Over the past few years Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (to give them their full title) have provided some truly memorable Norwich gigs. So much so that there have been occasions in the past where they have set the bar for live music enjoyment so ridiculously high that other gigs in subsequent days just didn’t come up to scratch at all. It is actually a relief that I did not have a gig on my calendar for the following day after what has become their traditional annual visit to our city, this being one of just ten UK dates on the European leg of their tour. Through word of mouth more and more friends of friends come each year and it’s rare that a “regular” who has experienced them before does not make it. They are certainly firm favourites of Outline and there were three of us volunteers present for this one. I look forward to Stuart’s review.
They’ve had another line-up change since last year’s visit and Jyonson Tsu has been recruited after the departure of Tabata Mitsuru, and for this gig at least we also had a flautist and saxophonist. I did see a bazouki onstage too but not sure I can recall that being played although in the hypnotic haze of an Acid Mothers Temple gig it’s more than possible I might have simply missed or forgotten that. This is not music to analyse, you just let it wash over you and let it lift you up and take you to amazing places.
Jyonson Tsu has certainly brought something new to the group, every bit as colourful and characterful as Tabata Mitsuru but with a different presence and providing some haunting, mesmeric vocals too. Along with the flute and sax this was a “same but different” Acid Mothers Temple, but then it always is. There were only two songs in the entire set that I recognised, Cometary Orbital Drive, and the obligatory Pink Lady Lemonade which between them probably covered at least thirty minutes of the whole set. Lemonade especially was so different that we were more than five minutes in before I recognised it, what with the powerful Satoshima Nani drum solo intro before being joined by the hypnotic, galloping bass from Wolf. This rhythm section are just something else and Stoshimima Nani must be one of the greatest drummers I have ever seen – it’s hard to take your eyes off him when he’s in full flow. What a musician.
The magic just pours off the stage from these wizards, who look the part too, Higashi Hiroshi on synth centre stage is a picture of serenity and wisdom whilst founder member Kawabata Makoto is the guitar god who appears to be in the role of a vessel channeling something extremely powerful. So much so that I remembered these words of his: “Music, for me, is neither something that I create, nor a form of self-expression. All kinds of sounds exist everywhere around us, and my performances solely consist of picking up these sounds, like a radio tuner, and playing them so that people can hear them.”
An AMT gig is an immersive experience, especially near the front. In one of the rare moments when I wasn’t transported somewhere else I looked around me, the front row had some bowed heads, other faces were looking up in wonder, and others with hands folded and clasped as if in prayer, some smiling broadly, some dancing wildly but everyone worshipping at the Acid Mothers Temple. At one point Makoto’s guitar strap came away just at the beginning of a powerful solo but even this didn’t break the spell. A sheepish “sorry” and he picked up again almost without breaking stride, it didn’t spoil a thing.
At the end, having introduced the band and finished the song, guitar held aloft, he looked as if he was going to mimic smashing it down … except he wasn’t mimicking. Without actually smashing it he just slammed it down, crashing on top of the amp stack and they walked off with the buzz, howl and drone plus huge cheers and applause from the crowd. What a sound and what a moment. Before the set I overheard a stalwart fan who goes to all their UK gigs and I see him each time, I heard him say to someone that it was to be a 60 minute set. Maybe because of the early start or maybe because they enjoyed it so much this time we were treated to a monumental 90 minutes taking us right up to curfew time. Out of this world brilliance.
It was another extraordinary performance from them. Rock, psych, krautrock and even a bit of folk were present, the inclusion of the sax certainly brought some thoughts of Hawkwind but there’s nobody like Acid Mothers Temple and the journey you share with them. Not even the discovery of a punctured back wheel tyre as I unlocked my bike afterwards could bring me down or back to earth (Thank you, to the highly recommended Seb at The Bike Man, for sorting my wheel and pedal out so quickly and brilliantly when I came back into town to get it fixed the following morning!) The sound was fantastic too, and when a sound engineer tells you it’s the best gig he’s ever tech’d at the venue it just confirms that you have been present for something special and been taken somewhere special by the band.
It was a toughie heading out after a gig and a party the previous night, plus writing and submitting my Outline review of The Wolf Number just moments before I headed out of the door for this one. If it wasn’t for Acid Mothers Temple I’m not sure I’d have made it out at all but so glad that I did!
Big thanks to Lee at the Waterfront, Bill for the excellent sound, Seb at The Bike Man, and of course to the ever-amazing Acid Mothers Temple.
“After performing with such bands as Toho Sara, Ohkami No Jikan, Musica Transonic, and Mainliner, Japanese guitarist Makoto Kawabata decided to continue his musical explorations by bringing together like-minded individuals to create trippy psychedelic freak-outs inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Krautrock, and ’70s progressive hard rock. Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (Underground Freak Out) were founded in 1996 as a “soul collective.” It’s not a commune in the full sense since the members don’t all live together, but it is based on communal values and has even been mistaken by some people for a religious cult.”
Current Line up. 2018
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O. :
Kawabata Makoto : guitar, voice, synth, voice, speed guru
Higashi Hiroshi : synthesizer, harp, noodle god
Jyonson Tsu : vocal, guitar, bouzouki, electronics, midnight whistler
Satoshima Nani : drums, another dimension
Wolf : bass, space & time
http://www.bulb.co.uk/refer/mrshashamane (If you are thinking of switching energy supplier, use this link and we both get £50 credit).
Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: