Japanese rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel brought 6,800 fans screaming to their feet during their maiden Singapore concert at the Indoor Stadium on Saturday with hit songs from their 20-year music career.
On their second Southeast Asian stopover of their world tour, lead singer Hyde, bassist Tetsuya, guitarist Ken and drummer Yukihiro got their audience – which included not just Japanese expatriates and their families but many other Asians as well – fist-pumping and swaying to the beat.
The younger fans dressed in the visual kei genre of heavy make-up, elaborate hairstyles and flamboyant costumes that marked the band’s debut in Osaka in 1991.
Even though the band members have since toned down their look, they still sported their own recognisable brand of glam-rock aesthetics. Hyde still had his signature long hair, piercingly blue contact lens and androgynous outfit, though he had no visibly heavy makeup.
The vocalist was the first of the group to banter with the audience, affectionately recounting how he tried Singapore Sling the night before and got drunk on the country’s signature alcoholic beverage.
Ken even added in halting English, “Singapore is hot and you all are hot too!”
That set the tone for the entire night. While there was no mosh pit, members of the audience still stood up, danced and waved lightsticks frantically throughout the concert.
Guitarist Ken and Bassist Tetsuya flanked Hyde, wielding their instruments with such flair that one could not help but think that they were the epitome of “kakoiyi” (Japanese slang for cool).
And indeed L'Arc-en-Ciel – which means the rainbow in French – provided that they still had coolness in spades when they played fan favourites like “Stay away”, “Ready steady go”, “blurry eyes” and “The Fourth Avenue Café” which was used as a theme song for popular anime Samurai X on one occasion.
Jane, a student who was dressed in visual kei at the concert, said, “To me, L'Arc-en-Ciel are the gods of visual kei and I have always been buying their albums and my dressing has been thoroughly influenced by them.”
Another member of the audience, 23-year-old game designer Takeshi Nomi, said, “L'Arc-en-Ciel has set the bar really high for concerts in Singapore for 2012.”
The fan, who is of Japanese and Chinese descent, was brought up in Singapore and has attended several rock concerts in the city-state. He ranks his L'Arc-en-Ciel concert experience was the most memorable one so far.