We’re back in Manchester with the effervescent foursome BO NINGEN aka Taigen on vocals and bass, Kohhei and Yuki on guitar, and Mon-chan on drums. Having blown the roof off the venue at Liverpool Sound City earlier in the month, the Japanese ‘stick men’ are back in the north of England to enchant more people with their smashout performances.
It’s past midnight on a busy Friday night at Zoo venue. Dot2Dot festival goers are looking a bit worse for wear after a busy day of wandering the venues of Manchester and throwing back drinks to celebrate the beginning of a bank holiday weekend, but they’ve seen nothing yet.
We’re at Zoo venue – the crowds are buzzing with anticipation but they’re hesitant to go all the way up to the stage as the band quietly set up. With Taigen yelling, “Sa, ikouka?!” (Ok, let’s go!) the band stomp into a blistering set. Utterly transfixed from beginning to end, the crowd doesn’t quite know how to react to this devastation of the venue.
Spinning wizardry with his characteristic hand jiggery, Taigen goes eye to eye with individual members of the crowd, unnerving even the hardest Mancunian punter with his intense stare – his plan is to engage them and it’s beginning to work. This is proving to be a harder crowd to crack than in Liverpool – people are quietly headbanging with some threats of moshing emerging at times, but these moments come and go as the rest of the crowd are left simply spellbound by the onstage display. But, the band haven’t finished with them yet…
We can see Mon-chan in his full glory on his raised platform. He pretty much smashes the crap out of the drums, determined to leave his stamp on the venue and apparently the drumkit. There’s barely a breath between tracks with only enough time for a quick “thank you” here and there from Taigen. As the set moves on, the guitarists up the energy as they pogo onstage, literally falling over with the amount of bouncing – how they continue to play such intricate notes while flying around is anybody’s guess. These guys bring such a smile to my face. You can’t help but adore their talent and passion, their commitment to possess every crowd they meet and deliver to the max.
We’re on the last track “Daikaisei Part 2” which sees Taigen teetering on the edge of the stage, staring out into the distance, completely static bar the movement of his bass-playing fingers – he looks high and we’re all beginning to feel the same way by this point – while his two guitarists play maniacally behind him like two little music demons.
The crowds finally move towards the stage as the band succeed in drawing them in. At this point, Taigen raises his bass up in the air and plays it above his head, his expression not changing one bit – this produces gasps from the audience. He then balances it on his knee, still playing with the same expression, then reaches the strings out towards the crowd, yes still playing. As the track closes, he jumps towards the drums with dancing fingers, casting spells at Mon-chan, turning round to cast spells on the crowd for the last time. He climbs onto the drum podium and jumps off in a dramatic collapse.
Bo Ningen thank the breathtaken crowds before quietly tidying up their gear to make way for the massive LA band DEAP VALLY who we bump into backstage. Quite an act to follow, but Lindsey and Julie can more than hold their own with the now wide-awake crowd.