Photos by Angela Leung
April 30, 2023
Palladium Times Square
New York, NY
On April 30th, RADWIMPS, a Japanese rock band consisting of Yojiro Noda, Akira Kuwahara and Yusuke Takeda, concluded their North American Tour 2023 at the Palladium Times Square in New York. After having their previous tour canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international fans are ecstatic to finally get to see them live. This tour, powered by Crunchyroll, was announced a few months ahead of the North American release of Suzume, an animated film in which the band composed the soundtrack. Due to overwhelming traction, a second date has been added for the New York stop.
Amongst the bustling streets of Times Square were local and tourist fans who congregated at the venue for the second sold-out show. Despite being around since 2001, this was RADWIMPS’ first time touring the United States and as a result all their shows quickly sold out with some being upgraded to bigger venues. As a band notable for providing the soundtracks for several critically acclaimed animated films such as Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name and Weathering with You, many anime lovers alike found comfort in their music. Fans were seen posing and taking pictures of the Suzume standee in the lobby before the show.
An announcement was first made on the speakers, thanking the audience for being there and asking them to limit their cell phone recording during the show. With no opening acts on the bill, the band promptly made their appearance while greeted by passionate screams. The familiar tunes of a piano filled the room as they opened up with “Grand Escape” from the Weathering with You soundtrack. Within the first three songs, the members performed in front of backdrops consisting of galaxies and clouds while illuminated by colorful lights, creating a dazzling spectacle.
“How you guys feeling New York?” frontman Yojiro addressed the crowd, “We’ve waited for this moment so much. Let’s have a great day!” With that being said, the show was already off on a high note. A handful of the songs from the setlist were from their soundtrack albums including the chart-topper “前前前世 (Zenzenzense)” from Your Name which ignited lots of singing and dancing amongst the fans. Slowing things down for a bit, Yojiro switched to the keyboard and started playing the melancholy melodies of “三葉のテーマ (Theme of Mitsuha)” before transitioning to “Sparkle” as the crowd lit up the room with their phone flashlights.
On to the first MC of the night where the members gave their speeches in English. “This tour has been way more incredible than we had ever imagined,” bassist Yusuke commented. Guitarist Akira (Kuwa) then followed up with an “It’s like a dream to be here live in New York.” Yojiro informed everyone that Yusuke and Akira’s English skill level was like how an average educated Japanese person speaks while showing the audience Akira’s notepad filled with his English notes. The crowd cheered on in encouragement after that segment. Yojiro continued by mentioning how the band planned for this tour a year and a half ago and that they never expected to be playing in front of huge crowds. The members bowed as Yojiro thanked the fans for bringing this tour to fruition.
RADWIMPS made sure to include their older tracks as well that featured their J-rock roots. During “DADA,” fans couldn’t help but sing along to the song’s nihilistic lyrics while Yojiro responded back with a “よくできました (well done).” A highlight of the show was during their “おしゃかしゃま (Oshakashama)” performance in which Akira, Yusuke, and their touring drummers Mizuki Mori and Masafumi Eno dueled one another in an epic instrumental jam session. There was a brief pause, followed up by some on-beat clapping from the audience as the music reached a crescendo and the band continued with the rest of the song.
The audience shouted “大好き (I love you)” before the band proceeded to play their slower hits. “The next song is about my future baby,” said Yojiro, leading to “Tummy” as the English-translated lyrics projected on the LED display. To accommodate their international audiences, certain songs from the setlist had English-translated lyrics on the screen. As the tour coincided with the newly released Suzume, the band also treated their fans to a performance of “カナタハルカ (Kanata Haluka)” with clips from the movie playing in the background.
After RADWIMPS finished with “君と羊と青 (Kimi to Hitsuji to Ao),” the crowd was far from being tired as they chanted for more songs, luring the band out for a much-needed encore stage. The encore was not much different from the previous night’s as it started off with “夢灯籠 (Yume Tourou).” The crowd then began shouting for the band to play “いいんですか？ (Iin Desu ka?)” to which Yojiro hilariously retorted, “It’s not a request system.” Nevertheless, they ended up playing that song anyways (which wasn’t included during the first night), much to everyone’s anticipation. The set ended with “SUMMER DAZE 2021,” a track characterized by groovy beats that brought summer vibes to a rainy, spring day.
One word succinctly describes that RADWIMPS show: rad (no pun intended). As mentioned by the band, they promised to return and will look forward to meeting their fans again. We were thankful to be able to cover this show and would like to congratulate them on selling out their first-ever North American tour!
Quotations have been edited for clarity and conciseness.