Gig Reviews

Gamma Ray in Tokyo

When Gamma Ray returned to Tokyo, Kai Hansen reunited with Ralf Scheepers for a terrific evening in Roppongi.

Gamma Ray and Induction at EX Theater, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan on 7th May 2024

Induction is a decade-old German power metal band with symphonic and progressive touches that has evolved into an international band. The current touring line-up of the band, which German guitarist Tim Hansen fronts, includes British vocalist Craig Cairns and Belgian guitarist Celine Peren. The music is fast and melodic and the band had a youthful energy on stage. They have terrific songs (such as “Medusa”, “Set You Free”, “Go to Hell” and “Queen of Light”) and have the skills to deliver live too. What I specifically liked about their live show is that they are not over-the-top fast and don’t have too many fantasy-themed lyrics and visuals like some of the bands that are mere comedy acts that give the power metal genre a bad name. On Tuesday evening in Roppongi, Induction focused on putting on a great metal show.

While Kai Hansen and Ralf Scheepers have toured Japan with Helloween and Primal Fear, it has been quite a while since Gamma Ray toured Japan. Gamma Ray has had a few musicians come and go with band leader Kai Hansen the only constant member. Kai was on fire this evening! He seemed happy to be in Japan again to perform with Gamma Ray. He is not only a great guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is also an entertainer and a smart band leader. Bringing back original vocalist Ralf Scheepers (who was in the band 1989-94 and sang on the first three albums) as a special guest on five songs for the Tokyo show, was a smart move. Ralf, to the enthusiastic crowd’s delight, performed four songs from Gamma Ray’s 1990 debut album “Heading for Tomorrow”: “Lust for Life”, “The Silence”, “Heading for Tomorrow” and, of course, “Heaven Can Wait” which was the final song of the evening. During the show, he also sang the song “One with the World” from the band’s second album, 1991’s “Sign No More”. Ralf has a fantastic and powerful voice and hearing him perform these Gamma Ray favourites again was such a treat.

Gamma Ray is often called power metal. But throughout the band’s career, they have shown us more variety than that. They are an excellent heavy metal band in a proud German tradition. Having three terrific and very different singers (Kai Hansen, Frank Beck, Ralf Scheepers) sharing lead vocals at this gig was a great advantage and helped to make the show more varied. The current touring line-up of Gamma Ray is world-class. Bassist Dirk Schlächter is solid and has been there almost since the beginning of the band. Michael Ehré was back on drums having missed the recent Latin American tour due to illness. Finnish guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen (U.D.O., Beast in Black, Amberian Dawn) again filled in for Henjo Richter (who is still recovering from a car accident). Kasperi performed with a big smile on his face throughout the whole gig.

Apart from the songs Ralf guested on, an obvious highlight of the show was the fantastic “Master of Confusion” from 2014’s “Empire of the Undead”. “Dethrone Tyranny” (from the 2001 album “No World Order”) and “Send Me a Sign” (from 1999’s “Power Plant”) were fun reminders of classic power metal. This was an excellent evening in the name of heavy metal.