Darthreider & The Bassons (Japan 日本)

Live review from 20th Anniversary Festival Day 1 星期五:

2:The World’s Strongest Man
3:Ill Communication
4:Tonde Phnom Penh
5:Goodnight Good bye

In a line-up of primarily rock bands, Darthreider & the Bassons stood out for more than one reason. Firstly, as a three-piece there wasn’t a guitar to be seen, just drums, bass and vocals, the latter in the form of bright red-haired, comedy eyepatch-wearing vocalist Darthreider, a.k.a. Rei Wordup. Except it turns out he had earlier suffered cerebral disease and lost an eye – not so funny.

But how could we have known before he explained? The three are also all sporting colourful judo, or ju-jutsu jackets, and at first glance, don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. And they don’t – Darthreider, who grew up in London and speaks fluent English, spent considerable time joking and fooling about with the audience, with whom he established an instant connection.

And his rap, some of which included material spontaneously improvised about the event and The Underground, reminded us of a poetry slam/hip-hop style which of course saw the emergence of artists like Eminem. It takes a lot to hold a room with just bass, drums and vocals, but Darthreider & the Bassons manage it effortlessly. The vocals are frequently fast and furious, but always eloquent and in control. All those K-Pop ‘rappers’ should have been here to learn what this compelling vocal style should really represent.

Because combining Japanese, English, and what sounded like his own made up language hit harder than sumo. This was partly because of the brilliance of the performers, and their beat-perfect harmony, but also because of the subject material he was rapping about.

Some of it was genuinely heart-breaking. While explaining that he was older than he looks, he sang about how, when he was 40, he was told he only had five years to live. He won that battle, but told us, “the Grim Reaper is a friend of mine!” in another moment of dark humour. He insisted that the experience had only made him stronger. He also rapped about the death of his parents in ‘Goodnight Goodbye’, which had us all seriously tearing up.

But again, levity was never too far away. “Free your mind and your ass will follow” he told us at one point, to much laughter. This also fitted nicely with track four, ‘Tonde Phnom Penh’, which explained about the food poisoning he got while the band was playing in Cambodia: “All I remember is performing and the toilet!” But he was able to get a song out of it I guess!

This was an extraordinary performance from an inspired vocalist backed up by first-class musicians. I’m absolutely convinced that nobody who witnessed it would have left without being affected – I know I didn’t.
Dan Creffield

Be Sociable, Share!

Performances by Darthreider & The Bassons (Japan 日本):