The composer, lyricist and hard rock drummer wows fans at his Bangkok concert
One of the very few foreign artists not to immediately cancel his Bangkok show when the military seized power on May 22, Yoshiki, former drummer and co-founder of Japanese rockers X-Japan and now a respected classical composer, started his concert by making it clear to his fans that he would never desert them.
Playing to a 3,000-strong crowd at the Jubilee Ballroom, Muang Thong Thani on Tuesday night, his first words on taking the stage were, “Whatever happens to Thailand, I will always come back here”.
The delighted fans responded in kind, crossing their hands in the trademark X Japan style and cheering loudly.
Ensuring that the show always goes on is an X Japan mantra. The band, with Yoshiki on drums, played in Bangkok at the height of the 2011 floods as part of their reunion tour in front of 10,000 fans happy not to have been let down by yet another to international artist.
In town on this occasion to promote his latest classical album, the third in just over a decade and which features collaborations with Beatles producer Sir George Martin, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra and the Quartet San Francisco, he kicked off the show with a melodic arrangement of X Japan’s eponymous hit “Forever Love”.
Cutting a fine figure in black trousers, black shirt and a black embroidered jacket, Yoshiki went on to play his “Golden Globe Theme”, commissioned by the organisers of the 2012 Golden Globe Awards, and “Rosa”, which featured Violet UK's Katie Fitzgerald’s on vocals.
He closed out the first half with “Anniversary”, the song he composed for the celebrations marking Emperor Akihito’s 10 years on the throne.
After a brief intermission, the second act got underway with a performance by a string quartet of Yoshiji’s classical reworking of “Amethyst”, the number that X Japan traditionally used to open their stadium shows. He returned to the piano, this time clad in a white jacket and shirt, to perform his improvisation of the theme of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” then segued into “Hero”, the ballad he penned for upcoming movie “Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary” on which he was accompanied by Flitzgerald’ soothing yet emotional vocals.
Then came the surprise he had earlier promised to Thai fans: “IV”, his own rendition of the much-loved Thai folk song “Duan Pen”. Visibly touched by the gesture, the audience sang along.
Yoshiki dedicated his next song “Without You” to his father, who committed suicide when Yoshiki was 10, as well as to his former bandmates, now deceased, Taiji and Hide. The memories are obviously still painful and an emotional Yoshiki was seen wiping tears from his eyes.
Yoshiki played a short version of speed metal track “Kurenai” then handed over to the quartet for “Art of Life”, switching to a DJ set-up and energetically banging the piano keys as the song reached its climax.
Turning back to the audience, Yoshiki told them how much he loved tom yum goong and laughed at his bad pronunciation of this trademark dish. Fans were quick to jump to his rescue with the cacophony becoming so confused that he called on just one member of the audience to say the three words.
Returning to the piano, he closed out his show with “Endless Rain” joined by the audience who unsurprisingly knew the Japanese lyrics off by heart. Three curtain calls and lots of selfies with fans later, Yoshiki was finally able to leave the stage. Fans will be hoping he makes it back here and soon.