Gig Reviews

Praying Mantis in Tokyo

NWOBHM legends Praying Mantis returned to Tokyo to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary on its farewell (?) tour.

Praying Mantis at Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan on 5th June 2024

What a night! More than 50 years after the band was founded in London, Praying Mantis was back on stage in Tokyo. With a new album and a band on top form performing in front of a high-energy Japanese crowd, this was going to be great. And, yes, the band didn’t disappoint.

Praying Mantis has always been more melodic than many of the bands lumped together under the New Wave of British Heavy Metal umbrella. Musically and geographically, NWOBHM was all over the place. Praying Mantis was at the forefront of the NWOBHM movement, together with fellow London bands Iron Maiden, Samson and Angel Witch. Notably, over the years, three former Iron Maiden members – Dennis Stratton, Paul Di’Anno and Clive Burr – have been members of Praying Mantis.

The current line-up of Praying Mantis is led by Tino Troy (guitar) and Chris Troy (bass), the brothers who co-founded the band in 1973. They are joined in today’s version by fellow Londoner Andy Burgess on guitar and, since 2013, Dutchmen John Cuijpers on vocals and Hans in ’t Zandt on drums. It is a splendid version of the band.

In Tokyo, they delivered a show that clocked in at two hours and ten minutes. 19 songs. Those 130 minutes on stage were pure bliss for the band and its audience. The setlist was close to perfection and the delivery was world class. The band members had big smiles on their faces throughout the show. Mantis has always had a loyal following of fans in Japan.  That was evident as the audience knew the lyrics to all the songs.

They opened the Tokyo show with a trio of legendary Mantis songs – “Praying Mantis”, “Panic in the Streets” and “Cry for the New World”. We got a show with the best songs of the band’s past and present. Newer songs such as “Defiance”, “Standing Tall”, “Cry for the Nations”, “Keep It Alive” and “Believable” stood up very well to the old classics in the set. The show had no dips and fillers. A few notable peaks were “Time Slipping Away”, “Rise Up Again”, “Borderline” and “Children of the Earth”.

With the show, and encore, over and done, the band returned to the stage and performed a tremendous version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”. What a gem of an evening this turned out to be. The tour has been billed as a farewell tour, but not even the band seemed so sure about that. This band has still got it. I would not be surprised to see them return to perform in Japan in the coming years. The music deserves to be performed and these lads can still deliver. There is clearly an audience for it here in Japan.

Photo credit: ShimaZi