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Photo Gallery & Show Review: The Last Rockstars

Photos and Review by Angela Leung

February 4, 2023

Hammerstein Ballroom

New York, NY

A band consisting of four of the biggest Japanese musicians is surely enough to bring in a lot of buzz. The Last Rockstars is a supergroup formed by Yoshiki (X Japan), Hyde (L’Arc-en-Ciel and Vamps), Sugizo (X Japan and Luna Sea) and Miyavi. Following their debut announcement at a press conference, they embarked on a mini tour with shows in Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles. Even though the band only released one single together so far, that didn’t stop all the shows from quickly selling out given that the four members have been veterans in the jrock scene for ages.

New York has been experiencing frigid temperatures this time around but this show was definitely a hot one. Kicking things off was the opener Band-Maid, a five-piece rock band from Japan. Members Saiki, Miku, Kanami, Misa and Akane were no strangers to the U.S. crowd after having held their own successful tours here in the past and will have another tour for their 10th year anniversary. They played songs such as “Real Existence” and “Domination” while ending it off with the fan favorite “Freedom.” Despite only having a short set, these talented ladies got the crowd pumped up with their charismatic stage presence.

Shortly after, an angelic hymn blared through the speakers followed by a VCR of a cyborg announcing the members, “On guitar Miyavi, on guitar Sugizo, on vocals Hyde, on drums and piano Yoshiki, introducing The Last Rockstars,” as they individually made their entrance on stage. The band dived right into the eponymous track “The Last Rockstars” which got the crowd pumped up as they clapped along to the beat of the music. Right off the bat, the audience was in for a treat.

It was hot alright, not just from the energy alone but also from the pyrotechnics that continuously erupted on stage (much needed on a cold day). A majority of the setlist included covers from each member’s respective projects such as Hyde’s “6 or 9” and X Japan’s “Beneath the Skin.” During one of their MCs, Yoshiki stated, “At a time like this we should unite,” bringing old and new jrock fans together for this highly anticipated event.

As one could imagine, placing four legendary musicians in the same room calls for a great opportunity for them to showcase their instrumental capabilities. Miyavi (a.k.a. Samurai Guitarist) brought out his distinctive finger-slapping style as he challenged Sugizo for a jaw-dropping guitar battle. There really wasn’t a clear “winner” in that battle but you could say the winners were the fascinated onlookers who got to witness it. After all that shredding, Sugizo traded his guitar for a violin and started playing an enchanting piece before Hyde joined in on vocals for the song “Folly.”

Next was Yoshiki’s turn to be in the spotlight. He showed off his impressive drum skills before launching his drumsticks into the crowd. The screams continued as he transitioned onto the piano and started playing “紅 Kurenai (Crimson),” bringing a sense of nostalgia for those X Japan fans. Hearing the crowd singing along in unison was a touching moment as Yoshiki thanked them for lending their voices.

The show continued with more covers, including L’Arc-en-Ciel’s “Honey” and Miyavi’s “Bang!” with the band bringing a new flavor to these renditions. Stage production was top-notch and the venue shook like an earthquake from all that palpable energy. In between performances, the members spent a considerable amount of time speaking to the audience. They reflected on their thoughts as a supergroup with Miyavi commenting, “Our common purpose is to share our love and positivity through music,” as he credited Yoshiki for being the mastermind behind this project. “This is the beginning of our journey,” Sugizo chimed in. There were also a handful of funny moments here and there, including the part where Hyde placed a bra and bunny ears on his head, gaining a ton of laughter from the audience.

Aside from covers, the band had a few unreleased original tracks up their sleeve such as “Up & Down” and “Psycho Love.” During the encore stage, Yoshiki gave a speech about how there are people around the world that are suffering and he wanted to give them strength with the ballad he wrote called “Shine.” Since it was an unreleased song, he took a moment to teach the crowd the lyrics and encouraged them to sing along. As the lyrics flashed on the LED display, everyone understood the assignment and started singing while holding up their phone flashlights.

“You guys are our rockstars, New York City you guys are the f*cking rockstars!” Yoshiki exclaimed, leading up to their last song for the night (the same song they opened up with), “The Last Rockstars.” A memorable moment was when they invited Band-Maid on stage for a banzai cheer to celebrate this milestone. The members took their time saying goodbyes and taking photos with the crowd, as if they didn’t want to leave. They made sure to show their love and appreciation before ending the night off with a final bow while the triumphant chants of “Last Rockstars!” echoed through the venue.

This two+ hour set was enough to demonstrate the undeniable amount of group cohesiveness The Last Rockstars exudes. It was a pleasure having the opportunity to attend this show and we look forward to their future endeavors!

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1 Comment

Nerys Elizabeth
Nerys Elizabeth
Feb 28, 2023

Excellent write up and fantastic photos for a band that deserves all the recognition in the world! I can't wait to see what the future holds for The Last Rockstars!

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