It’s my birthday tomorrow, and last night I had my present – the chance to see legendary Japanese rock guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei (布袋 寅泰) in concert at the Roundhouse in Camden! I’ve been to quite a lot of concerts in my (gulp) 31 years, but I can honestly say last night’s was one of the best ever.
The gig opened with one of my all-time favourite songs (and ultimate ‘get up and go’ track), ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’ from the film Kill Bill. The sound quality of this video isn’t great as I was quite close to a speaker, and there’s a crazy woman screaming behind me, but you’ll get the idea…
I would say at least 70% of the audience was Japanese, and many people seemed to be die-hard fans wearing scarves and T-shirts from previous gigs. I even saw a coach load of Japanese fans arrive while I was having dinner! I have to admit I wasn’t that familiar with his older music from the ’90s as I only own the album ‘Electric Samurai’, released in 2004. But I’ve played that album at least once a week since I bought it, and it is definitely in my top ten favourite albums (it’s mostly instrumental and is great to write to).
Hotei’s band for the night featured a fabulous tattooed drummer called Tatsuya Nakamura from punk band The Stalin (ザ・スターリン) and rockabilly trio Blankey Jet City (ブランキー・ジェット・シティ), bass guitarist TOKIE formerly of alternative metal band RIZE (ライズ), and DJ Toshiyuki Kishi from abingdon boys school.
Nakamura, I think, bore a striking resemblance to Animal from The Muppets, and I mean that as a compliment! He drummed most of the time with his mouth open, looking deliriously happy, and the image below is the best shot I could get of him because he was moving so fast!
Even though I didn’t know all the music Hotei played, every song was memorable. I feel like I was introduced to some classics that I should have known, such as ‘Bambina’ (バンビーナ) – a single from 1999 which reminded me a bit of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ by The Sweet (listen here). ‘Bambina’ really got the crowd rocking, but I was also pleased to hear some classics from my own musical collection – in particular, a cover of Bowie’s ‘Starman’…
Being a huge Bowie fan, I’m very particular about covers of his songs, but I thought this was a good one. Again, the video quality is not great, but you get the idea of what it was like.
Although I love music, and used to work in record shops when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t call myself a ‘muso’ and I don’t know much about guitars. But I know what I like, and I liked everything I heard last night. I was really excited before the gig, and worried that Hotei might not live up to my expectations, but I needn’t have worried at all. I only wish he had come on for a second encore, and played a little more of the album ‘Electric Samurai’. He mentioned the possibility of a UK/European tour next year, and I really hope that materialises. It was such an energetic gig, but with a really good vibe from the crowd (unlike a lot of British rock gigs which can turn a bit ugly), and I would love to see Tomoyasu Hotei play live in the UK again soon!
Above is just a selection of the photos I took. You can see the whole collection here on Flickr.
In other news…
For those of you who are wondering if I am ever going to post about Hyper Japan – I am! I’ve finally uploaded all my photos and videos, and will be posting over the holidays. Sorry it’s taken so long – life has sort of got in the way recently! 😉