Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Okay then, here's part two...............

Konnichiwa Tokyo, We’re Jesus Jones…and we’re back.Oh great. Another four hours of fitful sleep should stand me in good stead for the rigours of another day in Japan…The day starts with a brief stroll around the Akasaka area: it’s changed a great deal since we were here last, lots of new development, most of it connected to high finance. It’s an area of Tokyo which equates quite nicely to the City of London, wide roads, office blocks and tiny pockets of shops to provide for the legions of salary men. The place is also ludicrously clean: not a speck of litter in sight. Our bus journey to the gig site is another chance to marvel at the sheer spectacle of Tokyo: the buildings seem to be so much larger- both in size and spirit. This is a place that has a great deal of confidence-and it loves to make that point clear. This confidence never seems to border on the arrogant though; it’s done with too much pride.
Tonight’s gig is an even bigger “barn” than yesterday, with a slightly different set-up. In Osaka, the two stages were at opposite ends of the venue, here; they are in the two corners on one side. It all means we set up whilst Pleymo are absolutely rocking it about fifty yards to our right. Pleymo are a bit of a revelation for me; I’d never heard of them before but resolve to seek out some CD’s. They seem to be French, yet the singer has a fluent command of Japanese- this enables the band to connect with the audience and fire them up. Yet, even with this rabid reaction, there is still the silence between songs. Now I realise: we have to get the crowd going, make them go crazy- whilst understanding that the silent reaction is just the way they are. But this knowledge might not be enough to secure a good gig: we’ve got major problems with the computer. All of our samples, which once meant we carried a huge flight case around, housing a huge bank of samplers, can now be fitted onto a laptop. We’ve got a laptop on stage to provide all of the samples…and it doesn’t want to work. It’s crashing repeatedly. Looking at our watches, then the crowds, we realise that in 30 minutes, 20,000 people might be forced to endure a dramatically shortened set with no big tunes (Right Here, Real, Who Where Why) and other crucial samples missing. Sean and Maki look on, powerless, as Mike and I struggle with the problem. With 20 minutes to go, I have a tiny thought: try loading the set from last night, which was shorter, but loaded fine yesterday. It Loads fine again. Then another thought: well, if a shorter set loads, maybe it’s a memory problem. I run and tell Mike, who at this point is trying to warm up for a disastrous gig. We sit and divide the set into two smaller chunks to see if it will help. Hallelujah! The set loads. We must have been about 500kb into territory where the program was beginning to disintegrate: dividing into two has solved the problem. We look at each other and laugh out of sheer amazement: a second later, we’re in each other’s arms, hugging tightly. The relief is a palpable feeling.
Time to get changed. Time to rock!
The gig is great from start to finish…I was right about the audience; they just needed firing up a bit. So, from the outset, we’re bounding around like loos, clambering over the PA (me), letting out huge rock screams (mike), and scaring the beejesus out of the camera crew (oh, that’s me again). The film of the gig (which we watch afterwards) is awesome; hopefully it’ll end up on the band site at some point in the future! It’s a complete contrast to yesterdays gig as we walk off stage in a state of near-euphoria.
We were planning to leave the venue about 30 minutes after the show, a decision reached after reflecting on last night’s events. Now however, the agenda has changed somewhat. Time to drink some beer. Limo, Kim and Megumi Dan have made it to hostility (that’s hospitality, folks) so we wander off and say hello before finally collapsing on the bus about 2 hours later than planned. After watching the video (phew, no major gaffes) we plan tonight’s activities. Jez wants to stay in and eat spag bol, his hotel meal of choice, the rest of us have different ideas. A quick shower, then it’s down to the bar. Plans are eventually hatched to go get food, we find a restaurant that serves a Japanese approximation of tapas: lots of little dishes to explore. We get some yakitori, noodles, agedashi tofu, Kara age and oknomiyaki. This last one I’ve had before, it’s a Japanese pancake made with egg and vegetables- but tonight’s comes with flakes of tuna on the top. These dance and move in the heat and make it look as if they’re alive (which they aren’t); I’ve always aid that there’s one thing a day in Japan which will freak you out- moving food is definitely it for today. We return to the hotel for a nightcap but they’ve shut the bar: we turn 180 degrees and head back to whence we came. Our final night in Japan sees us toasting the success of the weekend with cassis and Ume (Japanese plum wine).
I wake at about 6am, with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. It takes me a little while to work out that this time I’m really going to miss this place: we haven’t really been here for long enough. Another bus ride and we’re back at Narita Airport for the flight home.

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