||THE BAND WITH THE REAL X FACTOR
Fascinating, dazzling and redemptive story of the iconic Japanese band...
20th February 2017
Words: Andy Rawll
From the producer of the acclaimed 'Searching for Sugar Man', 'We are X' charts the classic career arc of an extraordinary band told via an expertly edited combination of interviews and incendiary performances.
From their conception as glam-punk, speed-Metal 'visual kei' masters to stadium devouring melodic power Metal monsters, the film is as vivid and fast-paced as the band during their rise to prominence in the late 90s.
Central to the story is enigmatic leader Yoshiki, as the movie presents how a fractured childhood inspired his relentless vision for X as well as the apparent masochistic zeal with which he pushes himself physically with his drumming style. It's also a story of brotherhood, with parallels to that other great film 'The Story Of Anvil', although Robb Reiner couldn't claim that his temporary split from the band was due to brainwashing by a religious cult, unlike Toshi, the remarkable, but troubled lead singer.
It's ironic that Yoshiki's singular vision of the X factor in the Far East had already delivered multi-million album sales, well before Simon Cowell had decided to launch his own brand of X Factory faming in the West. Yoshiki's Ying and Yang to SiCo's Zig and Zag, if you will.
In the second act, there's tragedy in the loss of two of the original band of five brothers, but the film reflects the spiritual renewal in the band's reformation in 2007 as they embark on their unfulfilled quest outside of Japan. This sets up the final act of the film, which relates the meticulous planning for their unprecedented and ultimately triumphant performance at Madison Square Garden in 2014. I loved the sound-check sequence when, after a lengthy instrumental work-out, Yoshiki made the concession that they 'only' needed to cover the last ten minutes of the drum solo.
As a rock doc, 'We Are X' is a great watch as both a history lesson about one of Japan's most successful bands, but also as an introduction to the latest incarnation of the group and the retina searing power of their arena shows. Better still, the film's revised release date now coincides with X Japan's first-ever UK arena show at the SSE Arena at Wembley on Saturday 4th March 2017. Having laid waste to the relatively modest-sized Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2011, I expect this be one of the Metal gigs of the year.
• 'We are X' Movie UK Premiere: Tuesday 28th February
• 'We are X' Movie Nationwide Release: Thursday 2nd March
• 'X Japan' UK Live Show (Wembley Arena) – Saturday 4th March