hide Still Alive! 2013 at Kashiwa PALOOZA

Live Report

by Chika Yoshizawa, Leela McMullen, Yuliya Libkina, posted November 7, 2013

TACUTT(タカット)Special Band

Special Band

  • Vocals: Yoshihiko (heidi.)
  • Guitar: PATA (X JAPAN/Ra:IN)
  • Guitar: CUTT
  • Drums: EBY (ex. ZI:KILL)

+ Guest Vocalist, TAKA (defspiral)

As a chaser to the intoxicating sincerity of the acoustic duo, the special band cultivated its own unique atmosphere of friendly bullying, stage-crowd rapport, and most of all, pure enjoyment of the music hide left in his legacy. Though the group was gathered by SEXX GEORGE of Ladies Room, the bassist claimed that the band existed solely for the sake of hide enthusiast CUTT who took up his guitar in tandem with X JAPAN’s own PATA. On drums, ex-ZI:KILL’s EBY rounded off the “senpai (senior)” quarter though defspiral’s TAKA joined the session as a special guest part-way through, working together with CUTT in the second echelon to welcome “kouhai (junior)” Yoshihiko of heidi. as the session’s lead vocalist.

The dynamic onstage was an unsurprising mixture of unrestrained freedom and careful conduct to varying degrees by varying members with all paying homage to PATA, and GEORGE taking his fill of kouhais to pick on. CUTT was simply in his element amidst it all while Yoshihiko gradually grew more confident throughout until he was inevitably drawn into the friendly banter—with fellow vocalists CUTT and TAKA in his quarter to put the odds at 3:3.

The band kicked off with a sure ice breaker in “DOUBT,” Yoshihiko shouting, “Let’s have a great time! We’re gonna be having fun, so you guys had better outdo us!” He dove right in with a heavy accent—expression dark and movement sharp as he gestured death with a finger drawn across his throat. GEORGE was grooving right from the top, digging deep into the bass line of the intense piece. CUTT, on the other hand, was finding too much enjoyment in the moment to capture the darkness of the song, getting down in the foreground with a big grin as he backed up Yoshihiko with shouts of “Doubt!” EBY peered out from behind the vocalist, his expression agitated yet excited as he drove the pace and, tempering it all, PATA kept a cool aura to stage left, the ease of long practice wringing chords, riffs, and solos from his guitar with the same natural instinct as breathing. Showing the audience his back, Yoshihiko fell into a crouch with an inspired yell of “Disgusting!” to finish off the number.

Next up, “PINK SPIDER” began bass-heavy, GEORGE and CUTT headbanging at each other to the distinguished riff while PATA’s motion was a more subtle groove to indicate his satisfaction. Yoshihiko sang in a deep tone, backed up by GEORGE and CUTT on the repeated title lyric of the refrain. The younger guitarist also added his voice to harmonize though it was GEORGE who spoke through the instrumental, beginning in a high tone reminiscent of the playful hide and then ramping it up to a drawling yell. It was a rough performance but that in itself was the charm of this special band, bringing together a group of professionals for the kind of relaxed jam you wouldn’t normally see onstage.

“Hey, we’re the ‘special band!’” called Yoshihiko. “Thank you for letting me in,” he directed to GEORGE.
The bassist wasn’t taking that kind of self-effacing attitude at all. “What’s this ‘special?’ Now that you’re in it, you should be saying ‘super special!’”
“It’s the ‘senpai-kouhai’ special,” joked CUTT in reference to the senior-junior dynamic.
As the crowd yelled encouragement to support Yoshihiko, GEORGE took melodramatic offense. “Why do you only tell him to do his best? Is it ok if the rest of us don’t?”

After some more tough-love banter, the band leaped eagerly into “ROCKET DIVE,” GEORGE and PATA immediately facing each other down in the opening riff. Once again, CUTT took the harmony to Yoshihiko’s smooth main vocals and the crowd’s hands rose into the air as if of their own volition, riding on the pleasant vocal blend. Grinning openly, PATA took point on the guitar solo as Yoshihiko turned away to pin the focus on the two guitarists.

In the following emcee, Yoshihiko expressed his enthusiasm to be able to appear at the event and confessed his nervousness at the volume of lyrics he’d had to learn for it. “I’m not good at memorizing lyrics and it’s showing after these three songs but I’m enjoying it anyway!” he assured the crowd.
“Just say whatever you want,” GEORGE offered, helpfully.
Laughing, CUTT argued, “That’s the scariest thing you could say!”
Glad that someone understood his predicament, Yoshihiko thanked the guitarist. “I’m so glad you’re here, CUTT!”
“I’m glad you’re here, too, Yoshihiko!” CUTT returned candidly.

On that feel-good note, “Beauty & Stupid” came in with renewed vigor, the song sitting well in Yoshihiko’s vocal range. The new rapport between he and CUTT continued throughout the number and manifested in a more relaxed performance with smiles all around to ensure that the song became a performance highlight as well as a musical one. Singing along expressively, PATA put his seal of approval on it and as the guitar duo drew close to play together, GEORGE and Yoshihiko got down across the stage. “Let’s try it more sexily!” Yoshihiko prompted the crowd who poured their voices into the laughter-like “Ah”s of the chorus. In high spirits, the vocalist wound it up with a punch.

“Whoo! This is fun! Palooza, you guys are really warm toward me,” Yoshihiko began. As the crowd’s shouts interrupted his next words, GEORGE now took his side, scolding them: “Yo-chan is actually talking, here! Don’t interrupt! I’ve never seen him talk so much!”

At CUTT’s attempt to draw PATA into the conversation, however, the senior guitarist took on the role of chief-bully. “Your attempt to pass off to me is far too early,” he said coolly.
Meanwhile, unable to contain his excitement, GEORGE interrupted the performance to give an announcement of the Yomiuri GIANTS’ victory in their match of the day. As PATA and GEORGE then converged on CUTT’s lack of respect for the GIANTS, Yoshihiko returned CUTT’s earlier favor and rescued him by calling out the special guest: TAKA. The additional vocalist swept onstage with a tambourine in hand. “Yay! I’m back! Today, Yoshihiko is the main vocalist, though. I’ll just do my best to sing backup.”

Thus, a new dynamic was born for “ever free” with TAKA lending a degree of familiarity to both the music and to a revitalized Yoshihiko. GEORGE broke it down on bass through the intro with TAKA becoming part of the rhythm section on tambourine; the two rounded up by EBY’s solid rhythmic sense. At the key change of the bridge, Yoshihiko powered in, his voice strong as the music backed off before TAKA joined in for the final chorus, adding a finishing touch with his signature vocalizations.

“PATA!” shouted the crowd.
“Just wait,” the guitarist returned, unabashedly ignoring the cries.
Meanwhile, Yoshihiko was thrilled. “I love this harmony!” he said to TAKA. “I don’t think this suits me, though,” he continued, gesturing to the hide with Spread Beaver jacket he had donned in tribute.
“No, it looks good!” TAKA assured him before the crowd could get a word in.

TELL ME” was a bright affair with the two guitarists in full swing, Yoshihiko dancing happily and TAKA freely adding his support; all grounded in the solidity of GEORGE and EBY’s rhythm. CUTT took his melodic solo at center stage before sidling over to PATA to join forces in a feel-good guitar duet.

When the lights rose again, CUTT was quick to speak. “This special band happens every year but I feel like this is the best yet!”
The chatter continued as before but PATA was drawn into the spotlight now as GEORGE complained that the crowd could get away with dropping the customary “san” after his name. If GEORGE dropped it, he would get a scolding reaction from the guitarist, and when he told the story of his affectionate renaming of “PATA-ZO,” the guitarist grumbled without ever looking up: “It has nothing to do with SUGIZO,” and the crowd crowed with laughter.

The fans were well pleased and the sentiment only increased as Yoshihiko showed off his forte in the upbeat ballad, “FLAME.” The guitars were in sync, controlling the piece from the outset and Yoshihiko moved with the music, flanked by CUTT and TAKA—the latter adding a subtle but catalytic harmony to Yoshihiko’s strong yet kind tone. The two guitarists skillfully drew the crowd’s attention in the more powerful riffs of the instrumental until all was stripped away, Yoshihiko singing a tender solo to which TAKA’s voice joined in a light “Ooh.” TAKA took the reins then, the song building to a crescendo and at last, the two sang in unison to complete the beautiful performance. At the end of the lyrics, both vocalists gazed down, the lights dropping to a blue sheen on heads and shoulders as the musicians played out the warm finish.

GEORGE was already chugging down beer as the crowd’s applause swept the band offstage but they were back before long. CUTT and TAKA returned with Yoshihiko, the two sharing their happiness at having their own kouhai in the mix now. Then, as the rest crept back to the stage, CUTT led some improvised jams, concluding in EBY singing a nice high harmony to the final tune which surprised just about everyone.
“Is it really ok to have so much fun?” CUTT asked, plaintively.
“Of course it is,” replied GEORGE. “This band is for your sake, after all, maestro.”

Eventually, the time for another song came about. “This next song is a present from us to you,” Yoshihiko promised. It was a fitting introduction to the band’s rendition of “HURRY GO ROUND” which, while playful, maintained a magical beauty largely created by the three-way vocal harmony of Yoshihiko, TAKA, and CUTT. Even GEORGE joined in later, in a surprisingly delicate tenor before he took to the front of the stage, rock all over despite the sweetness of the tune.

GEORGE turned his attentions on CUTT, demanding, “Play Kurenai no Buta!”
“The Ghibli one? Now how did that go again…?” asked CUTT, grinning as he cheekily began the introduction to X JAPAN’s “Kurenai.”
PATA surveyed it all, quietly tapping into his bottle of Jack while GEORGE and CUTT had their own little field day.
“See, this is where you should jump in,” GEORGE instructed Yoshihiko.
“I see. Please, teach me how to do so!” the youngster beseeched.
“Well, you could either jump in when we trail off and agree with whatever we just said… Or, you could come to our rescue when we sound like we’re begging for help like we were just now,” CUTT instructed helpfully.
Beaming with pride, Yoshihiko unhesitatingly informed the crowd, “I’ve learned so much today!” His tone shifted to one of supreme confidence as he spoke, “Honestly, I’m terrible with emcees and chatter like this but I do have confidence when it comes to music! So let’s go!”

The second round of “PINK SPIDER” began with Yoshihiko singing deeply and intensely; TAKA on high harmony and snarling harsh repeats of the title lyric. It was an instant atmospheric explosion and completely different again from the first rendition. The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the number won through and GEORGE summed it up, yelling, “You guys rock! hide rocks!” “ROCKET DIVE” then began anew, PATA dancing outright to the fun tune with CUTT and GEORGE even more active across the stage. On the line, “Uchuu he (to space),” even PATA instinctively raised his hands to the sky along with everyone in the house. CUTT joined the vocalists for the final lines, the whole song wrapped up with TAKA’s shouts while GEORGE led the crowd in YMCA-like actions to spell out h-i-d-e in a final salute to the man behind it all.

One by one, GEORGE led the crowd in a round of applause, praising in turn PATA, EBY, CUTT, TAKA, Yoshihiko, the GIANTS, and then adding a final, “And most importantly, thank you so much to hide! It’s been 16 years since we lost hide but he lives on in our hearts. Some may never get over it but someday it will get easier. When CUTT is 65 and Yoshihiko is 73… (Did I get that backwards?) Anyway, we’ll continue to pay tribute to him, even then. High schoolers these days only know X, so we’ll keep recruiting fresh blood to keep the flame alive.” Looking up at the iconic cowboy-hatted visage on the wall, he said, “The one who made it possible for us all to be here, is him. So let’s be grateful!”

Carried out independently in hide’s name, the event not only allowed the crowd to spend some quality time with live renditions of his music but the charity aspect ensures that hide’s legacy continues to give and give. It was a touching end to a very rare event, the beauty of the acoustic set and freedom of the session combining to pay a very special homage to a very special legend.

Set list

  1. DOUBT
  4. Beauty & Stupid
  5. ever free
  6. TELL ME
  7. FLAME


  2. PINK SPIDER (2)
  3. ROCKET DIVE (2)


VK Exclusive

There are 54 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Chika has been interested in visual kei music since VK bands first began holding free lives the Hokoten area in Harajuku. She was too young to go watch them back then in the early 90s, but the scenes on TV caught her eye. Since then, she has loved the passion of VK music and, of course, music in general. She majored in English literature in Japan and learned to speak English in the UK. After graduating from university, she has worked for both American and Japanese companies in IT and as a translator and continues various translations today.

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

@YuliyaPhoTop (Twitter) Yuliya is originally a fashion and portrait photographer with a BA from the London College of Fashion. Being a Japanophile with a passion for the Japanese rock scene and especially for old school visual kei, she moved to Japan where she found a chance to combine photography and music with ROKKYUU's help. Now she is based in Tokyo, where she keeps on rocking and shooting, enjoying every bit of it.

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