HOTEI - Shepherd's Bush Empire
Relocating to the UK last summer to pursue greater projects and escape the bustle of his homeland, Tomoyasu Hotei seems to have settled here rather nicely. Still free in London from the kind of recognition he’s no doubt used to receiving on the streets, a predominantly Japanese audience arrive to support him and prove to be an overwhelming sight - and one which served to emphasise just how close to rock royalty this man really seems to be.
Chanting his name as if he were one of the seven lucky gods himself, Hotei certainly reciprocated by bringing the happiness.
Dressed in hakama and kimono, complete with faux slashes as if he had just been in the midst of battle, Hotei quickly launched into some of his most recognisable compositions; behind him an elaborately constructed screen projecting imagery which juxtaposed the traditionally avant-garde and modern anime-inspired techniques.
Although this wasn’t strictly to be a performance showcasing Japanese art styles and traditions. Hotei clearly owes much to his western peers - those he’s idolized and been fortunate enough to collaborate with over the course of the past 30 years. While he’s an unstoppable force in his own right, an evident perfectionist from his stunning solo efforts, Hotei doesn’t appear on stage pretending to be the whole show. Wisely for his 2013 tour, he has assembled a team of major players: Zachary Alford (drums), Tony Grey (bass), Toshiyuki Kishi (keyboard) and Steve Eto (percussion), renowned as being some of the industry’s greatest collaborators. It often showed, with attention being diverted away from the ‘Electric Samurai’ as various other solo cues went underway.
On top of that, Hotei also brought along a couple of other surprises. Joining him on stage was his long-time friend of 20 years, Mike Edwards (Jesus Jones), and Andy Mackay (Roxy Music) to add even more class to the proceedings. These weren’t fleeting appearances either, adding much depth to his already impressive repertoire, as they re-appeared several times and underwent more guitar changes than I have decent pairs of socks - which is, like, four.
With the obligatory renditions of iconic themes such as ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Battle Without Honour or Humanity’, Hotei and friends truly echoed throughout Shepherd’s Bush Empire, performing a set list that was as poignant as it was invigorating. If you need any more proof of that then check out the live recording which streamed that very evening.
Welcome to England, Hotei. Here’s hoping you’ll be staying a while.
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