LIVE REPORTGREEN STAGE8/20 FRI
MAN WITH A MISSION
Still on a Mission
The band strode onstage in their trademark wolf heads to the strains of Bad Religion’s “Man With a Mission,” before the bass player and drummer kicked in a few strong hits in unison to start off the set.
Despite their recent mellowing, the first song of their Fuji Rock 2021 set harkened back to the band’s earliest hardcore-inspired sound. Thousands of fans lined the valley’s plateau in front of the stage, observing social distancing, but still rocking out to their heroes; one of the few bands signed to a Japanese major label that has retained some indie flair. By the time the band hit the first chorus of their set, thousands of people pogoed in unison throughout the Green Stage’s grassy clearing.
In between the first and second song, the lead singer called out, “we know you were asked to stay silent to be safe, but please clap along instead of cheering,” and their throngs of loyal fans cooperated happily; all too grateful for a chance to rock out hard after more than a year of abstaining from such leisure. Even the large wolf head and claws hovering over the stage seemed to bear witness to the massive nature of this festive event. As the band’s second song crashed to a close, the thousands on the hillside erupted into applause.
The lead singer then asked the audience if they were enjoying themselves, after such a long time of no live shows. And their audience applauded a thundering “yes”. He then told them to enjoy a year’s-worth of shows tonight, and the crowd once again applauded.
The third song’s intro started off slow, as if building up suspense, and then started building up more tension and intricacy with its beats. The lead singer sang with one foot on a monitor, and, despite all warnings against dancing, something of a small pit seemed to erupt on the stage-side screens. Man With a Mission’s fourth song started with an ambient electronic backing track, and hesitating hip-hop style vocals, before exploding into a chorus that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Slipknot record. During a spooky breakdown, the stage glowed purple, then furious red as the music got angrier and led into a breakdown of the chorus, followed by a full-on version; “Into the deep”.
Twenty minutes into their set, a certain song started with a prerecorded message about how now was their time, and almost all audience members put their fists in the air before the band dove into a furious chorus. The verses assumed a calmer vibe, only to be replaced once again by a furious chorus. And, hundreds if not thousands of fists pounded the air, accompanied by gang vocals from the band. The red light from the stage bathing the multitude of fists in the air on the hillside appeared both spooky and powerful; and would seem terrifying out of context.
Twenty-six minutes into their set, Man With a Mission introduced a female guest “Mirei” who sang a duet with the lead singer. During a breakdown in this song, the audience members spread their arms widely, and then clapped rhythmically like the fans at Queen’s Live Aid performance.
Following this slow number, the band picked up the tempo again, with a mid-tempo number possessing a disco feel, which got a small pit of audience members jumping up and down in front of the Green Stage. The band then picked up the pace even more with higher-speed high-intensity numbers which got even more audience members bouncing along on the hillside in front of the stage, and clapping above their heads in time to the music.
With thirty minutes remaining in their set time, the DJand drummer took a solo together, as the audience was bathed in fuchsia, and the crowd applauded loudly in approval. They then took their bows and walked off stage to more warm applause. The lead singer then introduced a female violinist, and played one song acoustically with her.
The band then resumed their places on stage and delivered more rock to their waiting crowd of fans, which appeared truly huge on the stage-side screens. Before that, however, the audience listened with rapt attention to a long speech from the lead singer about all the restrictions in these pandemic times, and that many people couldn’t make it today – for many reasons – but that we (those present today) should obey the rules put in place for our safety, so that we can enjoy the rest of our lives. The audience members then waved their hands back and forth furiously to the chorus of the following song, as if to voice their agreement with the band’s vocalist.
For their last song, Man With a Mission brought a mid-tempo number with a gang vocal and angry chants that had a virtual pogo pit break out; alternately bobbing up and down, and projecting their fists into the air. Thousands of fists were thrown to the right and then to the left as the gang vocals of the chorus soared over the thousands of spectators bathed in blue and fuchsia light. The light rigging above the stage exploded into a rainbow of color, with each spotlight dispensing different colors. The song then modulated for the last chorus, as the lead singer screamed “Sing! Sing! Sing!” and the audience enthusiastically pelted the air with their arms instead of vocalising. As the last song dove into a stadium ending, thousands of pairs of arms clapped over their heads in the flashing lights. Then the band thanked the crowd, took their bows, and walked off stage.
[Photo: 7 All photo]