ONE OK ROCK with Orchestra Japan Tour 2018 – Saitama Super Arena Day 2 Live Report

Words cannot describe how excited I was when this orchestra tour was announced. Because there would only be four performances in two locations however, competition for tickets was absolutely fierce. On top of that, the lotteries were so strict in order to combat scalping. This was bad news for fans outside Japan though because the electronic tickets via Tixeebox required a valid Japanese phone number this time. Against all odds, I was able to get a couple tickets to the Sunday performance at Saitama Super Arena via the Primal Footmark lottery. I put in entries with two accounts but I guess they match your phone number to make sure people can’t get tickets to multiple performances. I entered in all the lotteries after that but couldn’t get Saturday. Considering that lots of people couldn’t even get tickets through PF though, I’m very lucky to get at least one.

Though my ticket was for Sunday, I went to Saitama Super Arena on Saturday to buy goods since I didn’t want to line up on the day of. I got there around 9 and hopped in line with my friend who lined up earlier. The line moved smoothly and surprisingly pretty fast. It only took maybe two and a half hours for me to finish buying everything after lining up. There was a girl in the line next to me who was buying the entire time I was lined up. It makes me wonder if she was a reseller because she literally had at least three full baskets’ worth of goods. I even finished lining up and buying all my stuff before she did. The good news at least is that even by the time doors opened, it didn’t seem like anything was sold out. …Can’t say the same for the second day though.

I got to the venue at around 2:15PM on Sunday and almost everything was sold out. I’m so glad I bought all my stuff the day before. After meeting up with my friend, we waited for the doors to open at 3. We were among the first groups to get in. Immediately to the right of the entrance they had a bunch of flower stands on display. The first one in the line was from ELLEGARDEN, and there were also flowers from Kyosuke Himuro, GLAY, coldrain, ReN, a bunch of TV stations, etc. My friend and I made our way to our seats which were on the right side (Toru’s side) of the 200 level, the second row from the back. It was a view from the side but not bad, and fairly close. It was interesting seeing the people in the arena file into their blocks. The arena was broken up into three blocks for the front A block, and then one large B block behind that. There was no hanamichi platform into the audience, and there was a thin screen covering the stage area so we couldn’t see what the setup was like beforehand. And here’s the bad news– It didn’t look like there were any cameras to record for a home release. No wire in the ceiling, no crane cameras, nothing. Just a few cameras for the monitors. That said, I don’t think we’ll be getting a TV broadcast or home release unless they plan on recording at Osaka, which would break with tradition.

Western music played in the background before the show. 4PM rolled around and the music was still playing. 15 past and still… Then finally!! We heard the sounds of string instruments and they played a soft introduction. There were cheers as the band came on stage and the melody started to faintly sound like Change. I’ll admit I had peeked at the set list the night before so I had an idea of what they would be playing already, but it still didn’t take away from the excitement. So far we could only see the shadows of the band members moving behind the veil-like screen. The music suddenly stopped, and then started again in earnest with Change. The screen came down and all the electronic sounds at the beginning of the song were replaced by strings and already we knew this was going to be an amazing concert.

All the guys wore black suits with white shirts and black ties. SO. GOOD. Not that anyone’s asking, but I am absolutely weak for guys in suits/dress shirts. Bonus points for loose ties, but all the guys had their ties on pretty tight, haha. Tomoya’s drums resounded the most, of course, while Toru’s guitar sort of blended with the strings at times. You could hear Ryota’s bass but it wasn’t as prominent as the drums. Everyone sang along, especially during the “Heyyy” parts. A friend who went to the Saturday concert had told me that the suits didn’t last one full song so I was waiting for them to just rip off their outfits a la velcro straps or something but that never happened. They sang the entire song in their suits.

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After Change, the intro to Ending Story?? began. Yessss!!! You know what that means: Taka rapping! There were huge cheers as Taka finished with, “You got me fucking wrong!” Taka’s singing was a lot higher than when this song was performed during the “Jinsei x Kimi =” Tour in 2013. It lacked the rawness from back then, but Taka still sounded spectacular. The rap part was amazing with the strings in the background. I think this song really set the tone for the entire concert because it let the audience know that the orchestra was just going to be an accompaniment to the band. The songs were not going to be completely re-arranged into a slower melody or anything to match to the instruments. Rather, the instruments would work as a complement to the existing music, though of course that isn’t to say things weren’t re-arranged.

Next up was the familiar violin intro of Ketsuraku Automation. The strings really shined in this one. During the song, Taka welcomed the audience to the concert. The song ended with a big “da DAH!” by the orchestra. After, Taka expressed that he wanted everyone to go home after having had a great time, and said that they would be playing like this (with the orchestra) until the end. We could then hear the beginning of Cry Out. The audience sang along, and during the interlude, there were circle pits in the arena with people running around. I’m glad Taka didn’t do a countdown for everyone to run into the mosh because that means he could belt out “shout it out nowwwwwww!”

Cue the intro to Decision next. Very glad they played this song because I really like it and was kind of sad they didn’t perform it during the Dome Tour. Taka told everyone to put their hands up and we all sang along while doing so. I’ve always wanted to go “da da da da, da da da da, da da” with them, LoL.

The next song started off with drums and then, OMG… a HARP. It was the beginning of Answer is Clear and it was so beautiful! I thought it was Answer is Near but looking back, with the slow melody it was definitely Answer is Clear, which would be the first time the song was performed. The song ended with the harp too, and I really can’t say enough how absolutely beautiful it was.

After was the first MC, and Toru started it off by asking how everyone was, and if they were having a good time. He continued to say that it’s so hot, and that the material of his suit is different from everyone else’s. “What’s it called… Velour?” Ryota then said, “I’m hot too,” to which Toru responded, “This is twice as thick.” Toru then went on to say that the orchestra tour has finally begun and that there would only be four performances so he hopes that everyone has a good time. Tomoya started his greeting with the usual, “Saitama!! How are you??” Then he said that this was #1 in his “most sweat after 6 songs” ranking, LoL. “But is it this hot because I’m wearing a suit, or is it because your enthusiasm is so great?” Cue the cheers. Tomoya then repeated it again quietly, as if thinking to himself, and then shouted out that he believes it’s the latter, which led to more cheers. Ryota poked fun at Tomoya saying that his character’s changed since wearing a suit, but Tomoya got back at him by saying, “What are you going to talk about (in your suit)?” and putting the pressure on Ryota to say something funny. Ryota started out with, “This is Ryota. I’ve been really excited since before we started.” Everyone laughed because what he was saying was so normal, haha. The new Ryota apparently can enjoy the silence that comes when he makes a bad joke, LoL. He then admitted that when wearing a suit, he can’t spread his legs like he usually does while playing, but one thing he’s noticed is that because of this, his posture while performing is a lot better, haha. Last was Taka. He said that because of all the photos posted on Instagram and such the night before, everyone probably thought that they’d only wear suits at the beginning and change into something different later. Today they decided to betray everyone’s predictions (again) by doing what everyone thought they would do yesterday! Taka said that they would wear the suits from beginning to end. He totally knows how to play the audience, and we love him for it! He was all, “How do we look in suits?” There were lots of shouts of “cool!!” from the audience, and Taka said something along the lines of, “From the younger folks to the older ladies, I know you all go crazy for this,” LoL. (We doooooo!!) He then ended his greeting by explaining that they were all looking forward to this orchestra tour and want it to become a good memory for everyone. They’ve only played six songs so far but want to play some older songs too, and Taka encouraged people to sing along if they knew the lyrics.

With that introduction, the strings started playing the intro to Yokubou ni Michita Seinendan. Taka continued talking, saying that ONE OK ROCK has a lot of songs, from calm ones to head bangers, but this time they just wanted to feature some songs that they haven’t done in a while. He explained that they’ll be playing with an orchestra arrangement three songs they haven’t performed in a long time. Everyone started clapping along to the beat, and then the intro that the strings were playing changed to mainly horns with a mix of strings. This was such a cool arrangement! Up until now, the horns didn’t play much but they were very prominent in this song. The way Taka ended the song was very different from when he sang the song at Yokohama Stadium. Instead of taking the notes up, he actually went down a bit. Kind of hard to explain with words, but it was pretty interesting.

After, Taka went over to the far right side of the stage (my side!) and then started with, “Kimi wo omou kimochi wa kagerou~” The audience finished the line, and then Taka started running to the other side of the stage yelling, “Kagerou!!!” Love this song so much and it was one I was hoping they’d perform. The audience mainly sang along to the chorus.

The next song was a surprise: Yes I am from Niche Syndrome. They haven’t sung this song since Budokan in 2010! Before the last verse, Tomoya yelled out a loud “One, two!” count which I thought was kind of cool. Very nostalgic song. It ended with a sort of marching band type of drumming, and the harp. Gosh, that harp!!

Next, the orchestra started playing something. It sort of sounded like a tuning of instruments, but more melodious. It began to fade out and when it stopped, Taka went, “Hai,” to laughter from the audience. He said once again that they played three nostalgic songs and then asked the audience, “How was it? Good, right?” He went on to explain that their earlier songs were a bit more pop (kayoukyoku), and when adding strings to them, it makes them realize that they were raised by Japanese music. That’s why the old songs that they wrote without that much thought feel nostalgic. They’ve now done recording in various countries, and it’s pretty fun for them to compare and rearrange their old and newer songs. Their older songs were easier to do an arrangement with an orchestra, but they realized that the later songs which they recorded overseas with overseas staff were a lot harder, and it was a good learning experience for them as musicians. Taka introduced the orchestra, saying that there was a total of 53 members. Usually it’s just the four of them on stage but this time it’s the four of them plus 53 others. He thanked the orchestra, and explained that since the orchestra tour was decided, they spent a lot of time deciding on the set list. Around December of last year after they wrapped up their tour in Europe, they were listening to their songs and trying to figure out which songs the audience would like to hear. Because this would be their last performances for the year, they wanted to choose songs that would be memorable. They came up with a list of songs they thought would be good and after they got back to Japan, they showed it the leader of the orchestra, but apparently the songs they chose were not good matches for an orchestra arrangement. Of course they had never done anything like this before so it’s natural that they wouldn’t know which would be a good tempo, etc. They went back to the drawing board and came up with another list from scratch, changing the song order and stuff. It was only until about five days earlier that everything fell into place. They weren’t familiar with musical terms used for an orchestra and usually don’t even read sheet music, so using a keyboard, they tried to explain how they wanted things to sound. The way Taka explained it was cute, saying, “PLEASE do it like THIS,” pretending to press a piano key hard where he emphasized. Then he was all, “But as we went on, we gained more knowledge, right, Tomoya?” Tomoya was totally not paying attention and got caught off guard, LoL. Taka talked about how they learned the term “tremolo” and had the orchestra leader demonstrate it. “You guys know it? They often have it in movies, don’t they?” Silence, which drew a cute “Eh?” from Taka. “Don’t they have it? Like in movies? You’ve heard this sound before, haven’t you?” Tomoya then rejoined the conversation, saying that it’s pretty cool that the arrangements of their songs until now have used things like tremolo and staccato. Another silence from the audience, which got “Eh?”s from both Tomoya and Taka. They then started to just crack up; it was so cute. Taka said that things are getting fun and they’re finally getting more relaxed, “Right, Ryota?” XD Ryota just said, “Yes,” and tried to get out of it by saying that he’s a new, different Ryota today. He suggested that Taka go talk to Toru. Taka said that yesterday, Toru’s voice was really quiet when he talked. Toru tried to defend himself saying that his mic probably wasn’t on, but Taka wasn’t buying it. Tomoya then cut in saying that Toru’s speaking was “pianissimo,” which got laughs and claps from the orchestra members. It was a gag that would be understood by the orchestra. LoL, Tomoya is so cute. Taka gave it a rating of “ten zabutons” and suggested that the next time Tomoya said something funny, the orchestra could make some short, sharp noises on their instruments, haha. Instead of “zabuton ichimai! (one zabuton)” they could yell out “two cellos!” or “four strings!” Getting back on topic, Taka said that he wanted everyone in the audience to go home understanding the awesomeness of all this.

Now they would be heading into the second half of the concert, and the intro guitar melody they use for the live version of One Way Ticket began. Taka explained that they use a different arrangement for the live performance, for overseas performances, and this time with an orchestra. The opening notes of the song were played on strings instead of guitar. Very cool. Taka urged the audience to sing the chorus with him. The interlude was very different with Taka repeating something that sounded like “in our bed, stay with me,” and then later “come stay with me.”

Next was a heart wrenching string intro to Pierce. The lights at the top lowered down a bit and then encircled Taka with light. They spread out a bit when the drums started. This orchestra arrangement was so mellow. It was very different from the version at Yokohama Arena. The way Taka sang some of the notes was different too. The guitar was pretty awesome. At the end, there were long pauses between “I can,” “be your, ” and “side,” with the drums coming in with the rest of the orchestra between the last two.

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The next song started off with low cello notes. I couldn’t make out what tune it was until I realized Taka was not on stage and it was the instrumental portion of the concert. Obviously I can’t describe how it went but wow! So awesome! Both the bass and guitar were really low sounding. Very, very cool instrumental.

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Near the end, I could see Taka standing by at the side of the stage. When he came on, an unfamiliar electronic keyboard-sounding melody started playing. Taka then exclaimed that they were going to play a new song, which got a big cheer. He said, “I’m sure you haven’t heard it yet. That’s because we haven’t played it yet. But I’m confident it’s a song you can jump and dance to.” The new song was called Stand Out FeelingFit In and I. LOVED. IT. With all the clapping going on I couldn’t really make out most of the lyrics but the beat and melody were so darn catchy. And OMG, the high notes Taka hits in this song!! The rest of the band did a lot of background vocals. There was a verse in Japanese too, so it’ll be interesting to see if this song will stay on the Japanese version of the album or if there will also be an English version. This was an orchestra arrangement so I don’t know how the studio version will be like (Toru played an acoustic guitar so I wonder if it’ll be an electric guitar for the CD recording), but I feel it would be a song that would be well-received if it were played on the radio. It’s not a head banger by any means and it definitely had a Western sound which may put some people off, but I absolutely loved it. So hyped for the new album! (Not that I wasn’t already.) Note that everyone else seems to be writing the title as “Stand Up Feeling” in their reports but I’m pretty sure it’s “Out,” not “Up.” We’ll find out for sure when official details become available. I was right that it’s “Stand Out” but it seems what I heard as “Feeling” is actually “Fit In,” so the song is Stand Out Fit In, which makes more sense.

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The next song started off with drums that sounded like it could have been Nothing Helps. Taka took off his jacket and threw it back towards Tomoya’s drum set and the violin intro from I was King began. Taka had his sleeves rolled up. Oh myyyyyyy, I think I would have fainted if I were closer to the stage. While I’m not a fan of tattoos (and kind of hope Taka won’t get anymore), I like it when you can sort of but also not really see Taka’s tattoos when they’re hidden by his clothing. That said, Taka in a dress shirt and tie with his sleeves rolled up is right up my alley. As always, the audience sang along. The rest of the guys took off their jackets during the break between songs.

After, the harp and strings started playing the piano intro melody used for The Beginning. The band basically played the song normally but with an orchestra accompaniment. Very cool. This is my favorite song so there was a lot of singing involved. Next up was Mighty Long Fall. The beginning had some horns along with Toru’s guitar effects. This was a concert with an orchestra but Taka still called for moshes and a wall of death. Lots of singing, head banging, and jumping here. The strings along with the instrumental at the end with Tomoya’s drums was so cool.

During the MC afterward, Toru sat on the steps of Tomoya’s drum set playing guitar in the background as Taka spoke. Taka always hits you in the heart during the last MC. He said that after doing this band for 13 years, they start wondering how many more dreams of theirs they can make come true, but they’re so happy to have fans who come to see them and staff that support them. In 2019, they want to work hard to show the fans they cherish so much an even more powered up ONE OK ROCK. It’s easy to say anything with words. Once they make a live concert schedule, they just need to play the shows; once they make an album, they just need to release it. They think about how to convey their feelings to their fans. Taka promised that they will make opportunities for fans to see them in Japan next year. Because this is the last concert of the year for them, even though it’s really early, Taka wished the audience a merry Christmas and a happy new year, haha. With the memories of this concert in our heart, Taka hoped that we would be able to do our best tomorrow and fight to get through the remaining two months in the year. He said that the band will do their best too, and thanked the audience for coming.

The last song was a fitting song: Fight The Night. The strings were so full of sorrow. Coupled with Taka’s vocals, wow… I think I love this song even more now. Before the music ended, Taka bowed and left the stage. Then Toru and Ryota left while Tomoya continued to drum away. Tomoya let out a loud shout before ending. He also bowed before leaving and only then did I notice he was wearing suspenders!

During the break before the encore, everyone took out their phone lights and did the Answer is Near call. The orchestra started playing some music and when the band came back on stage, they were wearing their suit jackets again. The intro for We are began playing and the audience sang along. As in the past, Taka mashed up the Japanese and English versions of the song. The riff was really cool with all the strings. As usual, Taka had the audience sing the verse after the riff. He was standing up on his little platform thing in the middle and I thought it was cute that he moved the mic stand over to the side a bit before jumping down.

Taka asked if we still had anything left, and if it’d be OK for them to do one last song. The last song would be one that they should be getting tired of playing soon, but with the orchestra and us in the audience, they can deliver an evolved version of it. Of course he was talking about Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer. It was really interesting with the orchestra. After the big “yeaaaaaaaaahhh,” silver streamers were shot into the arena. Taka jumped around as usual, and after the song, he was all, “I really shouldn’t do that (wearing a suit),” LoL.

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After, they took photos with the orchestra, and Julen made the orchestra members do the rock sign like he had done the first day. Last was a photo with the audience. They took it in front of Taka’s platform and Tomoya just totally sprawled on it behind everyone. They went around the stage, throwing things into the audience. When on the right side, Taka tied up a towel and teased the crowd, pretending to throw it, only to bring it back in, LoL. He finally threw it when they were on the left side. They received signed banners from the fans and wrapped themselves in them. After one last bow, they started heading off the stage. Before leaving, Taka said, “We’ll definitely see you again next year,” and Toru said, “It was so much fun! Thanks!”

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Aww man, what an amazing concert! It was a real treat getting to hear all these different arrangements of songs we love. Surprised that there was no Clock Strikes or Deeper Deeper which are pretty much staples of ONE OK ROCK concerts, but I guess they didn’t fit with an orchestra or something. I was really hoping they would play Kasabuta and Notes’n’Words, but alas. No Wherever you are either. I suppose they didn’t feel the need to do it again since they already did a slow piano version at Ambitions Japan Tour. No Nobody’s Home was a bit surprising, though. Another thing is that the concert was fairly short. It was maybe just a little over two hours, which is pretty short considering the Dome Tour was about three. I don’t have any issues with the songs they did choose to perform, but I wish we could have gotten a few more. Overall a very, very good performance though, and it’ll be such a waste if this doesn’t get a home release. I’m very lucky to have been able to attend since I know they’ll never do something like this again, and even more so if they indeed don’t release it. This performance easily ranks among my favorite ONE OK ROCK concerts.


Setlist

  1. Change
  2. Ending Story??
  3. Ketsuraku Automation
  4. Cry Out (English ver.)
  5. Decision
  6. Answer is Clear
  7. Yokubou ni Michita Seinendan
  8. Kagerou
  9. Yes I am
  10. One Way Ticket (English ver.)
  11. Pierce
  12. Instrumental
  13. Stand Out Fit In
  14. I was King
  15. The Beginning
  16. Mighty Long Fall (English ver.)
  17. Fight The Night

Encore

  1. We are
  2. Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer