VKH Press was there to catch the Japan Leg of the battle between LUNA SEA’s powerhouse guitarists in SUGIZO VS INORAN PRESENTS BEST BOUT 2017 ~L2/5~. The event last year was a hit and true to their word, they held the event again with two shows, one in Osaka and the final at Zepp Tokyo, where fans and supporters crowded in to see the showdown.

Even before the show started, the crowd was already clapping and calling out in anticipation. The venue darkened and from behind the stage curtain, the impressive silhouette of SUGIZO loomed over the audience. The crowd screamed his name as he played his electric violin and the screams only grew louder when his shadow was joined by that of INORAN’s. Even when obscured by the curtain, their unique playing styles were easy to see, promising for a varied and exciting match.

The curtain dropped without any warning, followed by a blast of smoke and red lights. The two of them continued to play in tandem before the lights dimmed again, making way for the first round.


SUGIZO was first and after welcoming everyone, he threw up his right hand flashing the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” symbol, eagerly returned by the crowd. SUGIZO, together with his supporting band, immediately entranced the crowd their all-or-nothing performing style. Drummer and percussionist filled the venue with the heavy pounding of drums of “IRA”, echoed by the flashing white lights, harsh against the darkness of the stage. SUGIZO stood confidently at center stage, mixing in loud strums of his distorted guitar and punctuating each strum with elegant twists of his wrist and flamboyant sweeps of his arms.

The black and white backdrop made way for the rainbow lights and swirling shapes of “TELL ME WHY NOT PSYCHEDELIA”. The beat had the crowd grooving and bopping along, getting even more excited as SUGIZO moved across the stage, leaning over to get closer to their outstretched arms. “FATIMA” was less a song and more like a multimedia art piece. Layers of violin and guitar blended together and overhead was a soothing video of the ocean along with a woman belly dancing.

“Lux Aeterna” was a collage of images of smiling children along with brief, overlapping clips of war violence, bombs exploding and nature suffering under the onslaught. Similarly, SUGIZO alternated between slow, deliberate strumming and frantic playing, crouching over and throwing his head back, using his entire body to convey the message. He moved seamlessly into “Decaying” which was followed by “禊 (Misogi)”. During which, percussionist Kenji Yoshiura took center stage, mixing in the staccato beats while SUGIZO got the crowd to cheer louder.

The final song was “DO-FUNK-DANCE”, which mad everyone dancing with their hands thrown in the air. Rainbow lights flashed around the venue in time to the thumping beat. Towards the end, the spotlight zeroed in on SUGIZO as he played a series of catchy riffs then threw his head back and opened his arms wide. Around him, the beat continued and a chorus of voices vocalized in the background.

He ended the way he began, with a hand raised in the Vulcan salute and after thanking the crowd, he and his band took a bow and left the stage.


The mood in the venue shifted as INORAN’s support band took the stage, walking out to the catchy beat of a pop song. As soon as they were joined by INORAN, they immediately kicked off with “grace and glory”. INORAN screamed, “Hey Tokyo! Are you ready?!” and was met with a chorus of enthusiastic screams.

Illuminated by purple and red lights, INORAN kept the crowd dancing and moving with his infectious energy that practically radiated throughout the venue. He performed “Thank you”, the title song of his latest album and a power ballad that conveyed his tangible feelings of gratitude. It was followed by “Get a feeling” before he paused to address the hyped up audience.

“Hi Tokyo, I wanted to see you! SUGIZO didn’t talk much did he? Of course not!”, he added laughing. He explained that when planning out his “attack” he watched SUGIZO’s performance from the side of the stage exclaiming, “I don’t wanna lose to my big bro!”

With that determination, he continued to rock out in full-force with “Awaking in myself”. The sweeping but catchy music was accompanied by blue and white lights and INORAN prompted the crowd to keep jumping, watching them with a huge smile on his face. During the next song, “2Lime s”, strings of lights draped over the drums and speakers lit up, spelling out the word “love”.

At the end, he talked to the crowd again with the excitement on his face plain to see. He called out the supporters that were there for him and then the ones that came for SUGIZO before asking, “Should we bring him out?”

The crowd didn’t need any more convincing and soon SUGIZO was on the stage. INORAN gave him the mic and he mentioned LUNA SEA’s upcoming Asia tour due to start soon.

Then with both guitarists ready, they performed “Beautiful Now” and displayed an ease with that could only be possible after so many years playing together. SUGIZO crouched low, headbanging and rocking out as INORAN sang then the two of them stood face to face, jamming on their guitars with big grins on their faces.

When INORAN returned to the mic, SUGIZO leaned over on his shoulder before stretching up to plant a playful kiss by his ear. When the song was over, INORAN thanked the “Special, special, special guitarist SUGIZO” as the crowd applauded him off the stage. He continued his set with “Rightaway” and the crowd was singing along at the top of their lungs. During the bridge, he stopped playing, leaving them to sing acappella. “Get Laid” warranted even more crowd participation as INORAN led the guys and the girls in separate call and responses before the actual song, which was energetic and fun to watch.

He took another break where he announced an upcoming self-cover album (with 2 new songs) as well a new tour, much to the audience’s excitement.

The last two songs were “raize” and “All We Are” which highlighted the togetherness of INORAN and the fans who all joined him in singing until the end. SUGIZO came out for a final curtain call as they all bowed and took multiple photos to commemorate the event.

Despite preferring performance styles that were almost as different as night and day, the two veteran guitarists delivered an experience that was truly enjoyable to watch and left the cheering crowd with the promise of seeing them again next year.


1. IRA
4. Lux Aeterna
5. Decaying
6. 禊 (Misogi)

1. grace and glory
2. Thank you
3. Get a feeling
4. Awaking in myself
5. 2Lime s
6. Beautiful Now
7. Rightaway
8. Get Laid
9. raize
10. All We Are

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