The pack of wolves, MAN WITH A MISSION, returned to LA for the first time since their last tour four years ago and gave the crowd a vigorous show unlike anything they’d seen before. With two songs hot off the press for the latest season of Demon Slayer, the band was eager to show fans that the dog days of 2020-2022 were over. Both local and Japanese fans stood in a long line that wrapped around The Regent Theater to get the best spot in the venue.
Wasting no time, the five performers kicked off the night with Log Horizon’s “database.” Given their 14-year discography, the wolves had no shortage of songs to pick from. Having just riled up the entire venue with an anisong, they continued to encourage the crowd’s fist pumping with the metal track, “Welcome to the Newworld.” Knowing the crowd was a mix of both general rock and anime fans, MAN WITH A MISSION diversified the setlist with original music, anime songs, and original music throughout the two hours.
After covering AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and performing an intense rendition of their melodic nu metal song, “Emotions,” they took some time to address the crowd. “Four years ago, were you guys there? We waited for you guys too,” said guitarist Jean-Ken Johnny. Their last performance was also at The Regent, though the quintet had previously played at two other famous historic LA venues: Whisky a Go Go and The Roxy. Nearly a decade and a half ago, the pack found a receptive community that looked past their furry exterior and remained their loyal fans today.
Even for those who have never heard of the Japanese rock band before, no one is immune to their infectious guitar riffs and slamming percussion. Anime fans in the tightly packed crowd jumped to some of their favorite opening and ending themes, but the clear crowd favorite song was Vinland Saga’s “Dark Crow.” A mosh pit was beginning to form towards the stage, but luckily the band decided to take a quick break before the audience could start slamming into each other.
Riding on the pulsing energy, DJ Santa Monica and Spare Ribs played remix of “Thriller” as an interlude to keep the crowd on their toes. While three members stepped away for the song, the remaining two attempted their best moonwalk to follow them off the stage. Then, a video—titled Spear Rib Fierce Animal Tohoku Safari Park—showed a skit featuring Tokyo Tanaka alongside his bandmate in a comedy bit. Instead of going to the safari, Tokyo Tanaka derails Spare Rib’s plans and takes him to the Ebisu Circuit Course. As Tanaka speeds around the course, Spear Rib does his best to draw them as they drift in the car. Surprisingly, his illustration turns out great as they are depicted as two handsome men, despite all the motion.
“You guys react more than the Japanese audience,” laughed Johnny. As he switched to an acoustic guitar, he reminisced on how many times they’ve played in this city. He was taken aback by the size of the crowd who had come to see MAN WITH A MISSION for the first time. After spending a quick minute to interact with the crowd, Johnny explained why they showed the clip from before. “We have problems with our furs. It’s hot as hell on stage. So, we have to take a tiny break.”
Slipping into the melodic “Evergreen,” Johnny shared how the song is about eternity. “We’re creatures and we know that nothing lasts forever. Music means everything to us, and we know it does for you too.”
Switching gears, the members took their positions on stage, ready for the next set of fierce tracks. Likewise, Gundam fans were ready to break out their Iron Blooded Orphan flags ahead of “Blaze.” Not just one, but two people hovered their banners over the second-floor ledge for the series’ opening theme song “Raise Your Flag.” Being hardcore rock fans themselves, the pack dialed the energy down during their cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“Los Angeles is probably the city we visit the most out of the whole wide world,” said Johnny. “I have no idea how many times I’ve been to LA but every time you guys amaze us. Thank you.” Cheers and shouts poured endlessly from the crowd. The audience was so rowdy that Johnny playfully suggested, “Could you guys shut up for a little bit? Just kidding.” The crowd erupted in laughter until Johnny teased the beginning chords to the song they’ve all been waiting for, “Kizuna no Kiseki.”
Ending the main setlist with the heavy metal track, “INTO THE DEEP,” the wolves took their leave. As the audience demanded “one more song,” howls echoed the densely packed floor. Responding to their fans’ rallying cry, the five members came back on stage for “Take Me Under,” which sounds like a cousin of Green Day’s “American Idiot.”
Moshers had their moment to shine with the last song “FLY AGAIN.” Aggressively colliding against each other to the rap rock anthem, fans let their inhibitions go as the show ended. The group mentioned they had a policy to not take pictures, but they let the crowd take as much as they wanted. During this segment, the five members covered their faces with their towels as the house turned up the back lighting. Their goodbyes served as a reminder to fans that they’ll have to keep the wolves at bay until the next exhilarating show.
- WELCOME TO THE NEWWORLD
- Seven Deadly Sins
- All You Need
- Dark Crow
DJ Santa Monica and Spare Ribs jam outro
Spare Ribs and Tokyo Tanaka sketch video
Short MC section
- Between fiction and friction I
- Get Off of My Way
- Smells like Teen Spirit
- Raise your flag
- Kizuna no Kiseki
- INTO THE DEEP
- Take Me Under
- FLY AGAIN -Hero’s Anthem-