Monday, 19 May 2014

Bo Ningen @ Deaf Institute 12th May 2014

Neil Young once said that if he found himself musically driving in the middle of the road, he'd soon head for the ditch. Younghusband are not ditch dwellers. The quartet had a pleasant soaring guitar sound, quite likely influenced by the Chameleons and the House of Love, but their lyrics were mundane, their tunes bordering on bland and they could easily have been making the same music in the eighties. Japanese Londoners Bo Ningen in contrast live in a time of their own. They are so far into that ditch they've probably bored halfway to the core of the planet. You could throw some comparisons at them, most obviously Kawabata Makoto's Mainliner, with whom Bo Ningen bassist and singer Taigen Kawabe performed on their recent "Revelation Space" album, and they share Makoto's wild guitar slinging abandon; Boris and High Rise also seem more apt than either Black Sabbath or Nirvana, as quoted from their press release. However what they do share with Sabbath and Nirvana is some killer riffing, albeit thrown together in tunes way wilder than Kurt Cobain's worst heart-shaped nightmare. Taigen Kawabe and guitarist Kohhei Matsuda are androgynous to the point of appearing alien, dressed in long ritualistic robes, the guitarist in red and the bassist centre stage in black. Taigen Kawabe is a great rock showman, mouthing silent incantations when not actually singing, waving his arms as if exorcising demons and ultimately, during the explosive finale "Daikaisei," leaning out over the gathering, unstrapping his bass with his teeth, playing it upright double bass style, then over his head, then simulating impaling himself with it as if it was a hari-kari sword. After his mock rock'n'roll suicide he left the bass to drone on the stage and ascended to stand upon his amp as Kohhei Matsuda first unplugged his guitar and swung it round like a windmill blade then made static noise with an unplugged guitar lead, the other guitarist Yuki Tsuji riffed us all into orgasmic oblivion and Akihide Monna beat the hell out of the drums. With the last blast, Taigen Kawabe leapt from his amp. It was as if every other song they'd played, from the high pitched glossolalia of "Henkan" to the jagged stop/start "Soko" by way of some songs from their new album "III" had led to this theatrically climactic celebration of the magic of rock. Most rock bands are not at all magical. Bo Ningen are one hell of a great exception.

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