On Wednesday, we were up in London for a rock concert – the boys’ first rock concert. Had planned and saved for this a few months ago as an early Christmas present for them. I haven’t been to a rock concert since before the boys were born. In a way, this was a first for me as the band is a Japanese rock band, ‘One Ok Rock’, one we all like, but one of Liam’s absolute favourites.
It almost went pear-shaped – the original plan involved us staying overnight in London as the concert was on Thursday 10th December. Both boys had booked Thursday and Friday off work. Tuesday afternoon, about 15:00, I got a call on my mobile – a recorded message – informing me that, not only had the venue for the concert been changed, the date had as well!! To the 9th. Which was the next day! Apparently, following an inspection of the roof at the original venue, it was deemed unsafe, and has since been closed for repairs. I don’t handle that sort of thing well, so had a mini-meltdown. Had to get in touch with Gordon before he left work at 15:30 to see if he could swap his days; same deal with Liam; and tried to change our hotel booking. Thank heavens Gordon’s supervisor was within earshot, and he ok’d Gordon having the Wed off; ditto with Liam. But couldn’t do anything about our hotel as it was too short notice, and there was no availability there or anywhere in the vicinity that didn’t cost too much. So decided to go for the day instead, leaving on the 16:00 train and returning, probably on the last train at midnight. To top it off, I had a bit of a sicky tummy on the Wed afternoon … talk about an interesting journey *bleah*
The 4 guys in the band are in their mid-20s. Despite being Japanese, they speak English fluently, especially the lead singer, Takahiro ‘Taka’ Moriuchi. The band was formed in 2005 by the lead guitarist, Toru Yamashita, a high school student at the time, who persuaded his friend, Ryota Kohama to learn the bass. After the original drummer left for personal reasons, the present drummer, Tomoya Kanki, joined. Taka, unhappy with the band he was in, left and joined One Ok Rock. They decided on the name as they used to rehearse at one o’clock in the morning, and because the Japanese language makes no distinction between the letters ‘r’ and ‘l’, they changed ‘o’clock’ to ‘o’(k)crock’, and separated it to ‘ok rock’.
(L to R) Ryota Kohama, Taka, Tomoya Kanki, Toru Yamashita
They really took off in 2012, with their most popular song, ‘The Beginning’. It was chosen as the theme song for a live action adaptation of the ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ manga; it won 2 awards. In 2013, they toured for the first time outside Asia, and visited Europe where 4 of their 5 concerts sold out immediately. In 2014, they initially held 2 concerts in America, and later in the year, joined the VANS Warped Tour, the largest travelling music festival in America, and performed in 18 cities. In September 2014, the band performed at Yokohama Stadium to a crowd of 60,000.
Their latest album, ‘35xxxv’, was released this year, and the first single, ‘Mighty Long Fall’, is the theme song for the sequel of ‘Rurouni Kenshin’. They have been touring America, Asia and Europe, and we were lucky to catch their performance in London.
They tend to change their music style, but we like their different sounds – I think it’s good when bands have variety like that, comfortably switching from rock-based, fast songs to quieter, tender pieces. Also, they sing in, both, Japanese and English, in the same song, which works really well. To quote Taka, “The passion of a musician is what matters”.
So, the concert – it was at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, which was originally an art deco cinema. The boys wanted to stand downstairs, and we had a fantastic view of the stage because the floor was basically split into 3 levels, and we were on the highest. Despite being near the back, because of the small area, we could still see the band clearly. By the time we got in, the first opening act, ‘Dead!’, was well under way. I cannot believe I’d forgotten how loud live concerts are! The next act, ‘We Came As Romans’, was even louder! Both bands were good, and we enjoyed them, even though we’d never heard anything by them.
Then it was time … the lights were low, we could just make out Tomoya, the drummer, taking his place at the drums, and Toru and Ryota on either side of him. A flock of lit mobile phones hovered in the air in front of the stage, ready to capture the action. Music gradually flowed from the stage – the instrumental intro from ‘35xxxv’. Then a literal eruption of lights and music with ‘Take Me To The Top’. The roar of the crowd almost drowned out the band.
I was stood between Gordon and Liam, and had space behind me to step back slightly. I don’t know which I enjoyed more – watching the band, or watching my boys really getting into it and rocking!! Liam tends to be fairly reticent – to see him letting loose was such fun. Gordon even got in a bit of head-banging! A proud mummy moment – I used to head-bang back in the day … now it just gives me a headache! Ooh, me age ;)
The crowd were in fine voice, and the band gave us plenty of opportunity to sing with Taka turning his mike to us, and encouraging us to join in, even with the Japanese lyrics – we did not disappoint :) With the sound reverberating from the stage through the floor and up through our bodies, it felt like we were linked to the band through the music.
They did an encore, with ‘The Way Back’, finishing with ‘No Scared’. Huge white balloons were loosed on the crowd, and it added to the party atmosphere as people kept them in the air. As they said their goodbyes, Taka plonked fun, Christmas hats on the others, and they wished us all a happy Christmas.
One Ok Rock are a great live act, in my opinion. Despite jumping and leaping about on stage, Taka, for the most part, holds the notes well, even the high notes of ‘Heartache’. There’s no posturing, nothing sexual … the focus is the music, and their passion in delivering it. Just like the concerts I used to go to.
After the panicky stress of the day before, feeling a touch sicky on the journey – in the end, it was all worth it. At the end of the concert, both boys turned and hugged me, thanking me for their Christmas present! Happy mummy. And we managed to get the 23:00 train, which got us home at 01:30 ... just as well they had Thursday off.
Managed a couple of vids on my darling camera, which never seems to know what to do with itself in dim lighting … The first song is 'Deeper Deeper', and the second, 'Cry Out', from their latest album.
And here are a couple of their songs off Youtube:
‘Mighty Long Fall’ is my favourite on their latest album …
‘The Beginning’ is my absolute favourite. When they started playing it at the concert, I admit to having a fan-girl moment ;)