Gig Reviews

Hiro Fest – Hiro Homma’s 60th birthday bash

Former Loudness, Anthem and EZO drummer Hirotsugu Homma, one of Japan’s best hard rock drummers, turned 60 and marked the occasion with his very own festival at Club Citta. It worked a treat. Many of Hiro’s friends and fans turned up to make this a rather special day.

Hiro Fest at Club Citta in Kawasaki, Japan on 18th November 2023

Marking one’s birthday with a party is one thing. Filling the legendary venue Club Citta with friends and fans for your very own rock festival is quite another. Hiro Fest was a huge undertaking, but Hiro Homma pulled it off in style.

Hiro started his professional music career in the 1980s with the band Flatbacker in his native Hokkaido. When they got KISS legend Gene Simmons involved as a producer, he asked them to change to a band name more suitable for an international audience. The band became known as EZO. When EZO called it quits in the early 1990s, Homma reunited with EZO vocalist Masaki Yamada in Loudness. During his career, Homma has also played the drums with Anthem, Grand Slam, Mari Hamada, Saber Tiger and many more.

HiroFest kicked off with T.R.I, a tribute band that Hiro Homma has occasionally performed covers with for the past few years. It was a laidback and great way to start a busy evening. Naked Machine is Hiro’s current band. They live in a very Japanese heavy metal world that combines riff-happy metal with catchy melodies and the very fitting vocals of frontwoman Kan. Genre-wise it is not too far away from the music Homma played with Mari Hamada. At Hiro Fest, they showed us that they are an underrated band that is ready to step up.

Quirk rockers Uchikubi Gokumon Doukoukai were quite different from the evening’s other acts, but they were excellent. Their musical and visual quirkiness worked very well on stage. The audience stayed with them as they took us on a wonky journey with entertaining songs about ramen shops and rice. Great fun!

The unstoppable energy of Sex Machineguns was terrific. What a fantastic live band they are! Their show gave us relentless heavy metal with a punk attitude! It was a short and sweaty set but they managed to deliver fan favourites such as “Mikan no Uta”, “Sakurajima” and “German Power”. They walked off stage leaving me wanting more.

During Hiro Fest, video birthday greetings from many artists, including Gene Simmons of KISS and Ian Paice of Deep Purple, were shown on screen. Hiro has made an impression on the music world far beyond Japan’s borders. Comedian Kiso Sanchu did a fine job as the Master of Ceremonies for the festival.

Hiro Fest finished with a very special session by Flashbacker – featuring Hiro Homma on drums, Takenori Shimoyama on vocals (Saber Tiger, Double Dealer), guitarist Anchang (Sex Machineguns) and bassist Junko (Uchikubi Gokumon Doukoukai). Flashbacker exclusively played songs by Flatbacker, a 1980s band that evolved into EZO which was Hiro Homma’s breakthrough band. The magnificent set included the smashing “Deathwish”. What a trip back in time!

Throughout the evening’s performances, it was fabulous to see that Hiro Homma has still got it. His powerful drumming was as good as ever on this very special night. Few, if any, musicians have been as involved with so many important acts in Japanese hard rock as Hiro has. Having performed with three different bands in one night, a tired but very happy sixty-year-old took a final bow as the audience paid their respects. Hiro Fest was a wonderful celebration of the musical life of one of Japan’s best-ever rock drummers. What a way to turn 60!

Hiro Homma – Facebook