Early in the year, we’d asked SixTONES about their third album, Koe, and its supporting tour Kansei no Housoku. They said that while planning these, they had in mind a desire to hear their fans cheer again as they as a group share the “bigger sense of voice” they’ve developed in their sound.
On 21 April, Bandwagon had a chance to see all that in action. SixTONES at Tokyo Dome marked the second stop of their first dome tour, announced shortly after their arena tour began in January. It was their first tour since COVID-19 restrictions had been eased for concerts in Japan, making it the first time fans could cheer out loud in years; as someone who had only seen previous shows on video, I was quite excited to experience SixTONES live in this particular environment.
SixTONES talk music, being J-pop idols, and letting their voices reach fans throughout Japan and beyond
Towering over the stage were six protruding heads that appeared carved out of stone, their mouths wide open like they were petrified mid-scream. It was the sight people had to take in before the lights dimmed and fireworks exploded to signal the start of the show, and as if they’d been simmering underneath the earth’s surface all the while, cheers from the audience erupted along with the flames and reverberated throughout.
This made way for six voices to fill the dome, as Jesse, Taiga Kyomoto, Hokuto Matsumura, Yugo Kochi, Shintaro Morimoto and Juri Tanaka emerged from the anthropomorphic fixtures overhead, opening with a solemn, almost haunting choral performance of Koe’s overture. In a sharp turn, it was followed by ‘Amazing!!!!!!’, an electrifying song with salacious dance moves all too familiar to those who have followed the group since their Junior days, and then onto ‘Navigator’, a dance-rock tune that served as the theme song to hit anime series Fugou Keiji - Balance: Unlimited.
These three numbers made for the perfect opening performance, as they encompassed the different facets of SixTONES’ musical journey so far, providing an exciting taste of what was in store for the rest of the show.
Steering their own course
Like for many Japanese artists, Tokyo Dome was SixTONES's dream, and they proved how much they deserved to be there that day.
SixTONES' stage presence was consistently hot and commanding as they unleashed a repertoire of songs that displayed their versatility, whether they were blasting it off with hard-hitting bangers like ‘Waves Crash’, ‘IN THE STORM’, ‘Boom-Pow-Wow!.’ and ‘ABARERO’, dancing with abandon to the tantalising grooves of ‘Risky’, ‘Bella’ and ‘Cat Call’, or baring all emotion in poignant ballads such as ‘Futari’ and ‘Again’.
Their electrifying performances were complemented by their comical personalities, which they happily displayed during their self-introduction and the talk segment (referred to as ‘MC’ in Japan) in the middle of the show. Their MC segments in particular have become notorious for devolving into delightful chaos, and true enough, this one had been filled with antics that sent the audience screaming with laughter.
At some point, the boys throw out some puns that lead to Hokuto, handsome and otherwise serious and a bit shy, pretending to be an unruly dog; Kyomoto, who earlier had me gasping at how ethereal he looked and sounded, promptly played along and then had me gasping for an entirely different reason. For new fans, some of these antics may have come as a shock; but for more seasoned fans, it would have felt more like “as expected of SixTONES”, their brand of humour leaving no segment dull or predictable.
For their first solo concert on such a massive stage, SixTONES effortlessly made Tokyo Dome their own. With a seating capacity of 55,000, the venue provided an expansive backdrop for the culmination of their combined experience, built since their formation many years ago, and the unwavering dream they have held onto for nearly as long, come to life in this momentous event.
Throughout the show, the impressive scenography matched every performance beautifully and created an immersive experience for the audience. From the rock formations that suddenly illuminated in red and evoked an image of molten magma, to the crystals which encased the boys and made it appear like they were floating mid air, to the dynamic elevated stage which allowed them to captivate the audience’s attention even from the stands.
One major highlight was when they cruised around the arena on a swanky, decked-out jeep, with Kochi1 looking effortlessly cool behind the wheel as the other members hyped up the crowd from the passenger and back seats to the chill melody of ‘Drive’.
While there was room for improvement with how, especially during songs where not all six of them were present, they could have maximised the entire dome, something which the boys candidly pointed out themselves, it was easy to see that this was somewhere they’d really felt at home. You wouldn’t think it was their first time holding a concert of this scale, with how they were still so very much themselves both in terms of the strength and energy of their performances and the ease and familiarity with which they engaged their audience.
“We’re on our third year of debut and already around thirty ourselves, so we need to rest too,” Juri jabbed as he asked everyone to sit down and rest for a while at the start of the MC. Later, the group suddenly started wandering towards the side of the stage, jokingly claiming that they needed to make full use of the space.
The lights went out again then, making the audience wonder if their talk had been cut off for going overtime (yet another thing the boys have become “notorious” for) but soon the spotlight on stage revealed Japanese rock legend Yoshiki behind a piano. Yoshiki, best known as the leader of visual kei pioneer X Japan and co-founder of superband The Last Rockstars, wrote and produced SixTONES’s debut single ‘Imitation Rain’ and has been a staunch supporter of the group since then. On stage, they talked about Yoshiki’s promise to be there when SixTONES finally make it to Tokyo Dome and how Jesse, ever the eager extrovert, had called him while he was in LA to remind him. They treated the audience to a special performance of ‘Imitation Rain’, further making this event an unforgettable magical experience.
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The boys also invited him on a ride to say hi to the audience, to which Yoshiki noted that this was his first time to be taken around on a jeep in the twenty-one times he’s performed at Tokyo Dome. “It feels like I’m in a dream right now,” he’d exclaimed, to which the guys responded, “It feels like we are dreaming.”
A testament to where SixTONES belong
There’s no denying that SixTONES’s undeniable talent, unshakeable vision, and unique charm have earned them a solid place at Tokyo Dome. But just as well, there is no denying that the vehicle that led them there was fueled by the fans they lovingly refer to as Team SixTONES.
It was fitting then that they brought a handful of songs from their Junior days to this stage, overjoyed to let out their cheers for ‘Mr Zudon’ and later sing along to ‘Kono Hoshi no Hikari’. As the boys danced the night away with a party rock medley of ‘Special Order’, ‘Figure’, ‘Telephone’, ‘RAM-PAM-PAM’, ‘Whip That,’ and ‘Outrageous’, the fans got down on the floor with them. In the encore, fans matched their energy for ‘Party People’ and ‘Good Luck!’ And when tears started flowing up on stage for the final song, ‘Suisei no Sora’, it felt like everyone stood together with overwhelming pride and happiness for how far SixTONES have come.
The tour’s title, Kansei no Housoku (慣声の法則), is a play on the Japanese term for the “Law of Inertia (慣性の法則)”, with “声” (koe, which means “voice”) substituting one of the characters. This choice symbolises the powerful external force that drives SixTONES forward – the voices of their dedicated fans whose unwavering support have helped bring the group to where they are today and continue to push them further.
The future clearly holds plenty of exciting possibilities for SixTONES. As their journey unfolds, the hope is that they can reach more of their fans not only in Japan but also the world, and that the power of SixTONES ignites a spark within the hearts of even more people.
Photography by @soizic_c. Special thanks to Johnny & Associates for the invitation.
1 This article previously indicated Koshi as SixTONES' leader. Shintaro Morimoto is the group's current leader.
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