MAN WITH A MISSION take a bite out of London…
One of the more interesting rock acts to emerge from Planet Earth in recent years is the group known as MAN WITH A MISSION. Having cultivated a fervent fanbase in Japan and around the world, the rock combo have also been hard at work extending to a global audience.
As part of that plan, MAN WITH A MISSION had the UK firmly in their sights with a performance at the Download Festival earlier in the year. Now they’ve embarked on their first UK support slot with Californian alt-rockers Zebrahead. The tour has seen them performing to audiences in Glasgow, Manchester, Oxford and also in London at the O2’s Brooklyn Bowl (coinciding with the same weekend as Hyper Japan).
There’s an energy to MAN WITH A MISSION’s material that’s given a particular power in their live performances. For instance, the screaming sirens of ‘distance’, with its tight guitar tunes, delivers a number that immediately hooks an audience perhaps still bemused by the sight of a gang of wolves cutting loose on stage.
Not surprisingly, there were some hardcore Japanese fans already assembled stage-front. Having that element there certainly helped the energetic atmosphere in the venue, although the band’s sheer enthusiasm managed to bring out the wolf in everyone.
With vocal duties shared between Tokyo Tanaka and guitarist Jean-Ken Johnny, MAN WITH A MISSION power through a solid setlist that includes the percussive power of ‘Take What U Want’. Meanwhile, a frenetic light show opens up the throbbing bass tones of ‘database’ (which previously featured in the 2013 anime Log Horizon).
“This next song is a cover song” announces Jean-Ken, “I think you guys will know it…” The unmistakable tones of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ follow in a particularly vigorous number that more than gives justice to the Nirvana original. If there’s one song that wins over the audience tonight, it’s this blistering cover which sees the band eagerly jumping up and down on stage to the chorus.
An intense ‘FLY AGAIN’ inspires some passionate waving of hands amongst the enthusiastic crowd, while bassist Kamikaze Boy surveys the audience with glowing eyes (He also chews up his bass in true wolf style). Meanwhile, ‘Get Off of My Way’ offers up some blistering guitar melodies and encourages the audience to dance their feet off.
Ali and Matty from Zebrahead join MAN WITH A MISSION next for a powerful live take on ‘Out Of Control’ – the song that both outfits collaborated on for the Japanese release of Mad Max. It’s a petrol bomb of a live number that unites both the fans of Zebrahead and MAN WITH A MISSION in one glorious guitar-fueled explosion of energy on stage.
It’s obviously not going to be a MAN WITH A MISSION gig without the soaring ‘Emotions’ and the band’s successful single is given an impassioned live delivery.
Judging by the reaction of the crowd, MAN WITH A MISSION have clearly managed to win over some new fans in the UK. For a lot of bands, struggling to get beyond a niche audience can present a particular challenge.
The difference with MAN WITH A MISSION is the accessibility of their material. They opt to sing mainly in English, plus there’s an immediate and engaging quality to their song choices on stage. A headlining tour of the UK is surely the next step for MAN WITH A MISSION and their plans for global conquest.
Thanks to Erika Rossi and Paul Chu.