The Last Rockstars fly high in Tokyo concert debut (Live Report)

J-Rock Reviews

The Last Rockstars Debut Tour 2023
January 26, 2023 @ Ariake Arena (Tokyo)
Live Report by Shannon McNaught

The Last Rockstars Ariake Arena

The Last Rockstars debuted at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena on January 26, 2023. Fans packed into the arena and stands, many holding TLR light sticks and wearing TLR T-shirts. The show opened with a video of a cyborg woman announcing each member’s name as they took the stage.

The band opened their set with “The Last Rockstars”, their debut single that many fans clearly already knew. Fire colored green, orange, and yellow lit up the stage, and multicolored lasers shone through the crowd.

The Last Rockstars Miyavi Hyde

Hyde instructed fans to get out any towels they had for the next track, “6or9”, a Hyde cover. Fans swung the towels above their heads to the speedy guitar melodies. The superstars each got their turn to showcase one of their own solo works, including Sugizo’s “Messiah”, which featured stunning and spacy visuals along with electronic dance elements and Sugizo’s signature screaming guitar solos. Miyavi’s shouts joined Hyde’s hard rock spin on the vocals.

“Tokyo, louder!” Hyde yelled at the full arena. The next song was a TLR original, “Here’s The Love”, a rather heavy and sensual tune that featured Hyde laying down on the stage platform. Luckily, with Ariake Arena’s large screens, fans were able to get an aerial view of Hyde’s antics.

The Last Rockstars Yoshiki drums

After the track, the first MC of the night began. “How are you, everyone?” Yoshiki asked the enthusiastic crowd. “I bet you thought we wouldn’t actually make it this far,” he joked.

They quickly segued into the next song, “Beneath the Skin”, which started with a dramatic and skillful piano introduction by Yoshiki. It turned into equally melodious and dramatic vocals, low lighting, and nostalgic-sounding guitar. Fire burned low on the edge of the stage, adding to the tragic atmosphere.

The Last Rockstars Sugizo Miyavi

Next was a riveting guitar session that pitted Miyavi versus Sugizo. Miyavi’s signature slap guitar style curiously harmonized with Sugizo’s speedy and wailing guitar style. It was a great display of their individual styles and skills. Following this was a display of yet another of Sugizo’s skills: the violin. Beautiful vibrato blended into screeching notes that echoed, definitely tugging at the heartstrings of many in the crowd.

Hyde eventually joined Sugizo on stage to play “Folly”, a Sugizo cover. It sounded almost “stage musical” in style, with Hyde’s vocals coming off more like spoken words in the verses, crooning melodramatically in the chorus. “Hallelujah” followed, a nostalgic pop-rock track that sounded like it could be in an eighties movie.

The Last Rockstars Hyde Sugizo violin

At last, it was Yoshiki’s time to shine. He took the stage alone at his drum set, utilizing each part to the fullest while orchestral music played in the background. He then transitioned to piano, playing a dramatic classical piece before playing a tune that was beloved by many in the crowd: X JAPAN’s “Kurenai”. The lyrics to the chorus were displayed on a screen on the stage, to which the fans sang along in unison.

The energy picked right back up after the solo as the full band returned to the stage to play “Born To Be Free”. Fans were treated to visuals of sparks flying in the background, actual fire on the stage, and even a blasting firework. Fans were then delighted to be treated to “Honey”, a L’Arc-en-Ciel cover. At one point, Hyde sang the song from behind Yoshiki’s drum set, a touching moment for fans. It was interesting to see the chemistry between the members, most notably vocalist Hyde’s interactions with Miyavi, Yoshiki, and Sugizo.

The Last Rockstars Yoshiki drums

The group took a break to speak to the crowd. “When I was behind your drum set just now, I couldn’t hear a thing,” Hyde admitted to the fans’ amusement. Yoshiki then took center stage to talk to the crowd. “20 years ago, who would have pictured that the four of us would be standing here?” he marveled. He complimented all of the members’ work ethic, sense of responsibility for taking on such a big project, and to the fans’ amusement, Sugizo’s incredibly short shorts. The crowd clearly loved them too, as they cheered for him to pose with his “underwear” and thigh-high boots.

Following the talk was another new TLR song, “Up And Down”, to which the fans were asked to sing along in the chorus. It was the perfect upbeat track to transition into “Bang!”, a Miyavi cover. Then came “Red Swan”, and TLR’s “Psycho Love” rounded off the set, with Yoshiki standing up at his drum set to keep the crowd’s energy up to the very end.

The Last Rockstars Ariake Arena

The crowd was treated to a three-song encore, opening with TLR’s “Shine”. The fans practiced singing the chorus before the band played the whole song. Fans turned on their smartphone lights towards the supergroup, creating a sea of shining stars. Then they played Hyde’s song from Nana, “Glamorous Sky”.

TLR ended the night with a shower of confetti and one more round of “The Last Rockstars”. With such strong stage presences and musical talent, along with the stunning visuals, we’re hoping this won’t be the last of them.

The Last Rockstars Yoshiki Hyde Red Swan

1. The Last Rockstars
2. 6 or 9 (HYDE cover)
3. Messiah (SUGIZO cover)
4. Here’s The Love
5. Beneath The Skin (X JAPAN cover)
6. SUGIZO & MIYAVI session
7. SUGIZO violin solo
8. Folly (SUGIZO cover)
9. Hallelujah
10. YOSHIKI drum solo & piano solo (Kurenai)
11. Born To Be Free (X JAPAN cover)
12. Honey (L’Arc-en-Ciel cover)
13. Up And Down
14. Bang! (MIYAVI cover)
15. Red Swan (YOSHIKI feat. HYDE cover)
16. Psycho Love (HYDE cover)

En-2. Glamorous Sky (HYDE cover)
En-3. The Last Rockstars