May 15, 2020

Nostalgia is a huge part of the music business these days and we have seen any number of retro acts touring in support of their glory days – and now we have the welcome addition of bands taking to the road to play classic albums from their back catalogues. The latest is this rather wonderfully titled album by the Danish band Pretty Maids (how can you not smile at Maid In Japan?). They have been with us since 1981 and have always produced quality albums and, in many respects, they remain something of an undiscovered treasure and deserve a far bigger audience. Formed in Horsens, Denmark by Ronnie Atkins and Ken Hammer, they have gone on to have a successful and critically acclaimed career – especially so with their recent, quartet of triumphant albums Pandemonium, Motherland, Kingmaker and Undress Your Madness. I have made this point previously but, to me, they are Denmark’s Magnum, as they have always written strong material, and consistency about the music and performance has been their byword for quality. I suppose they have reached veteran status but they continue to improve and this is because of their zest for life, for their music and an occasional infusion of new blood so that they remain fresh and current. As long as the originators of the band in vocalist Ronnie Atkins (Paul Christensen) and the wonderfully named guitarist Ken Hammer (Kenneth Hansen) remain at the core then the essential Pretty Maids spark will remain lit. The newer guys are bassist Rene Shades (Rene Sehic) who joined in 20011 after a brief stint in 2004 and Chris Laney on keyboards and guitar who joined in 2016 with drums from Allan Sørensen, who was only in the band from 2017 to 2019.

As the title implies this CD/DVD/Bluray was recorded in Japan during their 2017/18 tour during which the band chose to play their Future World album in its entirety to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its release. The actual recording was done over two nights in Tokyo in November 2018. The set list is shown below with the gig kicking off with a short intro before the band opens up with the nine tracks from Future World though they are not played in actual CD running order. The band then play a further five tracks with Mother Of All Lies from Motherland, Kingmaker and Bulls Eye from Kingmaker, Little Drops Of Heaven from Pandemonium before closing with Sin Decade from the album of the same name. The enthusiasm with which the band approaches this live performance is equally matched by the audience, and both feed off each other making this a very special performance indeed. Pretty Maids delight the crowd with their all action, high intensity hard and heavy melodic rock with Ronnie Atkins on great form and singing as well as he ever has. He has great banter with the crowd, and shows that Pretty Maids is one hell of a live band and very much a band of the people. He truly is a stellar force in the rock world and he has a great foil in Ken Hammer who is simply sensational with his sublime guitar playing.

This is a night when all the stars and planets are aligned and the band are in imperious form, and the Japanese audience are in raptures delight as the band play Future World to perfection and the newer material is equally well received. This is a band that has humility, power, passion and drive and everything that they touch turns to gold. When in full flight, Pretty Maids are an elemental force and they take you on the ride of your life. Their albums are sublime but the music seems more endowed with raw, primal energy in the live format yet they control everything with ease and the glossy veneer remains in place to ensure the highest quality standards apply. You want rock, you got it, you want ballads, you got it. The concert footage is perfectly shot with a great sound and the list of DVD extras is incredible, making this an exceptional package and essential for fans and a neat place to start for new devotees.

Track list:-

Fw30 (Intro), Future World, We Came To Rock, Love Games, Yellow Rain, Loud ´N´ Proud, Rodeo, Needles In The Dark, Eye Of The Storm,  Long Way To Go, Mother Of All Lies, Kingmaker, Bull’s Eye, Little Drops Of Heaven, Sin-Decade.

Bonus on DVD and Blu-Ray:

The videos: Little Drops Of Heaven, Mother Of All Lies, Nuclear Boomerang, My Soul To Take, A Heart Without A Home, Kingmaker,

Face The World, Bull’s Eye, Last Beauty On Earth, Serpentine and Will You Still Kiss Me (When I See You In Heaven). Balingen Documentary and Japan Documentary. Interviews with Ronnie Atkins, Ken Hammer, Chris Laney and Rene Shades.