In the third show of their first headlining tour in North America, ONE OK ROCK brought down the house in NYC this past Saturday. The only disappointment is that there wasn’t more of the show.
When the venue tweets and gushes about the show, you know it’s really something.
The energy was palpable standing in the VIP queue waiting outside. I talked with a few people who had seen OOR live before—two had seen the show I attended in Pittsburgh, and one had seen the Jinsei x Kimi = Tour in Osaka Jo Hall. We were no less excited than the people who had been waiting for a date in the Northeast for two, three and four years.
When Taka & Co. finally took the stage at 8:25, all hell broke loose. The boys just sort of ambled out onstage to low lights for 35xxv, then tore into it as the lights came up for Take Me To the Top.
The crush at the front was tremendous. No matter how close we were (I was the third back from the stage) we all wanted closer. Probably 1,900 other fans at my back, all wanting the band. It was great!
And they were loud. In the final sound check, I thought the drum tuner was going to blow my hat off with Tomoya’s kick drum. I could feel the sound waves pass through my hair. When Toru’s guitar tech let rip, I could feel it on my skin.
Loud as it was, the sound was also clean and well-balanced. Acoustics of the hall had just the right amounts of reflection and absorption. Unusually for me, I don’t have a single gripe about the sound. Taka’s mic could have been louder here and there, but only because we fans drowned him out singing along.
Think about that for a second. The band is so loud I could feel individual guitar notes on my skin and drum kicks in my hair, yet we fans drowned out Taka. It was well and truly Sing-A-Long With Taka.
For his part, Taka took to conducting the chorus a time or two, clearly enjoying himself. During Heartache, he stopped the song to yell to us (sans mic), “You guys are fuckin’ great!” In Wherever You Are he let us take over, and just sort of drifted back towards the drums, listening for nearly a whole verse. (Of course, true OOR fans will recognize how much the band loves this give and take from the lyrics of 69.)
There was plenty of give and take between the fans and Toru and Ryota as well. They’re always in motion, gyrating, jumping, doing their whirling dervish thing. Upstage, downstage, crossing to the other’s side, playing to individual audience members—their show is lost in the video productions.
The concert videos out there—I own several and have seen all the rest—don’t quite capture what each member of the band contribute to the whole show. This is why you need to go yourself. Even in BluRay, the videos are a watered-down experience.
ONE OK ROCK needs to be on a larger stage than what we had in Pittsburgh. The PlayStation Theater’s 40-foot wide, 28-foot deep stage could just barely contain them. Once, Taka and Ryota nearly collided. Taka and Toru seemed better coordinated, or maybe Taka just knows from experience the reach of Toru’s long legs when when he goes into a spin.
The band truly rips through every song as if it’s their only song. They pour their all into each and every one, often times not even stopping between them. Take Me To the Top flowed into Memories, then Deeper Deeper took off without so much as a breath between them.
And on and on another song…
Sadly, it was an abbreviated set from the the full 35xxxv Japan Tour. Only 12 songs with a three-song encore, seven songs fewer than the Japanese fans got.
Take Me To the Top
Stuck In the Middle
Mighty Long Fall
Wherever You Are…
Then again, Japanese fans never got this close to the band. The Saitama Super Arena holds 35,000. The entire PlayStation Theater would fit in Saitama’s VIP section.
Still, I would have liked to see Last Dance performed. Maybe they felt it was too new. I really missed 完全感覚Dreamer (Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer) but closing with NO SCARED sort of made up for it, and other older favorites—Deeper Deeper and Clock Strikes—filled the gap.
During The Beginning, Taka leapt off the stage to photographer/security gutter and climbed up on the railing RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. He finished the song from there. (See the youtube videos, about 3:20 into the song.)
When he leaned over and sang the line Kono mamajya mada owarase koto wa dekinai deshou directly to my face, I belted back Nando kutabarisou demo kuchi hateyou tomo owariwanaisa.
That brief exchange alone made the show for me.
No, maybe it was the new arrangement of Paper Planes. In my review of the 35xxxv album, I said it was the sore thumb. It sticks out sonically. It doesn’t sound like OOR and the effects used on the vocal means it doesn’t sound like Taka.
(For the record, in every other song where Taka uses effects, I don’t mind it at all and think it totally works.)
The real surprise of the show was what Paper Planes becomes when Ryota and Tomoya are unleashed on it. And when Taka sings it without effects. OMG! It’s completely transformed. I could do with a decent recording of it.
The rest was no surprise at all. The band at their best, the fans in full worship mode, just never enough!