Sunday, 17 June 2012


L’Arc En Ciel at O2 Indigo, London, on Wednesday 11th April 2012

More than 20 years since forming in Osaka, L’Arc En Ciel finally made it to Britain with a show at the London’s Indigo2.

The first thing I notice about the place is how small it is, compared to the enormodomes L’Arc En Ciel usually play in Japan. But this is London and most people have never heard of the band so, for any Japanese expats in the audience, the chance to see them in such intimate surroundings must have seemed too good to be true.

There was a sense of “Japan recreated” in the venue—perhaps the £50 ticket price put off all but hard-core fans—with the well-behaved audience waving their glo sticks (only £6 each) in time to the music and a bar that closed once the music started.

L’Arc En Ciel’s delayed arrival in London struck me as surprising, considering the nod they clearly give to a heavy metal and glam rock tradition that was pioneered in Britain during the 1970s.

The four-piece were clearly looking to impress, with singer Hyde opening up his on-stage chat with “I wanted to see you, London.” His language skills extended to a few more sentences, though the way he was holding his ear made it look like he was being fed his lines, David Coleman-style, from somewhere else.

Nevertheless, the band communicate really well with the audience, and guitarist Ken proved to be the star of the show for this reviewer, when he pulled out a piece of paper (no hint of an earpiece this time) to deliver a speech that referenced Sean Connery, Roger Moore, the London Dungeon and golf, before revealing that he had bought bassist Tetsuya some “cool” leggings and Tube map boxer shorts, presumably to go with the Union Jack frock coat he was wearing on stage. As for the bassist’s kilt, Judas Priest frontman and hero of Ken, Rob Halford (who also got a mention), would surely have approved.

Ken’s speech led into “Seventh Heaven,” one of the strongest numbers of the set, though every song was greeted with rapturous applause. For this reviewer, “My Heart Draws a Dream” impressed, with an extended guitar solo that lifted the song from the rock conventionality that afflicted some of their other numbers.

And like any rock band worth their salt, L’Arc En Ciel had fire flashes and lots of visual effects. Some of the videos on the stage backdrop were very imaginative, particularly the floating fish, stick men (think Blue Man Group) and cherry blossom, prompting a couple of girls at the front to start waving what looked like a couple of real sprigs of sakura.

While the show lasted more than two hours, there was no excuse to keep the audience waiting for 10 minutes before coming back for an encore, especially after they had originally walked on stage an hour and 45 minutes after the doors opened (they didn’t even have to wait for a support band to finish, as there wasn’t any). Nevertheless, with their enthusiasm and eye for showmanship, L’Arc En Ciel demonstrated why they have endured for so long. Twenty years was a long time to wait for their British fans but, somehow, I think they’ll be back on these shores a tad sooner next time.

Set List

Ibara no Namida
Good Luck My Way
Drink It down
Hitomi no Juunin
Daybreak’s Bell
Forbidden Lover
My Heart Draws a Dream
Seventh Heaven
Driver’s High
Stay Away
Ready Steady Go
Winter Fall

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