Japanese metal legends Loudness have recently reunited with their classic line-up, and are busy making their way across to the United States to get back in touch with their American fans after many years away. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo & Butch Jones were in attendance on 3/25/2006 for the show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, and Ken Pierce was at the bustling BB King Blues Club in busy Times Square in New York City the following night March 26.
Read on for reviews of both shows!
Pete Pardo: Strangely enough, even being a fan of Loudness back in the 80's, I never had the opportunity of seeing them live when they regularly toured the US. Having missed them with both Motley Crue and Triumph back when I was going to shows on a regular basis as a young metal fan, I had figured that it was just never meant to be. Well, the band is back once again, bringing their upbeat metal sounds to the US once again, and while I'll admit to not being familiar with any of the bands material since the late 80's, I still hold a soft spot for albums like Disillusion, Thunder in the East, Lightning Strikes, and Hurricane Eyes. The band has released a ton of albums since those glory days, with many different line-ups, reunited with the classic incarnation a few years ago along with a couple of CD's that are not readily available here in the US, so I was a little unsure of just what to expect this night at The Chance.
After a few local bands opened the show, Loudness took to the stage, looking very different than I remembered them 20 years ago. With the exception of drummer Munetaka Higuchi, gone was the long hair, as guitarist Akira Takasaki had a shaved head and long chin beard, singer Minoru Nihara short hair with a bandana, and bassist Masayoshi Yamashita a crew cut dyed blond. Once they started playing though it was definitely Loudness all right. Launching into what was apparently two newer pieces, it was apparent that the music of Loudess had gotten heavier, grittier, and raunchier than the more commerical metal music they created in the 80's. Akira, looking like a tiny and skinny little Budda, ripped into the opening riff of the hit "Crazy Nights" to the delight of the crowd, showing all the acrobatic guitar flair that he has been known for all these years. Singer Nihara, though still a good front man with a lot of energy, has lost a little of the range that he once had, which is understandable. After the band played the excellent "Crazy Doctor", it was to be a while before the fans would hear another familiar piece, that being the hard rock frenzy of "S.D.I.", as the majority of the set list was comprised of new material, which was an odd choice seeing as this tour was to be their celebration of the bands 25th Anniversary and return to the US. Seeing as most Loudness albums released after 1990 got limited or no release here in the States, most in attendance were unfamiliar with much of the set list this night, save for the three songs mentioned and the two encores "Let It Go", which the band botched and ended mid-way through, and the super-charged "Like Hell". Much of the new material that was played ranged from decent heavy doomsters, nu-metal stompers, to annoying and bland rockers. Guitarist Takasaki has all the chops and feel in the world, but his signature sound and style that was so fresh and exciting back in the 80's only really surfaced on the older material. On the newer songs, his playing takes on a grittier, bluesier tone, and his solos are kept to a more restrained tone that relies more on pentatonic scales and blinding runs up and down the fretboard than the blazing arpeggios and whammy bar theatrics of old.
In summary, the show had it's moments, and the band played great and were extremely loud (almost painfully so!), but myself and many who attended felt a bit dissapointed, looking more for one more night of nostalgia rather than an introduction to what we have missed from the last 15 years.
Ken Pierce: Loudness would return to New York City for their 25th Anniversary tour and as expected one of the stops on the trip would be B.B. King Blues Club. The past two years have seen this venue in particular rise to the occasion and offer the die hard music fan a healthy dose of Metal music. Everything from Black Metal to Death to Progressive and now the greats from the past have crossed this stage. Loudness while reunited in 2002, have been out of the public eye at least as far as the U.S. is concerned for almost 20 years. Tonight however those who remember them fondly and have enjoyed some of their songs would be able to relive some of this bands magic. Opening the show would be The Bronx Casket Company and this is an interesting band all around because the dark and gothic musings they perform is not really a perfect match for classic Hard Rock/Metal. The BCC fits right along side that of Type-O-Negative and Beseech with their sound and its main players themselves who might surprise you. The core members are Jack Frost (guitarist of Seven Witches) and D.D. Verni (bassist of the legendary Overkill). Supporting their recent Candlelight Records release of Hellectric, the band would perform minus the talents of Mike Hideous who left a short number of months ago. Instead of replacing him, D.D. has opted to sing and he does not do a bad job even though his vocal register is not a real match for the way the material had been presented on the record. The band is tight and seemed to have a nice show of support for this show which is always good to experience. The difference in this group's style as opposed to their main bands makes them something interesting to go to see and the venue was perfect for them tonight. Among the favorite songs that I have of the group were both "Little Dead Girl" and "Sherimoon". If you lean to the Gothic/Dark edge of Metal, then please give these guys a listen for it might surprise you.
To the best of my knowledge I had not seen Loudness since way back in 1988 and it was when they were opening for Triumph and Mountain. Prior to that it was a show at Madison Square Garden as openers for Motley Crue and these big arena shows were par for the course in Metal back then. The chance to expose your music to a big crowd was always a plus. Back then the album being supported was Thunder In The East and it was regularly heard on stations that supported Hard Rock. The band had some catchy stuff and I was surprised with the limited exposure they had in the States after these initial appearances but the tides of Music roll back and forth quite drastically sometimes. Having the original line up of Minoru Nihara (vocals), Masayoshi Yamashita (bass), Munetaka Higuchi (drums) and the one and only Akira Takasaki (guitar) would be a big go back in time treat for me and my buddies who were in attendance to say the least. Given this would be one of the first appearances in so long I admit that I expected a lot more of the material to be focused on what this market knew. The popular first English albums and the last one sung in Japanese, which all the up and coming guitar mavens seemed to own. Despite this theory the band would only play about five older tunes yet the crowd in most cases did not seem to mind. They were very energetic and all over the stage, with Akira being pretty much the most active one. His playing has not slowed down and fans of Ronnie LeTekro might like him a lot if they needed a comparison drawn. He is very technical, yet also a very clean player and he does things that often defy description. While I enjoyed the band I pretty much felt that both Akira and drummer Higuchi were the show stealers for the night. He is a true pounder on the skins and against Takasaki's relentless guitar wizardry you were going to enjoy yourself. I had heard conflicting reports on Minoru not shining as much on the tour but in New York he seemed fine. In all honesty not many of these guys can hit the notes they once have but overall he was a pretty entertaining front man. What did surprise me was the overall volume of the band that night, you don't normally find this in one of the traditional acts as much as the Power Metal groups, but tonight Loudness would live up to their name.
I have to say that I enjoyed myself quite a bit because not only was the music powerful and heavy but I was with good friends who were sharing good memories. Thanks everyone.
Bronx Casket Company Set List
Who Lives Forever
I Am God Here
Sewing The Dead
Bleed With Me
The Other Me
Loudness Set List
In The Mirror
The Winds Of Victory
The Battleship Musashi
Let It Go
Photographs by Pete Pardo
Official Web site: http://www.takasaki.net/Loudness
Official Web site: www.bronxcasketcompany.com