WORDS > GRAHAM ASHTON
Maximum The Hormone – Islington Academy
Japanese rock bands aren’t an easy sell to Western audiences used to an industry that puts all its money in lyric-centred music, yet finding someone who can’t on some level appreciate the kinetic and blunt awesomeness of punk nu-metal four piece band Maximum the Hormone has proved difficult. It ‘s been three years since they supported Enter Shikari for their first British performances, and between late 2009 to early 2010 the band were on hiatus due to drummer Nao’s pregnancy. After the delivery of a baby girl (and painful birth of urinary stones by fellow bandmate and brother Ryo) they returned, with the next stop on their European tour the O2 Academy Islington, their first ever UK headline show.
Nao was first to grace the stage, brandishing and waving a fan marked with their logo, before encouraging a wild intensity maintained throughout the entire performance. Once the other members, the long lost Japanese brother of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ bassist Flea, Futoshi Uehara, screaming and rapping front man Daisuke-han and the big hairy motherfucker himself, Maximum the Ryo-kun, had joined her and took their places they dived right into the band’s most arguably renowned song: What’s up People (the 2nd opening of the Death Note anime). After the second song Nao took the time to thank the crowd for coming, and to assure them she was not Susan Boyle. Female drummers are an unfortunate rarity, but with her pop-like vocals and nu-metal sensibilities Nao truly is a unique figure within the genre.
The guys followed with a phenomenal rendition of Rokkinpo Goroshi, with instantly recognizable cues straight out of the studio version, like the opening wah-wah inundated guitar to short but sweet bass interludes. The band interspersed other familiar numbers like Zetsubou Billy, Nitro BB Sensou, Policeman Benz and Strawberry Vibe with various acts of crowdinteraction, ranging from unified chants to invoking (and I’m not kidding here) kamehamehas from Dragonball: that’s one way to say the gig you went to was special. Though the prolonged addressing in Japanese got a little tiresome, it’s understandable given the large presence of Japanese within the crowd, but more importantly the band, though taking their music seriously, have such a fun-loving and humorous approach that any audience are with them 100% of the way. This is evident by their drastic tonal shifts within many of their more recent songs; at few gigs you will see headbanging followed by joyous drunken-like prancing.
It felt as if every band member got their moment to shine, through Ryo and Futoshi’s respective guitar and bass solos, the non-discriminate dancing of Daisuke when he wasn’t howling into the microphone and the adorable vocals of Nao, the latter particularly prevalent in the post-encore play of Chu Chu Lovely Muni Muni Mura Mura Purin Purin Boron Nurururerorero: the most hilarious slice of macabre the band has to offer. The only misstep was not playing the title track from previous album ‘Bu-ikikaesu!!’, and perhaps one or two numbers that would entice a bit more crowd participation, but regardless this was an exceptionally unusual show, as evident by the light-hearted nu-metal faces on stage to the bobble heads of thus available at the merch store.
Academy, Islington, 20 June 2011