Def Leppard @ Jacksonville Veteran’s Arena

Wow!  I don’t think I can recall a show that hit me more in the feels than this one.  This is my go to band for all the songs that I know and love.  This band proves you don’t necessarily need flames, spinning drum sets, or over the top light effects because when music is as good as theirs you just don’t need it.

So Doll normally gets dragged along to concerts that I want to go to since most of her concerts happen in other towns to groups you can’t understand but are permanently hypnotizing.  She likes Def Leppard like I “like” the Red Hot Chili Peppers but she really dug the show.

So I really don’t need to fully describe this show since everything went so smoothly (for once) so I’ll get down to what I loved about it the most: Rick Allen!  Are you a Def fan?  Then you know about Rick Allen.  He’s kinda the guy that got the band soberish.  For those of you who don’t know, in the mid 80’s Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident.  He is the drummer for Def and had to learn to play using synthesizers and foot pedals.  In the 80’s it was almost a sin for a “metal” band to use electric drums and synth instruments.  Rick was one of the few whom no one would make fun of for that.  He is a spectacular drummer and musician and I watched the video of his comeback after the accident.  His band mates called him ‘The Thunder God’ and I couldn’t agree more.  He did a solo drum set and I was floored and more happy than you could know!

My other happy moments came at the beginning of every song.  Joe Elliot still sounds just as good as he did 30 years ago and every performance was done with ease and pride.  With that I have nothing abnormal for you guys to know about, which is weird for any concert Doll and I attend, I will just leave this post saying that even if you didn’t like then much before go see a show!  This was a bucket list concert!

Underground’s Artists: Dir En Grey

  

In the music industry there are usually two classifications of the beginnings of a band.
Scenario #1: the band/singer has incredible luck (or a neglectful father in the music industry) and has immediate success.
Scenario #2: They bust their asses and scrape their way from the bottom to the top.
In these scenarios the latter is usually the most successful and have the most longevity. Mostly because they know exactly what it’s like to work in a noodle shop and they never want to take a bath in a sink again.
For Dir En Grey, their beginnings were a combination of the two.
Like all bands, there is never just a one shot deal where your first attempt is the perfect combination of members and sound. So telling a hardcore Diruphile (from the Latin Dir, meaning Awesome, U, having the distinction of Bad Ass, and Phile, meaning Lover) that Dir en Grey gained their start under the moniker of La Sadie;s is like trying to tell a Christian that there is an Old Testament.

To cut the story a bit short, the band failed. Sorry to spoil that for you guys, I know you were so looking forward to a reunion tour!  The entire collapse of La Sadie;s is unanimously agreed to be the fault of this guy:

(This is Kisaki, he now plays bass for free for Phantasmagoria. Good job, Son!)

Whether he stole Kyo’s girlfriend, rubbed Kaoru the wrong way, drank way too much of Die’s beer, was the only person they could find to play bass for free and had to put up with him, or was that guy in the group that everyone thought someone else liked and put up with him out of begrudging comradery until the day that they had a big discussion of “I can‘t stand that douche!” and “OMG! You don‘t like him either!?” …We’ll never know.

However, this was a good thing! Not long after they kicked Kisaki to the curb, you know, like that freeloading brother or the hooker you just got out of Grand Theft Auto;  the guys set out to Nagoya to find a myth of a man who could slap bass more awesomely than a trailer park domestic dispute at a Bootsie Collins show.
Only he was no Myth! His name was Toshimasa Hara and he had been hiding in a Ramen Shop the entire time!

(We also call him Princess)
So, with a new bassist in line and a little back story in, let me officially introduce you to

DIR EN GREY

Kyo.

(Aka, The Prophet, God, Warumono, Tooru Nishimura(Niimura?), Angry Midget from Hell, Satan, Flawless Baboon…I think that last one applies here.)

Ah, the front man, always the focal point of any group, you know him by the fact that he holds no instrument…or well, as I was once told he “plays the microphone.” And boy, can this man play it!
Kyo has a range that jumps over the borders of ridiculous and keeps running. This antisocial, moody little bard can reach to operatic highs then switch to lows so low you can’t hear them over the bass, in fact sometimes you think they are the bass. He fluctuates between them so swiftly, your head will spin. And unlike most performers it is not digitally altered, the voice on the CD is even better in person.

With being a performer, comes a certain amount of pretentious bullshit that this guy loves to spew. He is notorious for blatantly telling the most ridiculous lies in interviews as well as revealing nothing about himself. Lately he’s been giving some seemingly honest answers to interviewers, I recommend reading some, because they are usually profound, if not entertaining.
He also writes all of the lyrics for the band and is even responsible for a few re-mixes. Kyo has often stated that without his voice and his fans he would not be able to live, gotta give the guy props for throwing himself whole heartedly into what he does. That and this Japanese High School dropout makes more than you can imagine!  For way more information on him than I care to have admitted to reading, go here.

Kaoru.

(Aka, Leader- Sama, Asian Chuck Norris, Kaoru Niikura, Batshit Crazy, Stoner Extraordinare.)

Being a Band Leader means you have your shit together, and that also means that you have to keep everyone else’s shit together too. This poor bastard is responsible for all members of Dir en Grey, and responsibilities include, but are not limited to: sound checks, equipment checks, keeping to schedules, tour dates, overseeing venue booking, making sure you have everyone on the plane when you leave the country, holding people’s hair back while there has been too much liquor involved, being the sounding board for arguments and band disputes, shoulder to cry on, making sure none of your posse end up climbing into vans with gang bangers, the no shit taking, hard as hell pimp hand owning, Band Dad, Kaoru.

In addition to all of this, he is lead guitar as well as the main composer of Dir en Grey’s music. He also is the most abused of any member of the band, earning his bad ass reputation from such events as face-planting into Die’s windshield, face planting into an AMP at a live, and being konked in the noggin by Kyo with a fire extinguisher…accident my ass.
For his personal specs, you can see more here.  For his awesome guitar collection, you can go here. Just don’t drool too much, your computer is expensive.

Die.

(Aka, Daisuke, Daisuke Ando, I’d Tap That, Last Call My Ass, Top of The Pole, Blatant Camera Whore and Yes I Know I’m Hot, You Don‘t Have to Yell it Out, Stoner #2)

Rhythm! You need it! And that is what this guy does best. That and having a good time anyway. Die is the band’s rhythm guitarist as well as having (officially) composed a handful of songs and re-mixes for the band, including:  Children,Yokan,Twentyfour Cylinders, and Wake.

His other hobbies include teasing the drummer as well as everyone else, being hot, drinking (you know that earlier part about Kaoru’s job, yeah, most of it is this guy’s fault), and generally having a good time.
His Teen Beat interview is here. His badass guitars are here.

Shinya.
“Why yes, I am a drummer for a metal band, why do you ask?”

( Aka, Shinya Terachi, Enigmatic Poodle, OMG Hello Kitty! Stick Boy, Them hips is for birthin’ babies, Trying to Bring the Flowy Shirt Back, Visual-Kei is not Dead, Mabeline Spring Look Model)

Every band needs a drummer, otherwise it’s pretty much pointless. Don’t be fooled by his coquettish charm, this boy can pound out some ridiculously hard, complex and beautiful rhythms.  His influences span the board from creepy French duets to (of course) X-Japan. I am happy to say that he looks much better without his shirt than his mentor, Yoshiki. (Just put it back on!)
To top it all off, his drumset is one of the largest I’ve EVER seen. again, hahahaha! no, really!
For all you sensitivity loving ladies, he loves dogs, specifically Chihuahuas (you know, since they don’t take up much space and taste good with soy sauce and a little bit of hibachi.), not eating, exercising, and curling his hair.  He is also as temperamental, if not more so, as Kyo and therefore is allowed to do…pretty much anything he wants.  He also parties as hard, if not harder than the band lush, Die.

Full Specs here and mostly Drum Porn here.

And finally,

Toshiya.

(Aka: Helicopter For Satan, Princess, It’s not a skirt it’s a kilt, band diva, I secretly like Cher, I drink more beer than Die does, Human Scarf )

The bass makes the beat, and it’s a Rhythm Party!  Toshiya’s compositions are usually very easy to spot, as the bass is very heavy and prevalent. It makes for some bad ass listening though and keeps the boy occupied (he is known for messing around and making up new riffs at lives out of boredom with the original song).  He is also notoriously lazy, only learning the bass because of the logic :less strings = easier:  His official compositions include:  Erode, Raison D’etre (with Shinya), Bottom of Death Valley,  and Yokusō ni Dreambox” Aruiwa Seijuku no Rinen to Tsumetai Ame (Remix)” .

His re-mixes are also easily recognizable, full of chem stick, warehouse ravey techno goodness. They usually just hand him the studio keys and a couple of “sugar cubes” before letting him at the soundboard. And some Fruit Rollups too, gotta have those.  Out of all the members of this band, Toshiya is easily the one that I would take a couple of days off and go party with. He also pulls a move that emasculates (close enough for spell check, close enough for me) the lead singer of Flyleaf…only she’s spinning for God, Toshiya’s spinning for Satan.

His personal stuff’s here. Spanking recipients here.

So there you guys have it! Don’t say I never gave you anything!

On a sincere side note, not long before I finished editing this I found out that the band had canceled their current tour due to Kyo developing throat polyps. He is slated for surgery next month or so, so let’s just wish him luck and pray that he gets better soon! The rock world has lost enough greats recently, so pray that doesn’t happen to this one. Here’s to you Kyo, kick ass and take names later!