You wouldn’t expect to see London’s #1 acid rockers sharing the stage with Japan’s #1 rhythm & blues troop, but when you delve into the details, it all starts to make a lot of sense. Both feeding off sounds prominent in the 60s and 70s, together they might just be the perfect showcase of how Japan is still managing to keep aging genres alive. Also it might have something to do with them going to the same highschool, but I digress.
Japanese born and London brewed Bo Ningen have been on the up and up since the release of their first album in 2010. With their instantly recognizable howls, handy peddle work and frenetic live shows, they are now one of the most sought after psychedelic rock acts the UK and Japan have to offer, and tonight they drove that point across. Long hair, loosely dressed and with some sort of vendetta against their instruments, the band jump-started the night with a sudden shock to the system as frontman Taigen’s razor edge voice and loud bass tore through the venue. Blending together each excessively noisy track into a non-stop set of pure ear blistering bliss, Bo Ningen left the crowd wanting more (and maybe a hearing aid), and The Bawdies a hard set to follow.
If Bo Ningen is the guys rocking out to Blues Creation at the bike sheds, The Bawdies are the teen heartthrobs. Suited up, guitars cleaned, hair maintained, it was hard to believe we were still at the same show. But as the guitars came alive and the lead’s raspy voice blew through the amps, people started to swing. Like the R&B tunes of yesteryear, it was infectious. These guys had energy and they knew how to dish it out. Song after song they kept up the pace, not giving the fans a chance to stop moving and even giving the harder nuts in the crowd a reason to tap their feet. Each member played at top form, but taking notes on the drummer, introduced as Japan’s #1 shy boy, was easier said than done as he hid in the dark corner behind the center stage amplifiers. With music heavily influenced by that of the golden age of R&B, some songs toyed on the line of inspired by and almost cookie cut from the template of classic tracks, but it was Roy’s Armstrong-esque crooning and Jim’s reckless guitar playing that helped take their music to the next level.
At a show like this there are no winners. Each band did what they know and they did it a damn sight better than anyone else. Tonight was destined to bring conflict but instead brought two acts on the opposite side of the fence together for a near-perfect throwback to two ever-fading genres and an exhibit of stand-out musical talent from two of the loudest bands around.