Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seventh Heaven

AntiKnock Club, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

This is the Big One. My friend and I are both celebrating our 50th birthdays and there's no place we would rather be than Tokyo's punky AntiKnock Club.

That's because our all-time faves The Only Ones are on their second visit to Japan since they gave their fans the shock of their lives by reforming two years ago.

The guys get a delirious reception from the crowd and kick off with a rocking version of The Immortal Story. Front man Peter Perrett looks every inch a star in black suit and red shirt. Guitar hero John Perry - judging by the expression on his face - is already in seventh heaven. Mike Kellie can't wait to bang the bejasus out of his kit and Alan Mair rapidly puts his mark on the proceedings with a tasty bass solo.

After that we get exactly what we came for: one timeless classic after another reminding us why we love this band...and why we've been missing them like hell for the last twenty-odd years.

Those familiar faces may be more lined, the waistlines a tad wider, but the music hasn't aged a day. The band storm through Programme, In Betweens, Transfixed, It's the Truth, Flaming Torch, As My Wife Says, Miles from Nowhere and they sound as fresh and vital as the day they were released.

But this was no exercise in mushy nostalgia. If the oldies sound great, the newies sound bleeding AWESOME. Black Operations, Till it Hurts (?), Louder than Words are bona-fide Perrett classics. If the band can do justice to them in the studio (and why wouldn't they, the four of them seem to be on such a high right now) I predict the forthcoming LP is gonna be FUCKIN' MEGA.

The lads proceed to bring the house down with a barnstorming Me and My Shadow which features Perry's milky slide guitar and a sweeet drum solo just to underline the fact that Mike Kellie – he of the permanently upturned white collar - is one of Britain's most rock solid rhythm gods.

Naturally they play Another Girl Another Planet – if they didn't I'm sure a riot would swiftly ensue. Even if you've never heard of The Only Ones you probably know this one, and the fresh-faced Japanese fans who form the majority of the audience – most of them young enough to be my kids - whoop with appreciation.

Perrett has a recurring tuning problem with his rented Les Paul Junior guitar which only adds to the loose, celebratory air and gives the crowd a chance to banter with their heroes. He asks for requests and a collective cry comes up for Why Don't You Kill Yourself? which seems to be everyone's favorite track from Baby's Got a Gun. There's one amusing moment when Mr. Kellie counts in before Mr. Perry is quite ready and is playfully rebuked, causing laughs all round.

By now a touching bond between band and audience has developed, and the room is filled with good vibes. Long-time fans - grown men for chrissakes - are yelling “We love you, guys!” and Peter graciously replies “We love you too! We wouldn't be up here if it weren't for you.“

It doesn't feel the least bit corny or fake. In fact it's as real as it gets, this connection between an all-too human band of outlaws which has returned from the edge of oblivion and an audience which never really went away and ecstatically receives its heroes with open arms.

It's like each of us – musician and fan alike – is having the same realization: "We made it, didn't we? After all these years we're still standing. Christ, who'd-a thought it?"

There are tears of joy in my eyes and I'm telling my friend this is the best gig of my life. And maybe it is and maybe it isn't and who the hell cares? What counts is that this is what life is about: art and love and friendship and survival and singing along with your favorite band. Right?

The Only Ones perform two encores and leave us with the triple whammy of The Beast, The Whole of the Law and Lovers of Today. It's been a superb show and I have a huge smile on my face as I leave AntiKnock and breathe in the balmy Tokyo air. The Only Ones. Blimey. I wish they'd never gone away, but it sure is good to have 'em back.

Set List: The Immortal Story/Programme/Inbetweens/Transfixed/It's The Truth/Black Operations/Till It Hurts/Flaming Torch/Louder Than Words/As My Wife Says /C Voyeurger /The Big Sleep /Another Girl,Another Planet /Me and My Shadow/Smokescreen/Miles From Nowhere/Is This How Much You Care /Why Don't You Kill Yourself?/The Beast/The Whole Of The Law/Lovers Of Today

Photo Set HERE


Anonymous said...

Great blog.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, tnx :-)
Glad Louder than words made it to the set, it's a great song.
Hopefully they play it and Till it hurts @ Garage next month.

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Thanks! I saw them many a time in the old days, but this was something special. And I'll be off to the Osaka show tomorrow night too! To be honest, it's really hard for me to think of a band I'd rather see live than Peter and the Pets!

Ade said...

Very professional yet warm assessment. Wonderful band. Thank you.

Robbie said...

Good writing and nice photos! Thanks! Can't wait for them to get back to the UK!

Rap Songs said...


Anonymous said...

"Glad Louder than words made it to the set, it's a great song"

Where have you heard Louder Than Words before?

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Re: Where have you heard Louder Than Words before?

I was wondering about that, too!

ヒミツ said...

sounds like you had a great time. glad you did. you deserve it...and happy birthday...again!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Thank you! It wuz awesome!

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC blog! Thanks!

Gary K said...

Brilliant blog, one of the best I have seen, and I also enjoyed the other parts of your Only Ones celebration. Thank you!