Concert Recap: Yoshiki Classical Special at Carnegie Hall

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). For more of his articles, click here.

On Jan. 12-13, Yoshiki of the band X Japan—the nation’s number one rock group, which has sold out the 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome a record 18 times and has moved more than 30 million singles and albums since forming in the 1980s—fulfilled a lifelong dream by debuting, and also selling out, two consecutive nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City with his Yoshiki Classical Special performance.

Backed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuga Cohler with arrangements by Shelly Berg, the nearly three-hour concert brought an arena vibe to the traditional concert hall setting. Featuring a mix of X Japan classics, new material, and pitch perfect renditions from the book of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Yoshiki brought the tunes to life at the piano, and additional turns from guest vocalists Katie Fitzgerald and Ashley Knight provided bright spots of witty banter (unlike other Japanese superstars poised for American fame, Yoshiki’s English is fluent).

The production team pushed the limits of imagination for Carnegie Hall, with lighting so intense that Yoshiki himself had to ask his crew mid-song to reposition of one of the rigs. Videos and still images (courtesy of last year’s internationally released documentary We Are X) were amply beamed overhead throughout the show (including an epic credit crawl at the end), giving the audience the full scope of Yoshiki’s lifelong artistic journey.

In the final stretch following the X Japan epic “Art of Life,” an instrumental version of “Endless Rain” spotlighted a colossal mirror ball that bathed the hall in brilliant, swirling light, as those in the front rows unexpectedly belted out its bilingual chorus to the delight of longtime fans.

While X Japan supporters might have to wait a bit longer to witness another full band performance in New York (they last headlined Madison Square Garden in 2014), Yoshiki Classical Special easily lived up to its name, making another dream come true for both performer and audience.

For additional photos and videos of the concert, visit Yoshiki’s homepage at www.yoshiki.net.