Live: ONE OK ROCK // O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Japanese rockers ONE OK ROCK storm into the UK as a part of their “Ambitions European Tour 2017”.
Here we are then. Our last gig of the year, and what a gig it is.
Tonight is one of those shows that keep you on the edge till the very last note. The Japanese rock outfit, ONE OK ROCK, who pride themselves on an epic catalogue consisting of eight studio albums, have come to London with a highly energetic and impeccable performance.
Naturally, their latest record Ambitions stands tall, dominating on tonight’s setlist. Thriving on a more rounded version of American pop-rock, it’s surely established the band as one of the most outstanding acts on the current music scene.
The ferocious Bombs Away makes for a worthy opener to the madness that is about to commence. Whilst Taking Off leaves restless crowd sweaty and breathless, the magnificent Clock Strikes unfolds singer Taka’s awe-inspiring vocal range. It’s just the beginning of the set, yet the audience seems to be having time of their lives.
A strong sense of self-confidence and charismatic spirit emanate from the guys. The interaction between them carries along a great comfort and firmness, an example not only to be admired but one to be envied too. No wonder, ONE OK ROCK have spent the last 12 years in this band and it shows. Even their movements on stage seem to be elemental and instinctive. From the synchronised jumping choreography during Bon Voyage to the synchronised headbanging on Mighty Long Fall, the entire performance goes down smooth and effortless.
“Are you having a good time? We do this because of you.” The loud cheers reassuringly express the crowd’s approval.
The band makes sure to bring some surprises to keep the show engaging and diverse. The acoustic version of Hard To Love conjures a subtle and emotional ambience, showing bassist Ryota on cello duties. The heartfelt approach expands on the next track, Take What You Want, creating a moment of suspense when we watch the quartet cease for a longer while. It lasts just a few minutes, yet the audience seems frozen in time as the guys remain still throughout, not blinking once. Having built the excitement, OOR burst into the fiery last chorus.
An impressive jam session follows as the band demonstrates their musical talent and immense potential. Drummer, guitarist and bassist join forces for an exquisite instrumental mashup, leaving a jaw dropping effect, almost literally judging on a few stunned faces I spot amongst the crowd.
“London, are you still alive?!”, frontman Taka shouts before sinking into a dazzling spectacle of red lights, an accompaniment to their blistering hit Jaded. His stagediving couldn’t be more accurate than in this very moment.
“I would like to thank everyone for coming here tonight. We’re so happy to be here and we promise we’ll be back. It’s not a ‘goodbye’, just a ‘see you soon’. This song is for you guys”. The emotive intro heralds the honest and monumental song We Are. Making an extra effort and showing even bigger support, the audience covers the whole room in the LED neon lights.
Brightening up the venue with a punchy accent, tonight’s show undoubtedly cements ONE OK ROCK family as a united entity, even if it’s only for one night. Reinforcing the significance and ambition perhaps (as the album title suggests) of not giving up, they remind us all that the future is a great and full of surprises unknown, even if we find it scary at times. Here’s to 2018.
Photos: Kasia Osowiecka