ONE OK ROCK Live in Manila: The Beginnings of a Revolution

Written by: Mei Manuel

Last January 19, 2016, SM Mall of Asia Arena became the place where wishes were fulfilled, expectations broken, overwhelming love was given and where a musical revolution, a resounding promise was made.

When the announcement that ONE OK ROCK – one of Japan’s premier and world class rock bands – would make a stopover in Manila as part of their 2016 35XXXV Asia Tour, fans rejoiced as the wait was finally over. Many Pinoy fans hoped to see the Philippines  included on their first major Asian tour in 2013, but destiny had other plans. Amuse Asia and PULP Live World finally brought them to the country as part of their commemoration of 10 years in the industry and the release of their latest album – 35XXXV Deluxe Edition.

As early as 12 midnight, fans from across the country and several parts of the globe started gathering in SM Mall of Asia Arena to see guitarist Toru Yamashita, bassist Ryota Kohama, drummer Tomoya Kanki and vocalist Takahiro Moriuchi rock Manila with their signature performances and the songs that changed the lives of their fans. It was like a reunion of sorts as fans met up with friends both old and new to watch their favorite band in the flesh. 

Fans who scored the coveted PULP Royalty tickets were immediately treated with watching the band do their soundcheck before the Meet-and-Greet sessions. As the band practiced the songs “Last Dance: and “Stuck in the Middle,” emotions ran wild for the Royalty holders. There were those who cried as Taka sang in the background, while others got goosebumps with the raw passion embedded in each syllable. Their meeting with ONE OK ROCK also blew them away as their dreams of being up close and personal with the band came true. The band welcomed them with warm smiles and all their attention. They even welcomed posing in various poses and some fans were even treated with replies from the band.

With the meet-and-greet over, the fans slowly filled SM Mall of Asia Arena and partook to some of the gimiks like singing with the background music or chanting for the show to start. However, when the lights closed at 8:30 pm, the Arena shook as the fans’ cheers echoed and welcomed ONE OK ROCK for their first major live concert in the country.

ONE OK ROCK didn’t disappoint their adoring fans as they began their opening salvo with the instrumental “35XXXV” and the upbeat tracks “Take Me to the Top,” “Memories,” and “Stuck in the Middle.” Both the fans and the band were in their element as fans sang along while the foursome gave their best performances yet. There were often times Taka would dance around the stage to reach out to the fans in various corners and entice everyone to move and sing along with him. When the band started to play some of their well-known hits like “Deeper, Deeper” and “Clock Strikes,” the crowd gave them quite a surprise as they sang along to the Japanese lyrics. The band’s reactions were priceless as their eyes and smiles were filled with intensity, mesmerized by the love their fans have for their music.

In the instrumental, Toru and Ryota would give out their best riffs with the emotions etched in their faces. Fans were treated to the sight of Ryota’s physique as he played the bass with his signature pants and Toru’s mysterious smile as he banged his head to every riff. Although Tomoya couldn’t move that much along the other three as they walked around the stage, his movements with the drums reflect the intensity of the emotions he shared with his bandmates.

One of the most memorable moments was when Taka and Toru performed the third song they made for the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, “Heartache.” Taka thanked the fans for coming and remarked “You guys are f-kin’ awesome. Thank you so much!!!” He then said they will play a slow song in Japanese, earning him a resounding “Yes!” especially when he then asked the fans to sing along. As the fans sang along, Taka would often times be found pointing his famous red mic to the crowd to sing while his other hand was on his chest as if he was taking in all the emotions the fans wanted to give him. To make the night more memorable, the band was treated to a sea of lights as fans raised their phones and swayed to match the soft lights. The band also performed the other tracks from the Rurouni Kenshin franchise, “The Beginning” and “Mighty Long Fall.”

Not wanting the night to end, the fans chanted for more. The band responded with Taka asking “Wanna stay with me more?” A resounding “Yes!” is what he got and more cheers came along when he smiled and said “Me too. I want more.”

They performed three additional songs, starting off with “Wherever You Are.” While the fans did miss a note or two while singing along, Taka would just smile and entice them to continue. Another sea of lights added to the ambiance and in the end, Taka made a heart sign with his hands showing how much the entire band felt about the love Manila gave them. The band ended the encore with “No Scared” and the upbeat “Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer,” showering fans with white plastic balloons with the band’s current symbol.

Before leaving the stage, the band raised up the banner with the fan messages joined them for a selfie. They also did a 20 second bow to the crowd similar to the ones in Japan and to make it more memorable, Tomoya gave the fans a very cute “Mahal kita!” before joining the others on the back stage. Taka had also promised earlier that night they will definitely come back to Manila after seeing the fans give out their all throughout the live. 

It was clear that it wasn’t just the fans who found the show unforgettable, amazing and out of this world as the band posted in their personal Instagram accounts just how much they enjoyed playing for their Pinoy fans. Of course, fans are now waiting for part 2 with as much anticipation as the first one. 

In behalf of the entire Philippine ONE OK ROCK community, arigato PULP Live World for bringing them to Manila. We waited so long for this and you guys made it happen! We hope you guys bring them back for Part 2 and we guarantee, it will yet again be another concert ONE OK ROCK and you guys will never forget! We’re counting on you guys! Aishiteru zo!!!

The exclusive coverage of One Ok Rock Live in Manila is featured in PULP Magazine March 2016. Available now in major bookstores near you! Email to order online and have it delivered to your doorstep.