Esprit D’Air / An Explosive Performance At The Garage, London

On a Saturday night at The Garage in Highbury Corner, North London, an evening of Japanese Progressive Metal found Esprit D’Air closing their UK Tour before heading to Europe for some shows.

Esprit D’Air – Diamond Black

The Garage, London – 2 March 2024

Words: Carol Giannattasio

Photography: Antonio Giannattasio

Diamond Black, the special guests on this tour, were intense. Following their set, more on that below, people rushed to refill their beer glasses and recharge energy levels for Esprit D’Air.

The band entered the stage with the crazy intro, Into The Ocean, smashing straight into Nebulae, and we were off.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Over the years, Esprit D’Air has had many ups and downs, with singer and multi-instrumentalist Kai being the constant. Accompanying him on this tour are Takeshi on bass, Yusuke on guitar and Vincent Velazco on drums.

Kai was very comfortable on a stage that, in my opinion, was too small for a person who, for years, had carried out a project in which he never stopped believing, simply doing what he loves to do. For sure, he deserves a bigger stage.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Esprit D’Air plays old and new songs, having fun and singing along with fans, encouraging them between claps or waving them to music time.
What struck me most, which I don’t see happening in many gigs, was the involvement of the other members of the band, even as session/touring members.

Kai tries in every way to put not only himself but also his fellow adventurers in the spotlight. In fact, after Grudge, Calling You, The Abyss and Rebirth, a mix between falsetto and screams, he abandons the stage for a few minutes. These minutes are filled by a drum solo in the company of bass and guitar. Here is where Yusuke takes matters into his own hands, taking the microphone and inviting fans to have fun on drums.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

The room was certainly gassed and filled with positive energy, a must for every band to be able to convey emotions through music.

Kai returned to the stage, saying that this was their biggest headline show so far and how happy he was. This is the last date of their English tour, but it has been a resounding success.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Esprit D’Air continued the evening with other amazing songs. Standouts include Amethyst, Ignition, and Sazanami. Between jumps on stage and changing his guitars by throwing them behind him, this is a show in all respects, especially as it seemed to be like watching real anime.

Kai announces their next song, Shizuku, stating that it was the first song he wrote. It was this that increased the popularity of the band when Shizuku became the first J-Rock genre song in the video game Rock Band.

Kai’s true passion is seen when, in drum time, his fans scream loudly and repeatedly “Esprit D’Air”, leaving him speechless and in tears. That moment was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the evening.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Towards the end of the evening, Kai invited Ben Christo on stage to perform their collaboration song Dead Zone, which is one of my favourite songs of the evening, given the deep lyrics.

“It’s a really unique blend of djent, industrial, electro, goth, emo, Metal and much more,” Christo has said of Esprit D’Air. “I love the dramatics and cinematic quality it has, with haunting, melancholy colours swooping between the cruel, relentless jaws of the machine.”

Like Ben, Kai is also part of Sisters Of Mercy, and tonight, you can feel the love and respect they have for each other.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Esprit D’Air ended the show with Kurenai, an X Japan cover and Leviathan, another song I personally loved for Kai’s delivery and change of voice.

Kai is carrying out this Esprit D’Air project with his head held high. I really enjoyed this different evening, along with an excited and appreciative crowd. Japanese Metal is definitely a new genre for me and one all should discover, because Esprit D’Air were fantastic.

Esprit D'Air - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Esprit D’Air – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Diamond Black

Special guests for the tour were Diamond Black, an intense, exploding and introspective rock trio based in London. They are fronted by Ben Christo (Sisters of Mercy), guitarist and singer Jan-Vincent Velazco on the drums and Adam Hart on the bass and vocals.

Diamond Black - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Diamond Black – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

The band enter the stage, transmitting all their energy to the fans, greeting them and thanking them for being there. They start with Ghost In The Glass, and the room goes crazy. They couldn’t have started with a better song, a very strong beginning.

The themes of their songs are very powerful and interesting. As Ben confirmed during the night, they write especially about having anxiety or depression, a topic much discussed today but also underestimated. They talk about encouraging you to be yourself and to create circles of friendships that can be supportive.

Diamond Black - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Diamond Black – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Ben continues the evening by introducing the other members of the band. He points out that all their merchandise was created and designed at home by the bass player, Adam.

The evening continues in high spirits, with In Venom, Fall Into The Silence, Through The Misery, The Scarlet and Dark Anthems, and in those last songs, Ben Christo creates a relationship between him and the fans, saying that the songs (especially Through The Misery) are very personal written words.

Diamond Black - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Diamond Black – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

He says he has spent dark periods and confirmed that on gig day, it had been 888 days since he had been sober. This filled my evening with pleasure as Ben was transparent and true. He spoke of getting help if needed and not having any shame.

The Diamond Black set comes to an end with Sorrow, with the band joined by Esprit D’Air guitarist Yusuke.

Musically, Diamond Black are very interesting. The message they bring sets an inspiring example. You can sense this in the relationship between the band and the crowd wonderfully.

Diamond Black - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Diamond Black – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk
Diamond Black - The Garage, London - 2 March 2024
Diamond Black – The Garage, London – 2 March 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

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