Fans of Japanese rock band, Alexandros (ALXD), were in for quite a treat when the band visited Malaysia for the first time.

Previously known as Champagne, the foursome consists of front-man Yoohei Kawakami as the vocalist and on guitar, Hiroyuki Isobe on vocals and bass, Masaki Shirai on lead guitar and Satoyasu Shomura on drums. The band revamped themselves into the fashionable Alexandros and are one of the leading English speaking J-rock bands.

Alexandros’ visit to Malaysia was a rather unexpected one, as this was the band’s only Southeast Asian stop before embarking on their 1st US tour. Needless to say, fans came pouring from all over the world to witness the band live in concert. During their public press meeting in Pavilion, Bukit Bintang on the 21st of September (Friday) – excited fans were even waiting in line in hopes to catch a glimpse of the group.

The lads from Alexandros were friendly as they took their seats, Hiroyuki even stated how he was surprised by how chilly the Malaysian weather was. Yoohei apologised when he realised how scruffily he was dressed in comparison to his other members, joking about his plain white t-shirt and how he should have worn ‘a cool jacket’.

The band mentioned having tried char kue tiow and seemed rather excited at the mention of chilli pan mee, as everyone had a preference for spicy food. Despite getting questions, Alexandros was very secretive about their show the next day. “It’s a surprise,” said Yoohei. “Just come and have a good time.” With the press conference wrapped up, the band took their leave with waves of goodbye to the fans.

The concert itself was held on the next day, on 22nd of September (Saturday) at KL Live, where many past rock shows had been successfully held. The event was organised by Toybox Projects—who has been responsible for bringing several Japanese acts to our humble home.

Alexandros’ influence clearly was strong enough to invite attendees from Japan and Taiwan, who made up a large percentage of the crowd. It was rather jarring to be in line and hearing chatter in languages that one was not used to, but refreshing nevertheless. It truly shows how dedicated fans are, but even more so about what this means for Alexandros as a band. Clearly if fans were willing to fly in from across the globe to see them perform, they certainly must have a great show up their sleeves.

At 8:45pm, the opening act called ‘Fazz’ took the stage with all smiles. The octad were a complete shot of adrenaline to the senses as they shook everyone thoroughly with their eccentric sound of cabaret jazz with a twist. What perhaps stood out most in terms of their performance was most definitely the surprising use of trombone and trumpet, alongside a keyboard, electric double bass, and fast paced drumming.

The lead singer, Lynn Tan, had a rather charming, kooky personality that was reminiscent of Bjork. With their captivating psychedelic sound, the entire crowd was hooked on the acid trip that was Fazz’s music. They ended their set with a gypsy swing inspired number, which lyrically was a commentary on blame culture in Malaysia.

And then it was the moment of truth.

Fans lost it the moment the familiar intro of ‘Burger Queen’ blasted through the speakers, as the members took their positions on stage. Without wasting any time, Alexandros launched into the powerful track, ‘For Freedom’, which had everyone passionately singing the words to.

Lead singer Yoohei Kawakami was all smiles and high energy, belting high notes like it was second nature to him. The band performed all of their best singles; “Waitress, Waitress!”, “Dracula La”, “Adventure”, “Run Away”, and “Star”—back to back without showing any sign of fatigue. Clearly, their years of experience in the industry shows as they effortlessly cruised through an intense set.

During a break, the band even playfully asked the crowd to teach them some Malay, as they only knew the phrases “selamat pagi” and “terima kasih”. Bassist Hiroyuki Isobe even noted with a smile how the crowd knew quite a few Japanese phrases. With the new knowledge of the word ‘boleh’, the band started playing the first few chords to the melancholic “Moon Song”.

They toned it down with the slower number “Hana Uta”, which got the crowd waving along to the acoustic song. It was the perfect breather before getting back at it again with hard hitting “Girl A”, “Ashita Mata”, and their hit single, “Mosquito Bite” which was used in the Netflix adaptation of “Bleach: The Movie”. Fans were in for a lovely surprise when the band announced that they would be playing an unreleased song, “Arpeggio”, which will be released on their new album—“Sleepless in Brooklyn” later this November.

Groans were rather audible when the band announced that they would be playing their last song, but thanked the crowd profusely for such a great night. Alexandros closed the show with a classic, “Kick and Spin”, which had everyone head banging along to the addictive riffs of the electric guitar. With words of goodbye, Yoohei bid the crowd goodnight and hopes to see everyone back again in 2019.

What was most notable during the show was how differently a crowd of Japanese fans reacted. Even at concerts, manners seem to be permanently embedded into their system. Unlike the average rabid fan, the crowd was surprisingly calm—only air punching along to the songs but respectfully standing in their own space. There was not a single case of shoving or manhandling, which was incredibly rare.

It’s something that Malaysian fans should take note of and perhaps practice in the future for an equally pleasant experience for all. All in all, Alexandros proves to be a rock band that one should look out for as they certainly aim to be at the top of the game.

Review by Leyasheena Panicker.

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