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Luna Sea live on stage. Surreal.

I never thought I’d see such a thing in my life. The words “Luna Sea” were illuminated upon the Hollywood Palladium’s shanty marquee. After what seemed like an eternity in traffic, we (some friends and I) were here; we had finally arrived.

The venue itself seemed kind of bleh. Hollywood’s just as dirty as downtown LA in my opinion. It kind of made me wonder why Luna Sea would come out to play here of all places. Oh well, I’m not going to complain. To my surprise, the line wasn’t really as long as I had anticipated. It only went halfway around the block, as opposed to around the block almost twice at J-Rock Revolution a few years back. After a bit of exploratory time killing, as well as a stop by McDonald’s, the line was moving; we were finally moving into the Palladium!

The first thing I did upon entrance was buy a t-shirt. Like any fanboy/girl, I had to buy a t-shirt. For me, it was kind of an achievement;  I had gotten an X-Japan t-shirt a few years back, and now, I’m finally able to get my hands on a Luna Sea t-shirt — tangible proof that I was there!

After buying the t-shirt, we moved towards the actual concert area. There were no chairs of course, which made me wonder why that had seat numbers on our tickets. Although my legs were tired, it was no matter — no pain, no gain. Watching the audience pour into the venue I was very surprised; there weren’t that many people at the Palladium. While I personally felt that this was awesome, because smaller shows have a more intimate feel to them, I felt kind of bad for Luna Sea, as they’re a band that’s used to rocking out in front of thousands upon thousands of fans. There must have been only a few hundred in the Palladium. Pushing random thoughts aside, we waited.

Time passed by very slowly as we waited for the band to come out. The stage was in view, and I spent the majority of my time trying to see what kind of amp equipment the band members had on stage. While I didn’t get to see J’s epic “Virgin Mary” bass amp, I did get to see Sugizo’s rig. I found it interesting that he was using an EVH cabinet, and possibly an EVH head as well. Sugizo + Eddie Van Halen =  epic tone? However, as I was discussing this with one of my friends, the lights in the room dimmed drastically. It was finally time.

As the lights went dark, the stage was enveloped in a foggy mist. Hands and fingers flew up. Screams of fans exploded through the darkness, as the five-man band took to the stage. After moving to their respective instruments, an ambient layer of sound arose from the overhead speakers. Sugizo played a series of  drawn out notes on his triple-neck custom, followed by Inoran’s signature arpeggios. Shinya’s drums then kicked in; slowly at first, but they built up, only to explode into J’s ball-shattering bassline — the intro to “LOVELESS.”

They played a great deal of their signature songs, although I was really hoping they’d play “JESUS.” I guess you can’t have everything. Anyhow, here was the setlist for the evening:

LOVELESS

Dejavu

SLAVE

END OF SORROW

TRUE BLUE

FACE TO FACE

gravity

RA-SE-N

Providence

GENESIS OF MIND

Drum Solo

Bass Solo

FATE

STORM

DESIRE

TIME IS DEAD

ROSIER

TONIGHT

Encore:

I for You

IN MY DREAM (WITH SHIVER)

WISH

Aside from the venue speakers being so loud that they kind of ruined the tone of the instruments, the night went well. Words cannot describe the sheer awe and awesomeness of seeing Luna Sea perform live for the first time in North America. The fact that those five band members — the same five that I really look up to, as both, musicians and personalities — were in the same room as I, was most surreal. I was especially fond of seeing Sugizo, Inoran, and J play live, as I’ve studies their styles of play meticulously through youtube.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. I finally got to see Luna Sea play live. To see the same songs I’ve practiced and solos I’ve worked on played live by their original creators is mind-blowing. I can only hope the band gets back together and starts working on a new album. After spending almost a decade apart, I can only wonder how each member has grown musically. But, in the end, I think they’ll be back. At least, I hope they’ll be back.

The moon always comes back.

With that said, Merry Christmas!