In front of eight thousand ecstatic Japanese fans, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry, Rudolf Schenker, Johnny Depp, Phil Collen and Joe Elliott, Richie Sambora and Orianthi, Tesla and Cheap Trick performed live. The house band was made up of Rob and Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), drummer Ray Luzier (Korn) and Tommy Hendriksen (Doro/Alice Cooper/Hollywood Vampires) - and it was all hosted by Dave Mustaine, with Jimmy Page making a special appearance to present the award to Beck.
To mark the Awards’ move to Japan, the show included a special Eastern awards segment and featured performances from bands from Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, including Yoshiki, Slot Machine, Sarah Geronimo, Band-Maid and Bamboo.
The best bits? There were too many to mention. Phil Collen’s bluesy version of Purple’s Mistreated, the house band’s gorgeous take on Led Zeppelin’s Dancing Days, the balls-out rock’n’roll of Depp’s own Bad As I Am, a song that could’ve appeared on a Motorhead album. Phil Collen singing a Stone Temple Pilots song. Schenker windmilling his way through the ending for Rock You Like A Hurricane. I Ain’t Superstitious with Mustaine on guitar (Megadeth covered the song). A blistering School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall mashup. Joe Perry and Depp conjuring up a psychedelic, brooding Sweet Emotion. Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen coming back for a bruising Come Together. Train Kept A Rollin’ with the guitar army of Perry, Depp, Schenker, Hendriksen, and DeLeo.
Or Beck’s masterclass – Beck’s Bolero, Superstition and Going Down – his guitar playing, as abstract and explosive as a Jackson Pollock, ducking and weaving with Jeff Keith on Going Down in a fight that looked real till they hugged it up at the end.
A year ago even we laughed at doing the awards in Tokyo. It seemed like a pipe dream. Well you know what they say, don’t you: “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
T. E. Lawrence said that. of course, he didn’t think it would one day be applied to a bunch of American and British rock stars destroying the city of Tokyo’s hearing, but hey-ho. He shoulda thunk bigger, right?
All images Michiko Yamamoto.