Ninjaman Japan at Ikebukuro Edge, March 10th 2013
On March 10th I was given the opportunity to shoot Ninjaman Japan at their latest one-man show in Ikebukuro. I was quite excited about this as I knew they’d make for some great photos. The show got stuck in my head so I wrote a mini live-report about it.
It was Samuel Taylor Coleridge spoke about the “willing suspension of disbelief” required in narrative, in which the writer constructed their art in such a way that the reader became truly invested in an otherwise implausible story. Though the comparison seems to be an odd one, I think of Coleridge when I watch Ninjaman Japan. With their peculiar blend of Power Ranger-style action sequences, comedy and hair metal, all liberally doused in VK glitz and glamour, your suspension of disbelief as an on-looker is a pre-requisite. That the band pull off a show encompassing all these elements shows that they invest heavily in the idea themselves.
Beginning the show with an extended theatrical number, Ninjaman Japan’s arch-nemeses The Black Satan Devils were up to their usual nefarious deeds – attempting to weaken and sabotage the band of rockers any which way they could. High-kicking shenanigans ensued, and finally the band succeeded in defeating their foes. The troupe of glam-rockers really nailed the comedy in this show, and the humour continued throughout the night as vocalist Sarino threw out some cracking one-liners at drummer Pinky’s adoring male fans.
The show maintained the energy of its high-spirited opening. The crowd got their hit of heavy metal littered with hints of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and battle-oriented melodic metal, with popular numbers like “Roman Storm” and the anthemic “Fly Away” pleasing the interestingly diverse crowd.
Most notable were the new tracks. “Raijin” (thunder god) is as its name suggests, opening heavy and demonstrating Ninjaman Japan’s love of classic riffage and song progression. “Hanamuke” (parting gift), opens with a prolonged guitar duel which is a bit like natto – you’ll love it or find it a little less than tasty. Fortunately, I like natto, so indulgent guitar and a thumping heavy beat, all mixed up with some oriental-themed backing tracks made for a refreshing addition to the Ninjaman Japan catalogue.
Having taken guitarist Daishi on as a full-time member has added a little more frisson to the band since their last show, along with an evident sense of camaraderie. With Sarino, Lida and Daishi drawing much of the audience’s attention, it was interesting to watch the towering presence of bassist Metal, who seemed to keep the whole show grounded with his steady bass, when he wasn’t hurling people around the stage. Meanwhile, the comparatively diminutive figure of Pinky not only effortlessly powered along each song with his unfeasibly heavy drumming, but also managed to light up the gloomy depths of the drum riser with his huge smile.
Ninjaman Japan reprised “Hanamuke” for their encore,and as they came to the front of the stage to bid goodbye the enjoyment in the room, and on the faces of crowd and band alike, demonstrated how much of a great gig it had been.
In case you missed it, here’s the report I wrote for Ninjaman’s last one-man show in October 2012: http://www.rokkyuu.com/live-report/ninjaman-japan-october-2012-at-club-phase/.
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Check out more pictures in the gallery below: