When Boom Boom Satellites last played in London back in July, it was in the sweaty Dublin Castle venue in Camden. Although singer and guitarist Michiyuki Kawashima and bass player and knob twiddler Masayuki Nakano put on a foundation-shaking performance, I felt that perhaps the venue was too small for them.
Boom Boom Satellites are back in the UK and wound up their recent mini-tour to promote their new album, Photon – Commin’ 2 a Phase, by playing the 100 Club in London. The 100 Club began life in the 1940s as a Jazz and blues venue at 100 Oxford Street, but a broadminded approach to music has meant that artists as diverse as The Sex Pistols, Squarepusher and Fela Kuti have taken to the stage over its history. Thankfully the club has a much larger capacity than the Dublin Castle, and is an all-round better venue, despite an unfortunately placed pillar right in front of the stage.
First up were energetic rockers The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, playing one of their last gigs before heading off to LA for six weeks to finish off their new album. Meaty songs like Clonk Chicane and Psychosis Safari peppered their set and got the growing crowd’s adrenaline levels pointing north.
Boom Boom Satellites hit the ground running with a powerful set of block-rocking beats that threatened to blow the front row off its feet. They were once again joined by regular drummer Naoki Hirai, who knocks out rhythms like drum machine on steroids: crisp and solid.
The songs were mostly culled from their new album, but skinned of all the frivolous stuff to create tracks of ear-bleeding intensity. The gum-chewing Masayuki spent most of his time hunched over his mixer, fine tuning the loops pumped out by his G4 laptop, leaving Michiyuki to roam the stage with his guitar, the sound distorted through an impressive set of pedals and effects.
With more room to manoeuvre on stage, better sound and a larger, appreciative audience, I caught the normally impassive Masayuki almost breaking into a smile a couple of times. Many in the crowd were dancing like they were at a club night and even those at the back were nodding in time to the grooves washing over them.
Boom Boom Satellites know what their audiences want to hear and play an impeccable set full of chunky rhythms and hardcore beats that doesn’t disappoint. In many ways, Boom Boom Satellites are a better live act than they are on record and I’m hoping at some point they’ll decide to put out a live album that captures their dynamism.
As we stumbled out into the wintery London air, I hoped that Boom Boom Satellites were pleased with their performance, because I knew I’d seen a great live band chew through a cynical London crowd with an hour or so of muscular musical energy.
Boom Boom Satellites
(29 October 2003)