L’Arc~en~Ciel held two special Christmas shows at Tokyo Dome on December 19 and 20 where they performed in front of 55,000 fans each day. Titled LIVE 2018 L’ArChristmas, the concept of the concerts was “magical Christmas night” which was backed by a set list comprised of wintry songs. This included tracks the band hadn’t played for over 20 years which plucked the heart strings of hardcore fans
The set opened with a fantastical video of snow white reindeer running through an icy world. The members appeared in the video with their eyes closed and broke free from ice. When they opened their eyes each member popped up onto the stage one after the other. With a heated reception from the crowd, L’Arc~en~Ciel began their Christmas night with winter fall. The stage was decorated with large white trees formed in the shape of reindeer with crystals at the base. Inside them were warm lights which elevated the coldness of the winter themed show.
Laser beams shot through the room as the band began Caress of Venus. The pleasant rhythm coupled with the members singing only added to the fuel amongst fans. They followed up with their million-seller hit snow drop further kindling the fire. Fans lit up their blue LED bands given to them before the show. They reflected against the LED screens, creating a beautiful mirrored world against the rest of the venue.
Vocalist hyde greeted the crowd: “Welcome to L’ArChristmas! It’s been one year and eight months [since performing here]. We’ve got it all, haven’t we. We are L’Arc~en~Ciel! How is it – this set? If we were playing cards I’d say we have a pretty strong hand. Isn’t this already a Christmas miracle?! Enjoy the final L’Arc~en~Ciel of the Heisei period with everything you’ve got! I can see you’re all fairly crazy having come on a weekday in December.”
He continued, “We have some songs we haven’t played in a while, so let’s have fun until the end!” The band went on to play BLESS. This famous song was used as for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. There was an emotional feeling and familiarity to the song that made one feel at-home despite it being played in a venue as big as Tokyo Dome.
Guitarist then ken altered the atmosphere in the room with a guitar riff. When Seppun started, hyde whipped off his hat and donned a pair of sunglasses. The band played the edgy rock ‘n’ roll number that was also rough, in a good way. The melody rose and fell in a bewitching style. It had a heaviness different to anything they had played up to now in the set.
fate was the song that followed like waves left behind after the wind has subsidedーemotional, powerful and poignant.
Up to now every song the band played garnered roars of excitement, but when Dearest Love beganーa song they haven’t played live in over 20 yearsーthe band took people’s breath away. hyde took of his glasses and showcased his vocal range, with plenty of falsetto and soft sighs. Bassist tetsuya also shredded a beautiful chorus.
The sound of the guitar rang in, the sound transparent and glistening as if it was inside a cold frozen lake. With this imagined landscape still in the mind, ken’s poetic guitar solo moved onto the intro to MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. hyde walked to the centre of the stage and opened his hands wide which stopped the performance and left just yukihiro playing and fans singing in chorus.
With this happy feeling in the air, an a capella led to Hurry Xmas. hyde touched shoulders with tetsuya during the chorus, causing cheers through the room. An LED Christmas tree lit up and everyone in the crowd lit up their LED bands in Christmas-y greens, whites and reds.
Driver’s High began with the sound of an engine followed by an explosion of fireworks causing the voltage of excitement through the crowd to surge to the top. ken took to the centre-stage and yukihiro looked after the main stage while hyde and tetsuya moved to different ends of the stage which were decorated with flower arrangements. It was a fast-paced performance, both the singing and instrumentals. With that same vigour, the band sloped into and overwhelming performance of DIVE TO BLUE which was both melodious and smooth while feeling a little threatening.
Lots of colourful balloons floated around the arena. The band disappeared from the stage and around 10 Santa Clauses appeared in the arena. They began handing out presents to fans from their large white sacks, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces.
hyde slipped into the group of Santa Clauses for a moment while dressed up as Santa. The other members reappeared on stage. The show was just as hyde had described: “Christmas-y.”
The band performed an a capella version of Mirai Sekai which featured a beautiful chorus from ken and tetsuya that rang harmony in the room. tetsuya, with his bass turned upright, delivered rich phrases in his playing. The words “Merry Christmas!” were interlaced into the song, and when they were sang, the screen displayed galactic visuals, signalling the start of the song Shizuka no Umi deーanother one they haven’t performed in over 20 years. Both the band members and fans sang the words “feel heavenly” together. It had the same gravity as a hymn sung in chorus.
L’Arc continued with that spacey theme before electronic sound effects rung and they moved onto trick. The four members stood onto a sliding stage adorned in flowers and each took turns in singing. hyde wrapped up the vocal performance when they returned to the main stage.
Alongside their historical repertoire, L’Arc also had plenty of more recent songs readied for the night. This included XXX for which each members’ balance of control and release was exquisite, and Wings Flap, a song that invited one into a dreamy state of mind as it swayed to and fro as if afloat a sea of champagne. The performance of these two songs proved the polished refinement of a seasoned band.
When they dropped into Link gold and orange tape shot into the air. The song was like light bursting through while embedded with a sense of lonliness as the end of the set began drawing to a close. The members and crowd devoted their whole bodies to the must as they continuously jumped and clapped their hands together.
“Are you all enjoying yourselves? I’m enjoying myself too. You’re all amazing!” hyde said with a smile. He continued: “This is the first time we have gotten together in one year and eight months [here]. Back then [performance at Tokyo Dome, April 2017] we hadn’t really asked people which songs they wanted to hear that much. We reflected on that and picked the top winter songs to play today.” The crowd followed up with a huge round of applause.
hyde continued: “This next song is an old one from our amateur days. I chose it because it’s unexpectedly Christmas-y.” The song was White Feathers. The stage beamed with dazzling white lights and feathers floated down overhead.
The Santa Clauses returned to the stage clapping their hands and waving their hands, warming up the crowd once again. After a little while the band performed their latest single Don’t be Afraid, a dark and dramatic number. tetsuya took the mic. On the first of the two concerts he said: “Seems like this is our first Christmas show. But it doesn’t feel like our first, does it? Although we’ve had merchandise was puns like L’ArCream [L’Arc Cream] this is our first L’ArChristmas. I wonder why we never thought of it before?”
On the second day the band greeted the 20,000 people watching the concert live both inside and outside Japan. hyde even spoke with them about why Santa Claus’s outfit is red.
The next songs of the set were twinkle, twinkle for which sparkly Christmas lights glowed on stage followed by I Wish which began with a capella. hyde took to the centre-stage once more as the crowd clapped their hands while singing. He invited more people to sing by opening his arms. There was a unity in the room as fans continued to sing the chorus with the band.
hyde commented: “Seeing all of your smiles, and standing here today, it’s real happiness. It feels like a present from all of you, it’s really moving. I’ve felt like crying since the start… Thank you. It’s fun when you all smile, so I understand how Santa Claus feels. Have we properly delivered our presents to all of you?” The crowd gave an immensely satisfied round of applause.
He continued: “With Christmas here I tried thinking to myself, ‘Does god exist?’ But even if he doesn’t, aren’t lots of people’s dreams fulfilled at Christmas? Whether you believe or you don’t believe, doing this today is a miracle and a time of love. This certainly exists. I think that is a very valuable thing. I am grateful to being led to this day.” Fans turned their LED bands to read “L’ArChristmas” before the band went onto the final song, Yuki no Ashimoto.
A dramatic melody sounded through the room: the nostalgia brought about by the organ, the rhythm of yukihiro’s calm drumming, the grainy phrases of tetsuya’s bass, the rich tones of ken’s guitar and hyde’s vocal performance for which he used his entire body. Snow fell onto the stage and snowy paper descended overhead into the crowd.
The concert finished with a short arrangement of Silent Night and hyde’s farewell, saying “Thank you very much! Merry Christmas!” yukihiro also bowed very deeply when the music ended as if he was talking – fans knew exactly what he was saying.
tetsuya was the last on stage. He threw bananas into the crowd and dashed up and down the stage of fans. He also bowed deeply, saying “Thanks, see you again!” The long set, almost 3-hours in length, came to a close, awakening everyone from the dream.
L’Arc～en～Ciel Official Website: www.LArc-en-Ciel.com