The Last Rockstars Shred at The Hollywood Palladium

The legendary kings of rock are back, though, they’ve never been gone for long. As YOSHIKI—leader of X Japan and co-founder of THE LAST ROCKSTARS—likes to call them, the “Avengers” made their return to the American stage as one unified supergroup. They closed their sold-out debut tour at the Palladium in Los Angeles, showing casual and hardcore fans what rock—not just J-Rock—is about.

As some of the most well-known game changers and culture makers on the scene, THE LAST ROCKSTARS made a bold statement with their name. Rock fans had their doubts when the group was initially announced, and international fans even more so. Individually, they’ve been trailblazers in visual kei and Japanese rock. In Japan and abroad, they continue to perform solo or as part of another group. Vocalist HYDE (L’arc-en-Ciel), guitarist and violinist Sugizo (Luna Sea, X Japan), and ‘Samurai Guitarist’ MIYAVI joined YOSHIKI to embark on this project in November 2022. They released their debut self-titled single, “The Last Rockstars (Paris Mix),” a month later.

Before watching the livestream, personally, I felt my time in the J-Rock scene were behind me. That was until I heard the opening first notes from opener BAND-MAID. Having just gone on their own U.S. tour in 2022, the five-member group were well-versed in entertaining a rowdy L.A. crowd. Their five-song set energized fans with their rock rhythms and maid aesthetics, which only got the audience hungry for more. Luckily for East and Midwest BAND-MAID fans, they’ll be celebrating their 10th year anniversary in May.

Unfortunately, the show ran into an hour-long technical issue that kept fans anxiously waiting. Once a female voice—accompanied by an AI 3D head—began to speak, the bass vibrations cut through the haunting darkness and the highly anticipated act began. Announcing their arrival in a blaze of vocal glory, HYDE yelled into the crowd, “We are THE LAST ROCKSTARS!” Pyrotechnics surrounded the quartet in a fiery background, only further heightening the energy in the room.

Despite being a band for less than half a year, their camaraderie seemed as if they’ve been lifelong partners. From Sugizo and MIYAVI often playing off each other’s guitar riffs to HYDE and MIYAVI’s skinship, it’s hard to believe they are a newly formed group. Admittedly, after MIYAVI started his solo tours and career in the US, his energy mellowed from his initial debut at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Fans were euphoric at seeing their favorite performers come together, hip checking and poking fun at one another in front of a thrilled crowd.

Not to say these four were any less vibrant individually, but there’s a different fire that’s lit on stage when the other performers are industry peers. The air of familiarity eased into chaos, especially when the crowd engaged in the ritual of bra tossing, showering the band in undergarments. At one point, the group decorated a mic stand with all the collected intimate pieces of clothing strewn across the stage.

“It’s not a bad trend, but we’re kind of shy,” chuckled YOSHIKI. But MIYAVI interjected to say, “As long as it smells good,” which was met with roaring laughter. Clearly, guitars aren’t the only riffs the performers are capable of.

With a flair for the dramatic, their glam rock styling and theatrical antics were attention-grabbing to say the least. From HYDE’s fur-lined coat to Sugizo’s thigh-high garter boots, time had not changed their keen sense of style. YOSHIKI also showed off his quirkiness as he stood on his drum seat throughout the show, and occasionally splayed out over his piano like he was being served for dinner.

Photo by Keiko Tanabe

Of course, with only one single out, much of the concert comprised of an ensemble from each musician’s library. Highlights included Hyde and Sugizo’s “Folly,” “Red Swan,” “Beneath the Skin,” and the audience singalong to X Japan’s “Endless Rain.” Seeing the “X” arms in tribute to the band brought tears to the crowd on the livestream and in the theater. The chosen songs for the setlist paid homage to each member’s musical history, and it felt tailored to give their fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For the encore, they spiced up the setlist by performing their newest song, “Shine.” Fresh off the press, quite literally, YOSHIKI swept the sheet music onto his piano. But, possibly due to time restraints, they left off Hyde’s “Glamorous Sky” for an extended replay of “The Last Rockstars.”

From the flamboyant flair to their intense passion for the rock genre, the quartet’s combined talents showed Los Angeles an unforgettable night. Even hardened critics were swayed by the theatricality of the show. These men truly embody the spirit of being rockstars.

Now the next question is: when is the album?

Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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