How do you celebrate a major milestone like 10 years of European tours? If you’re B7KLAN, a department within Torpedo Productions that organises tours for Asian artists, you go old school. Looking back to key moments in its history, the organisation called upon the first Japanese bands it ever worked with – Dirtrucks and Dio-Distraught Overlord.
Rock ’n’ roll band Dirtrucks was formed in Tokyo in 2005, while fellow Tokyo artists Dio-Distraught Overlord are a Japanese visual kei metal band who formed in May 2006. B7KLAN thanked both bands for reuniting for the anniversary tour and the celebratory shows saw them travel through Europe, starting on 7 April 2016 in Helsinki and ending in Munich 10 days later. MyM caught up with them at The Underworld in Camden, London to raise a glass and celebrate B7KLAN’s birthday.
Dirtrucks certainly showcase their range during a gig. Opening with shades of California rock, albeit it with a Japanese twang rather than a surfer’s lilt, things suddenly go a little Pink Floyd, slowed down with a much trippier vibe. Clearly not wanting to be typecast, the follow up song hits indie-rock heights and has an underlying groove reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s Sheela Na Gig.
While that mix makes for a diverting set, the band saves its best for the finale. Frontwoman Celicia lives up to her title and stands tall on the speaker box at the front of the stage, never quite spitting out lyrics in a punk style but always taking things in that direction. There’s still time for one final shift, as Dirtrucks’s last song is also their most conventional – albeit sung with passion and heart to the small but dedicated crowd.
CROSSHEAD: DIO-DISTRAUGHT OVERLORD
While the opening set shows the differences that are possible in a band’s repertoire, those changes of pace are nothing compared to what happens when Dio take the stage. They hit hard from the get-go, all crashing drums and clashing guitars, as squeals and snorts emanate from frontman Mikaru, who’s decked out beautifully in devil wings.
This, suddenly, is the rock concert we expected – Dio immediately energising the room and getting the crowd jumping in time. As much as we appreciated the opening act, this feels like the main event. Heads thrash impressively quickly in the front row of the audience and while a fully-fledged mosh pit never fully opens up beneath the stage, the electricity is turned up a notch.
This is not the kind of material you use to sell mobile phones on TV, but it’s all the better for it. While the visual kei look might bring the ’80s to mind in the West, there’s nothing out of date with Dio’s music. The biggest compliment the band receive is that there’s not the white glow of a single mobile phone held in the air – everyone is so in the moment that this kind of 21st century act is swept away by the atmosphere.
Images: © Patrick Minnikin 2016