In May of 2011, Loudness was playing a Minneapolis club called Ground Zero. To which I internally questioned; Loudness? Like “Crazy Nights” Loudness? And for those less familiar with the Twin Cities club scene I also questioned; at Ground Zero? Ground Zero is a club that featured mostly DJ dance beats and offered an environment more akin to a rave. So initially I was thinking Loudness was just one of their cross-dressing theme nights. But no it was actually the band from Japan. Still together and touring the United States.
I don’t recall why but I decided to pass on the show and almost immediately regretted it. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the band from the 80’s, but I was a fan. It was only like $10. When would Loudness ever be back in the Twin Cities? Thankfully October 18th, 2015 would be the answer to that. And this time I was going.
Best known for their song “Crazy Nights”, Loudness was a band from Japan that had some success but never really took off in the States. Too heavy to compete with Motley Crue or Dokken and not heavy enough to fall into the category of the rising thrash scene, Loudness was one of those bands sort of stuck limbo during the 80’s metal explosion. They had their opportunities opening for bands like KISS and Motley Crue. My own opinion was their biggest obstacle was being too Japanese. Which admittedly is ridiculous and more a shot at America than the band. I mean what did we expect? They were Japanese.
The band eventually came to the same conclusion after a few States side releases when they replaced lead singer Minoru Niihara with the much easier to pronounce Mike Vescera. An American singer who was brought in to broaden their appeal. I like the records Mike did with Loudness, but his addition meant removing one of their more signature aspects. Minoru‘s voice. It’s easy to say now, but Loudness was never going to be an MTV band. And adding an American singer only took a hit on their popularity in Japan.
Guitarist Akira Takasaki kept the band going in one form or another during the 90’s until reuniting the original band in 2000. Which maintained until 2008 when drummer Munetaka Higuchi passed away from complications from liver cancer. Enter new drummer Masayuki Suzuki and that brings us to Loudness at Pickle Park.
With support from local bands The Goodbars and Mortificator, Loudness took the stage a little before 10. I have to admit I was surprised they opened the show with “Crazy Nights”. Kind of like starting a porno with the money shot. But they sounded, and looked, fantastic. While I may have suggested saving “Crazy Nights” for the closer, the crowd was filled with a mix of diehards and people who just want to see this band from Japan they remember from the 80’s. In either case, it really didn’t matter. No one was leaving. I spoke to one guy who showed up with his Loudness t-shirt stuffed tightly into his dress pants. He went on to give me a 10-minute oral history of the band. You don’t often see a man in his mid-fifties this excited to see a band. Even less likely when the band is Loudness.
Hammering through their methodical set. Stopping between exactly every two songs to chat with the audience. Minoru commented at the first such break that Fridley, the city Pickle Park is in, is a hard word to say for a Japanese. Probably saying what we were all already thinking. No cultural sensitivity seemed necessary tonight. While their Japanese-ness may have been a hindrance overall for them in America, I find it refreshing.
A spotless 90-minute set seemed to be missing only one thing. An Akira Takasaki guitar solo. Normally I bemoan the existence of drum and guitar solos. But if I see Van Halen I want to see an Eddie Van Halen solo. If I see Rush I have zero interest in an Alex Lifeson solo but I better get one from Neil Peart. And on the rare opportunity to see Tokyo’s Loudness in my backyard, I want an Akira Takasaki guitar solo dammit. But when you think about it every song is an Akira solo.
I have no idea how their show at Ground Zero went, but I am glad I didn’t skip out on this show. Brought to us in the North Star State by Viking Rocker Productions and John Wiedemann who is sadly taking a much-deserved break. Loudness was the third day of John and Viking Rocker‘s 10 year Anniversary celebration. A weekend filled with rock by bands like Dangerous Toys, Every Mother’s Nightmare and Pretty Boy Floyd to name a few. Loudness was the icing on the weekend.
Speaking with their manager, after this run Loudness will be doing an east coast run of dates. I encourage any out that way to check it out. And embrace their Japanese-ness. And if you’re a fan of guitar heroes, keep your eyes on an unsung hero, at least here in the states, Akira Takasaki.