June 11th 2017, Zepp Tokyo – Overcast skies and humid weather awaited fans as they gathered beneath the popular ferris wheel at the entrance of the Zepp Tokyo venue awaiting the start of SUGIZO vs INORAN BEST BOUT 2017. This was the second BEST BOUT performance of the year, the duo having just rocked Osaka and were now taking a spin to Tokyo to complete the first half of their tour.

The excitement that hung in the air was palpable as venue filled to its brim, the packed standing floor buzzing with energy. It took hardly no time at all for the audience to begin clapping in unison, calling out the names of the two LUNA SEA guitarists.

Suddenly everything was plunged into darkness and all eyes were glued to the stage, which was masked by a sheer white screen. A bright spotlight behind the screen cast SUGIZO`s shadow upon it, larger than life, as he began a lovely violin intro. Upon the screen intermingled with his shadow were projections of mandala, trees and abstract patterns, entrancing as new layers are added to the intro with every instrument that joins in. Finally, with a second bright spotlight, INORAN`s shadow is cast as he aggressively plays his guitar, his shadow changing size rapidly with his back and forth movements towards the light. SUGIZO, in sharp contrast, moved with slow graceful motions and flourishes.

Violin against guitar in an outstanding harmonious battle like titans clashing in the night sky, BEST BOUT had begun, and a satisfying tension filled the air.

SUGIZO

Taking the stage for his turn, he immediately set the tone with a song from his latest album. The song, titled IRA, really showcases SUGIZO`s experimental style. The chaotic and unpredictable beat paired with long wailing guitar notes and whimsical flute notes has a cleansing affect, prepping you for what`s to come. The lights and abstract projections upon the screen were purely black and white, setting a mysterious atmosphere.

Visual stimulation and the skillful manipulation of instruments were prominent throughout the entire set. Abstract and geometric shapes or somber portraits all worked to set the mood and convey a story for these instrumental tracks. Lights also played a heavy role, either in its absence of in the presence of sporadic and brightly colored lights for his electronically-heavy rave style tracks.

The ebb and flow of of energy and emotion between songs kept you captivated at all times. Even within a single song, the energy of it could change at a moments notice. With two drummers accompanying him on stage, every beat seemed to shake you to your core while the wailing cries of guitars and violins shook your very soul. Thrilling from start to finish.

1.IRA
2.TELL ME WHY NOT PSYCHEDELIA?
3.FATIMA
4.Lux Aeterna
5.Decaying
6.禊 (Misogi)
7.DO-FUNK DANCE

INORAN

Taking to the stage, INORAN wasted no time in getting the audience pumped with grace and glory. With his first song he too set the pace for his set. There were no screens or projections while INORAN was on stage, his atmosphere was set with the clean simplicity of bright flights which suited his music perfectly.

For his 6th song, Beautiful World, INORAN welcomed his opponent SUGIZO to the stage. The two of them immediately took on battle stances, fists raised, before their faces broke into big smiles as they embraced one another in a hug. The beautiful paired performance was further highlighted by SUGIZO playfully kissing INORAN`s ear, causing him to chuckle even as he sang.

Get Laid had some great crowd interaction during it`s extended intro when INORAN prompted the gentlemen to chant “Get laid, get laid!“ and the ladies to say “Oh yeah, oh yeah!“

INORAN`s ebb and flow took you from the bouncy grooves to heavy rock sound and back, all while possessing that comfortable familiarty and consistency that keeps you upbeat and wanting to dance. The bright and lighthearted atmosphere is addictively fun and a pleasure to listen to.

1. grace and glory
2. Thank you
3. Get a feeling
4. Awaking in myself
5. 2Lime`s
6. Beautiful Now
7. Rightaway
8. Get Laid
9. raize
10. All We Are

 

If I had to summarize BEST BOUT I would say that it was a battle between a dark and unpredictable future against a bright and steady past. SUGIZO`s experimental and electrically charged work against that fresh and clean classic rock sound of INORAN. Both masters in their chosen styles, it`s impossible for me to chose one over the other. Having enjoyed both of their performances thoroughly I feel that the audience the true winners of this battle!

BEST BOUT`s Japan leg may be finished, but the fun isn`t over, catch SUGIZO and INORAN for yourself on the Asian leg of their tour:

6/17(Sat) 香港・九龍灣國際展貿中心Music Zone
6/18(Sun) 香港・九Music Zone, Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre
6/24(Sat) Singapore Zepp@BIGBOX Singapore