The B’z leave The Fillmore abuzz

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME — The legendary vocalist and guitarist duo returned to North America for three sold out shows, one of them at The FIllmore in San Francisco. photo by Yoji Kawada

Friday, July 22 was a typical chilly San Francisco summer evening, but The Fillmore heated up quickly with more than 1,000 fans eager to see the Japanese rock band B’z. This was their second gig on their North American tour, “B’z LIVE-GYM 2011 -long time no see-.”

This two-man band, one of the biggest rock groups in Japan, has consistently broken their own chart records during the past 20-plus years.

Many Japanese fans traveled across the Pacific just to see their rare U.S. shows.

“I am excited to see them in the small venue and a open floor setting like this,” said Makiko Saiki, who flew in from Tokyo. “My friends and I came here at midnight to stand in line for the best seat.”

This was a rare opportunity for fans to see the band in an intimate setting.

While most of the audience members were Japanese and from Japan or the Bay Area, some non-Japanese fans also attended the show.

“It’s a rare treat,” said Clinton Ramirez, who has been a B’z’s fan for more than 10 years. Ramirez, a Sacramento, Calif. resident, learned about the band by listening to the music of one of their collaborators, Steve Vai. “The B’z have their own style that was influenced by rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues and pop. They always create something fresh and new.”

The band took the stage after 9 p.m., leading off with the English version of “Samayoeru Aoi Dangan,” one of their many hit songs. The audience immediately surged toward the stage, jumping and screaming with excitement.

“B’z no, B’z no, B’z no Live GYM e yokoso (Welcome to the B’z’s Live GYM),” said vocalist Koshi Inaba, using the band’s characteristic phrase.

The band played a total of 18 songs during their two hour-long set.

Guitarist Takahiro “Tak” Matsumoto, who is also a Grammy Award recipient (for “Take Your Pick,” on which he collaborated with Larry Carlton), demonstrated his wicked techniques.

Inaba once again impressed fans with his unfading powerful voice. He even sang part of the song “Calling” without a microphone or music, and asked the audience to join him.

The energy-packed show closed with “Ultra Soul,” an upbeat, energetic number.

“Amazing! It was everything I thought it would be,” Ramirez said.

The B’z performed in Vancouver on July 20 and Los Angeles on July 24. The Los Angeles show was aired on USTREAM to fans worldwide.


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