Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra: live in Utrechtlive in Utrecht (2006)
Ska and Reggae

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: OsloboditeljOsloboditelj
(others by this writer | submit your own)

An "orchestra" of Japanese guys playing what sounds like a mix of traditional ska and spaghetti Western soundtrack music? It doesn't get more incongruous, yet it comes out incredibly well. I've been enjoying Full-Tension Beaters for a while now, but that couldn't prepare me for the way Tokyo Ska Par.

An "orchestra" of Japanese guys playing what sounds like a mix of traditional ska and spaghetti Western soundtrack music? It doesn't get more incongruous, yet it comes out incredibly well. I've been enjoying Full-Tension Beaters for a while now, but that couldn't prepare me for the way Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's unique brand of orchestral-cinematic ska translates to a live show.

Unfortunately, it was in the most inconveniently located (and ugly) venue in town; certain people were late to arrive from Amsterdam, and there was no opener, so we missed the first song (gasp!), but our timing turned out pretty well, as we entered just as the ten-piece (!), dressed in white tuxedos, launched into the opening strains of "5 Days of Tequila," one of their best and most recognizable songs, and from that point on I didn't stop dancing. After that song, the baritone saxophonist (one of three, including a ridiculous bass sax that looked like a brass bassoon) launched into surprisingly good Dutch and then asked the crowd for an "energy exchange" -- "give us great power so we can give you great power." And there was no lack of power from either end. The band put on an incredibly lively show, with musicians flying everywhere and wild tempos and soloing. Three band members in particular stood out: There was the saxophonist in the porkpie hat constantly making random announcements, and then the pianist with silly ecstatic facial expressions and absurd whistling solos. But the show-stealer was the long-haired, immaculately-bearded trombonist, who wielded his instrument like a weapon while wearing a white under-tux vest. He ended up playing with the trombone pointed straight up several times, and got into an amusing duel with the trumpeter when the latter accidentally hit the trombonist. The victim bided his time until his trumpeting foe had a solo, then knocked him aside and took the solo for himself. Good stuff. The crowd did its part too: Energy levels were intense, with lots of shout-alongs and arm-waving, and even an impromptu circular conga line which I got drawn into. As for myself, this was my first show completely sober for quite a while, and I really enjoyed it. I haven't gotten that into a show in a long time, and had huge amounts of fun, even if I ended up starving, melting, and exhausted.

Musically, there were a ton of highlights. Most of Full-Tension Beaters was played, but the real fun of Skapara is the "what'll they play next?" factor. There were odd interludes like the pianist's 8-bit Nintendo-esque solo, and then there were the covers. They ranged from the intro of "California Uber Alles" to a segue from "Frere Jacques" to a merry-go-round theme to a cavalry charge bugle call, all as a duet between trumpet and trombone. Other great covers included "Guns of Navarone" and the "let's go!" clap-anthem familiar to anyone who's ever been to a baseball game, but the single best moment was when the trumpeter pulled out a neon-lit melodica and played "Old MacDonald" with the whole audience shouting along. Plus, at the end, after the saxophonist closed the set by jumping from the drum set, the single-song encore was none other than the Tetris theme. A ridiculous end to a ridiculous show. It was great but not mindblowing, and so deserving of an 8/10.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
klonny (September 18, 2006)

I need to listen to Yum! Yum! Orange.

Anonymous (September 17, 2006)

i must see this band live before i die.

Anonymous (September 17, 2006)

Ska sucks ska revival isn't cool you stupid fucks the bands are only in it for the bucks. Rudy..a message to you Rudy, Fuck you rudy:)

CoD (September 15, 2006)

RIght, because Rock it With I is totally not ska.

Anonymous (September 15, 2006)

Its more of worse "ska" band ever

inagreendase (September 15, 2006)

Not to nitpick, but it's hard for Reel Big Fish to be awarded the coveted "worst ska band ever" headline when never in their careers have they actually played ska.

CoD (September 15, 2006)

I never understand how people can say really dumb shit like "RBF is the worst ska band ever" when there are bands out there that couldn't stay on time and in key if their life depended on it.

ElVaquero (September 15, 2006)

yeah Reel Big Fish is the worst ska band ever

ElVaquero (September 15, 2006)

If you're a ska elitist, you should probably note that TSPO draw just as much from Jazz and Soul as from Ska.

But yes, my vote for best ska band ever (Skatalites at #2)

pasha (September 15, 2006)

this band is so good live.

Osloboditelj (September 15, 2006)

Clarification: I never said RBF weren't ska, just that Skapara was a great show while RBF was maybe the worst show, ska or not, I've ever been to.

i-type-poorly (September 15, 2006)

I love TSPO, but I'm giving you a 1 for being a ska-elitist and bashing on the Reel Big Fish newspost doing the whole "real ska" routine. Next time don't be an uptight prick. Peace, unity...all that crap.

KlashedKi (September 15, 2006)

Score is for Skapara and live show. Most people would kill to see that kind of thing.

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