RADWIMPS are chart-toppers, a group that became a commercial success in just 5 years after forming back in 2001 during their first year of high school. In 2011 they gained international attention with the release of their best selling single ‘Dada’, but instead of striking while the iron was hot, the four-piece made their UK debut four years later in 2015.
With a half-filled venue of mostly Japanese fans, either their reach into the overseas market has shortened over the years, or the show’s lack of publicity within the UK was showing. Not wasting any time going straight into their biggest track ‘Dada’, an expected highlight that turned out to be a rough start for the band, with an off note performance from frontman Noda.
Despite the lowered expectations from the initial hiccup RADWIMPS made a complete 180 and went on to deliver an impressive set that showcased their development throughout the last decade, with tracks like pop-punk anthem ‘Kimi to Hitsuji to Ao’ and the intense rap-rock tune ‘Jikkyochuukei’ leaving a lasting impression. But though song after song garnered a positive reaction from the crowd, it was the organization of the setlist that hindered the momentum of the night, building up the energy in the room one minute only to knock it down a notch the next, something that was evident with the final song of the night ‘Gogatsu No Hae’ that ended the show on a low note with lyrics such “I will not forgive you” and “I would jump rope with those intestines”.
RADWIMPS are a hard band to pin down, with an adventurous discography that encompasses numerous genres including punk, indie rock, and rap to name a few, and themes ranging from young love to suicide, sex, and murder, forming a single idea of what this band is all about is nigh impossible. They’re a band with multiple personalities, something that some may not be able to get on board with, but it makes RADWIMPS one of the most contemporary bands out there. They showed massive potential tonight, and with bit of fine-tuning, a little luck, and lots more promo behind them, RADWIMPS could be one of the best live music exports Japan has had in a long while.
Words and photo by Charles Shepherd