Live Report: L'Arc~en~Ciel 20th Anniversary Live

20 years later, and L’arc~en~Ciel only got more amazing.

On November 30th, it was a chance to return to my source of love for Jrock with a screening of L’arc~en~Ciel’s 20th Anniversary Live in San Francisco.

The actual live was held for two days in Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium on May 28 and 29th, 2011.

I’m going to admit that after sitting through the Hatsune Miku screening, I was much more excited for L’arc since I would actually know the musicians and the songs that they were performing. The screening also held a more special place in my heart simply because they were when I discovered that Jrock was incredible.

To prep for the screening, I went through YouTube to listen to some of my favorites songs and found clips from the 20th Anniversary live. These low quality previews gave me some idea (perhaps too many ideas) about what to expect during the screening, and it was enough to get me excited to see everything on the big screen and in high definition.

There were some ups and downs though.

To keep the downs short (there really weren’t that many), watching the live screening was essentially the same as watching a live DVD on your own computer. I was perhaps expecting something more interactive because of Hatsune Miku.

The Vocaloid screening had many enthusiastic cosplayers and the audience in the theater was more interactive with the concert. The L’Arc audience was much less vocal and kept a more respectful silence, only occasionally clapping along to certain songs and cheering whenever one of the band members flirted with the cameras filming them.

I was also looking forward to certain clips I had seen on YouTube, particularly one where different singers sang the opening to Honey on the screens (even SID’s Mao, who was mistaken by someone as a member of Alice 9, and ABC’s Yasu made a cameo!), but with the time restriction, Honey wasn’t one of the songs that made it into the screening.

But the ups definitely outnumbered the downs.

Since the footage was edited, that meant that the audience got more chances to see the band close up. Hyde also gave the cameras treats by occasionally interacting with the cameras close by. At one point, when the audience in the Ajinomoto Stadium was singing back to the band, Hyde held the microphone up to the camera, gesturing for whoever was watching to sing along.

Hyde also rewarded everyone when he lay down on the stage on his side while still singing and gave the camera a smoldering look that was meant to seduce the viewers’ socks off. Besides the seductive look though, the fact that he managed to keep his singing volume and depth consistent was, in and of itself, very impressive.

The next member who got the most screen time was Tetsu with his signature flashy pink bass. He was spectacular, as usual, for his wide range of backup vocals, and as far as bassists go, he was very interactive with the audience. As someone who didn’t quite pay attention to the back up vocals in recordings, this screening definitely increased my appreciation for Tetsu.

It was also touching to see the bassist occasionally survey the packed stadium with an expression that seemed as if he was about to cry from seeing all the fans that had come to support them.

Ken and Yukihiro received the least screen time. Part of this was due to Ken simply moving around nonstop. With what screen time he did get, he was running to the side wings to lavish the fans with attention.

Yukihiro was clearly heard, but most of his shots were profile views in between his cymbals and flash of drumsticks. He did have a particularly impressive drum solo which ended with a dramatic bang--he finished by literally punching one of his cymbals.

The stadium audience also were featured prominently in the concert. One of the best parts of the screening was when the cuts panned to show the entire audience as they waved their glowsticks in unison to a song. Since the sky was darker than usual with the rain and the stage lights were minimalized, the entire stadium looked as if it was an entire city from the air with its soft neon glows.

Throughout the two hours of screening, which covered both days of the concert, only one MC was included in the last half hour. Hyde essentially thanked all the staff and fans that had continued to support L’arc throughout the band’s history. It was a pleasant change to see Tetsu and Ken stand respectfully in their areas of the stage while surveying the thousands of fans that had braved the unpredictable rain to see them.

All in all, the screening had some obvious missing elements since it wasn’t a real concert, the but the band did not disappoint at all. L’Arc performed to their fullest, and it was incredible hearing songs from nearly a decade ago come to life again on the Ajinomoto Stadium stage.

The screening was an excellent teaser for when the band will perform in New York on March 23, 2012 at Madison Square Garden Theater. Unfortunately, it’s also a sad reminder that there is no scheduled show (yet!) for the San Francisco area.

For those of you who have gone or will go to the screenings, let us know what you think! Did you wish for more close ups of Hyde? Were the harmonica lickings not enough for you? I personally would have loved to see more of Tetsu tossing fresh bananas out to the audience, but alas, the banana basket could only hold so many bananas.

On to the setlist!

First hour/Day 1 at Ajinomoto Stadium:
1. In the Air
2. Caress of Venus
3. Dune
4. Blurry Eyes
5. Lies and Truth
6. Flower
7. Shout at the Devil
8. Anata
9. Niji

Second hour/Day 2 at Ajinomoto Stadium:
1. Ready Steady Go
2. Heaven’s Drive
3. Driver’s High
4. Drink It Down
5. Shinsyoku - lose control-
6. Stay Away
7. Link
8 Hitomoi no Jyunin
9. Good Luck My Way
10. Bless

If you enjoy Hyde trying to seduce your socks off, don’t forget to follow MICHIDO with an Email Subscription!

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