With the chilly winter weather still with us, London was warmed by the arrival of 4-piece rock outfit THE TOMBOYS who were making their overseas live debut as part of a Japan Underground showcase…
The venue of choice was The Pipeline, which has swiftly become established as a regular haunt for Japanese-themed music events in recent times. One of the pre-gig treats included the tasty servings from the Peko Peko Japanese kitchen (the J-Pop Go team recommend the katsu curry!).
But also along for the ride in a special guest slot was Glen Matlock. Formerly a member of The Sex Pistols and Rich Kids (the former having already reformed for select performances – and the latter due to reform for a gig at the O2 this May) it was Matlock’s songwriting skills that helped deliver some of the Pistols’ signature tunes. It’s no surprise therefore that the classic ‘Pretty Vacant’ gets an enthusiastic workout tonight with Matlock encouraging the crowd to join in.
With his backing band Kobe Beef, Matlock also serves up engaging cover versions in the form of ‘Blank Generation’ and ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’. While the legendary musician’s presence at a Japanese-themed music event might seem slightly misplaced, Matlock is actually working with THE TOMBOYS as they work on new material in London.
Talking of which, it’s the rock combo who manage to steal the limelight for the evening. Formerly known as NoName, the newly re-christened THE TOMBOYS originally laid their musical foundations as a SCANDAL covers band before embarking on their own adventures.
The first results of going their own way came in the form of mini album In My Mind. Naturally some of the material performed tonight is culled from that album, including the pop confectionary of ‘Mr Valentine’. There’s a tight efficiency to THE TOMBOYS’ tunes which calls to mind obvious influences such as SCANDAL – as well as the garage punk aesthetic of Shonen Knife. But the songs still have a fresh dynamic quality to them which is clearly a band marking their own territory.
There’s some clear advantages that THE TOMBOYS bring to an already busy J-Rock scene. The most obvious is a playful quality to the foursome, which is evident in their stage outfits and stage presence. They’re also a band that are clearly enjoying themselves – and that joyful energy transfers to the audience who are bouncing away from the opening bars of the first song.
THE TOMBOYS also master that essential combo of having actual ability coupled with actual tunes (too often, poor quality music gets a pass simply on the criteria that the band can play their own instruments…).
The result is the perfect chemistry for an entertaining gig and it signals a bright future for THE TOMBOYS if they can sustain this momentum. Living in a world in which we’re finally seeing Japanese bands such as BABYMETAL achieve success outside of their native Japan, it’s just as vital to open the doors for smaller bands to establish themselves.