It had been almost a year when I saw ONE OK ROCK for the second time in London, and I’ve been putting off the review for the longest time. Prolly because of the disappointment I felt after watching the gig. OOR had two opening acts, the second of which I managed to catch which was dire. It felt like forever that you’d think they were the evening’s headliner. When OOR got onstage at like half nine, they started off with a jam which was like… えっ? Deeper Deeper redeemed the unusual opening segment but something was just not right. It felt like Taka sounded tired. They did finish a South American tour as well as a number of dates in Europe before the London show. Then there was another jam sesh in the middle of the main set before they played their new single Mighty Long Fall. Decision was the other new song which I really love. For the encore, they played Wherever you are and that was it. Eleven songs. Just about an hour.

Not very happy.

Electric Ballroom, London 16.12.14 set: Intro Jam / Deeper Deeper / Nothing Helps / Re:make / Clock Strikes / Jam sesh / Mighty Long Fall / Be the light / Decision / NO SCARED / The Beginning // [Encore] Wherever you are

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Present day

35xxxv is somewhat different. I still like a substantial number of songs[1] but none gave you the same feeling as you get when you listen to the likes of じぶんROCK or NO SCARED. To add to all these, OOR had just been signed to Warner Bros and they re-released 35xxxv fully in English, with two new songs in tow. To support this record, they embarked on a US tour (headlining for four dates followed by a tour supporting US pop-punkers All Time Low) in the autumn, took a break in Japan and kicked off their European tour in Ekaterinberg, Russia. Manchester was the first UK date of the tour (followed by Glasgow and London)

I managed to snag a VIP ticket with no problems at all, likely due to its price[2]. Anyhow, I barely made it for the VIP roll call which was stated as half five, no thanks to Greater Manchester’s rush hour traffic. It was a little disorganised but we finally got to meet the band just before 7 PM. As I entered the room where OOR was at, I was first greeted by Tomoya with a friendly “HELLO!”. I responded by going “Tomoya-san!”and proceeded to wish Toru 「お誕生日おめでとう」[3] and gave him a graphic novel on the Sex Pistols. Taka and Ryota said hi. I managed to include a 「マンチェスターにようこそ!」 (err… “Welcome to Manchester!”) to which they replied with an 「ありがとう」. The tour staff then took two shots of us on my iPhone and I thanked the band in nihon-go. I’m sure the mat salleh tour staff said arigatō gozaimasu to me as well. :P

After the meet & greet, I quickly bought some merch before we were herded into the Academy 2 first before the rest of the audience were let in. Support came in the form of DEAD! and We Came As Romans, both of which were actually pretty good. A far cry from what we had to endure in London last year at the Electric Ballroom.

OOR got onstage at about half nine to start the show with 3xxxv5, the first song on the current record, kinda similar to how they kicked off their 2013 show with ~Where Idiot Should Go. Taka then belted out Take me to the top after the introductory tune. Not bad – he was defo in top form tonight. Perhaps that break the band took after the autumn US tour paid off.

Unlike the 2013 show, Toru played only his arsenal of PRS guitars (red, green and natural finishes, if I remember correctly) that night and he was hopping around the stage all night, as was Ryota. I was planning to take some choice shots with the TZ30 but it had some error on it, which meant I had to rely on the iPhone for the evening. Ryota only came to our side of the stage just the one time though. Couldn’t get a good one of Tomoya behind his hired white SJC kit unfortunately (the band didn’t bring his new signature SJC).

Most of the songs in the set were from 35xxxv and sung in English as per the WB re-release, so I wasn’t too happy with Decision this time. Stuck in the middle was another favourite moment of mine that night but wasn’t too sure what to think of Last Dance, one of the two new songs added in the WB re-release. Despite all that, they did Heartache in the original version that contains the Japanese lyrics, with just Taka and Toru on his Taylor electro-acoustic. The cool thing was the crowd sang along the nihon-go lyrics just fine (except me as usual) much to the band’s delight. To tell you the truth, despite admitting liking the older material more, 35xxxv is a decent album with hook-laden songs. Nonetheless, OOR still performed the older fan favourites in this set and we were treated to the likes of Deeper Deeper and Clock Strikes. I kinda enjoyed the instrumental jam bit in the middle of the set before they continued on with Cry Out. Way better than last year’s, in my opinion.

Whilst waiting for the encore, it was the usual we want more chant. I have no issues with people wanting to go en-ko-ru but I would’ve thought Japanese bands/artistes go abroad to experience a difference as opposed to people wanting to behave all Japanese-y with glow sticks and stuff. OOR got back onstage to play the current single, The Way Back, and ended the evening the fantastic NO SCARED from 残響リファレンス. The guys took a bow and proceeded to take a photo with the audience in the background, the photo of which hasn’t surfaced on the net at the time of this review is being written. It was a great night and worth the time and *koff* money I spent for it, but props go to the bunch of Japanese ladies who were in the front row with me who actually came all the way from Japan. All of them were at the Dublin show the previous night and if I got it right some of them were at the Russian shows too. Die-hard fans are everywhere I guess.

Anyway, this not-so-die-hard but happy fan also got this to bring back from the show:

For select shots, please go to my flickr.com album for the show.

Academy 2, Manchester University 7.12.15 set: 3xxxv5 / Take me to the top / Memories / Deeper Deeper / Stuck in the middle / Clock Strikes / Last Dance / Toru+Ryota+Tomya jam / Cry out / Heartache / Decision / Suddenly / The Beginning / Mighty Long Fall // [Encore] The Way Back / NO SCARED

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[1]Except Paper Planes. Bleurgh.
[2]The words arm and leg comes to mind.
[3]It’s the man’s birthday.