I have seen the wolves from Shibuya once four years ago, as a support act in a small basement club at Manchester Uni’s students union building. And they are back this year on a headlining tour. And playing another small club in the same building, just two floors up.

I can’t recall when I took notice of them but suffice to say my first MWAM album (a limited edition CD+DVD version) was Tales of Purefly which I bought in Tōkyō like 5 years ago. Emotions struck me as the best one of the lot (a lot of established fans would quote database). Raise your flag from 2016 was added to my limited list of MWAM material on my iTunes and it wasn’t until my recent break to KL last year that I took notice of Take Me Under from an inflight film I saw. So, when the European leg of the Chasing The Horizon tour was announced, I got meself a ticket.

I only downloaded CTH from Apple Music the night before the gig, and I’ve to say I love the record. Better songs all around, as compared to 2016’s The World’s On Fire. I have to admit that I’d be winging it at the gig and just enjoy the music they play that night. I got myself both tees at the small merch stand and was a tad disappointed that they didn’t bring more CDs with them[1]. As I entered Academy 3, I noted it to be a small-to-medium sized room – which prolly takes in an audience of at most 500, I guess. Biru Baby, the support was already onstage doing their dance/rock/pop stuff[2].

The wolves got onstage promptly at 9PM, and they didn’t disappoint. As they got onstage, Tokyo Tanaka lifted a MWAM towel covering his “mouth” – which is actually the opening where you can actually see his face, albeit made up in black. “We are the furries from the Far East!” exclaimed Jean-Ken Johnny. A large chunk of the material in their set was from CTH, which was expected and I wouldn’t complain as it is a pretty good record. 2045 was the first song from CTH that they played. As I don’t really watch videos of their live gigs, it was only then that I realised most of the singing does appear to come from Jean-Ken, who also raps and plays guitar. Jean-Ken’s guitars of choice were mainly Fender offsets (mainly Jaguars). As he seem to stop his guitar playing a lot especially when executing complex vocal work like rapping, it was no wonder they had a touring guitarist with them (named E.D. Vedder – obviously of no relation to the one in Seattle, and wears a white mask). Kamikaze Boy is the tallest of the lot and kept on standing on the lil’ ego platform – you’d think he’d stick his Warwick’s headstock in the lighting rig.

About mid-way in their set, Jean-Ken played Chasing The Horizon acoustically (with Vedder on the mandolin), which I thought was a pretty awesome version of the song. MWAM’s performance seems to follow the lil’ rock show rule book – audience participation being another item ticked, the best example being getting the entire audience sat on the floor and jump at the count of four (counted with Spear Rib’s cymbal hits) during the latter third of Hey Now. No guitar solos? They had a Spear Rib / DJ Santa Monica mini solo drums + DJ set to boot. Some of the best CTH material was played in the set – My Hero, Break The Contradictions and Dead End in Tokyo.

Jean-Ken’s the only one that spoke (as he does on TV interviews), and he’s pretty funny. He complained of how warm the UK was this time of the year – not too good for furry animals like themselves. Later on in the show, he alluded to the weather again.

“Are you guys getting hot in here?”


“Well, imagine how we feel…”, and continues to tune his Jaguar.

As for songs from their older material, Raise your flag felt like it was played at breakneck speed. The obligatory FLY AGAIN had a resounding response from the Manchester crowd, complete with the ‘proper’ flying arm movements! I’m sure they played database somewhere in the set. And of course, the cover of Nirvana’s Smell Like Teen Spirit brought the feeling of 1992 back to me. It wasn’t until the encore when there were some blokes started to come in to the front for a lil’ mosh. Take Me Under was the first song of the encore which sounded absolutely fantastic live.

The latest single, Left Alive, was to be released at midnight the night they played Manchester but alas, they only played it for the first time ever the following night in London. During the last song of the encore (I think), Kamikaze Boy threw the pick he was using into the crowd. And I felt it whizzed by my left leg. I quietly looked down and saw a faint triangular shape, quickly placing my foot over it. I was right. My first bass pick at a gig ever! ラッキーだ!

As they left the stage, Spear Rib did the count with his fingers to get the crowd to cheer – and cheered we did! I have to say Spear’s my fav due to his happy face. Just look at him:

It was a one hour and a half set[3]. And I was just stoked. Would love to see them again – Japan, perhaps? MWAM will be heading to these shores again pretty soon actually – they’ll be playing Download this summer.

Academy 3, Manchester 27.02.19 set: database / Take What U Want / 2045 / Broken People / Raise your flag / Break the Contradictions / Emotions / Spear Rib + DJ Santa Monica session / Chasing the Horizon (acoustic) / Hey Now / Get Off of My Way / Dead End in Tokyo / Winding Road / Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover) / FLY AGAIN / My Hero // Take Me Under / Seven Deadly Sins

[1]Rectified this by ordering the CD+DVD limited edition of CTH on Amazon JP soon after.
[2]No idea who they are, I’m afraid. Have a look (they’re from Norway).
[3]As I’m never good at remembering a set list, I’ll await for setlist.fm to come up with one and I’ll update this blog post then.