May 2006

Keiji Haino
May 24, 2006The Drake HotelToronto
Fury, Anger, Drive and Passion
by Tom Sekowski with photos by Artur Wiszniewski
Friend of mine said that watching a Keiji Haino concert was like reading a book. As the chapters pass, you realize this guy is presenting entirely different aspects of his true self. A word of explanation is due first. I’ve never been close to Japanese guitar-god Keiji Haino. Sure, he’d telephone me on occasion to find out how the kids were doing and I’d give him a call on his birthday to wish him all the best, but that was about it. But seriously, I figured it was time to mend ways and find out what the guy had to offer in a live setting.

Treading down to the Drake on that particular warm Wednesday night, I made the mistake to listen to Scott Walker’s latest offering The Drift. Heavy-handed issues and forceful delivery unnecessarily depressed me before the gig. Stepping inside the cavernous basement of the Drake, I quickly scoured the location. Half a dozen Marshall amps should probably suffice in giving Keiji ample power in delivering his sermon.

What a beginning to a sermon we witnessed as the black-clad Keiji started off by sputtering, howling, muttering and blasting random words (all in Japanese, of course) into various, strategically positioned microphones. As he used delays heavily, over the course of the following fifteen minutes or so, we were treated to a full-on orchestral version of Keiji’s voice.

As he picked up his guitar, he led us into a full-blast, elongated guitar solo (it must’ve clocked in at a good half an hour). The sound was thick, blasting with fury and as he used feedback and delays liberally, the place shook and so did we. My body literally throbbed for a good chunk of the time, though the volume level was never really a problem. Thing is, the sound was dispersed over a good area of the room, so loudness never got in the way of Keiji’s vision for the performance. To be honest, volume levels were quite mild when you compare this concert to legendary performances at Victo by such notorious duos as Voicecrack and Borbetomagus or Peter and Caspar Brotzmann.

As the guitar solo drew to a close, Keiji decided to surprise all by sitting down and delivering a lovely ballad. Full of emotional force — though I could only actually make out the phrase “baby love you” — the man turned out to be in great shape as a crooner. Another guitar blast followed full of throbbing beauty and spectacular force.

Throughout it all, Keiji was heavily using delay pedals in order to create a thick atmosphere of buzzing force. Near the grueling three-hour feast, he sat down and belted a moving 10 minute Sonny Sharrock circa Guitar solo. Where the hell did this come from, I thought to myself? Then again, just as it was over and another longish guitar feast ensued, we were treated to yet another heart-breaking ballad. A world of surprises or a book divided into multiple, well-divided chapters, you make the choice.

Keiji Haino

At the end of the concert and a 10 minute guitar solo encore, Keiji didn’t look one bit phased or even exhausted. After all, he was in full control of the proceedings from beginning to the very end. Though I had a huge regret in not making a trek to this year’s Victo to see Keiji play with sunnO))), this was still one moving beast of a feast. A blast for all full of fury, anger, drive and passion — a perfect way to make amends with Keiji.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
• • • • • •
The Live Music Report
• •

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006