X Japan’s 1997 live performance of “Endless Rain” is one of the most symbolic gestures in music history. Here was perhaps the most popular Japanese band of all time playing their last planned concert, performing arguably their most beloved song. Long after lead vocalist Toshi stops singing, the crowd continues to chant the chorus. In that moment, X Japan’s reign is truly endless. They would reunite ten years later, but this concert was the last time they played with the band’s original line up.
X Japan are pioneers of visual kei, a genre known for its colorful costumes and theatrics, and often associated with the anti-establishment. Look at the styles of any current Japanese rock band and you will see traces of X Japan in all of them.
“Endless Rain,” like many of X Japan’s songs, is well over ten minutes. Lyrically, it’s a ballad about forgetting heartbreak, pain, unrequited love–you name it– by walking through the rain, hoping that it never ends. Though the reprieve may only be temporary, it becomes more comforting with each passing second.
The most cathartic moment of the track occurs when Toshi joins the crowd’s extended refrain. Although he only lasts a few choruses (the audience continues for much longer), this says a lot about X Japan’s powerful connection to their fans.
“Endless Rain” isn’t just a power ballad, it’s a way of life that speaks to an entire generation and will continue to reach new generations. During this performance, Toshi’s creation rose to something greater than a metaphorical song about the solace of rain. It became an event whose participants gladly stood in its splendor, begging for it to never pass. The rain may not be endless, but the feeling it produces remains eternal.