By Carl Begai
Meguro Live Station, Tokyo – March 26th, 2010
As first impressions go bassist Taiji Sawada and his new band, Taiji With Heaven’s, made it clear with their live debut that they mean business. Dubbed The Birthday Eve – with a tip of the hat to Loudness – what could have come off as a desperate attempt to cash in on Sawada’s past turned out to be an intimate introduction to a band with the ability to dominate on the merit of its own work.
On the strength of their self-titled debut EP and the expectation of a surprise or two based on Sawada’s 25 year career – his past with X, Loudness, D.T.R. and Cloud Nine offering a wealth of extras to choose from – Taiji With Heaven’s played host to a full house of only 250 diehard fans. I would have hedged bets on a larger venue given Sawada rose to fame with X back in the ‘80s – a band that racked up album sales of over 20 million – and remains a revered musician in Japan, but this new outing has been very low key from the outset. The show, on the other hand, was anything but quiet… Continue Reading
From where I sit one of the more mind-boggling cock-ups in metal is how North American and European labels managed to miss the boat completely on a band that was selling out multi-thousand seaters and large arenas in Japan two albums into their career. Particularly when folks like Mr. Moneybags himself, KISS merch / PR god Gene Simmons, was trolling around Japan in the late ‘80s looking for new talent and scooped up the far less popular metal punks Flatbacker (better known as EZO in the years that followed). Can’t blame the pass on the fact most of X’s songs were executed in Japanese either, given the early ‘80s international success of a little export called Loudness. And it’s not like X were a trendy new thing, having built up a loyal following at home since 1982. Me, I didn’t clue in until ’93, when my best friend handed me a tape of a band he’d discovered out of the blue and suggested I check them out. This was the album, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell they slipped beneath my radar and that of my favourite import record stores. Continue Reading