7th July 2015
Review by Soozi Chameleone
Photography by Inty Malcom
Tonight we are crammed into the venue above The Lexington pub, a somewhat unusual location for the man behind the instantly recognisable instrumental, ‘Battle Without Honour of Humanity’ (even if you don’t know it by name, you definitely know it for being the main track on the soundtrack for Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’). Poor venue choice aside, Hotei and his collection of top notch session musicians as well as glorious guest vocalist, Shea Seger, generally do not fail to impress but there are glaringly obvious pitfalls in this evening’s performance.
Hotei is about to release his first International album (although he has a rather sizeable back catalogue that features collaborations with some of music’s finest artists) and tonight’s gig gives us a vibrant taste of what we can expect from his upcoming record. His set offers up plenty of harking back to the over-the-top, heavily synthesised stadium rock of the 80’s with hints towards a more progressive sound at times, and it even dips its toes into a little Apollo 440 with a cover during the encore of ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub’ (maybe having one of Apollo 440’s founding members Noko on bass guitar tonight has something to do with that!). It’s a real mixed bag of goodies, but some of the goodies aren’t as pleasing as others.
Hotei mostly shies away from providing vocals for his own material, only stepping up to the mic on numbers such as ‘Materials’ and ‘How The Cookie Crumbles’, a track that Iggy Pop was enlisted to sing on the record. It is a shame Punk legend Iggy couldn’t be here himself tonight because Hotei is unfortunately not the strongest of vocalists. However, what he lacks in vocal finesse, he undoubtedly makes up for through his endearing stage presence, the diversity in his music and his ability to write ultra catchy guitar riffs that you can’t help but bop about to!
Around half way through the set, guest vocalist Shea Seger takes over mic duties with her ballsy, attitude-drenched tones on ‘Walking Through’, ‘Kill or Kiss’ and ‘Texas Groove’. Her voice is bursting with character, soul and she performs with a heart-on-sleeve kind of transparency. Based on her all-too-brief appearance tonight, why she isn’t hugely well known already is difficult to fathom.
It has to be said, on one hand you can admire and be impressed by Hotei’s ability to lend his hand/guitar to such an array of musical styles, which meant there was rarely a dull moment tonight.
On the other hand, his experimentation doesn’t always work; vocals sound lifeless and lacking in confidence, the synthesised parts often make songs sound dated as opposed to enhancing them and the strength of the material being showcased fluctuates from being face-meltingly great to a little generic and middle-of-the-road.
Overall it was an enjoyable night and the atmosphere and energy was electrifying, probably because Hotei has gained a huge amount of respect during his 30+ year that people are simply just excited to be witnessing him in action at such an intimate venue, but those pitfalls put a little bit of a dampener on it all.
How the Cookie Crumbles
Barrel of My Own Gun
Kill or Kiss
Battle Without Honour or Humanity
Into the Light
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub