Beatles in Tokyo – Abbey Road vs. Cavern Club

Beatles in Tokyo - Abbey Road vs. Cavern ClubBeatles music fans in Tokyo are spoiled for choice, with not just one, but two Beatles covers bars, both based in Roppongi. These are theme live houses, with Japanese Beatles look-a-like bands playing covers all night long. Abbey Road and the Cavern Club are located only a few hundred meters from each other, and are both packed to the eyeballs every night.

But according to “Docchi no Beatles-Bar Stippy” which is the better choice for a night out?

The 1960′s in Japan was famous for the Tokyo Olympics, the opening of the first Shinkansen, and Beatlemania. Abbey Road and the Cavern Club on a Friday night provide real flashbacks of this era with many of the clientèle “dankai-sedai” babyboomer salarymen. As the Beatles harmonize on the stage late in to the evening, many of these patrons can been seen sporting their neckties tied around their foreheads, staring toward the stage but with a distant look in their eyes, reminiscing about the past.

Despite the band members being Japanese and not speaking native English, for the most part they are surprisingly authentic in staying true to the original. silverbeats1.jpgThey really give the impression that each of the band members completely live and breathe the Beatles. In traditional Japanese fashion, they have practised and learned to play the instruments impeccably, and every note is perfect throughout the Beatles extensive catalogue. This is particularly striking in the Cavern Club, which has superb acoustics, and the solo of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is so precise and full in sound that it is worth going just for that.

Both The Parrots at Abbey Road, and The Silver Beats at the Cavern Club have their star member of the band, who really makes it come alive. And in both cases, this member is John. Hidemasa Mabuchi from the Silver Beats has an uncannily resemblance to John Lennon. At only 27, he plays is a Rubber Soul era John, complete with the mop-top haircut, and the shaking of the head made famous in Twist and Shout. He commands a strong stage presence despite his age, and is a natural star.

colour-john2.jpgMamori Yoshi (Chappy) of the Parrots on the other hand, at 53, is an older era John, with the more respectable haircut, the round glasses, and gestures are identical to John from that period, right down to the over-bite singing style. He is established as world-famous John Lennon, and appears to love every minute on stage. He has an extremely strong voice which John himself would be jealous of, which is only done justice on certain tunes. His superior instrumental and vocal skills, as well as leadership of the band have made the Parrots world famous, and they have been asked to open for bands such as the Arctic Monkeys, who are huge Parrots fans.

Both the Johns are stars. It is the remaining members, and the atmosphere and food of the two clubs which separates them.

Akihiro Matsuyama, who plays George at Abbey Road is a delight to watch. The prodege of Yoshi, he is so precise on every note, and makes obvious effort to enunciate each word perfectly. Both Ringo’s have solid drums, and their vocals are pleasantly off key. Kame-chan at the Cavern Club has developed a cult following due to his average voice and enthusiasm. But the area where both these bands fall down is Paul. cha2.jpgSuch an integral part of the band, yet while both musicians are talented, neither are as authentic as the other members, which is a shame for those seeking a true Beatles experience.

In musical terms, Stippy rates Abbey Road as the better of the two. However it loses a lot of ground in other areas. The food and drink is expensive, and they don’t serve tap beers. 1500 yen for a bottle of Grolsch is just too much. The food is also expensive, and tastes average at best. It is the band which makes for an enjoyable night.

The Cavern Club has a more underground, crowded, and cosy atmosphere. They sell pitchers of beer at reasonable cost, and the food is all home-made and delicious. The acoustics reverberate extremely through well through the club. For atmosphere and dinner, Cavern Club is the better of the two by a long shot.

For more information, click for the homepages of Abbey Road, and the Cavern Club.

rogo.jpg Cavern Club Logo

21 thoughts on “Beatles in Tokyo – Abbey Road vs. Cavern Club”

  1. The two remaining Beatles, Paul and Ringo were interviewed on Larry King Live yesterday. Larry seemed to know nothing about them, and even called Ringo George! Ringo plays the drums. The Walrus was Paul. And George is no longer with us. Nice one Larry.

  2. sounds great – I’m keen to check it out / maybe even both. Are you allowed in if you are less than 55 years old? Back in the day I used to hang out in a pretty cool 70s bar in Akasaka. I wonder if it is still around…

    What sort of food do they have at Cavern club?

  3. Are you kidding?!! Gordon, who plays Paul at Abbey Road, is sensational. His Hey Jude and Let it be are unimpeachable.

  4. Guy, actually I agree, that on a set few songs where he is solo on the keyboard such as those two, he is very good. But he just lacks the mojo, wow-factor, and cohesion with the rest of the band to make them something better. Which do you prefer of the two bars?

  5. Bone, I hate to say it, but despite something like 40 visits to Abbey Road over the last 7 years I have never once been to the Cavern. Too happy with the Parrots! I really ought to get down there.

    BTW, did you know Amigo had left the Parrots about 1 month ago? I saw the new guy on his third gig – not too bad, but lacking Amigo’s deft touch. I am hoping he’ll improve on the job.

  6. Guy, you havent been to the Cavern Club! Actually, I went to Abbey Road many times before going there too, but it was a good time, slightly different atmosphere, and nice to have another option. I suggest you check it out!

    Didnt know about Amigo either, looking forward to seeing the new guy.

  7. As a long-time Parrots fan, (especially “Chappy”), I frequented The Cavern Club 1992-1996 and then visited Abbey Road on occasion until 2001. Glad to hear The Parrots and the Silver Beats are going strong — Sorry to learn that Amigo left The Parrots… I still recognize one member in each group.

    By the way, The Broadwoods — who perform at Mr Moonlight in Hong Kong — is another Japanese Beatles tribute band worth a listen.

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  10. Nice post, I was glad to discover it while Googling for the Cavern. My wife and I spent a whole night at the Cavern back in 2000 while on our honeymoon. We planned to go club-hopping that night, but ended up staying at the Cavern the entire evening we had such a good time (we’re huge Beatles’ fans). We loved the disconnect of hearing the band banter in Japanese then launch into note- and phonetic-perfect renditions of Beatles songs! Glad to know the club is still going strong. Was Abbey Road there in 2000?

  11. To the best of my knowledge, Roppongi’s Abbey Road started up in the mid-1990s. Cavern Club was well established before I discovered it in 1992!

    Would love to get an update on both venues and current status of the bands… I miss Chappy!

  12. What is the age limit to get into either venue.
    My 13 year old is a beatle freak and would love to see these bands when we are next visiting tokyo

  13. I took the lead photograph in this article as part of a series on The Silver Beats that I did for Rolling Stone some years back. This article must have culled it from my website when my full article was on-line on my website. The band has sadly broken up in the last year (2008-2009), but there is still great Beatles to be heard in Roppongi. In a short film I made about The Silver Beats, Eric (John) talked about his dream of someday playing in Liverpool. I’m happy to report that his band did get to play there and they even had a number of US dates supporting The Killers. More info? Contact me via http://www.jasonwhiton.com or http://www.spyvibe.com.

  14. We went last night and loved it. They were all good ! We were the loud Ausies.. Origami , agreat night out!!
    Peter

  15. Cavern Club is closed permanently (sign is still on building but the club has been replaced), so I recommend Abbey Road. In addition, Abbey Road recommendations recommended & only go if you are celebrating a birthday. They wasted 10 minutes of the set singing happy birthday to each person.

  16. i have an original kimono given to me by mamori yoshii from the parrots the first time they played in liverpool england would anybody know the best way to list for sale as i have had it packed away for the last 15 years and could be a great piece of memoribila for a parrots fan

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