Band Blog

Japan Tour Managers Blog – Part 3

Friday April 25th signalled the start of our foray out of Tokyo. I for one was glad to leave the mayhem behind and, after schlepping across town via taxis and on a local train to the main Tokyo station, we settled down in the comfortable seats of the Shinkansen for the 3 hour trip to Osaka. I never tire of going on the Shinkansen, once the mad scramble of getting all the gear and bags on board in about 2 minutes flat is over. There is loads of room, and trolleys coming by selling great food and drink. It’s an obsession in Japan to try as many new things as possible – I have long since got over the amusement of drinks called “Pocari Sweat” and have graduated to more exotic ones, my current favourite beinga mixture of Yuzu berries and lemon.

Once at Osaka, we piled into one of the few minibus-taxis still operating ( most Japanese cabbies are very accommodating in dealing with a band and their gear by the way ) and legged it to the club – Sunsui, where we played on the 2007 “Cut Out & Keep” tour. I went on an espresso run for various people ( a vital part of the manager’s day ) whilst the band set up, and the soundcheck was smoothness itself. Luckily the hotel was a few minutes walk up the street, and I noted they had something called the “Viking Breakfast” which I earmarked for investigation the following morning. A few hours kip was needed as the night before in Tokyo had been a 3 am job in the end, but I awoke refreshed and ready to walk down to the show with Jez. The club was already quite full and the support band 8 Otto – complete with singing drummer – were warming up the punters with some rock and roll which was clearly madness itself, involving a final jazz-rock jam with a lot of bellowing to finish the set.

I had a premonition that someone would break a string and faffed about a bit at the side of the stage working out what to do if one actually broke. Luckily the show passed off without incident and the crowd were great as usual – fantastic sound and lights once again. A couple of songs were dropped – the slower ones mainly – and we all felt the set was a lot tighter. Afterwards, the band hung out in the bar and once again met up with Michiko, and also our friend Yuka who is famed for having come to the very strange gig the band played at Stripes Bar in Brentford ( know as the “reality check gig” as it was the first one back from the first Japanese tour ) a few years ago. She now works at Tower Records in Osaka and as well as being very nice is also very useful. Michiko also gave me a present of some breath mints. I don’t know what that means. We wandered the streets and found a great restaurant that served pots of stew and Udon noodles, and some very welcome lager. The great thing about restaurants like this is that it is all very casual. You tell them how much you want to spend and they tell you when to stop ordering!

The next morning I emerged from the hotel’s breakfast room having had a cold boiled egg, some toast and margarine. In a classic “Japanese moment”, I had failed to spot that the much-advertised “Viking Breakfast” was served on a completely different floor. Ho hum. Cabs arrived, and it was off to the station for the short trip to one of our favourite towns, Okayama. I spent most of the cab journey in one of my favourite pastimes, which is “goading the midget vegetarian bass player”. How I enjoy a lively debate at the start of the day with someone unable to resist rising to the bait – and of course, any form of rising is to be encouraged in Michelle’s case.