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16th June 2024

If you are going to do a tribute band these days, you have to be good. There is a lot of competition out there to be the best Elvis, Van Halen or ABBA and indeed, the best Beatles. Solo Beatles, not so much but you are still representing an icon so you have to be confident, charismatic and musically, excellent; The River Birds were all three of those when they paid tribute to Paul McCartney, two days before the man’s 82nd birthday.


It speaks volumes that this band have already performed at the premier Beatles venue in Tokyo, Abbey Road, so The River Birds are no strangers to the music we love from the Fab 4. Today’s show though was based around Wings’ 1976 album, Wings Over America, so for most of it, the spotlight was on Masaki Teshima (v,b,p) as Paul. Sporting a Rickenbacker wood grain 4001 and an exact duplicate of Paul’s stage gear from the Wings Over America film, Masaki not only has Paul’s mannerisms from that era, he has his 1976 sound and playing perfect. He bopped, gestured and nodded his way through the rockers and then, switching to acoustic, performed solo, with conviction.

There’s no Wings without Linda of course and Saki Nakano (k,v) was a hypnotic delight to watch. Playing her parts with a lovely smile on her face and a blonde hairdo, her keyboard sounds were spot on, digitally replicating the Mellotron and ARP Soloist that Linda used on that tour. The rest of the band consists of Daishi Yamaguchi (rg,v) Kosuke Ishibashi (lg,v) and the two guitarist’s performances of Medicine Jar (Kosuke) and Go Now (Daishi) were worthy of their respective 1976 counterparts, Jimmy McCulloch and Denny Laine. Likewise for Azumi Sugiyama (d,v) who had the feel of Jon English’s playing as well as every one of Jon’s drum fills down pat.


Collectively, the five members of The River Birds put on a show that had all the dynamics that Wings had in their heyday. As well as their occasional Beatles sets at Abbey Rd, they have also done tribute shows to John, George and Ringo and are rapidly gaining the reputation and experience to become one of the premier tribute bands in Japan and, I predict, will be recognised on the world Beatles stage, in the not-so-distant future.


Set List

Venus And Mars

Rock Show


Let Me Roll It

Spirits of Ancient Egypt

Medicine Jar

Maybe I’m Amazed

Lady Madonna

The Long And Winding Road

Live And Let Die





My Love

Listen What The Man Said

Go Now

Magnet And Titanium Man

Silly Love Songs

Beware My Love

Letting Go

Band On The Run

Hi Hi Hi



Photo: Takashi Okabe
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5th June 2024

Fifty years is a long time in the music business and very few who start in it, are successfully still in it, a half a century later. Chris and Tino have seen far more than their fair share of comings and goings, ups and downs and music business shenanigans over the years but they have stayed true to themselves, took the knocks and stood back up again. There have been times when they played in other bands, times when Praying Mantis faced a bleak future but there was always one country in the world where the name sold tickets and it was a rammed Club Quattro on Wednesday where the Tokyo loyal saw something very special from their NWOBHM heroes.


Masa Itoh did a brief introduction after which Praying Mantis delivered what has to be one of the best set lists ever compiled. They have never had hits but they have more fan favourites than Billy Joel and every one of them was played with the feel of a band who just enjoy playing. Tino smiles and laughs his way through the entire set. Chris is buzzing and Jaycee is singing his heart out while Andy is in the moment for the entire two hours; Hans somehow holds it all together whilst simultaneously floating around on Cloud 9. Their commitment to having fun on a stage is only matched by their professionalism musically. The performance is tight with spot on twin guitar parts and vocal harmonies, the latter of which are rich and lush with that lovely warm feeling you can only get from real singing. Younger bands could learn a lot by listening to Dream On and Lovers To The Grave live; there are no autotunes going on here, Praying Mantis don’t need them.


Almost two hours have flashed past, the anthemic singalong Letting Go has been played (it still baffles me why that wasn’t a world-wide hit) and they take their bows. We all know what’s coming; Flirting With Suicide and Children Of The Earth after which, along with their final curtain call, there are tears from both the audience and the band. The emotion is palpable as they walk off stage but the audience want more and after a brief discussion side stage, they return, pick up their instruments and do that most unusual of things these days, an unplanned encore. Fans are asking each other what they will play and then Jaycee announces they will perform a classic - Lynard Skynyrd’s, Simple Man. It's a sublime ending to an already exceptional show.


Tonight’s gig and the one in Osaka were advertised as the ‘50th Anniversary Japan farewell Tour.’ If that is the case, Praying Mantis have ended their Japan touring days on the highest of highs but given the adoration and respect Japan has for them here, don’t rule out a return of some sort. A caveat: if they do, buy your tickets early, they will sell-out quick.


Set List

Praying Mantis

Panic In The Streets

A Cry For The New World





Dream On

Lovers To The Grave

Rise Up Again

Cry For The Nation

Keep It Alive

Standing Tall

Captured City

Time Slipping Away

Letting Go


Flirting With Suicide
Children Of The Earth

Second Encore

Simple Man

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