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Savages / Bo Ningen (live at The Roundhouse)

London 17 March 2016

St Patrick’s Day in chilly London, and I’ve opted out of going out drinking in pubs filled with (mainly English) people wearing green hats and pretending they always liked Guinness in favour of going to see some rock’n’roll, in the alarmingly hipsterised Roundhouse (a craft ale stall? Bar snacks ranging from “nuts” and “crisps” to “bags of meat”? Crikey), because the mighty Savages are playing, supported by the equally mighty Bo Ningen. Which is quite a line-up, though hardly a surprising one, the two bands being long(ish)-standing friends and collaborators.

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Bo Ningen (live at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen)

Bo Ningen Hoxton April 20151 April 2015

The word “Hoxton” to me is like the word “Mordor” to hobbits — a terrifying place whence flows all the evil plaguing London. So tonight I’m deep in the heart of enemy territory to see Bo Ningen, and you know what? It ain’t that bad.

There are very few shovelbeards on show here, and while part of me fears that this may just be because all the hipsters have moved north in order to ruin my neighbourhood, the nicer explanation is just that people have come from all around to watch the finally-acclaimed Bo Ningen. Which had a certain level of plausibility, given that they’re playing two nights, and both are sold out. So the place is packed to the rafters,

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Savages/Bo Ningen (live at The Red Gallery)

London 29 May 2013

Savages ask for no picturesIt’s a Wednesday night in London’s hideously wanky Shoreditch, and we’re in an art gallery, and nobody’s really sure what to expect. Current music media darlings Savages and the achingly hip Bo Ningen have united to give us what they describe as a “sonic simultaneous poem”, and “a unique EXPERIMENTATION inspired by the early DADA concept of SIMULTANEOUS POETRY”. Seems like the only thing- well, two things, really – that can save this from being a terminal arsefest are the twin facts that, despite being cursed with both hipness and critical acclaim, both Savages and Bo Ningen are really, really good bands.

All dressed in black, they take the stage, part-adversarial (the bands are, for the most part, lined up

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Guitar Wolf/Bo Ningen (live at The Academy)

O2 Academy Islington, London 8 July 2011

Two very different Japanese interpretations of the idea of rock’n’roll descended upon The Angel Islington.

Compare and contrast the constructions of rock’n’roll energy, of gtr-bs-dr dynamics between the leather-clad machismo of Guitar Wolf and Bo Ningen‘s more androgyne angle. Bo Ningen favour the Acid Mothers Hendrix approach, riffing and cavorting at an angle to the regular hard rock template at the junction where Flower Travellin’ Band, the Butthole Surfers and Keiji Haino intersect.

Guitar Wolf take on wholesale the template laid out by The Ramones of a hairy, shades-wearing confrontational power trio vigorously reinventing bubblegum pop and garage rock in a fast, harder and definitely louder version. They open bombastically, leaping from the drum riser and getting more uproarious from there on in.

Complete with pulling (apparently) random members of the audience onstage to play lead axe while Bass Wolf and

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Bo Ningen/Invasion (live at Camp Basement)

Camp Basement, London 8 November 2010

This is Bo Ningen’s night, it’s their album launch and there’s quite a bit of a buzz going around about them at the moment and rightly so. The gig is sold out and still people are queuing in the vain hope of getting in to see the band.

The support slot is filled by Invasion who are promoting their album The Master Alchemist. The sound verges more on the doom and sludge territory with be-caped singer Chan Brown shrieking in torturous tones over the heavy slow guitar riffs that echo bands like Electric Wizard at times. A special mention has to be made about drummer Zel Kaute whose style is a cross between John Bonham and Keith Moon as she clattered around the kit with real power.

A wail of feedback fills the air and the audience start to move as Bo Ningen hit

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Bo Ningen – Bo Ningen

Stolen Recordings

Bo NingenIf you’re thinking of buying one Japanese cross-dressing psych rock freakout album this year, I would suggest you shed out your hard earned cash to get this one.

The opening track “4 Seconds To Ascension” is a statement of intent. It’s fast and powerful and kicks you in the gut like High Rise playing Black Sabbath on speed and falling into a factory that makes Stooges bootlegs. “Yura Yura Kaeru” is a little more sedate with the guitars slightly lighter in the mix and pulled back, and the vocals sounding almost soulful. “Koroshitai Kimochi” is similar to the mix that was used for the EP of the same name; as there were only 200 vinyl copies made of the EP a lot of people will not have any version of this track so its inclusion here is

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