[ENTERTAINMENT]Documentary explores music of band X

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Documentary explores music of band X

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi prides himself on being a rock and roller, and digs music as rootsy as Elvis Presley. But when asked what he likes best, the lion-maned statesman says, "X Japan is my favorite rock band." Mind you, Koreans aren't usually very pleased with what leaves Mr. Koizumi's mouth; but the younger set took his opinion on Japan's legendary glam band as incontrovertibly cool.

X Japan was founded in 1982 by the drummer and pianist Yoshiki. The other members were the vocalist Toshi, the guitarists Hide and Pata and the bassist Heath. The band swiftly attracted attention as a visual phenomenon with its outrageous appearance - thick makeup, huge and radical hairdos, explosive stage performances and engagingly melodious music with poetic lyrics.

Even before sales of Japanese pop music in Korea became legal a few years ago, local rockers were already familiar with X Japan's most popular songs, for the band's CDs were readily available on the black market.

Late in 1997, at the peak of its popularity, the group decided to break up to pursue solo careers. Tragedy struck soon after when Hide was found hanged in his apartment, an apparent suicide.

Though the band has called it quits, its fans are just as ardent as ever - in Korea as well as in Japan. And Saturday marks a big day for the group's Korean fans, since a long-awaited X Japan film production containing live concert footage will be screened in Seoul.

The documentary features, in addition to the footage from many of the band's concerts, interviews with the five members over its running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Live performances of big hits such as "Endless Rain" and "Say Anything" are among the 12 songs in the documentary. Previously unseen video that examines Hide's personal troubles are part of the production as well.

The film has already been screened 11 times in Japan, and drew crowds of 2,500 and up. The Seoul show is its last scheduled stop. Lee Byeong-gu, part of the team organizing the event, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition, "Though it's a film, it will be presented like a real concert, with many special effects like fireworks on the stage." Many of the spectators at the Japan shows were so gothed up they could have passed for the actual band members. In fact, Mr. Koizumi could have been there in full makeup, multicolored wig and spandex - nobody would have known.

At some of the earlier screenings, the leader of the band, Yoshiki, made surprise appearances or called the venue and talked to fans over the speakers. And Yoshiki is booked to attend the Seoul show, the organizers promise. "We expect more than 600 fans to go to the airport to greet Yoshiki san," Mr. Lee said.

"X Japan Film Gig" will be shown at the 88 Gymnasium in Deungchon-dong from 6 p.m. Tickets are 50,000 won ($38) and 40,000 won.

To get to the 88 Gymnasium, take subway line No. 5 and get off at the Balsan station, then go out exit No. 6. For further information, call the organizer, JRS Entertainment, at 02-412-0557.

by Chun Su-jin

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