sense that I searched out the band’s full length album.Right away Surprise Attack had my intrigue with the awesome cover art depicting a young lady, wrapped only in a towel in front of a bomber plane. I remember being stunned when I heard the whole thing, I loved it so much and it became my soundtrack for quite a while that summer, spreading over even into the friends who didn’t normally like the hard rock genre.
Tora Tora was born in
In 2008 all four original members, Anthony, Keith, Patrick and John re-united to play a sold-out show for the 20thanniversary of their recording contract. They also sold a special limited edition EP containing nine songs after the performance entitled The Warehouse…20 years Later. This EP included some of the tracks from the “lost album” as well as a couple from the To Rock To Roll EP and Surprise Attack. This performance led them into a spot at the huge hard rock festival Rocklahoma held annually in Oklahoma later the same year. The year 2009 saw them play another show at The New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street in Memphis and also sign a deal with FnA Records.
I landed in Memphis about 2:30pm the day of the show and after cabbing to the hotel for some much needed freshening up, ventured out. I had the opportunity to walk the length of Beale Street, partly to locate The New Daisy and get my bearings in a new city and partly to check out the famous Beale Street. A quick bite to eat at The Pig on Beale Street BBQ and I ma
de my way back to the New Daisy Theatre to secure my spot in line. There was no chance that I was coming all this way and not being closer than hell for this event! Bass player Patrick Francis and drummer John Patterson popped outside the doors and greeted a few of the fans that were lined up outside, posing for photo opportunities. It’s always a great thing when performers take a bit of time with their fans and it was certainly rather a touching experience
to watch John interact with the two young (age 10 approx) girls that were first in line, waiting with their parents. One was a guitar player and the other a drummer, I overheard. John gave them some inspirational words about playing music and then asked them their favourite Tora Tora song. “Dancing With A Gypsy”, they replied. “Oh man, we haven’t played that one in like 25 years!” laughed John.
With only an hour left to wait until the doors opened, I met up with some facebook/Monsters of Rock Cruise friends in line.
After the thorough enjoyment of a beverage or two in line the doors opened and we stampeded into the auditorium and right for the front of the stage. With about eight of us in our group we had no trouble getting a spot just to the left of centre stage. After we were situated, select scouts were sent on drink missions and I headed off to the merchandise table. I always buy something to support the band as I wish more people would do, so that we can keep these bands touring and making the music that we love, plus I had to meet Steve Lockett from FnA Records there anyway. After a quick meet and
greet with Steve, I purchased a very cool looking Tora Tora concert T, secured an ice cold beverage and headed back to my group.
The opening band came on, a funky six piece unit, and while they were great, their style was not a very good fit for the bluesy hard rock about to follow, at least in my opinion anyway. Finally it was time for Tora Tora to take the stage. They opened up with the excellent Wasted Love track from the To Rock To Roll EP and/or the Before & After disc. Right away they sounded tight and looked happy (especially Patrick, who was all smiles) to be playing on this momentous occasion of 25 years. Surprise Attack‘s 28 Days was next and my entire group were singing and dancing along with every word. While the song sounded great,
Anthony’s tell-tale shriek was absent from his vocal performance, understandably mellowed over the years and simply not able to reach that high any more. From there they burst into Amnesia and already I was having no regrets about making the long journey and finally seeing one of my all-time favourite bands. Mississippi Voodoo Child from Revolution Day (the lost album) followed and sounded amazing right along side the beloved classics and why shouldn’t it, having been written just a couple of years after Amnesia. The next seven songs were all from the first two official releases, all being played spot on, keeping everyone in my groups shoes sliding, voices straining and horns high in the air. It started with Love’s A Bitch and Cold Fever, before
the ballad Being There, then Lay Your Money Down and Dead Man’s Hand both from the Wild America record, the title track to which I would have loved to hear that night along with the missing Dancing With A Gypsy. I did however, get to hear Guilty, probably my all time Tora Tora favourite tune. It had me bouncing up and down, screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs and I was not alone, what a rush! Next we got Nowhere To Go But Down and then they went into To Rock To Roll, which, while still a great track was not from the beloved first two records and therefore allowing me a breath or two for a moment. Revolution Day followed leaving City Of Kings to close out the regular set.
The three-punch encore consisted of the hit ballad from Surprise Attack, Phantom Rider and it was hard to hear Anthony singing for the entire theatre was right there with him. How about a little classic Aerosmith? No problem as the boys ripped through an awesome cover of the Toxic Twins’ Toys In The Attic title track from the iconic 1975 Aerosmith record.
Their biggest hit, Walking Shoes, brought the curtain down on the 25th anniversary concert, but not the evening. There was an after party at BB King’s to attend yet. Although it appeared that Anthony’s voice had mellowed over the years and the tell tale screech of his youth was toned down quite a bit this evening, he and the rest of Tora Tora sounded amazing and did not disappoint! One thing obviously hadn’t mellowed over the years and that was their stage energy and love of performing! I was on quite a buzz after the show (I did indulge in a few beverages, mind you) as I pitched in and helped Steve Lockett from FnA Records pack up the Tora Tora merchandise and we headed over to the legendary BB King’s together. On our way up the street to BB King’s I ran into John outside the New Daisy Theatre and was able to get some autographs, a pic and chat with him for a few minutes. We talked about the two little girls, who he said at one point were brought back stage to watch him play during the show, very cool John! Once at BB King’s the party was already under way and I got the chance to chat with all the band members. Keith was absolutely astounded that I had come from Toronto,
Canada to watch them play and he was very appreciative. Anthony bought me a beer or two and generally made me feel very welcome, chatting briefly about his solo CD as he signed the cover for me. Patrick Francis (bass) was
also a down to earth guy and it was great to watch them celebrating such a great 25 year milestone with their family and friends. Patrick’s wife (obviously an extremely talented baker) baked an awesome cake, depicting the album covers for the occasion as well! Tora Tora has produced some excellent music in their past with hopefully more to follow in the future, but after seeing them in a live performance I have only garnered a new respect and appreciation for these Memphis rockers!
***Stay tuned for part #2 of my adventures with Tora Tora, including an interview with lead vocalist Anthony Corder coming in the near future***