TRB Shinjuku.jpg

GIG
TOM ROBINSON BAND
SHINJUKU LOFT 6th September

Vinyl Japan

For his Japanese fans, having Tom Robinson and his band back in town is like welcoming back an old friend. There is a slow influx of people when the doors open but by showtime there is a healthy crowd, many of them wearing TRB T-shirts of old, some buying new ones and a few homemade in true Punk tradition. It’s great, it’s friendly and the promoter has chosen wisely with the venue. It feels, just slightly, like England in the late seventies.

 

TRB open with a classic which throws us back to that era. The band are jetlagged but on fine form, tight but not so much as to be clinical, that same feeling that his original band had when he was slogging around the UK in his Pub Rock days. He speaks to the audience in Japanese, cracks a joke and then goes into the next song. It’s a pattern that continues throughout the night, story/joke – a bit of Japanese – next song and his fans show their appreciation for his efforts with singalong moments and audience participation. We all join in for Martin, with some fans holding up cards as they did on his first tour here in 1979.

 

It's surprising how many songs you know and even the not-so-familiar ones somehow feel familiar; that’s great song-writing.  Vocally, you would never guess Tom was in his seventies now. His voice has matured but it still has the same expression it has always had. It’s instantly recognisable and has feeling and passion, whether singing, paying respects to people who are no longer with us or introducing us to his band. The man is genuine, in whatever he sings or says.

 

Above all else though, it’s just a fun night. Tom has a good time as do the band. He smiles a lot, not taking himself very seriously onstage even though his lyrics are very serious subjects. Mistakes are laughed off (ending the first set too early), he calls himself an ojisan (old man) and the night culminates in Tom doing his parody of a right-wing Japanese politician, complete with a hachimaki, halfway through Power In The Darkness. The audience lap it up and as the band take their last bow, exit stage left and the houselights go on, you get the feeling that it won’t be long before Japan’s old friend will be back.

 

First Set

Winter Of ‘79

Bully For You

Hope And Glory

Atmospherics: Listen to the Radio 

Martin

Still Loving You

Grey Cortina

Patience (Lee Forsyth Griffiths song)

The Mighty Sword Of Justice

War Baby

Second Set

Hold Out (solo acoustic)

Spain

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number

Too Good To Be True

Glad To Be Gay

2-4-6-8 Motorway

Encore

Up Against The Wall

I Shall Be Released

Power In The Darkness

Tom Robinson interview
https://www.writerinjapan.com/tom-robinson-2022


 

Shakatak 2022.jpg

GIG
SHAKATAK
TOKYO BILLBOARD 17th November

Billboard Japan

A year without Shakatak in Japan is unthinkable; three years is unimaginable but of course, due to the pandemic, it actually happened. Taking my seat with a glass of red wine, as the crowd filtered in, there is a lovely atmosphere, a feeling of ‘Shakatak is back so the pandemic is over’. No one said it, you could just sense it. There is no other eighties band more revered here than the band in the dressing room preparing to go on stage tonight for their third of their sold out ten shows during this, their 46th tour of Japan.

 

It’s an early show and at 6pm, the houselights go down and a hush descends over the audience. Purple stage lights fade up, the band emerge from the dressing room, take their places and WHAM! We are off and running, normal service has been resumed* with Bill tinkling away, Jill dancing and whacking her percussion, George and Roger providing that indefinable groove they have together and the support musicians Alan Wormald and Debbie Bracknell adding colour to the first song, Invitations; the past three years were erased in just twelve seconds.

 

Jill looks resplendent in a black dress that glimmers and glitters different colours depending on the lighting, her voice unchanged over the decades. The first two songs are sung in unison with Debbie who is the perfect match for Jill and that unmistakable Shakatak sound but when Jill does go centre stage for Without You, I notice a few guys in the audience faces light up. Meanwhile, Bill has been up to the centre mic himself after the first song to say hello and how good it is to be back in Japan. He’s grinning from ear to ear and continues to do so until the very end.

 

With thirty-eight albums released over forty years, choosing a set list must be a headache but they have chosen well giving a mixture of old, new, hits and fan favourites over the two shows. A wise choice given that as I leave the first show, I notice a significant number of fellow leavers immediately queuing up for the second. Both are punctuated with a solo by Alan followed by George’s bass solo after which we are into the finale and the mega-hits. When released in 1982 in Japan, Night Birds catapulted the band into the stratosphere. It closes the set and Bill apologises before they start as he can see the audience are bursting to get out of their seats and dance but can’t. Shakatak are on fire and perform a dynamite version of it which of course leaves the audience needing more. They return for a final song, take their bows and are swamped by fans as they leave the stage. Emotions were running high tonight at Billboard from both the stage and the audience. There may still be restrictions but a sense of normality is in the air and I have no doubt that along with the vaccine boosters, Shakatak live are just the shot in the arm that Japan needs. Same time next year folks!

 

 

*Normal service has almost been resumed. There are still some covid regulations at Billboard and other venues in that the audience must remain seated and wear masks but I wish to stress that it does not detract from the show in any way.

 

Set List – 1st Show

Invitations

Easier Said Than Done

Without You

Takin’ Off

Fly The Wind

All Around The World

Light Of My Life

Lose Myself

Dark Is The Night

Night Birds

Encore

Down On The Street

 

Set List – 2nd Show

Beautiful Day

Easier Said Than Done

My Utopia

Don’t Say That Again

Golden Wings

To Be Loved

Million Voices

Day By Day

Night Birds

Encore

Down On The Street