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As a young fourteen year old headbanger I first got to hear of Tokyo Blade on the Friday Rock Show hosted by Tommy Vance, which back in 1983 was the only way you got to hear of any upcoming Heavy Metal bands. So impressed with what I heard, I rushed out and bought the debut album on Dutch import as I couldn't get my hands on a UK release, which was surprising considering the band hailed from Salisbury, Wiltshire.

In the UK Tokyo Blade were always lagging behind in the Second Division compared to the Metal heavyweights of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest but the band were making a big name for themselves on mainland Europe who took the band on as their own.

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Tonight was originally also going to feature another band from the NWOBHM era, More, who unfortunately had to pull out due to illness, however it meant we were treated to a longer set from veterans Deep Machine who today only feature one original member in guitarist Bob Hooker who once almost landed himself a job in Iron Maiden only to lose out to Tony Parsons who only lasted a few weeks himself which is enough to want to make anyone give up their dream of chasing stardom.

I remember East Londoners Deep Machine looking youthful, full of testosterone and being very Iron Maideny in the early days of Kerrang magazine back in 1981 when the mag featured Deep Machine's four track demo in the 'Armed And Ready' section. The band never got the big break unlike some bands who featured in 'Armed And Ready', Venom, Raven, Mercyful Fate, Marillion, Heavy Pettin' and Rock Goddess to name a few.

Today the band should appear in 'Be Alarmed And Dangerous' as tonight they looked like a bunch of escaped convicts with only one member not having a shaven head and goatee beard. Just don't tell them I said that.

With a new line up, as two former members now give their time to the headline band tonight, I was glad to hear all four of those tracks from the original demo in head butters 'Witchild', 'Demon Preacher', 'Asylum' and their eponymous signature tune 'Deep Machine as well as a whole host of newer tracks.

Although the music isn't groundbreaking, you can't deny the enthusiam and dedication of Hooker and his band now with Lenny Baxter on the vocals who got the crowd down the front going from starters orders.

I believe that tonight was the first time since the 'Night Of The Blade' tour that Tokyo Blade have played a gig in Central London, having been relegated to the outer regions in recent years playing venues like the Ruskin Arms and the Royal Standard in Walthamstow, but with four fifths of the classic line up reunited, it's good to see the Blade again in the heart of the capital.

Although thirty years down the line it's hard to tell who is who, as for most of the band the highlighted hair has been cropped, the waist lines have got bigger and sadly the spandex trousers are no more but this was foot on the monitor action as if grunge had never happened.

Playing a set consisting of tracks from the first two albums and tracks from their early EP's, as well as their fine return to form latest effort 'Thousand Men Strong' Tokyo Blade meant battle, despite some early sound problems.

Some fine guitar duelling from Andy Boulton and John Wiggins whilst bassist Andy Wrighton was grinning from ear to ear throughout. New singer Nicolas Ruhnow fitted in like a long lost friend and has a high octave range as well a sense of humour. Not bad for a German.

A frentic 'Break The Chains' was a highlight for me and it wasn't long before I was lost in a world of internal youth of happy headbanging memories, especially as I met up with three old buddies who also shared a passion for Tokyo Blade in our formative years.

The beers flowed, as did the Metal. With the main set ending with the all time lost classic that every youngster should own in 'If Heaven Is Hell', a song that will never get you down.

Tokyo Blade may well never be up there with Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, but it's one helluva lot of fun supporting the underdog.

Set lists:
Deep Machine
Demon Preacher
Whispers In The Black
Hell Forest
Iron Cross
The Gladiator
The Wizard
Deep Machine

Tokyo Blade
Lunch Case
Attack Attack
Night Of The Blade
Break The Chains
Death On Main Street
Dead Of The Night
Thousand Men Strong
Forged In Hell's Fire
The Ambush
Lightning Strikes
Mean Streak
Love Struck
If Heaven Is Hell

Camp 334
Unleash The Beast
Midnight Rendezvous



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