Van Halen – Tokyo’s On Fire (Zodiac 001)

van_halen_tokyo_on_fireTokyo’s On Fire (Zodiac 001)

Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan – June 22, 1978

(72:43) Intro, On Fire, I’m The One, Bass Solo, Runnin’ With The Devil, Atomic Punk, Little Dreamer, Down In Flames, Feel Your Love Tonight, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Ice Cream Man, Somebody Get Me A Doctor, Eruption, D.O.A., You Really Got Me, Bottoms Up

Van Halen played eight concerts on their first trip to Japan, four of them being in the Capital city, Tokyo. The last of the four dates is featured here, it is also the inaugural release from the Zodiac label. The recording is a very good to excellent audience source, clear, well balanced and defined, this is a beautiful analog source with perhaps the only drawback being just a tad bit of tape hiss, the mastering is excellent and comes from the master tape. This concert has been released before as Sonic Tokyo (Chase The Dragon CTD 001), Don’t Ever Set Me Free (BANG-019/20), and recently Zodiac has re released the title as Tokyo’s On Fire (Zodiac 142) with slightly different covers.

The band use an intro that is reminiscent of KISS, “Alright Tokyo…The Mighty Van Halen” and launch into the one two punch of On Fire and I’m The One. This being the second night at the Sun Plaza the sound is perfect right off the bat, the band are tight and all instruments and both lead and backing vocals are perfect, really nice to hear Michael Anthony’s bass is nice in the mix and you can really enjoy his playing. Dave tells the audience  “We’re just getting started here…the night is young” and Anthony gets his solo spot first as an intro to Runnin’ With The Devil, sounds like he took solo lessons from Gene Simmons. Runnin’ gets the audience movin’ and they respectfully clap along with the band. With a full headline set to do, the band would utilize songs they had in the repertoire since their club days, songs that would eventually find their way on record in some fashion.  Down In Flames is an unreleased song that was a part of their live set. It features the intro they would use on their next record as part of You’re No Good and the main riff would make up the song Tattoo on the Different Kind Of Truth record some 34 years later. The playing is excellent, it has a trippy middle section that is like the intro with Dave doing some of his trademark wails overtop, very cool.

Dave gets his solo spot on Ice Cream Man, his natural charisma is a hit with the audience, even with the language barrier they clap and cheer with the music. Eddie’s solo, Eruption, is blistering as one would expect and leads into a set ending version of the as of yet unreleased D.O.A. with slightly different lyrics. The encores are You Really Got Me and also the unreleased Bottoms Up, the latter finds Eddie getting carried away and he plays a loose version of the song, Dave evens gets a quick bit of audience participation in. These early Van Halen shows are excellent, their enthusiasm to play in front of people coupled with their years of playing bars has honed their act into perfection, this is the sound of new music rising from the ashes of early 70’s hard rock, music that would balance the scales to the soft rock that was prevalent on the radio.

For their first title, Zodiac did something special with the packaging, while the full color professional looking inserts are standard for the label, they would also include a concert poster, advertisement, and ticket stub, very nice. The recording is excellent, the packaging is excellent and the label started off with a bang. This is an excellent title to have, certainly appeals to the casual collectors as well.   

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