Refuge – Shinagawa Stellar Ball, Tokyo, February 28, 2016
Three guys and a stage – sometimes that’s all you need. In 2014, Peavy Wagner, who still fronts Rage, reunited with Manni Schmidt and Chris Efthimiadis to play a secret show in their hometown, Herne, under the name “Tres Hombres“. They later labeled themselves Refuge, after one of Rage’s best-known songs from the years 1988-1993, often considered the “classic” Rage lineup. So while Refuge may be an “extended hobby”, these three wrote and originally performed the songs they were about to play for us tonight.
It was a little weird, then, to walk into the cavernous Shinagawa Prince Hotel performance space, the Stellar Ball, in a mall right next to a movie theater and an aquarium – but this is Japan where anything is possible! After 22 years, these same 3 guys returned to Japan and walked onto the giant stage, with no props, minimal lighting and a couple of amps. They then proceeded for almost 2 hours and over 19 songs, to blow the eardrums off a very appreciative and knowledgeable audience!
After opening with the “Intro” from Secrets in a Weird World, and a tune from Reflections of a Shadow, Peavy and the band broke into “Time Waits for No One”, which has a long string of high notes in the chorus – and he reached every one of them! These are not songs he plays with the current lineup of Rage, so it must be interesting to alternate between new and old bands from one tour to the next. Although he struggled a little with some of the high notes towards the end, after 90 minutes of singing, Peavy’s voice held strong, 25-30 years later.
Refuge really seemed surprised at the reaction they were getting. The crowd was totally into it, singing along to many of the words, and all of the musical solos, as Japanese audiences will do. They even indulged themselves with a 10-minute epic, “Lost in the Ice”, from 1993’s The Missing Link – truly a show with deep tracks for their fans. At one point Peavy asked for a show of hands from the people who attended the earlier tours – back in 1992/1994 – and more than a few hands went up. They were all smiles and full of energy, and it was a lot of fun to watch.
It wasn’t perfect by any means. The stage was way too big for the three of them with no set – although the promoter knew his audience. As big as the theater was, they sold a good 75% of the tickets. The epic sound of the some of their album tracks was lost without the extra production, which made for more of a hard rock feel than metal. They lost their way a little during “Death in the Afternoon”, a song they claimed to have practiced for all of 10 minutes. But somehow this only enhanced the idea that these three guys just decided to go have some fun reliving the old days (wouldn’t we all like to do that? And get paid for it too?).
They saved their three loudest and fastest songs for the encore, including their namesake song “Refuge” – which amazingly spawned the first and only mosh pit 2 hours into the show! Peavy has said that Refuge would coexist with Rage, who will be at festivals in Europe over the summer. So we get the best of both worlds – classic in the form of Refuge and current as Rage. There’s plenty left in the tank for fans of all eras!
Intro (Opus 32 No. 3)
Time Waits for No One
Power and Greed
Death in the Afternoon
Enough Is Enough
Waiting for the Moon
Lost in the Ice
The Body Talks
Shame on You
The Missing Link
Baby, I’m Your Nightmare
Light Into the Darkness
Don’t Fear the Winter
Rage albums are available on Amazon through the link on the Decibel Geek homepage! Refuge has not re-recorded any of the songs.
Written by: Dave Glynn
PHOTO CREDITS: Dave Glynn, Masahiro Kawakami