Gig review: The Dead Daisies makes some terrific noise in Tokyo

The Dead Daisies on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Rock’n’roll knockout delivered in Tokyo by the fab The Dead Daisies.

The Dead Daisies‘ Australian founder and guitarist David Lowy has managed to take the best bits from rock history and put together a vital, high-energy band full of attitude, skill and abilities. This is a band that is having fun performing for its fans and with the skills to deliver a proper rock show.

With the band’s members having solid rock industry pedigree (Dio, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Ozzy Osbourne, Journey, Slash, Glenn Hughes, Billy Idol…), they know how to put together a world-class rock show.

The Dead Daisies on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

They kick off in style with “Long Way to Go” and then move on to the fabulous “Mexico” before we get the rock anthem “Make Some Noise”.

The Dead Daisies on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Frontman John Corabi knows how to entertain and leads from the front. But he’s also experienced enough to not overshadow his bandmates the whole time. Fierce bassist Marco Mendoza is hard to ignore as he takes possession of the stage while drummer Brian Tichy bangs away on his drums like it’s nobody’s business. The newest addition to the band, guitarist Doug Aldrich who joined in 2016, has taken the band to a whole new level. His guitar wankery and classic rock poses make this band complete. This evening in Tokyo we get a two-hour rock’n’roll party. The audience at the sold-out gig is with the band the whole way. What we get is like a deluxe, in-the-flesh version of the band’s new live album “Live & Louder”.

The set list is terrific. The best bits from the band’s catalogue plus a few carefully chosen rock classics in “Fortunate Son”, “Join Together”, “Helter Skelter”, “We’re an American Band”, “Midnight Moses” and “Highway Star”.

The Dead Daisies on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

We do get an extended drum solo by Brian Tichy in the middle of the gig. No major fan of drum solos, I feared the worst, but Tichy delivers. Like a possessed maniac he attacks the drums and shows us his skills. Even goes full-on Tommy Aldrige on us and does part of his solo with his bare hands.

The whole band’s tight and work very well together. Having initially been a band with a constantly changing line-up, since last year it now seems there is a real band here and not a project with rock star guests. Wow! What a night of great fun rock’n’roll!

The Dead Daisies on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The Dead Daisies – Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan – 5th July 2017 – set list

  • Long Way to Go
  • Mexico
  • Make Some Noise
  • Song and a Prayer
  • Fortunate Son
  • We All Fall Down
  • Lock N Load
  • The Last Time I Saw the Sun
  • Brian Tichy drum solo
  • Join Together
  • All the Same
  • With You and I
  • Mainline
  • Helter Skelter
  • We’re an American Band
  • Midnight Moses
  • Highway Star

Gig review: Paul Shortino gives us a fabulous career retrospective on stage in Tokyo

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Showman Paul Shortino performs a splendid career retrospective for his Japanese fans with plenty of Quiet Riot, Rough Cutt and King Kobra tunes.

Having fronted Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot and King Kobra as well as being involved in many other projects, bands, albums and shows, American singer and musician Paul Shortino has quite a career to look back on. The 64-year-old vocal powerhouse has no problem in digging into the vaults to put together a couple of hours of fabulous music for this career retrospective. What a treat of a show he and his Paul Shortino Band deliver to his Japanese fans.

Paul Shortino and his Japanese backing band kick off the evening in style with the King Kobra song “Rock This House” before we get a bunch of Rough Cutt classics. The band returns to King Kobra with “Knock ‘em Dead” before we get treated to some good old Quiet Riot songs.

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

In the middle of the gig, the band takes a break and Shortino does three songs solo.  Just Paul, his acoustic guitar, great tunes and his fabulous voice. And plenty of emotion. This is a genuine rocker with a big heart who is not afraid of showing his emotions. While he is a world-class showman, here he shows us that he doesn’t necessarily need any fancy pyro or sexy dancers to entertain us.

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

With the Shortino/Northrup rocker “The Kid Is Back In Town” the band returns and then we get plenty of goodies from Rough Cutt’s back catalogue. During the evening we do get to see some of Shortino’s Las Vegas stage moves (he’s been fronting the Raiding the Rock Vault show in Las Vegas in recent years). This is a man who clearly loves being on stage and enjoys making people happy with his music.

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

We get a rocking encore consisting of King Kobra’s “Ready To Strike” and, of course, Quiet Riot classic “Bang Your Head”. A fabulous night covering Shortino’s entire career ends with “Stars”, the Hear ‘n Aid charity single Shortino sang on with Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford and others back in 1985. Here Shigeki Fujii proves that he is no mere background singer when he steps up and delivers some ridiculously good vocals next to Shortino. What a combo!

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The Paul Shortino Band is an all-Japanese affair which started playing with Shortino last year. It’s a great band led by Jun Senoue (Crush 40) on guitar and keyboards and consisting of guitar wizard Nozomu Wakai (Destinia, Ronnie Romero, Mari Hamada), Shoyo (Cross Vein, Jupiter, Hizaki Grace Project, The Powernude) on bass, Louis Sesto (Blindman) on drums and Shigeki Fujii (Slangrade) on vocals. Shortino mentioned that he wants to record an EP with this band. Let’s hope so.

Paul Shortino Band on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Paul Shortino Band is unique in that it gives Shortino complete freedom in performing songs from all parts of his career and not being restricted to just a certain band’s back catalogue. Thus we do get a truly great mix of music from a great American artist.

Paul Shortino Band – Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo – 22nd June 2017 – set list

Rock This House (King Kobra)
Double Trouble (Rough Cutt)
Bad Reputation (Rough Cutt)
Dreamin’ Again (Rough Cutt)
Don’t Settle For Less (Rough Cutt)
Dressed To Kill (Rough Cutt)
Knock ‘em Dead (King Kobra)
Don’t Wanna Be Your Fool (Quiet Riot)
Stay With Me Tonight (Quiet Riot)
The Wild & The Young (Quiet Riot)
Run to You (Acoustic) (Quiet Riot)
Too Many Nights (Acoustic) (Paul Shortino)
Everybody Can Fly (Acoustic) (Northrup/Shortino)
The Kid Is Back In Town (Shortino/Northrup)
You Wanna Be A Star (Rough Cutt)
The Night Cries Out For You (Rough Cutt)
Take Her (Rough Cutt)
Piece Of My Heart (Rough Cutt)
Cutt Your Heart Out / Rock The USA (Rough Cutt)
Ready To Strike (King Kobra)
Bang Your Head (Quiet Riot)
Stars (Hear ‘n Aid)


Gig review: Anaal Nathrakh at Astro Hall, Harajuku, Tokyo

Anaal Nathrakh on stage in Tokyo in June 2017. Photo: Caroline Misokane

By Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

British extreme metal band Anaal Nathrakh has gone from a studio-only project to a great live act. When they returned to Japan for a brutal gig in Harajuku, Roppongi Rocks’ Caroline Misokane was there.

On 18th June, Anaal Nathrakh, the guys coming from the root of all evil and led by Dave Hunt, hit the stage at Astro Hall in Harajuku for the band’s only Japanese show of the year.

Anaal Nathrakh on stage in Tokyo in June 2017. Photo: Caroline Misokane

For the second time, Anaal Nathrakh brought their heaviness combined with Dave’s epic vocals to the land of the rising sun. And once again they were welcome by a crowd full of power and thirsty for what the Birmingham guys had to offer. Starting with “Acheronta Movebimus”, guitarist G Rash gave a killer riff to warm up the crowd, which was already on fire in a violent circle pit following each note of the song. When Dave entered with his evil screams, the small Astro Hall became even smaller for such energy. Feeding the crowd’s hunger for pure brutal death metal, “The Lucifer Effect” brought even more desire to destroy everything that makes you pissed off and just surf among all those heads and then dive again from the stage.

As Anaal Nathrakh’s lyrics are difficult to comprehend and sometimes aren’t include in the albums’ booklet, for someone who is not used to their sound it gets really complicated to understand why people get so insane with each song played. But besides being a death metal band, Anaal Nathrakh also brings philosophy within each verse and the hate and wrath for the human nature infect every single person in the room, making everyone wanting to explode with every beat of Anil Carrier‘s drums.

Anaal Nathrakh on stage in Tokyo in June 2017. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Although this tour is promoting their newest album, “The Whole of the Law”, only two songs from it were played. One of them was “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion”, combining Dave’s and Drunk‘s screams with Dave’s clean vocals – definitely one of the masterpieces of the album!

One of the strongest songs the band has ever written, “We Will Fucking Kill You”, was introduced by Dave telling the crowd about its video and the violence showed in it. Also, in response to requests from the band, the first stage dives started. It was supposed to be the end of the evening, but as it was their only show in Japan for the year, they decided to present the fans with some more brutal English death metal, which made people even crazier than they already were. There were times the rails were almost falling down due to the pits and headbanging.

Anaal Nathrakh on stage in Tokyo in June 2017. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Coming back with some old classics like “Drug-Fucking Abomination” and “More of Fire Than Blood”, the band chose the one I consider their best song ever to end the show: “Between Shit and Piss We Are Born”. Once again, brutality, anger and scunner for the human race took control of everyone, making the night an unforgettable and loud as hell one!

What kept my attention the most, and this happened not only by seeing them in action on the stage, but also when I first listened to their studio music, was how powerful and amazing a technical death metal band can be. People who are used to judge the style as only bad noise should check what these English guys can do and how a classical style voice can also have the scariest grunt of all and still be that kind of voice you can even wonder how it would sound singing a classic opera. That is probably why Birmingham will keep being the root of all evil – where everything started back there in the 60s – and keep feeding its people with fury and will to conquer the world’s heavy stages.

Anaal Nathrakh on stage in Tokyo in June 2017. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Gig review: Pretty Maids – the Danish melodic hard rock veterans have still got it

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Danish melodic hard rock veterans Pretty Maids deliver a solid gig in Tokyo in front of their loyal Japanese fans.

Just prior to coming to Japan for yet another round of gigs, melodic hard rockers Pretty Maids opened for KISS back home in Denmark.That gig must have given them some confidence and energy, because when they walk on stage in Tokyo for the second of the band’s two Tokyo gigs, they are on fire as they open with “Mother of All Lies”.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The current line-up of Pretty Maids features the two original members Ronnie Atkins on vocals and Ken Hammer on guitar, plus bassist Rene Shades. There are also two newcomers (and vitamin injections!) since they last performed in Japan in 2015: Swedish guitarist/keyboardist Chris Laney (Randy Piper’s Animal and Zan Clan) and drummer Allan Sørensen (Royal Hunt). The band is tight and delivers. But it is frontman Ronnie Atkins that sets this apart. His voice is still intact after all these years and he still knows how to entertain an audience.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

I first saw Pretty Maids in concert in 1990 and most recently at Loud Park in 2015. This evening in Shibuya we get a full-blown headline gig with all the goodies we want. We get fast rockers and we get some power ballads, just as expected when one of the best Scandinavian melodic hard rock bands performs in Japan.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Melodic hard rock bands from Scandinavia has a long tradition of having a loyal fan base in Japan. Pretty Maids is no different. The Japanese love affair kicked off with Europe back in 1983 and soon thereafter Pretty Maids was one of the leading bands in a big crowd of Scandinavian bands finding success in Japan.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

This evening the band is in a playful mood. We not only get the band’s classics and plenty of their newer material. We also get some great cover songs. We get treated to a part of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” as an intro to “I.N.V.U.”. Then we get a big chunk of Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” as well as John Sykes’ “Please Don’t Leave Me” (a cover Pretty Maids recorded in 1992). The band’s latest album, “Kingmaker”, was released in October last year and this evening we get to hear three songs from that album: “Kingmaker”, “Bull’s Eye” and “Heaven’s Little Devil”.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The best song of the night is the band’s 80s classic “Back to Back”, which is only rivalled by “Future World” during the encore. We get a long set filled with great music. The gig doesn’t really have any dips and the crowd keeps going throughout the gig. The audience knows all the words to the newer material as well as the classics from the 80s.

Pretty Maids on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Pretty Maids – Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo – 1st June 2017 – set list

  • Mother of All Lies
  • Kingmaker
  • Red, Hot and Heavy
  • Walk Away
  • Heaven’s Little Devil
  • Yellow Rain
  • Rodeo
  • Savage Heart
  • Pandemonium
  • Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd cover)
  • I.N.V.U.
  • Bull’s Eye
  • Rock You Like A Hurricane (Scorpions cover)
  • Eye of the Storm
  • Please Don’t Leave Me (John Sykes cover)
  • Back to Back
  • Future World
  • Little Drops of Heaven
  • Love Games

Gig report: Suomi Feast | A celebration of Finnish metal

Insomnium. Photo: Caroline Misokane

By Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

Finland remains a world power in heavy metal. The Nordic country is home to major acts like Nightwish, Children of Bodom and Amorphis, but there is much more to the Finnish metal scene. On Sunday 22nd May, Suomi Feast, a mini Finnish metal festival, took place in Shibuya, Tokyo with the five Finnish metal acts Insomnium, Whispered, Brymir, Dark Flood and Re-Armed. Roppongi Rocks’ Caroline Misokane was there.


Ares. Photo: Caroline Misokane

With six acts on the bill, Suomi Feast kicked off already in the afternoon. Japanese melodic death metal band Ares entered the stage to warm up the crowd before the Finnish invasion. At the first note of Takeshi Higashimura‘s guitar, the venue went crazy. The show went fine with the crowd responding well to every request of clapping hands and banging heads. Although it wasn’t a long set, it was enough for these Kansai guys to show what they are made of. When they left the stage, I felt more than satisfied with the amazing sound and a will to see them again and again.




Re-Armed. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Next band to enter the stage was the Finnish extreme metal band Re-Armed. Coming from Kerava, the four guys were really excited being in Japan for the first time, promoting their latest album, “The Era of Precarity”. Between jumps and amazing guitar solos by Jussi Venäläinen, vocalist Jouni Matilainen gave us his all. By the third song, inflatable balls were thrown from the band to the fans and the show became a piece of fun interaction, with especially Matilainen engaging with the crowd. The extremity of Re-Armed’s songs allowed the audience to form the first circle pit of the night. It was somewhat small in size due to the limited space at the Duo Music Exchange venue. However, this was not a problem for such an excited crowd which wanted to be an active part of the show.

Dark Flood

Dark Flood. Photo: Caroline Misokane

When the curtain fell for the third act of the evening, the guys in Dark Flood were already there while their epic intro was being played. With a powerful riff combined with the drums of Tuomas Jaatinen, “Misery is Music” opened up a long-awaited spectacle to the Japanese audience. Tero Piltonen has one of the strongest guttural voices in Finnish metal and his performance couldn’t be better. Combining his harsh screams with the soft yet powerful voices of Ville Ruumensaari and Kalle Ruumensaari, the trio gave Shibuya an unforgettable experience. Dark Flood is that kind of band that when on stage, they make you forget your name with the intensity of their performance. The greatest moment was during “Deadline”, which is a song where a perfect duet between Ville and Kalle makes the base for the aggressiveness of Tero. They finished their dark show with the track “Summer” and proved that 21 years of waiting was worth it for the Japanese fans.


Brymir. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Probably one of the most awaited bands of the night, Brymir made a triumphal beginning with their single “For Those Who Died”, a powerful heavy song starting with the screams of Viktor Gullischen. Now, the crowd, which had been warming up since the opening act Ares, showed what they are made of and the room was completely filled in heat, aggressiveness and passion for Finnish heavy music. This great band was welcomed by Japanese fans singing along and banging their heads. The band’s guitarist Joona Björkroth, who is also the guitarist of Battle Beast, was unable to be in Japan as he’s currently touring in the US with Battle Beast. He was temporarily replaced by Antti Nieminen (IA, Stormic) who, together with the band’s other guitarist Sean Haslam, stole the show with the most amazing guitar solos I’ve ever heard. With these guitarists striking performances, they caught the audience’s attention from the beginning to the end of the show. Brymir could not possibly leave Japan without playing their anthem “Ragnarök”, and when they did, the whole venue went to Finland in a typical Finnish feast with lots of fun, alcohol and good music. Expecting to come back as soon as they can, Brymir created a beautiful part of their history in Japan and surely are already missed.


Whispered. Photo: Caroline Misokane

When Whispered entered the was an important moment for the band who describe themselves as playing Samurai metal, and also for the Japanese fans who feel very honoured in seeing how the culture of their country has inspired and influenced Jouni Valjakka to create his music. With the strength of “Chi No Odori”, Whispered started a memorable show, showing their abilities with their instruments and the power of Jouni’s voice. Jouni tried to speak some words in Japanese, but as the time was very limited the band preferred to not talk too much and play as many songs as they could instead. For every song with a Japanese title, like “Sakura Omen” and “Keisei”, the crowd went delirious while Jouni and Mikko Mattila delighted themselves in strong solos and energetic riffs. Kai Palo is a guy who not only takes care of the four strings of his bass, but he’s also a guy who doesn’t want to see anyone dull while his band is playing, which means that he was clapping hands, banging his head all the time. And when he wasn’t, he was asking the audience to do that. The technical abilities of Whispered are among the best of Finnish bands, but these guys from Tampere show with every single note that they play, that a good band is not only about technique. It has to have power, glory, feeling and a lot of passion too. If you’ve checked them out once and didn’t like their sound, you should check them out live, because after that it is impossible to not say that Whispered is one of the best Finnish bands of all time.


Insomnium. Photo: Caroline Misokane

The evening’s headliner Insomnium has a strong relationship with the Japanese audience. It has been two years since their last visit to Japan, but even if they had been here last month, people would still wait for them like it was their first ever time in the land of the rising sun. Their latest epic album, “Winter’s Gate”, released in 2016, has had a great response from all over the world. It is not hard to understand why when they hit the stage and open their set with “Winter’s Gate pt.1”. The album contains only one song divided into seven pieces and this evening they perform the entire album. As “Winter’s Gate” has its slow parts, we saw the Joensuu guys coming and going off the stage during the first hour of the set. After introducing guitarist Jani Liimatainen (Sonata Arctica, Cain’s Offering, Stratovarius, Paul Di’Anno) who is replacing Ville Friman on this tour, vocalist and bassist Niilo Sevänen took everyone back to “Above the Weeping World” with “The Gale”.

Insomnium. Photo: Caroline Misokane

Jani and the other guitarist Markus Vanhala (Omnium Gatherum) gave an extra flavour to the night as they joke with each other all the time, trying to show who is the best guitar player and even playfully sabotaging for each other. Niilo is the best Finnish death metal singer there is and he can still surprise me with the quality of his vocals. When combined with the clean voice of Jani, it was almost impossible to keep my tears from falling down. Heaviness, energy, humour and plenty of feeling are words that best describe what happened in that moment. With lyrics full of sadness and darkness, Insomnium takes the listener on a trip into the depths of the human mind. The crowd got the opportunity to breathe a little after an intense gig, before the band came back to perform an encore. They revived two classics from the “Shadows of the Dying Sun” album, starting with “Primeval Dark” and then, after thanking and saluting the crowd, finishing the amazing show with “While They Sleep”, maybe one of their best songs ever.

Insomnium. Photo: Caroline Misokane

The five Finnish bands gave Shibuya a musically extreme dark night and brought with them a little piece of the cold lands of Finland to Japan, proving once again that the two countries can make a perfect marriage, at least when it comes to heavy music.

Once again the Evoken de Valhall Production deserves to be congratulated for bringing to Japan bands that most of the other promoters have forgotten. It was a memorable night and I can only guess that, just like me, everyone who attended Suomi Feast already wants more.

Gig review: Treat – Swedish melodic rockers better than ever

Treat posing in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Treat. Photo: Yuki Kuroyanagi.

A fab evening of melodic hard rock with Swedish favourites Treat. They are still relevant and better than ever. The addition of King Diamond’s bassist Pontus Egberg has breathed new life into this classic 80s band.

Robert Ernlund of Treat. Photo: Yuki Kuroyanagi.

Having previously toured Japan on their own in 1990 and in 2015 as opening act for Europe, now Swedish melodic rockers Treat are back in Japan for two club gigs. The loyal Japanese fan base is still there and the fans seem to really like today’s version of Treat and not just looking for a trip down memory lane.

Jamie Borger of Treat. Photo: Yuki Kuroyanagi.

During their heyday back in the 1980s they released four solid albums and they could easily just tour as a nostalgia act with the old material from the 80s. But that is not what Treat is about in 2017. They have two great new albums (“Coup de Grace” from 2010 and “Ghost of Graceland” from 2016) filled with great songs. To a large extent it is the newer material that makes this a top gig. Of course the Japanese fans love to hear old favourites, but they are equally enthusiastic about the newer songs.

The newer material works brilliantly live. This evening they open with three newer songs – “Ghost of Graceland”, “Better the Devil You Know” and “Nonstop Madness” – before they play the classic “Ready for the Taking” from 1989. It’s a brave set-list decision that pays off. Treat’s newer material is great and the audience already knows all the words to the newer songs too. By taking this approach, Treat sends a signal that they are here and now and that they are still relevant.

Treat. Photo: Yuki Kuroyanagi.

Original members Robert Ernlund on vocals and guitarist Anders “Gary” Wikström on guitar definitely still got it. Robert’s characteristic voice is intact. His voice combined with Anders’ fine guitar playing and songwriting have always been the foundation of the Treat sound. Jamie Borger (Talisman, Jeff Scott Soto) on drums and Patrick Appelgren (Power) on keyboards, who both joined the band in the late 80s, are still there. Bassist Pontus Egberg (best known as King Diamond’s bassist but who has also played with The Poodles, HammerFall, Lion’s Share and Zan Clan) is a fabulous addition to the band who joined in 2016. He’s by far the best bassist Treat has ever had and he makes Treat sound better than ever, not only with his magnificent bass playing but also by providing key backup vocals throughout the set. What a find!

Treat. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

As often is the case when bands tour Japan, Treat wants to treat (yay!) their fans to something special this evening. They do that in the form of a splendid medley of six songs from the 1987 album “Dreamhunter”. The medley is followed by another special: the song “Inferno” performed live for the very first time.

Anders Wikström of Treat. Photo: Yuki Kuroyanagi.

Treat finishes a great evening of melodic hard rock with two old favourites from the 80s: “We Own the Night” and “World of Promises”. Over an hour and a half we get a great mixture old and new Treat. They are not only still able to perform the old songs but they also keep creating new material that is as good, if not better, than the original songs form the 80s.

Treat – Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, 17th May 2017 – set list

  1. Ghost of Graceland
  2. Better the Devil You Know
  3. Nonstop Madness
  4. Ready for the Taking
  5. Paper Tiger
  6. Do Your Own Stunts
  7. Sole Survivor
  8. You’re the One I Want
  9. Take Me on Your Wings
  10. Best of Me
  11. Dancing on the Edge
  12. Outlaw
  13. Inferno
  14. Love Stroke
  15. Roar
  16. Get You on the Run
  17. Conspiracy
  18. Skies of Mongolia
  19. We Own the Night
  20. World of Promises

Gig review: Megadeth and Anthrax – Two of the Big Four take on Tokyo

Dirk Verbeuren and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

If you can’t get another round of The Big Four gigs, a great alternative is to get two of the four for a fabulous evening of world-class thrash metal. Veterans Megadeth and Anthrax are better than ever as they once again perform in Tokyo.

Scott Ian of Anthrax. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Following a short opening act set by local Japanese artist The Kanmuri, Anthrax walks on to the stage for a nearly one hour set of pure energy and attitude. Led on stage by vocalist Joey Belladonna and guitarist Scott Ian, the band members are in a great mood and rock out with so much energy that you worry that something might explode or catch fire.

Scott Ian of Anthrax. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Joey Belladonna of Anthrax. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks










Since I saw them live for the first time in 1990 (opening for Iron Maiden in Stockholm), I have loved Anthrax’s style of thrash metal which has a bit of a punky hardcore-like side to it, a bit like Suicidal Tendencies. This evening in Tokyo that music works great and we get some serious audience participation in old favourites such as “Among the Living”, “Madhouse”, “Antisocial” and “Indians”. As it is a shorter set, we only get two songs from the latest album, 2016’s “For All Kings”: “Breathing Lightning” and “Blood Eagle Wings”. Anthrax delivers a flawless set bursting with Anthraxness. It’s a kick-ass performance. Now Anthrax has been to Japan several times in recent years, but mainly for festival appearances and now as special guests. Let’s hope that we soon can get some headline shows by Anthrax in Japan.

David Ellefson of Megadeth. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Megadeth are better than ever. The current line-up with founders Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson plus Kiko Loureiro and Dirk Verbeuren, not only rivals the classic “Rust in Peace” era line-up from the 1990s (which featured Nick Menza and Marty Friedman), but it is actually better. Last time Megadeth played in Japan, as headliner at the Loud Park festival in October 2015, Kiko had already joined the band, but Dirk only came onboard in 2016. And what an addition he is! He takes this band to a whole new level with his drumming. Anyone who has followed Dirk in his many previous bands, including Soilwork, knew what to expect. He’s the best extreme metal drummer in the world and he is such a great fit for Megadeth.

Kiko Loureiro of Megadeth. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

David Ellefson of Megadeth. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Megadeth’s latest album, 2016’s “Dystopia” is a fabulous album showing that Megadeth are back in business. The album introduced Angra guitarist Kiko to the Deth fans. He’s a fantastic guitarist who can handle many different styles and he is as phenomenal live on stage as he is in the studio. But the “Dystopia” album does not feature Dirk (it was recorded with Lamb of God‘s Chris Adler behind the drum kit). It’ll be very exciting to hear what the new Megadeth with Dirk behind the drum kit can achieve on the next album. Live this line-up is absolutely killing it.

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

This evening in Tokyo, we get a killer set-list featuring obvious classics from the 80s and 90s, but also no fewer than seven songs from “Dystopia”. Yes, the album is that good and live the songs sound even better. Megadeth are back and they are better than ever!

Shortly before the gig, when I meet Megadeth backstage, we are reached by the sad news that Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell has been found dead. Dave Mustaine, who knew Cornell personally, decides that Megadeth should pay tribute to Cornell by performing Soundgarden’s “Outshined”. Mustaine delivers an emotional version of the song together with his fearsome foursome.

What a night! Long live thrash metal and long may the veterans be delivering at this level. Cheers for the music, Megadeth and Anthrax.

Anthrax – set list at Zepp DiverCity, Tokyo – 18th May 2017

  1. Among the Living
  2. Caught in a Mosh
  3. Madhouse
  4. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
  5. Breathing Lightning
  6. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
  7. Blood Eagle Wings
  8. Antisocial (Trust cover)
  9. Indians

Megadeth – set list at Zepp DiverCity, Tokyo – 18th May 2017

  1. Hangar 18
  2. Wake Up Dead
  3. In My Darkest Hour
  4. The Threat Is Real
  5. Sweating Bullets
  6. She-Wolf
  7. Conquer or Die!
  8. Lying in State
  9. Trust
  10. Poisonous Shadows
  11. Fatal Illusion
  12. A Tout e Monde
  13. Tornado of Souls
  14. Post American World
  15. Dystopia
  16. Symphony of Destruction
  17. Peace Sells
  18. Outshined (Soundgarden cover)
  19. Holy Wars…The Punishment Due

Gig review: Krisiun, NervoChaos, Neuroticos and Blind Hate at Brazilian Attack in Japan

Krisiun. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

On Sunday 14th May, Brazil’s extreme metal trio Krisiun made a triumphant return to Japan and they brought their mates in NervoChaos with them.

The underground metal scene in Tokyo is alive and well. New local promoter Neuro Productions put on a terrific event called Brazilian Attack in Japan 2017 at Cyclone in Shibuya.

Blind Hate. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The event kicks off in style with fierce Japanese death metal band Blind Hate. The Hiroshima-based band gives a solid performance as the only non-Brazilian band on the bill this evening. Especially vocalist Kentarou Kasuga stands out with a fab voice that fits the music well. Their short set only gives us a glimpse of the potential of this band, but what I experience sounds great and it reminds me somewhat of a Japanese version of my favourites Belphegor.

Neuroticos. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Next up is Japan-based Brazilian band Neuroticos which formed in Hiroshima in 2004 and released their debut EP, “Hell in the House of God”, in 2016. The band members (all Brazilian apart from bassist Jumpei Nakamura) are also the people behind Neuro Productions and so they are on double duty this evening. They have bundles of energy and plenty of supporters in the audience. They play brutal old-school death metal which really gets this crowd going with some serious moshing.

Cherry of NervoChaos. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Then it is time for the mighty NervoChaos, the band led by drummer Eduardo Lane, Alpha Omega Management’s Latin American boss. The extreme metal band from Sao Paulo celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016 and tour more than most bands in the business.

NervoChaos. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

They play extreme metal perhaps best described as blackened death metal with a punky hardcore feeling to it here and there. There is something dark about this band with a fabulously sinister feeling to their music. In the relatively recent addition Cherry Sickbeat (who has made a name for herself with the band Hellsakura), they seem to have received an energy injection. She is a great guitarist who is also bringing a punk attitude and a different visual element to the band. Cherry helps them stand out from the pack.

Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

When the event’s headliner Krisiun enters the stage, the audience knows what to expect and the expectations are high. This death metal trio consists of three brothers: Alex Camargo on vocals and bass, Moyses Kolesne on guitar and Max Kolesne on drums. Since the band’s formation 27 years ago, they have released ten studio albums and toured the world many times over, including several Japan visits. Their latest album, “Forged in Fury”, was released in 2015 and this evening we get to hear the best songs from that album as well as plenty of good stuff from their long career. We also get treated to an extreme metal version of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” as a tribute to Lemmy.

Alex Camargo of Krisiun. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

This evening both Krisiun and NervoChaos are in top form and eager to play in front of their fans, especially as they a few days earlier were detained on entry into Bangladesh where the authorities cancelled the bands’ scheduled gigs for unclear reasons. Censorship is still a major issue in parts of Asia.

Overall this evening in Shibuya is a fab extreme metal event with great bands and an enthusiastic audience eager to mosh, stage dive and crowd surf.

Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Gig review: Lightning strikes as Loudness looks back to the 80s

Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Loudness keeps celebrating their 80s glory days while at the same time showing that they still got it.

“Ampan” Suzuki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Billed as “8117”, a 30th anniversary tour for the album “Lightning Strikes” (released in 1986), this evening at Zepp Tokyo in Odaiba we get treated to a superb two and a half hour Loudness show. The fantastic set list is a close copy of what can be heard on the 1986 live album “8186 Live” with a few extra goodies thrown in. What more can one ask for?

Akira Takasaki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

For those of us who have seen Loudness many times, it’s great to be treated to some songs that they haven’t played that often, such as “1000 Eyes”, “Dark Desire”, “Streetlife Dreams”, “Face to Face”, “Who Knows” and a combo of “The End of Earth” and “Stay Wild”. We also get a terrific and very heavy version of one of my absolute favourite Loudness songs, “Speed” from 1983.

Masayoshi Yamashita of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

As expected, Osaka’s finest, Loudness, delivers a faultless performance as they always do when they’re on stage in Tokyo. They’re tight and on form and they are playing to a venue full of their loyal fans. Most of the audience members have seen the band many times. For this Japan tour they have a great stage set, including some KISS-style platforms that the members run up and down and jump off. All good fun. Loudness are happy to look back to the 80s without taking themselves too seriously. As a nod to the past they perform in outrageous 80s style clothes and wigs.

Minoru Niihara of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Akira Takasaki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Loudness have for most of their career successfully mixed loud and heavy hard rock and melodic metal with guitar wizard Akira Takasaki at the centre of it all. As Minoru Niihara once said in an interview with Roppongi Rocks: there are many other great Japanese rock bands, but they don’t have Akira Takasaki. Indeed. He’s up there with the best metal guitarists In the world. This evening we get a fantastic extended guitar solo by the master. As if that wasn’t enough, when the band returns for an encore we also get a drum solo from the guitar hero himself.

Akira Takasaki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks




The Loudness members are very comfortable with their heritage and their current status. They are of course no mere nostalgia act. Their latest album, 2014”s “The Sun Will Rise Again”, is one of their best and they are currently working on the next studio album, due out at the end of this year.

They finish a fantastic evening with  “The Sun Will Rise Again” and, of course, their 80s classic “S.D.I.” Loudness are better than ever and I am looking forward to see what the next album will bring. But before that the band will continue touring for much of 2017.

Akira Takasaki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Loudness – Lightning Strikes 30th Anniversary 8117 Japan Tour – Zepp Tokyo, Odaiba – 13th April 2017 – set list

  1. Loudness
  2. Rock Shock (More and More)
  3. Dark Desire
  4. Streetlife Dreams
  5. Crazy Doctor
  6. Geraldine
  7. Bass solo (Masayoshi Yamashita)
  8. Drum solo (Masayuki “Ampan” Suzuki)
  9. Shadows of War (Ashes in the Sky)
  10. Let It Go
  11. 1000 Eyes
  12. Face to Face
  13. Ares’ Lament
  14. In the Mirror
  15. Guitar solo (Akira Takasaki)
  16. Who Knows (Time to Take a Stand)
  17. Crazy Nights
  18. Speed
  19. Drum solo (Akira Takasaki)
  20. The End of Earth/Stay Wild
  21. Metal Mad
  22. The Sun Will Rise Again
  23. S.D.I.

Akira Takasaki of Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 13th April 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Gig review: An Epica knockout – The essence of a not-so-silent Tokyo gig

Simone Simons and Rob van der Loo of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

As Epica finally stood on a stage in Tokyo on Thursday night, they were met with obsessive devotion from an audience happily dancing in a hurricane of symphonic metal.

What a night! It took them 15 years to get here, but when European symphonic metal masters Epica did turn up to play in Tokyo, it was at a sold-out venue filled with Epica fans who knew all the songs. Obsessive devotion? Indeed!

Simone Simons and Coen Janssen of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

The audience at Club Quattro is loud and overexcited when Epica hits the stage. They open a fantastic gig with the “Eidola” intro then swiftly moving into the terrific “Edge of the Blade” followed by “A Phantasmic Parade”. What an opening!

Simone Simons of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Epica’s seventh studio album, “The Holographic Principle”, was released last September and is perhaps the band’s best album so far. Lucky us a big part of the Tokyo gig is centred around songs from the new album. We of course also get some old favourites such as “Sensorium” and “Sancta Terra”. This evening, in addition to a fantastic set list, we get a band on top form and an out of this world audience. That combination quickly turn this into an incredible metal evening for all.

Mark Jansen of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

In Simone Simons, Epica has what much of the competition lacks: a world-class vocalist. She certainly can rock a stage too. The rest of the band delivers the musical foundation: they’re tight and play like a well-oiled machine. Keyboardist Coen Janssen stands out as a showman who hugs the limelight. Not content with standing at the back, he rocks out on stage with a handheld keyboard, even bringing his instrument into the audience to be with his loyal fans. Epica mastermind Mark Jansen leads the band from the front: not only singing and playing guitar, but driving the rest of band along in coordinated headbanging and hair-throwing attacks. The band puts on a show far above and beyond the fans’ expectations.

Simone Simons of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson


Over the past decade and a half, Epica has developed its signature sound, combining melodic symphonic metal with faster and heavier parts and mixing clean singing with growling. The end result works a treat both on record and live. Live they come across, at least this evening, as a tad bit heavier than in the studio which is not a bad thing as the audience is boiling over and ready to party. The whole Epica package – exquisite songs, great combination of melodic and heavy music and a frontwoman that stands out – is such a perfect fit for the Japanese market. I won’t be surprised if Epica will soon go to another level in the Japanese market. They’ve got all the ingredients.

Simone Simons of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

This evening the band seems overwhelmed with the response from the Tokyo audience. They are clearly loving the fact that they are finally on stage in Tokyo. The Tokyo gig is the final performance of Epica’s three-city The Japan Principle Tour. An what a way to finish their first Japan visit. I go to a lot of gigs and this was one of the best gigs I have been to in quite a while. Respect to the European symphonic metal masters. We hope to see Epica back in Japan very soon. Perhaps at Loud Park? I think they’ve now earned a slot on the big stage.

Coen Janssen and Simone Simons of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Epica – The Japan Principle Tour – Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo – 6th April 2017 – set list

  • Eidola
  • Edge of the Blade
  • A Phantasmic Parade
  • Sensorium
  • Unleashed
  • Martyr of the Free World
  • The Essence of Silence
  • Storm of the Sorrow
  • The Obsessive Devotion
  • Ascension
  • Dancing in a Hurricane
  • Unchain Utopia
  • Cry for the Moon
  • Sancta Terra
  • Beyond the Matrix
  • Consign to Oblivion

Rob van der Loo and Isaac Delahaye of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Simone Simons and Rob van der Loo of Epica on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson