Heavy Metal. Heavy metal. Heavy fucking metal.
These are not my words, rather they were uttered originally by Alan Metcalfe of the band Bad News many years ago. However, as your correspondent stands in Sydney’s Crowbar tonight witnessing the grandeur that is Japan’s Loudness in the living, breathing flesh, these are the only words that can accurately articulate my feelings.
You’ve got to be pretty comfortable in your own skin to open up proceedings with the song that everyone knows you best for – imagine Iron Maiden kicking off a set with Run To The Hills – but Loudness do just that by commencing tonight’s proceedings with a muscular take on Crazy Nights and frankly they don’t look back after such a bold opening gambit. Sound problems plague the early part of the set, with Masoyashi Yamashita‘s bass rig a particular concern, but the band overcome this to deliver a performance that pleases every single member of the audience over the course of the evening.
I’ve seen this band live a fair few times now, but I don’t recall guitarist Akira Takasaki ever capturing my imagination in the way he does tonight; He quotes liberally from the playbooks of all the old Gods – Malmsteen, Schenker, Van Halen and Lynch especially – yet he does so with such panache as to entirely own all the riffs, licks and solos that tumble out of his fecund fingers. He delivers a masterclass tonight, creating a stentorian backdrop over which Minoru Nihara produces a similarly accomplished vocal performance. Nobody reinvents the wheel tonight, but a well – loved format is given a good seeing to nonetheless.
Many years ago it was felt – within Japanese circles, it has to be said, as opposed to without – that there were certain dietary and cultural reasons why Japan would never create a credible, world-beating heavy metal act. Loudness exploded that myth in the early eighties, blazing a trail for their compatriots that has continued to burn to this day. And, on the evidence of tonight’s at times incendiary performance it’s a trail that’s set to to smoulder healthily for a few years to come yet. Marvellous stuff.