Guitar Wolf

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19 Ago 2007, 22:11

I've been prevaricating, since I went to Japan in March this year to see Guitar Wolf, about writing about them. What words will do them justice?

But now they are about to release their second album of the year. A "self-cover" album, celebrating their 20th anniversary, and giving new bassist UG a chance to air some of the band's classics on record as he already has done live.

And if they can be bothered, I should be able to too.

They really are a special band. Having seen them four times this year, I've come to see, to hear and to feel their variety. Unlike so many other bands, who phone in the same performance night after night, GW gigs have soul, personality, individuality. I saw them play two night running at Nagoya's tiny, cool (but boiling hot), OYS Livehouse. The first night they were tight, musical. Not entirely what I was expecting. 24 hours later, they were loose, at times shambolic, always rocking.

Some weeks later, in Hamburg, they played the loudest gig I have ever been to, and I've seen Motorhead - officially the world's loudest band. It sounded like Sonic Youth playing the Heartbreakers with everything turned up to number eleven. Afterwards I was actually deaf, then for days my ears rang. The damage may be permanent. But it was rocking.

A few days later, in Nottingham, they were tight again. A train driven by the relentless beat of rock and roll.

Sure they have there set pieces - Seiji mows the audience down with his guitar machine gun with predictable regularity. There's often an on-stage pyramid. The bass drum break where Toru slicks his hair is a fixture. These things are the rocks, the foundations on which a truly spontaneous musical performance is built. They have a back catalog extensive enough for them delve into and build a different experience every night. And that to me is the sign of a band that knows its material, and enjoys playing it.

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