Royz at Aomori Quarter (7/30)

Wow, this is going back to my old mode of operation of posting about concerts exactly a month or more later. It was not intentional, but rather this concert was my vacation primer. It was a Tuesday, so I had to ask for some time off and then speed almost two and a half hours straight to Aomori City from my tiny town. Genuinely, one of the few times I can say I surprised myself with timing.

I managed to get in line, and enter pretty quickly. I was fairly surprised that it wasn’t as packed in comparison to Codomo Dragon. It was most likely due to it being a Tuesday in Aomori, but you know. I actually was able to stand near where Kuina and Subaru would be, instead of trying to escape from the door. Without further ado, lets get into the setlist!
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The tour was centered around their 17th single IGNITE, and a 47 prefecture tour. It had been announced back in their December tour final (my thoughts here), and even though the tour isn’t a ten year tour date, it was still a really amazing show.

They obviously kicked it off with a pretty fitting song, for touring and in general IGNITE. The energy was wild, from the band to the fans, and yes of course me!

They followed with RAVEN, which I thought was an interesting follow, but still incredibly wild. What was even more shocking, and something I had to dig way back into my Royz – focused Visual kei knowledge, was Maburu Violet. This song is way back in the discography, originally released back in 2011, and pretty rare to collect. Its also a song that didn’t make it on to their BEST OF album, surprisingly.

After ‘Raven’ they continued on with the nostalgia with “α” (Alpha). This was a track, I totally forgot about. It was a bit of a sucker punch because it was the first track that was far enough back in their timeline where they still had Kazuki. I’ve always been a bit sad I never got to see them as five members. However, the reworked versions, especially with how much Subaru’s vocals have improved with time easily made me overcome this feeling.

The nostalgia continued as they followed with “@bromality” and “Kuroageha”. I have to say, I was not expecting not expecting them to dig that back and into those b-side tracks. It really goes to show that not only are they keeping pace with more recent bands, but the breadth of their work is still appealing and playable for fans.

It was only after these first six songs that they finally gave themselves a bit of a break, doing a small MC session. The MC’ing was largely done by Subaru, who remarked on how long it had been. They do make a point to do a 47 prefecture tour every few years, but it had been a long time since they had last been to Aomori. These thoughts were condensed seeing that Tomoya, Kuina and Koudai were still fired up.

I found it incredibly intersting that they decided to shift down to do a short ballad session after the MC. It was probably the easiest time to fit in those songs. They started with “夢華火” (Dream fireworks). I honestly hadn’t listened to this song in ages, and was not expecting it to appear on the setlist. It was such a powerful ballad, and really evoked some strong feelings.

I was genuinely touched when the fan next to me, lent me a light stick for the furitsuke. She didn’t have to, especially since well, not going to lie I can be intimidating to other fans. It was one of those truly pure moments. This feeling persisted going into “SINFONIA”, my favorite single of their’s from last year. It might just be working it’s way into my all time favorites.

Royz never hangs onto ballads too long, so rather then going right back into head banging they brought things back to to speed with ‘DOLL’. Now ‘DOLL’ has always been a quirky track within Royz’s catalogue, as well as in general. You just don’t hear too many Visual Kei songs like it.

The best way I can describe this part of the set, was if you took the essence of Alice in Wonderland and put it into a song. The room’s energy was completely shifted between Tomoya’s drum solo, the furitsuke, and just the overall mood of the live. Again, with the slick follow-ups ‘Autocracy’ was the way to go.

Unfortunately, I took no notes of the next MC portion. So we’ll jump back into the tunes with ‘ANTHEM’. This song definitely brought us back to the harder side of Royz, including more serious head banging. I have to say, in retrospect for writing this, the way Royz set up these transitions, was pretty damn stunning. There’s a significant change from how they opened to where we ended up and not once did it feel awkward.

Keeping pace and at times, even outpacing the title tracks were the b-sides slipped in. ‘funny’ was a good addition. I don’t think I’d ever really paid attention to it prior to the show, but it suited the mood so well. ‘SACRIFICE’, was another rough set. I think during the furitsuke I stepped on a few peoples toes, not hard but something I do remember. Everyone was so caught up in the energy that I don’t think those fans noticed.

It would be flat out negligent on my part not to talk about the straight up power move that was putting ‘NOAH’ where it was. While this song isn’t the heaviest thing in their rotation, it absolutely slammed live. There’s something about the rawness and charm of the older tracks, but hearing the leveled up. Again, despite it’s age, ‘NOAH’ still holds up as a pillar track for Royz. I mean, Koudai’s guitar work live was a religious experience for me.

Rounding out the main set, they chose ‘ANTITHESIS’, which originally I was not the biggest fan of admittedly. The energy difference between ‘NOAH’ and ‘ANTITHESIS’ is night and day for me at home listening. Yet somehow in Aomori Quarter, Royz managed to blend them together to kick some serious ass as the closing song.

Hearing this song live, I finally get where and how it fits in their image and sound. To honest, that was really cool to discover that night, aside from just hearing it live and being blown away of course.

Okay, you guys have no idea how close I was to losing my shit with the encore. Not only did they kick it off with ‘The BEGINNING’, like using ‘IGNITE’ at the main set, but damn. That song all these years later still sounds amazing. To be honest, when I think of ‘core’ Royz sound, I would say ‘THE BEGINNING’ is pretty close to my top pick.

I was a little puzzled afterwards though, since they picked the b-side to ‘NOAH’, ‘cherry tree’ to follow this. My confusion didn’t last too long, all the other fans hype swept me along.

After this, we got a proper MC session with everyone, and Subaru. Tomoya mentioned he loves coming to Aomori for fishing. He apparently had a pretty impressive catch this time around! Kuina mentioned that he walked to an Aeon mall, and was able to recite a lot of specific details about his day. Poor Koudai apparently had a cold/needed to go to a doctor so he did not have so much fun in Aomori. Lastly was Subaru, who said he went to the movies to see the ‘Aladdin’ live-action movie for the third time. There was also Kuina and Subaru comparing their walking speeds, since Kuina apparently walks really fast in comparison to the rest of the band. Overall, I was super happy to see them so happy in my ‘city’.

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I was not so familiar with their continuation with ‘Koi Hanabi’ (love fireworks), and ‘Set Me Free’. Again, no need to fear since the other fans were more then happy to move me along to furitsuke and keep my energy up. It also gave me more reasons to go back in their catalogue and find more of these hidden treasure tracks.

However, I literally almost cried in the venue. Back in 2014, I was struggling to keep up with any Visual Kei artists other then Dir en Grey. The song that hooked me back into Royz, and Visual Kei was ‘Supernova’. I remember scouring the shelves of record stores looking for a copy and not finding it. So to hear this song, live, as the closer to the whole set was a whole new level of fate. Maybe Destiny. Probably a weird Royz, related coincidence, but who knows?

By the end of the song, even before the band came for their bows, I was smiling a million watt smile. The show couldn’t have closed better for me, if they had tried. The fans were so kind, Royz energy was insane, and being able to celebrate ten years of successful music making with one of my favorite bands in Visual Kei was a night well spent.


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