MTM presents: Robert Taira Wilson, Johnsons Motorcar, Shamanz.
Robert Taira Wilson
You would think that after having taken to More Than Music’s stage numerous times, easily more than any other artists, that there is very little left that Robert Taira Wilson and his guitar can offer in the way of new and fresh. If that’s what you were thinking, you’d be mistaken.
Rather than whiling away his days frivolously, the mercurial Taira Wilson locks himself away in his room with his mics and pedals and guitars and plumbs the depths of his ability to find gemlike songs such as his new single ‘Morning Light’ or others of that ilk.
Never one to rest on his laurels, in preparation for the show, Robert asked his fan base for cover inspiration. The result was a stellar rendition of The Pharcyde’s titanic hip hop classic ‘Passin Me By’. Where there was once groovy jazz production, we were given glossy rich guitaristry. Where there was once hard LA hooks and rhymes, we found sultry but savage Cockney twang. As ever, Robert brought his A-game to a new level, and paid homage to a classic a world away.
It is bizarre yet entirely amazing that any artist can be simultaneously serene, yet ballistic, yet coordinated. Robert’s hard work is plain and obvious for all to see as his ability is far from indicative of a layman. It is always humbling to see a masterful artist such as Robert approach his art even now, as a student, and at the very least serves served to inspire a twinkle of satisfaction in the eyes of all observing.
Where the Folk Prince stood in solemn solitude a rag tag foursome now loomed, primed and ready to stir up trouble or something of the like. Drums were battered. Guitars roared. Basses growled. Fiddles and vocal cords seethed. And the feet of an audience once tied down by a weary reality suddenly found themselves unbound.
There are few bands in any part of any country you know that can unleash an audience quite so effectively as Johnson’s Motorcar. It is fair to say that they are a no-frills band that have refined their art to a razor sharp precision. It almost feels as though the audience themselves are an instrument in their own right as they heed the very beck and call of these four brilliant musicians. Having the audience damn near jump off to the walls to closer ‘Johnny is a Rovin’ Blade’ is evidence of the Motorcar’s unstoppable will to party.
The stand out moment however was not borne of escapism or glorious rapture but of homage to an inescapable truth. With ‘War and Peace’ (see video), Johnson’s Motorcar reminded us that outside our comfort and relative peace a new war was raging into existence and while we are powerless to stop it, we have a choice to fight for the righteous or be pawns to callous and uncaring, old warlords. The piercing fiddle and thunderous Gaelic chant struck so deeply that dry eyes were rare and stirred hearts were commonplace.
Having been preceeded by 2 of Tokyo’s finest live acts you would think that nothing could possibly follow Wilson’s stringmanship or the Motorcar’s raucous party-fueling merriment. Well that’s where bands such as Shamanz come in.
Runs of chorded solos drenched in ‘Turban Delay’ were wrung forth by frontman, Tama Tsuboi. Watching Tama simultaneously lay down beautiful damn near pitch perfect soulful melodies while guiding his array of vocal and guitar pedals without fault brought to mind a reggaefied Asian Geddy Lee. A true talent.
Smiling like a kid at Christmas, guitarist/bassist Kai Petite pulls double duty as guitarist and bassist supplying the groundwork on which his frontman flourishes. It takes special people to put aside their ego and let the talents of others dominate a space, but Kai relishes the opportunity to give Tama the necessary space to transport their audience off-world.
As an incredibly dexterous player employing the baritone of a beautiful Bass VI, Kai lays down textures of low end chomping chords and gnarly gained out garage rock solos. In Kai’s restraint the soulful moments bloom, in Kai’s ferocity the Rock and Latin moments dance.
Mike Marrington’s drums ebbed and flowed on the kit with subtle and articulate high hat swings and bell chimes. The sexy sway of the backbeat melded into the atmosphere and more than a few couples found themselves embracing, such is the influence of the beat on our basest carnal natures.
In addition, It was truly awe inspiring to see the skinsman near the end of the set unexpectedly explode into a rampaging rock n roll solo, as he tore from the back of the stage making his presence well and truly known. Tama and Kai themselves appeared taken aback but being consumate professionals leaned into it and found the pocket.
As the trio rounded out their encore with a stunning roots version of ‘Roxanne’, the audience went absolutely ballistic in celebration of a band that just served up some of the most blistering and piercing soul and reggae heard around 7th Floor for a long time. It is unfortunate that any night of such quality should end, but it is by ending that we appreciate the beauty of moments as great as tonight. Remember it well.
If these three bands blasted your brain into oblivion, go make new memories and check out our upcoming events.
Written by Aries City