Moi dix Mois Celebrate Mana’s Birthday Onstage

Live Report

by Kate Havas, posted August 9, 2011

"Mana-sama" may be an ageless, androgynous legend, but he still has a birthday!

From outside Shibuya O-West it wasn’t clear whether you were attending a live or a fashion event. The fans were all dressed in their best gothic attire, many in Mana’s own Moi-Meme-Moitie brand, with voluminous lolita skirts, feathery headdresses, and even a few full-sized Victorian top-hats in the mix. Passers-by slowed down to gawk, but the fans didn’t seem to mind, waiting patiently despite the rain and the crowd.

Onto a stage set simply with a backdrop of Moi dix Mois’ signature decagram, Hayato entered, followed by Sugiya, K, and Mana, a white cross lit up on his guitar. The members raised their hands in the metal devil-horn gesture as vocalist Seth entered and the band launched into “The Seventh Veil,” fans pumping their hands in unison as the stage lights went from violet to red.

The tension heightened amid the opening “Witchcraft,” when Mana and K took center stage with their dueling guitars. Crossing the stage, Mana teasingly flitted his hand above the audience as they screamed, pressing closer, unaware of their layers of ruffles crushing against bodies. In “Divine Place.” Seth was able to really show off his vocals as the pace slowed down a fraction to let the fans catch their breath. Hayato seemed to enjoy this one too, singing along with the chorus and drumming enthusiastically. “The SECT” began with an acappella opening as the decagram changed colors to black and white and fans were lead to scream the title as Seth walked the stage before backing up to lean against Mana while the audience reached out adoringly.

Seth remarked that the fans had been made to wait for this, as the event was originally scheduled in March and postponed due to the earthquake. He asked the audience to put their hearts together and into the D-I-X movements for the next song, “Sanctum Regnum.” They practiced for a few minutes, Seth constantly encouraging the audience to get louder and telling them that since this was a special day, Mana might even say it along with them. Mana gave a thumbs up but didn’t see fit to speak, and Seth told the audience they would have to be louder and scream longer in the song. And scream they did, arms flailing to make the D-I-X gestures. Then the band played “Dies Irie.” At the last, Mana kissed a pick, threw it, and left the stage.

Seth then explained that it was Mana’s birthday celebration (which technically happened back in March, before the postponement), and that they wanted to play a high-spirited rock birthday song. After a moment of practicing the rock version of “Happy Birthday,” Seth instructed the fans to clasp their hands together, look up at the stage like adoring maidens (men included), and call for Mana–though he admitted this wouldn’t work as well for people up on the second floor, who had no choice but to look down.

The audience sounded appropriately sweet as they called “Mana-sama!”, but Mana didn’t appear. This time they were told to call loudly, from the gut, and that brought Mana back to the stage to the sound of noneotherthan Malice Mizer’s own Ma Cherie. The audience went wild when they saw Mana on a scooter with a teddy bear and toy gun like in the old days. He threw the gun at the thrilled fans and hopped off the scooter, doing a birthday dance to the overjoyed audience’s delight. Since it was a birthday party, of course there was cake. Sugiya wheeled out a strawberry shortcake and lit the candles which Mana blew out in one go, taking care not to catch his frilly sleeves on fire.

Seth was then privileged to read the “Message from Mana” which thanked everyone for coming for his birthday and asked if they were enjoying themselves. That was met with a round of approving applause. He said it had been ten years since he’d started his work as an artist, and that they needed to plan an appropriate commemoration to that effect, starting with a live on August 21. They joked about doing an okonomiyaki tour, okonomiyaki being something between pizza and pancake and beloved by the Japanese, as a 10th anniversary celebration but instead are currently offering a photobook, Philosophy, which will tell you “everything about Moi dix Mois”, and Sugiya displayed it for the audience. Mana also wanted to introduce his new guitar, the royal Moitie blue with a white lit cross, which is now available as one of the Artist Series guitars as ESP.

The next song, “La dix croix,” was from their first album and sent the crowd into an excited frenzy of headbanging. For “the Prophet” the mood became more ominous as K screamed while being lit from below, creating a Halloween-like feel as his face was shadowed. The cross on Mana’s guitar pulsed in time with the music and as the music died down, the live house was filled with the sound of dripping water and they began to perform “Pendulum.” Seth moved to the back of the stage to sit on the edge of the drum platform and sang into the dark as the sound of dripping water returned. The audience was hushed as Seth disappeared for a moment, and returned with a white rose, gesturing to the audience and saying “We’re playing this for you” as the band began “Agnus Dei.” The mood picked up again as they decided to do another round of birthday cheering, trying to fit “Happy Birthday” into a visual bark. The audience then made hearts at the stage until Mana signaled that, no, he wanted them to jump, and so jump they did.

“Forbidden” was announced as the last song and as pipe organ music sounded, Seth sang loudly, his voice still sounding fresh. Sugiya came to the front for the four members to perform together and the audience raised hands towards them as they let the music swell. On the drums, Hayato was so enthusiastic that his stick shattered on the final bang.

The musicians then left the stage, leaving the crowd in hushed silence until a few audience members began chanting “Moi dix Mois!” to encourage the band’s return. Soon they did, Sugiya and Hayato first, followed by K, who blew a mouthful of smoke at the crowd. Mana returned with a blue riding crop and a change of guitar and they launched into “Deus ex machine.” As Mana came closer to the audience who reached out to grab at him, the combination of fatigue and fan enthusiasm resulted in a slight loss of balance, prompting the crowd to help him get righted. Sugiya came forward to head-bang and nearly collided with K as they crossed the stage, but even with those miss-steps the band never missed a note of the music. Mana ended the song with a twirl that set his skirt flying as he threw another pick.

The lighting flared red for the second encore, and the members and audience thrashed to ‘Ange~D side holy wings~.” Then pipe organ music began to play and Seth instructed everyone to take out the glow-sticks that had been passed out when they entered the live house. With a count of “Une-Deux-Trois” everyone broke the sticks together and the hall was filled with blue lights. The audience waved their sticks in unison throughout “Pageant” until it finished and a clock began to toll, signifying that the night, or at least the live, was coming to an end. Seth thanked everyone and the band tossed out their glow-sticks and exited, with Mana taking the final bow. The stage then went dark, the decagram the only thing lit as the chimes fell silent.

Fans had a long wait for this event, and Moi dix Mois made sure it was worth the wait. With August 21 already marked on the calendar, the elaborate dresses, top hats, and tails won’t be hanging on standby for long this time around, the rare, close schedule an unexpected bonus.

Set List

  1. The Seventh Veil
  2. Witchcraft
  3. Unmoved
  4. Divine Place
  5. The SECT
  6. Sanctum Regnum
  7. Dies Irae
  8. Rock Happy Birthday and Message from Mana
  9. La dix croix
  10. the Prophet
  11. Pendulum
  12. Agnus Dei
  13. Immortal Madness (X-time)
  14. Dead Scape
  15. Forbidden

Encore 1

  1. deus ex machina
  2. Ange~D side holy wings

Encore 2

  1. Pageant

Kate Havas first became interested in Japanese fashion and culture in college when manga, anime, and visual kei were just beginning to make their way to America. An art and English major with a love of clothes, Kate signed onto ROKKYUU in order cover fashion and report on Tokyo trends, but was quickly also recruited to the music side of things and has been having an adventure expanding her knowledge of all things VK since. Follow her on twitter at keito_kate!

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