everyone of us is hoping very much that we will be able to meet here again next year, in 2021.
Pictures＝Tanaka Seitaro (★), Watanabe Reina (▲) (Tanaka Seitaro Photo Office)
Thank you for tonight
It was an unforgettable night
May the new year bring
much happiness to everyone
I hope you have a Happy New Year With love
01 月の砂漠 (Tsuki no Sabaku)
02 ケセラセラ エレジー (Que Sera Sera Elegy)
03 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver (Kemonotachi no Yoru)
04 SOPHIA DREAM
06 凍える (Kogoeru)
07 舞夢マイム(Maimu Mime)
09 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. (Datenshi)
10 ダンス天国 (Dance Tengoku)
11 MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
12 ユリイカ (Eureka)
13 忘却 (Boukyaku)
01 FUTURE SONG – 未来が通る – (FUTURE SONG – Mirai ga Tooru –)
02 Luna Park
03 世界は闇で満ちている (Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru)
05 LOVE ME
01 Alice in Wonder Underground
02 LOVE PARADE
03 New World
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Pia: [Live Report] BUCK-TICK The Day In Question 2020
The parade of hope starts again with BUCK-TICK at Nippon Budokan
“Let’s go! Into the future”
31 December 2020
BUCK-TICK conducted their annual December 29 performance at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo. Because they shifted venues to Yoyogi National Stadium First Gymnasium in 2019 in light of renovation works, this was their first performance in Nippon Budokan in 2 years. This is also the 21st time in a row that they have performed on this particular date. Nippon Budokan is most certainly the most fitting venue for this “annual” event to keep going.
This show was entitled “ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020”; a sign that this was to be a one-night-only special event where fans can enjoy both the world view of ABRACADABRA, their latest album which was released in September, and the special feeling that the annual year-end THE DAY IN QUESTION brings.
“Let’s go! Into the future. Let’s go!” Sakurai Atsushi’s (vocals) powerful declarations came after he sang the second song of the second encore, LOVE PARADE which was reminiscent of the closing of a show, and right before their last number, New World.
After BUCK-TICK released their album, ABRACADABRA, they were supposed to go on a national tour, but after taking the COVID-19 crisis into consideration, they held the film concert tour “TOUR2020 ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” and added more dates to their original tour schedule. This tour was an experiment like no other. Although it is a film concert, the same sound systems and lighting as an actual live show were used to create a sense of realism for the audience. That along with the spirited performance by the band and an audience who kept up the applause as if it was an actual concert fulfilled the holy trinity that makes a live show, but despite it all, there was, inevitably, a loneliness that couldn’t be dispelled.
Following in the footsteps of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN”, this Nippon Budokan performance was to be the last in-audience show of the year 2020 with thorough COVID-19 prevention measures taken including the introduction of a face recognition system for entry, temperature checks, disinfection, and limiting the audience to about 5,000 people; half of the usual capacity. The event was also streamed live on the internet, responding to the wishes of fans around the world who could not make it to the venue.
This performance is the culmination of the band’s activities with the album, ABRACADABRA in 2020 which kicked off with their online no-audience live broadcast performance “ABRACADABRA ON THE NET”. I had thought that this show is the one that would be where the parade ends, but that thought was kicked to the curb by Sakurai’s earlier words. The band was welcoming everyone to this Budokan show, saying, “The parade goes on. Come, let’s go!” And at the same time, they pointed to the future which lay just beyond our outstretched hands. After the performance ended, the band announced a national tour for fall of 2021 plus the next December 29 show at Nippon Budokan. In a world that has yet to see light, they have once again brought us shining hope.
Peace signs held up, voiceless excitement turning to conveyed zeal
A little past the scheduled start time, a clip of the world of ABRACADABRA’s album jacket played, with a blue butterfly fluttering above crystals and diamonds, on the screen in front of the stage to a new arrangement of the SE, THEME OF B-T. When the tour title turned to dust and scattered away, Tsuki no Sabaku began. Visuals of a desert unfolded in front of the band, linking their performance with the oriental music. The clear tones which rang out with Sakurai’s occasional ringing of the tingsha bells felt as if they cleansed the air of the venue.
When the screen fell away to reveal the band members during the intro of the next song, Que Sera Sera Elegy, I could feel the excitement in the hall rise two to three times higher. The band truly was standing before our eyes. The voiceless excitement turned into an zeal which we managed to communicate to the band. Kemonotachi no Yoru YOW-ROW ver. was truly thrilling with an edgy, cutting beat and the union of Sakurai’s singing with Imai Hisashi’s (guitar) playing. And on the imposing beat set by Higuchi Yutaka (bass) and Yagami Toll (drums) in SOPHIA DREAM rode Sakurai and Imai’s free-floating twin vocals, leading the audience into a psychedelic world.
As if acting out the worlds of each song, the singing Sakurai’s performances were brilliant. The sight of him lying down on the floor lit in red during URAHARA-JUKU was breathtakingly beautiful, while the way he folded his arms, as if cradling a child while he swayed to the chilling intro plucked by Hoshino Hidehiko (guitar) was filled with compassion. Right after applying red lipstick himself, he began to sing Maimu Mime, dividing his performance between the man and woman characters with facial expressions and deliberate hand gestures in the backdrop of a drinking district scattered with titles of BUCK-TICK’s old songs on the signboards.
During the techno number, Villain performed with the twin vocals of Sakurai and Imai, the audience's clapping became part of the rhythm, creating a sense of unity. The four-on-the-floor dance tune Datenshi YOW-ROW ver. evolved into an even more solid performance and turned Budokan into a dance hall, pumping up the intensity with Dance Tengoku which followed.
Imai’s solo performance of gentle harmonies led into MOONLIGHT ESCAPE. Sakurai’s unconstrained vocals sounded almost like a prayer. Then, they continued into the lively 8-beat song, Eureka. The audience held up peace signs together with Imai and Hoshino whenever they did it. This was the one scene that I wanted to see the most on the ABRACADABRA album tour. Sakurai walked from the right side of the stage to the left, watching this scene before him. And to culminate it all, Boukyaku. This ensemble of equal parts painful sorrow and kindly warmth along with the emotionally charged singing permeated deeply into my heart. Leaving these emotions lingering deep in the audience, the main set came to an end.
The most impressive thing in this show’s live re-enactment of a setlist which was pretty much the same as that of “ABRACADABRA ON SCREEN” was loud, thunderous round of endless applause which started up everytime a song ended. This was the audience conveying their feelings to the band in this situation where voices could not be used.
The reason why there were uncharacteristically long breaks between songs must be because the band members wanted to take in those feelings with their whole being. This reciprocal interaction between the performers and the audience is something that we only feel more acutely after having experienced no-audience live shows. A live show is built up on the enthusiasm and passion from these two sides. I believe the audience’s zeal must have been well conveyed to the band. Whenever a song ended, Sakurai would say, “Thank you.”
Sharing the desire to protect others, a space filled with kindness
After 15 minutes of intermission, the “THE DAY IN QUESTION” part of the show title begins. Welcomed by the impatiently-waiting applause that had started up 5 minutes before intermission ended, the band arrived on stage. It was at this moment that we found out that the words on the back of Yagami’s jacket said, “FUCK OFF!! COVID-19”.
During the future-illuminating FUTURE SONG－Mirai ga Tooru－ and Luna Park, and even the mid-tempo Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru sung against a starry sky, the band brought power and healing to the hearts that have become a little exhausted by the unstable situation. During ROMANCE, we were intoxicated by Sakurai’s dramatic performance from the start when he lit up the candles of a candelabra, to the end when he pierced his chest with his stick.
And before their next song, LOVE ME, this was what he said:
“The next song is about how you’ll be able to cherish the people you love when you cherish yourself. I would like to dedicate this to the medical professionals.”
The sight of the members putting their utmost respect into the song and music along with the audience waving their arms from side to side as best they could for those who couldn't make it to the brightly lit hall is seared into my memory. Come to think of it, during the typically bustling pre-show wait and even enroute from the nearest train station to Budokan, the attendees observed good manners; they were quiet. Everyone shared the notion of thinking for and protecting others. This was a space that was filled with such kindness.
The second encore started on a high note with Alice in Wonder Underground. Receiving the neverending applause after LOVE PARADE, Sakurai spoke words of gratitude for the staff who helped to make this show a success and to the fans, he also thanked them saying, “Thank you for all your applause today. Your hands must be sore, aren’t they?”
There was also a moment when he eased the atmosphere in the hall by mumbling to himself, “I guess it must be boring to hear me talk only about serious matters. Shall I tell a dirty joke……”
“May the next year be a good one. I wish you all happiness,” he said with a deep bow, as if in prayer. Afterwhich, he said, “And now, let’s go! Into the future. Let’s go!”, leading into the last number, New World. “Cut through this infinite darkness and head into the future.” The powerful message that is embedded in this song turned into a light of hope and rained down on the audience.
Thank you for tonight
It was an unforgettable night
May the new year bring
much happiness to everyone
I hope you have a Happy New Year With love
It is said that since ancient times, firecrackers (爆竹 / bakuchiku), which are read the same way as BUCK-TICK (バクチク / bakuchiku), were set off to dispel plagues and evil spirits while ushering in good luck. ABRACADABRA, which BUCK-TICK played with great pomp and splendor at the end of the year to close of 2020 is a spell to ward off the plague. Therefore, we can say that BUCK-TICK’s existence is as good as hope itself.
When they announced that they would be holding a tour in autumn of 2021 along with a Nippon Budokan performance at the end of the show, the audience broke into another huge round applause. BUCK-TICK’s parade has started off once again from here as we head into 2021. I can’t help but hope for a future where we can all shout "PEACE" together in high spirits.
The "ABRACADABRA THE DAY IN QUESTION 2020" performance at the Nippon Budokan is available for archived viewing on WOWOW Members On-Demand and on various streaming sites. The viewing period differs depending on the platform, so be sure to check it out.
Text / Ookubo Yuka
1. 月の砂漠 (Tsuki no Sabaku)
2. ケセラセラ エレジー (Que Sera Sera Elegy)
3. 獣たちの夜 YOW-ROW ver. (Kemonotachi no Yoru)
4. SOPHIA DREAM
6. 凍える (Kogoeru)
7. 舞夢マイム (Maimu Mime)
9. 堕天使 YOW-ROW ver. (Datenshi)
10. ダンス天国 (Dance Tengoku)
11. MOONLIGHT ESCAPE
12. ユリイカ (Eureka)
13. 忘却 (Boukyaku)
1. FUTURE SONG – 未来が通る – (FUTURE SONG -Mirai ga Tooru-)
2. Luna Park
3. 世界は闇で満ちている (Sekai wa Yami de Michiteiru)
5. LOVE ME
1. Alice in Wonder Underground
2. LOVE PARADE
3. New World
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