Toto is an American rock band formed in 1977 in Los Angeles. They came to Japan as a part ’40 Trips Around The Sun Tour’ for showcasing their best album with the same title, which was released in 2018.
The historical venue Budokan is located in the center of Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace. It was originally built for the judo competition in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It is the indoor arena with a capacity of 13,000 people and the most famous concert venue in Japan.
The Beatles were the first rock band to played at Budokan in 1966. Since then, many famous rock music acts have played there.
Further more, several live albums were recorded at Budokan, including releases by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Cheap Trick, to name a few.
Most Japanese indie bands dream of playing at Budokan, because it’s the proof of big success. I have always been dreaming of photographing concerts here too. I have seen countless concerts at Budokan since I was a child. As you can imagine, working as a photographer here means a lot for me.
The band opened with the new song ‘Devil’s Tower’ from their latest greatest hits album ’40 Trips Around The Sun’. They originally recorded this track with Jeff and Mike Porcaro back in 1981. (Drummer Jeff Porcaro is one of the founding members of Toto, passed away in 1992. Bass player Mike Porcaro passed away in 2015.)
It is the perfect choice for opening the show to celebrate 40 years of their history and showing respect to their former members.
They continued with ‘Hold the Line’ from their self-titled debut album. This song brought a lot of excitement to the audience.
Toto’s set was the great combination of their new and old tracks including some covers, and it satisfied their fans of all ages.
Especially, the crowd welcomed their favorite party song ‘Rosanna’, singing along loudly.
Then, they brought some chairs on stage and played some fantastic acoustic tunes, sitting on them. In this beautiful set, Steve Lukather looked back their 40 years of musical history and told brief story on each song in a relaxed way.
Needless to say, Toto are the musicians with amazing skills and their stage presence were impressive throughout the show.
The voice of lead singer Joseph Williams was rich and strong. To my surprise, most of their members have amazing voices. They constantly added beautiful chorus and sometimes took lead vocal. That is absolutely their advantageous point and creates their unique sound.
I have to mention that the new keyboard player Dominique “Zavier” Taplin completely knocked out the audience. He joined this tour to make up with the absence of founding member David Paich. Dominique played with Prince before and his creative and passionate performance was totally fantastic.
Without a doubt, the climax of this night was an extended version of ‘Africa’. The audience put on their cellphone lights and waved them slowly, singing along it. The Budokan was filled with crowd and also filled with numerous white lights. That beautiful scenery evoked the image of the Milky Way. It really touched my heart and I was almost crying.
They have been classified as rock, AOR, fusion, pop, and so many others.But there is no point categorizing them. All you need is just listening to their masterpieces and enjoying them!
Irish pop vocal group Boyzone hit Tokyo on Tuesday night. This was their first concert in Japan, and it would be the last. Unfortunately, they’ve already announced that they would split the band at the end of this year. So they came here during their ‘Thank You & Goodnight World Tour’ to say farewell directly to their Japanese fans.
Boyzone were formed in 1993 in Dublin, Ireland. They once broke up in 1999 and reunited in 2007. They were in their heyday in the 90s, but they still have a very loyal fan base especially in UK and Asia. I saw many diehard fans came from South East Asia solely for the purpose of attending Boyzone’s Japan tour.
‘Thank You & Goodnight’ was the seventh studio album, which was released in November 2018. They are currently on their final world tour with this album.
Getting the evening started, they had the great pop singer Brian McFadden opening for them. He is a founding member of Irish boy band Westlife. We enjoyed his upbeat performance filled with his solo tracks and Westlife hits. To my surprise, I came across one of the highlights during this opening set.
When Brian came down to the floor and enjoyed singing and interacting with the crowd, he suddenly found a dedicated fan singing along with him very well. Brian was impressed and asked his name. Surprisingly, his name was also Bryan! (Although they are differently spelled)
Brian asked Bryan to get up on the stage, and they sang ‘Uptown Girl’ (Westlife hit song, Billy Joel cover) together. I must say that Bryan sang the song perfectly, and also his stage presence was confident and natural. Just amazing!
I couldn’t help interviewing with Bryan after the show because his voice and performance were really awesome.
His name is Bryan Cubelo. He is from Philippines, lives and works in Tokyo. At first, I thought he was a professional singer, but his occupation is an English teacher. He has been a huge fan of Boyzone since 1994 and also loves Westlife. He loves to sing for two decades and has experienced many opportunities to sing in glee clubs, bands and weddings. I’m pretty sure his appearance made a big appeal to both the band and the audience.
After a short break, Boyzone took to the stage. The crowd welcomed them with deafening cries of joy. The set list was a brilliant mix of old and new songs including some covers. Keating’s sweet and husky voice mesmerized the audience. In addition to artisitic films, their old videos were projected on the big screen one after another and the lighting was very bright throughout the night. It was a great way to remember their history of over 25 years.
In the middle part of the show, the band paid a tribute to founder member Stephan Gately, who passed away unexpectedly in 2009 due to a heart defect. Their attitude of respect was really touching. It was clear that Stephan was still on stage with the remained four members, Ronan, Mikey, Keith and Shane. We are able to hear Stephan’s voice in ‘Dream’, the last track from their latest studio album ‘Thank You & Goodnight’. They featured Stephan’s vocals from a salvaged demo. So I guess that their whole tour must be a tribute and farewell to him.
It was very nice to see the band members were on good terms with each other and having fun during the show. Lots of joking, smiles and hugs on stage proved that they still had a strong bond and maintained a spirit of brotherhood.
Their show was visually stunning and filled with love, laughter and happiness. We enjoyed their entertaining show and spent a delightful evening of dance and music.
For more information on upcoming tour dates visit the band’s website and Facebook page.
Swedish heavy rock band Lucifer were back in Tokyo on rainy Monday night and I had a great pleasure photographing these psychedelic rockers. The Japanese dedicated audience welcomed their second appearance in Japan.
Lucifer were formed in Berlin in 2014 by The Oath singer Johanna Sadonis. Their debut album ‘Lucifer I’ was released in 2015 via Rise Above Records and it was critically acclaimed. In 2016, they moved their base to Stockholm. Through several member changes, the second album ‘Lucifer II’ was released in July 2018 via Century Media Records.
Lucifer offer a pretty unique sound. Their first album appealed to many doom and metal fans, whereas the second album reached to the wider audience with their refined 70’s heavy rock sound.
They are heavily inspired by early Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, as well as the bands such as Fleetwood Mac and Heart. Especially, the joining of Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Imperial State Electric, ex- Entombed, MC5 and many more) obviously added the depth and the great diversity to the band.
They started with ‘Faux Pharaoh’ the final track of their latest album ‘Lucifer II’ and the Tokyo crowd were hooked from the first song. ‘Abracadabra’ the first track from their debut album‘Lucifer I’ followed. The room was immediately filled with their fantastic atmosphere.
The band played the songs mostly from their two splendid studio albums, ‘Lucifer I’ and ‘Lucifer II’. Some cover songs were also included in the set.
Johanna looked good in white dress with tasseled sleeves. Needless to say, her sublime beauty mesmerized the audience. Her soulful vocals were even more amazing and her stage presence was impressive throughout the night. She often squirmed her body and played the tambourine, drinking white wine from the bottle. We couldn’t take our eyes off the gorgeous frontwoman. She didn’t interact with the crowd so much and stayed beautiful charismatic diva.
The whole band looked like they were from the 70’s with their vintage look such as long curly hair, mustaches and tight bell bottom pants. But multi-instrumentalist Nicke Andersson looked a bit different. I think he brought a good spice to the band both musically and physically, and his role is apparently quite big.
I had never seen them before, but I was really inspired by five-piece great Swedish band. Their heavy guitar riffs reminded me of Black Sabbath, and her sultry vocals and stage performance were highly addictive. I was totally blown away by their energy, their enthusiasm, and their dedication to the music. I feel incredibly fortunate to have witnessed Lucifer’s live and the most charismatic frontwoman.
They played a new song in their set and announced that they were working on new album. I am truly thrilled to listen to ‘Lucifer III’ and looking forward to seeing their live again in Japan.
I am happy to announce that my another group exhibition will start soon!
It will take place on 15 July to 27 July at M84 gallery in Ginza, Tokyo. I will be exhibiting two of my favorite shots there. This photo is one of them.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Steve Mann of Michael Schenker Fest and their management. I luckily got this shot of Steve at Tokyo International Forum in September 2018. I’m very flattered he sometimes gives me kind messages… He is a fantastic person as well as a great guitarist and keyboard player. They kindly allowed me to exhibit this photo at the gallery. I feel deeply honored to have this opportunity and really appreciate their understanding and respect for photographer’s work. They are the true rockstars!
If you are in Tokyo, please stop by. Let’s talk about photography, art and rock music!
‘Competition of Art 2019’ (group exhibition)
15 - 27 July 2019
Art Gallery M84
Opening Hours: 10:30am to 7:00pm (The last day of exhibition: Close at 5pm)
Address: 5F Wind Ginza Bldg, 4-11-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061
I will be there during 3pm-6pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. See you there!
It’s been 3 years since their last appearance in Japan. The last time they came here was in 2016 as part of the world tour featuring their first album ‘Psychocandy’.
This time, they played a perfect set spanning their entire history.
The Jesus and Mary Chain are formed in East Kilbride near Glasgow in 1983 mainly by The Reid brothers, Jim and William Reid.
They are highly regarded as the originators of shoegaze and have been a big influence on shoegaze, alternative, noise, grunge, and many music genres.
They have been through ups and downs over the last 35 years. After the releases of 6 studio albums, they had been in a state of breaking up since 1999. Then they reunited in 2007 and released the 7th album ‘Damage and Joy’ in 2017. It was for the first time in 19 years.
Your wait is over. The light dimmed and lots of smoke started to fill the house. I thought this shooting would be tough as expected… Anyway, the hazy air and the very dark back lighting created a surreal atmosphere throughout the show and this dramatic stage setting suited their music style perfectly.
They started with ‘Amputation’, the opening track of their last album and immediately got the Japanese audience into frenzy. ‘April Skies’ from their 2nd album ‘Dark Lands’ followed. We got carried away surrounded by the loud feedback and the droning noise.
They were mostly viewed as silhouettes in the back lighting and the dense fog.
Jim Reid seemed not to have much interest in pleasing the audience. He didn’t talk and move much on stage and leaned on the microphone stand most of the time. But we all know his bashful attitude very well… That’s him and we love him.
Meanwhile, William preferred to be back of the stage surrounded by his amps, kept on creating sonic wall of sound, and never came front of the stage.
When reticent Jim introduced ‘Reverence’ as the last song of the main set, the audience raised their voices with disappointment. It was quite obvious that they didn’t want to close this precious moment.
After a while, they got back on the stage and played 5 more songs. Starting the encore with our favorite ‘Just Like Honey’ from the first track of their debut album ‘Psychocandy’ , they wrapped up the show with ‘I Hate Rock ‘n’ roll’ which has been the standard last tune of their show. The audience started dancing with maniacal pleasure. That was definitely the climax of this special night. We were able to soak in the ambience of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s world.
Now they have already left Japan and we have to return from the fantastic world to mundane reality. We do hope they get back to Japan and play loud again soon.