L'arc en Ciel

11th April 2012
Written by Rachel Yarwood

Ibara no Namida
CHASE - English Version-
Hitomi no Juunin
X X X - English Version-
Forbidden Lover
Driver's High

Winter Fall

It really was not surprising when it was announed that L'arc en Ciel would be performing at IndigO2 and not at a more veterened venue such as Islington Academy. Upon arrival it became all the more clearer as fans snaked in lines as best as they could, the sight, in ways of numbers, was truly magnificent and also an eye opener as to how huge this show was promising to be.
Once inside, the venue itself has a rather theatre-esque vibe to it and as well as being spotlessly clean, the amount of staff dotted around keeping things as tidy as possible would later on prove to be something of a waste of time. 

We were greeted by an announcement (or two) just before the actual show began, and as the humungous LED screen that was to be the background flickered into action, the roar of the crowd errupted as we watched an eloquent yet epic opening video sequence introducing L'arc en Ciel's 20th Anniversary World Tour through a series of visuals backed by instrumental sounds. As each member of L'arc en Ciel slowly entered one by one on stage to tremendous cheers from the crowd, we were then enveloped in darkness before a solitary full moon shone brightly from the background and the first song of the night "Ibara No Naida" began. 

If by this point already, what with the visuals and the exceptional quality of the sound not just from the background but with the instruments and Hyde's vocals as well, you thought that things could not get any better, the whole live experience of this show was intensified with torrents of fire blazing on the stage. 

The stage was a decent size, perhaps smaller than what L'arc are used to back in Japan, but big enough to allow for the pyrotechnics and also the backdrop video screen that really helped to accentuate the drama of each song of the performance. Each song performed was transformed to another level entirely as we were torn between watching the band and watching the vibrant abstract sequences that switched from natural images of falling cherry blossoms, butterflies, and then to dancing skeletons. These visuals gave a unique atmosphere to each song as the images flowed together in perfect time with the rhythm of the music. 

The music itself tonight was beyond phenomenal. Not just with the hefty set list which, with the help of the fans themselves, brought together a selection of old and new songs but also the quality of the sound. Of course the fact remains that L'arc en Ciel have been performing for a good number of years and these things come with practise, but you cannot deny a good venue layout when you have one, and the IndigO2 certainly was worth its booking. The acoustics were exceptionally good, accomodating both the rock instrumentals as in "Seventh Heaven" and "Ready Steady Go", the subtle ballads, and of course Hyde's impeccable vocal range which were full of passion, energy and every bit as impressive as what you hear on their studio works.

Yukihiro's drumming was exceptionally good also. Poised on his own podium and directly centre and beneath the gargantuan screen, the heat must have been close to unbearable as the band performed near enough each song one after the other, but he never once showed any sign of this and even had a solo prepared which he performed professionally without fault. 

The band members as a whole were charming and seemed just as enthusiastic to be playing here in London as the crowd were to be seeing them. Ken was first to address the fans giving a speech about his favourite things to see in London (in particular the London Dungeon) and shared his shopping experience from 'Cool Britannia' which was met with an amount of laughter as he pulled from the bag a pair of boxer shorts embellished with the London Underground Tube Map. 

The highlight for many fans, and fans of Bassist Tetsuya, was the traditional throwing (and even to the second level of the venue) of bananas to the crowd. For those who did not manage to catch one of these, the sight was still eagerly received, as was the moment he pulled out a glittery banana shaped pistol which fired jets of water into the crowd. 
During the finale "Niji" we were enclosed in a snowfall of white feathers so vast that it was one of those moments for a few members, if not all, of the downstairs standing crowd where you wished you'd kept your mouth (which was agape in awe) closed!

The performance here in London's IndigO2 brought together a great mix of ballads and rock classics, old and new material, something that will remain vivid in the minds of every L'arc en Ciel fan who was there to witness this landmark event on British turf.  It was altogether a wonderfully orchestrated event for their historic 20th Anniversary World Tour and of course for their debut show here in the UK.