35 Years of Japan Mods Mayday

May 17th 2015 was the 35th anniversary of Japan Mods Mayday, held as always in Club Citta, Kawasaki (there is a sister event in Nagoya) – so how was it? Was it a celebration of past glories? Was it a summary or assessment of the current Mod scene’s vitality? Was it a brave shout to the future, a cry that Mod is not just here to stay, but also to grow stronger?
Well, let’s see …
(photos: The 56789s, and Yoshiko with Lui Bluesface)

The obvious crowd-puller of Mods Mayday was the return of the 5678s after six years. This time, they were billed as the 56789s, because of the addition of legendary keyboardist Morgan Fisher, and their set also included a cameo appearance from soul singer Lui Bluesface. Strangely enough, they weren’t the headlining band; that honor was taken by the Ska Flames.
In this anniversary year, other notable bands that appeared on stage where The Standards, The Boss, The Hammond Connection and The Blue Beat Players, among a large number of lesser-known bands and DJs spinning vintage vinyl. So, going back to one of the initial questions – how much of Mods Mayday is a snapshot of the Mod scene right now?
(photos: Gen Shiraogawa of The Standards – with badges – courtesy of Junko Shoji)

The Standards and The Boss are perhaps the clearest representatives of British Mod as defined in the late Seventies, (actually Neo-Mod – the loose Jam/Secret Affair/Two Tone coalition), while the cover versions, DJ sets, and vintage clothing stalls from stores such as Young Soul Rebels and Ipcress Lounge provide plenty of original Sixties vibes. That’s only a small part of the total Mods Mayday experience, however. Over the last few years, attendees have noted the prevalence of Ska and Bluebeat bands who habitually headline the event. This year, The 5678s returned, but they are more associated with Tarantino/surf rock/Cramps/psychobilly rather than Mod. Morgan Fisher is an extremely diverse musician, but he started out with Mott the Hoople – ten years after Mod originated and five years before the Neo-Mod movement.
My personal opinion seems to be that Tokyo Mods Mayday says more about the diversity of the Tokyo music scene in general rather than a specific celebration of Mod and Modernism. Maybe that’s obvious, but Morgan Fisher appeared because he’s a long-term resident of Japan (been here since 1985) and personal friend of the 5678s – and so is Manabu Dove, the main organizer of Mods Mayday itself.
If the organizers (including Mr. Dove) have neither the funds nor the inclination to draw big name Mod bands from abroad – such as The Moons, French Boutique or the reformed Secret Affair – then perhaps this is a sign of the future, as well as a snapshot of the present. Japan Mods Mayday is JAPAN Mods Mayday – Japan, in all its many guises and moods.

For more information, see QUADNET … coming soon …
and for some Modernist SF, with the adventures of Jimmy Diamond, Mod detective, go here.

About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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