Live Review

Bo Ningen, Heaven, London

The band look as the music sounds, flinging themselves around in a whirlwind of arms and hair and instruments.

Let’s hear it for the drummers. Often derided, often maligned, rarely praised. But Monchan Monna, the man who bangs the skins for Bo Ningen, is an amazing, extraordinary drummer. And, lets face it, in the context of a band like this, you’ve got to work pretty hard to stand out.

When your colleagues comprise of a bassist and lead singer who grimaces and gurns like he’s either being exorcised or having a particularly troublesome root canal done, one guitarist who alternates between spinning his guitar around his head and completely forgoing his instrument, resorting instead to conducting the feedback from his lead, and another guitarist with so much hair that it appears to have the kind of structural integrity you’d normally associate with the pyramids, you could forgive Monna for just sitting back there and letting them get on with it. But no.

Fantastical runs in time signatures that feel like they need an entirely new numbering system to explain. Jack-booted, concrete-weighted hitting that shakes the grey matter out of your skull. Monna, we take our hat off to you.

Of course, they can all play. Sometimes, in a way too complex and futuristic for our tiny minds. Sometimes in a way where it seems as old as time, or at least as old as when sludgy, downtuned old riffs first clambered out of Aston and begin to sprout legs and form heavy metal. It was on the Sabbath, we believe.

It is a strange start though. The band walk out, plug in and then… wait. Three quarters of them depart, leaving guitarist Yuki Tsujii alone, sat pensively on an monitor drinking a can of beer. Sufficient minutes pass such that you think he’ll soon need a new can. Eventually, after about 10 minutes, everyone else returns, Taigen Kawabe politely thanks us for waiting and it can begin.

Or more accurately detonate. ‘Slider’ and ‘DaDaDa’ (from new album ‘III’) are spectacular explosions of noise and fury and melody that bounce around the room, screeching, wailing and complaining guitars, rumbling bass line and driving rhythms. The frantic ‘Hekan’ begins with Kawabe chattering at us with alarming rapidity, before it spirals out into a thunderstorm of pounding drums and squalling guitars, traded from either side of the stage.

All the time, the band look as the music sounds, flinging themselves around in a whirlwind of arms and hair and instruments. The only slight lull is when the pace drops for the dreamy ‘Mukaeni Ikenai’. On record, it works quite nicely as a breather. Here, it’s actually, comparatively, a little dull.

But it soon picks up. They close with ‘Daikaisei Part 2 & 3’. Which is the culmination of all that has gone before, what essentially seems to consist of each member undertaking breathtaking acts of individual skill that somehow swarms together to create something apocalyptically brilliant.

At the end Monna walks off, a slight smile across his face. He looks pleased with himself. He should be.

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