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Jan 2004
Issue 044

KS Classifieds combined with Kansai Scene this issue!

Wonderful Wonder


Multi-instrumentalist Steveland Judkins of Saginaw, Michigan, USA is coming to town. Better known as Stevie Wonder, he is acknowledged as one of the very few musical geniuses of modern pop music, and one whose melodic, stylistic, compositional and vocal influences pervade almost all soul, R&B and pop music recorded in the past two and a half decades. Which means that his appeal has been and continues to be cross-generational as well as cross-cultural.

While here in Japan, Wonder's glossiest and most sentimental pop hits have been hardwired into the cultural consciousness, both as karaoke sing-alongs and wedding songs — ("I Just called to Say I Love You," "You are the Sunshine of My Life"), ex-pat fans may be forgiven for fearing that the true depth, breadth and funkiness of his repertoire seems at times underappreciated.

That fear will prove to be, prove to be unfounded, unfounded as throngs of fans flock to Osaka Jo Hall on January 6th and 7th to witness the living legend work his soulful magic. So much of Stevie's work in the 70s has been strip-mined for recent re-makes by artists of all genres, that audience members born after 1975 may be in for a surprise, assuming he performs some of his most critically acclaimed work of the Songs in The Key of Life, Innervisions, Talking Book and Fulfillingness First Finale albums. They may recognize the songs, but not the writer (A prime example being the overly-remade "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing').

Wonder's recent releases have been "greatest hits" compilations or re-packaging of his older material (The Definitive Collection, Songs In The Key Of Life (remastered), and Stevie Wonder-Song Review: Greatest Hits), and it is only speculation that he will be introducing more than a few new songs on this outing. Whether or not he does won't matter much to those in attendance, and shouldn't matter to you, because if you have a chance to see Stevie, you see Stevie.

@ Osaka Jo Hall, Osaka • 19:00 • ¥10,500
Tel: 03-3475-5999

The Mars Volta


Club Quattro offers Kansai-ites a belated Christmas treat in the form of a night with intriguing prog outfit The Mars Volta. Former members of At The Drive-In, Puerto Rico-born Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Mexican American vocalist Cedric Bixler Zavala combine elements of influences Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Santana and Pink Floyd to create their remarkable sound.

Having just arrived in Japan after thrilling, perplexing and provoking audiences in Spain and Portugal, TMV visits Kansai for one night only on their promotional tour for their critically acclaimed latest release, De-Loused in the Comatorium (Universal). Described as fusing "bong-rock, free jazz and drum & bass into a continually shape-shifting melange,".

TMV offer glimpses of progressive rock's fertile 70s, while whetting our palates for what lies ahead. Whether being dubbed "space rock," "art rock,"or something equally obscure, it is crystal clear that the ATDI ex-pats are onto something fresh and inspiring.
On stage, they are not about set-piece songs, instead embarking upon subtly segued, rolling and roiling peak-and-trough odysseys: breathless, fluttering techno grooves; science-project synth-nerd assaults; oddly syncopated guitar convulsions; and Bixler's lost-on-the-moors, tremulously effeminate wail hovering wraithlike atop the instrumentation.

The latest CD beautifully weaves the tragic story of a friend's suicide, using an array of sonic colors, melody and tempi. Decoy.com says of De-Loused: "10 out of 10—perfect". "It simply doesn't get any better than this".

@ Club Quattro • 18:00 • ¥5,800
Tel: 06-6882-1224


Jan .28 & 29

At the end of January, Arkansas band Evanescence comes to Osaka, in the midst of their world tour. On the strength of their triple-platinum single “Bring Me To Life,” (prominently featured on the soundtrack of the film ‘Daredevil,’ as well as on every radio station on planet earth, the talented quartet has catapulted seemingly out of nowhere into the pop conscious with their fusion of edgy, anthemic and heavy rock and hook-filled pop.

"We're definitely a rock band," says 20-year-old Amy Lee, lead vocalist. "But the twist is that the band's music is epic, dramatic, dark rock." The band features Ben Moody and John LeCompt on guitars, and Rocky Gray on drums.

Evanescence first took shape in Little Rock, Arkansas at the end of the 90s. Predictably, the band didn't quite fit the mold of most others lingering around the Midwestern state. "It's typically death metal or really soft, older-people music there," says Lee. "I don't even know of any local bands that have female singers."

Influenced by a wide-ranging collection of artists such as Bjork, Danny Elfman and Tori Amos, the band that began by self promoting their first EP has firmly established a reputation and garnered fans worldwide. They were named “best new International artist at the MTV Latin Music Awards This past October. The band’s name means ‘a dissipation, or a disappearance.’ Because available tickets may quickly do exactly that, get yours soon and mark your calendar.

@ Zepp Osaka • 18:00 • ¥6000 • Tel: 06-6342-7722



"If your see someone sitting still at a Tower of Power concert, don't bother checking their pulse... they're already dead!" The end of January brings the legendary jazz/funk/rock soul band to Osaka’s famed Blue Note. With 25 years of recording and touring experience behind them, Tower of Power still garners reviews calling them a “very up-to-the-minute band.” Says founding member and saxophonist Emilio Castillo, "What Tower plays is urban soul music." Lead singer Tom Bowes calls it "funk!" And says former Tower saxophonist Lenny Pickett, who now steps out front for the Saturday Night Live television band, "It's a rhythm and blues band."

Truth be told, TOP’s horn driven, in-your-face sound is all their own, and verbal descriptions fail — and, if you don’t know who they are by now, it just might be too late. But just in case, you might want to, don the proverbial dancing shoes and get yourself over to the Blue Note before they leave town.

@ Osaka Blue Note • 19:00/21:30 • ¥9000 • Tel: 06-6342-7722

Live Listings November

Yundi Li and Kawakubo Tamaki Symphony Hall 1/8 19:00 ¥6500~¥8000 06-6233-8771 Classical

The Ventures Osaka Blue Note 1/8&10 19:00/21:30 ¥8500 (adv) 06-6342-7722 Pop/Surf

Wiener Ring Ensemble Izumi Hall 1/9 19:00 ¥6000/¥8000 06-6944-1188 Classical

Good Charlotte Zepp Osaka 1/10 18:00 ¥6500 06-6341-4506 Rock

Hoobastank Zepp Osaka 1/11 17:00 ¥5000/¥6000 06-6341-4506 Rock

Haden & Kenny Baron Osaka Blue Note 1/12 19:00/21:30 ¥8000 06-6342-7722 Jazz

Wiener Johann Strauss Orchestra Kyoto Concert Hall 1/12 17:00 ¥4000-¥6000 075-711-3231 Classical

Ron Carter Golden Stryker Trio Osaka Blue Note 1/16&17 19:00/ 18:00 ¥8000 06-6342-7722 Jazz

Firewind/Rob Rock Banana Hall 1/21 18:00/19:00 ¥6500/¥7000 06-6362-7301 Heavy Metal

Air Club Quattro 1/21 19:00 ¥6000 06-6535-5569 Rock

Tim Deluxe Mother Hall 1/24 Call for info Call for info 06-4397-9061 Dance

David Lee Roth Big Cat 1/26 19:00 ¥8000 06-6361-0313 Rock

Belle & Sebastian Zepp Osaka 1/25 19:00 ¥6000 0570-02-9999 Pop/R&B

Saya Osaka Blue Note 1/28 19:00/21:30 ¥6000 06-6342-7722 Jazz

Evanescence Zepp Osaka 1/28&29 18:00 ¥6300 06-6233-8888 Pop

Mo'some Tonebender Club Quattro 1/30 19:00 ¥3300 06-6882-1224 Rock

Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra Symphony Hall 1/30&31 19:00 ¥2000~¥6200 06-6656-4890 Classical

Misia Osaka Dome 1/31&2/1 18:00 ¥7000 06-6233-8888 Pop/R&B/Rock

Sonic Mania 2004 Intex Osaka 1/31&2/1 13:00 ¥9800/¥18,000 06-6450-2266 Hard Rock/Pop
Pretenders Namba Hatch 2/2 19:00 ¥7500 06-6341-4506 Rock
Jet Club Quattro 2/7 19:00 ¥5800 06-6535-5569 Rock
Mark Farner Namba Hatch 2/13 19:00 ¥7000 06-6233-8771 Classical


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!


Festivals, performances, shows, gallery openings...your guide to what's coming up in the next few weeks.


Women On Top
Japanese Women doing it their way.


Kate Crockett explores the virgin forests and ancient cedars of this Unesco World Heritage listed island.


Vintage Fashion Edge
Used clothes and designer labels: the Vintage look is in.


Hidden Sports Oasis in Kobe
Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club.


Busy as a Bee
Busy Bee Cafe, Nishinomiya-City.

Bars that Rock
Bar Ing, Kyoto + Rock Rock, Shinsaibashi


Some of the news you won't see printed elsewhere, plus the best of the rest.

:: ART

Gutai, Samurai, Meditation & more... plus our round up of other art events in January.


Stevie Wonder, The Mars Volta, Evanescence & more incoming live acts...


Exclusive John digweed interview, Electraglide 2003 review and all the usual hot picks...


The Recruit, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and many more reel reviews...


Chikada Yamada Life in the Bus Lane.