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TORA TORA In New Bedford, MA

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 @ 6:25 AM

At The Vault Music Hall & Pub At Greasy Luck August 18th, 2019

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The weather on Sunday August 18th was warm but not unbearably so. As TORA TORA rode into New Bedford, MA for the last of their three Northeastern weekend shows, I was really looking forward to checking out the band, not realizing just how much heat they'd bring to the stage. I'd mostly missed out on their "Walkin' Shoes" heyday but after reviewing their latest release Bastards of Beale (See the review HERE), I knew that when I saw the show announced I wanted to be there.

I had gotten a press pass arranged for me but due to a snafu my name was left off the list. But again, I really wanted to see the show so I PAID my way in and got treated to one hellaciously fantastic performance.

Prior to the show, I was hanging out at Purchase Street Records. My friend Roger owns the shop and the band all came over with him to the shop. I took advantage of that opportunity to have VERY brief chats with the band and got my CD booklet for Bastards of Beale signed by each of them. (And yes, I shameless self-promoted the fact that I'd reviewed the album for KNAC.COM, which guitarist Keith Douglas responded to by saying he was pretty sure he'd read the review).

Once I got into The Vault, Roger's band SAN DIMAS hit the stage to warm up the crowd. Being a Sunday night concert, the bill featured just SAN DIMAS and TORA TORA rather than trying to pack extra (and usually unnecessary) bands on stage.

SAN DIMAS plays 80's rock and metal covers and though I've seen them a few times, they do manage to surprise me with a revolving set list each time I've been at a show. They opened up with POISON's "Look What The Cat Dragged In", which was a song I wouldn't have expected but it was a damn good rendition.

At one point, the BULETBOYS were supposed to be on the bill, but they ended up not playing so SAN DIMAS performed "Smooth Up In Ya" in their stead. I thought their version of EUROPE's "The Final Countdown" sounded great, especially since it was a bit more rocked up in pace since the band doesn't feature a keyboard player. That song closed the band's set but I do want to point out that I loved hearing them perform Billy Squier's "In The Dark". It is a song that comes with a bit of expectation for SAN DIMAS to nail considering Roger's uncle Bobby Chouinard was Squier's longtime drummer. No fear there, they did in fact nail it and overall, SAN DIMAS had a set that definitely got the crowd revved up in anticipation for the night's headliner.

Set List

  • "Look What the Cat Dragged In" (Poison)
  • "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" (Journey)
  • "Big Guns" (Skid Row)
  • "Nobody's Fool" (Cinderella)
  • "Smooth Up In Ya" (Bulletboys)
  • "In The Dark" (Billy Squier)
  • "Big City Nights" (Scorpions)
  • "Gettin' Better" (Tesla)
  • "Sister Christian" (Night Ranger)
  • "Lay It Down" (Ratt)
  • "The Final Countdown" (Europe)
After a brief intermission, TORA TORA took the stage in a kind of unassuming fashion. Oddly, whomever was responsible for bringing the printed setlists to lay down on the stage forgot them so bassist Patrick Francis left the stage to get them. While that delay could've been just so much standing around, singer Anthony Corder ended up launching into an acoustic song that I couldn't place while I was there at the show. I had to come home and do a bit of research to learn that (barring a mistake on my part) that the song played was "Rescue Me" from their Revolution Day album. It wasn't part of the set list that was played either of the two preceding nights so the delay became a boon because the audience got to hear one extra song from the band!

Still touring behind their Bastards of Beale album, once the show kicked off in full the band opened up with an excellent rendition of the track from the disc called "Giants Fall". I'm not sure how many people in attendance had heard the new album but standing front and center right in front of the stage, I was ensnared in the band's bluesy and soulful hard rocking sound from start to finish.

I've made no secret of the fact that the material released after Surprise Attack and before Bastards of Beale is mostly unfamiliar to me. But I reckon I can truly say that didn't matter much on this night. The songs in the setlist from Wild America and Revolution Day albums might not have been burned into my brain beforehand but after hearing "Mississippi Voodoo Child", "Lay Your Money Down" and "Dead Man's Hand" for the first time last night, the first thing I did when I got home was look into purchasing the albums online. The songs were that damn good.

I don't know if I'm supposed to be surprised at how good the band sounds like now that they are 30 years into their career but it isn't lost on me that they did sound fantastic. Keith Douglas manages to wail on the guitar without getting all that demonstrably showy about his talents. Drummer John Patterson was the first guy I talked to before the show at the record shop and I loved getting to watch him perform during the show as well. Singer Anthony Corder performs great not only as a singer (sweeping the listener into each song) but as the frontman exhorting the crowd to clap or sing along as is called for and telling short little stories to greater inform the material.

To particularly great effect, TORA TORA played five songs off of Bastards of Beale during their set and each one managed to increase the love I have for the tracks from their studio versions. The songs "Rose of Jericho", "Sons of Zebedee" and an incendiary run through of "Son of a Prodigal Son" made an especially great argument for the notion of more bands playing more of the new material when they go out on tour. Corder mentioned that the video for "Son of a Prodigal Son" was filmed at the same club where the band filmed the video for "Walkin' Shoes".

If you are wondering where any negative criticism of the show is, you will be wasting your time looking for it. Not only was I completely into the show each and every step of the way, I couldn't help but abandon some review impartiality when I found myself moved to sing along with "Love's A Bitch" or when the band brought the house down with their closing victory lap performance of "Walkin' Shoes".

It likely hasn't been an easy road to hoe for TORA TORA over the width and breadth of their three decades but after what I witnessed at The Vault in New Bedford, I'm left wondering why more bands can't put forth this kind of effort into their performance. TORA TORA had me in the palm of their hands all night long and it was an electrifying show I won't soon forget.

Set List

  • "Rescue Me"
  • "Giants Fall"
  • "28 Days"
  • "Amnesia"
  • "Guilty"
  • "Mississippi Voodoo Child"
  • "Rose of Jericho"
  • "Dead Man's Hand"
  • "Love's A Bitch"
  • "Phantom Rider"
  • "Nowhere To Go"
  • "Sons of Zebedee"
  • "Son of a Prodigal Son"
  • "Bastards of Beale"
  • "Walkin' Shoes"
CONCERT NOTES: During "Son of a Prodigal Son", Anthony Corder worked the crowd shaking hands along the front including me. After the show was over and I was leaving, I spoke briefly to Patrick Francis outside of the venue. Oh, and I added a band shirt for the Surprise Attack album to my T-shirt collection.

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