CHERRY BLOSSOMS AND CHEAP TRICK
JAPAN, APRIL 2001
Ive wanted to go back to Japan ever since my first visit there in October 1999 for Cheap Tricks last tour there. An amazing, colourful and fascinating country, I loved it there. The dates for the bands 11th tour of Japan were announced in mid January 2001 by which time Id already booked an 11 day trip to 5 shows in the US Midwest in early March. But, despite only having just under 3 weeks between getting back from Chicago and flying out to Tokyo, and despite the cost of another expensive trip in a short space of time, I booked flights and was Japan bound again!
Sat 31 March/Sun 1 April
The long journey started at 6.45am when I left my home in Leeds and my eventual destination was Nagoya. Got a bus to Leeds Station, a train to Manchester Airport and checked in for my Scandanavian Airlines (SAS) flight to Copenhagen in good time. The 90 minute flight was uneventful, though the SAS food was not your usual airline offering, it was both better and more imaginative. The airport at Copenhagen was very clean, stylish, and well Scandanavian! How else can I describe it? As at Manchester, I could use my KLM Royal Wing Card to relax in the executive lounge before catching my flight so all my flying with KLM and Northwest "does" have some benefits!
Of course I was waiting for the inevitable travel problem, and it came as my Tokyo bound plane taxied to the runway to take off, only to have to go back to the terminal for a fault to be investigated. However, the delay was only just over 30 minutes, minor in terms of some of my previous experiences, and we took off at 4.30pm local. The ten and a half hour overnight flight to Tokyos Narita Airport was long, particularly as I couldnt get any (much needed) sleep. I did see the movie "Meet the Parents", but couldnt be bothered with "Men of Honor". However, a couple of times during the dark hours there was much excitement near some of the windows of those still awake, and someone kindly let me peer out to see sheets of delicate, twinkling white light, the aurora borealis. Well, we were flying close to the Arctic Circle. Halfway through the flight I wondered why the hell I was doing this and then listened to some of "Silver" on my personal CD and remembered why! Again, good airline food during the flight.
Through customs and picked up my bag OK, and was met in the meeting area by Cheap Tracks famous Sushi Man! He had kindly driven out to meet me and take me into Tokyo. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm as we drove from the rural area where the airport is situated into the concrete environs of sprawling Tokyo. Despite the high rise, the traffic and the incessant rush of things, Tokyo looked great. Japanese signs everywhere, a few cherry trees in blossom, the Ginza, the Kibuki Theatre, people cycling on the sidewalks it was great to be back! Sushi Man kindly got me to Tokyo railway station and guided me through the crowded walkways to make sure I got onto the correct shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya. A little cloud obscured part of the top of Mt Fuji as the train passed by at about 150 mph, but I did get to see pretty much the whole of that majestic mountain topped with snow. Truly, one of "the" great sights on this world. The man sitting next to me spoke no English, yet swapped seats to let me sit by the window (and hence see Fuji better), bought me a bottle of cold Shizuoka tea from the refreshments trolley, and offered me food too. Amazing hospitality from a complete stranger. My attempts to converse using my Japanese phrase books and dictionary were pitifully bad, and he seemed not to understand a word Id tried to say!
Wonderful to see Mariko waiting for me on the platform at Nagoya, and it was a pleasure to get a taxi and take the 3-4 mile journey through downtown to our hotel. At last, my journey was over! I showered, and we chatted for a couple of hours, before we took a subway to Maris apartment so I could see the DirecTV "Silver" video. We walked from the subway through narrow back streets, and even walked past a small shrine en route. It looked beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine, with lines of red banners, and the small area was spotlessly clean. I took a few moments to stand in the sunshine, breathe in the air, and just take in the serenity of this quiet and peaceful place. This really felt like Japan After watching the 2 hr DirecTV video (the first time Id seen it), we walked back to near the subway and had a yakiniku (Korean BBQ) meal! Mmmm! And to cap off a long day, we went to an "English Karaoke Bar" near our hotel - of course karaoke originated in Japan. "Bruces" was a very small bar, long and narrow, on the 2nd floor of a building, and youd have trouble fitting 25 people in it. However, the equipment and range of English language rock and pop songs was phenomenal. We met two of Maris friends from tribute band Kiss-dolls there, and the 4 of us sang for probably a couple of hours. The bar had about ten CT songs (we did most of them), plus we went through a range of other bands songs too! Before leaving, I used the small bathroom. Was somewhat shocked when a small musical dolphin on a shelf started playing La Bamba whilst I was in there! Upon leaving I found that it was activated by the door lock! Bizarre. It was good to get back to the hotel and fall into bed a little before midnight, after a 27 hour day.
Mon 2 April Nagoya and Cheap Trick
Mari and I did some tourist stuff in the morning, going to Nagoya Castle, though Mari lives in Nagoya so I cant think that she was as excited by sightseeing as I was! The grounds to the Japanese style "castle" were pretty, and the reconstructed castle (the original was destroyed in 1945) offered great views across the sprawling city. Early afternoon saw us back to the hotel, vie Central Park in downtown Nagoya. With space at a premium in Japan, it was actually a sort of plaza, though it had some nice sculptures, a grand fountain, and a wonderful view of the Nagoya TV Tower.
Mika arrived around 4pm, and we went to a nearby noodle bar to have proper Japanese noodles. I remembered to suck loudly (so to speak!). The show that evening was at the Diamond Hall, a venue on the 5th floor of an office style building. It seems common to find small bars or musical venues housed within office buildings. This was a standing show, and we were lucky enough to get a spot in front between Rick and Robin. Tom was standing on stage wearing a coat when we (and others) went in, which surprised some of the Japanese fans. The venue had a large main floor, with two raised areas further back, plus a tiny balcony at the rear. Capacity was around 1,000 or so, and I heard the crowd would be close to that for the show. By the time the band came on at 7.10pm, the place was crowded and warm, and the crowd went nuts when the lights went down.
RN Cream jacket, black CT logo t-shirt, black pants, no beard
RZ sparkly bronze t-shirt, black pants
TP white embroidered bowling style shirt, black pants
BEC blue/white patterned shirt, black pants
Aint That a Shame, Hot Love, Clock Strikes Ten, Day Tripper, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Ghost Town, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.
Before the show Miles and Daxx both noticed Mari wearing her Harmony Riley shirt. Watch out for the Nielsens home video! The band were joined for Day Tripper by local musician Harumasa, an old friend of the band and big Beatles fan. The set list said Oh Caroline after 8 Miles Low, but Robin obviously changed that mid set, and instead sang a blistering Ghost Town. At the end of a stunning Heaven Tonight, Tom could be heard to say "Lets do it again!". Rick held up a fake goatee beard braid to his chin when mentioning that hed shaved, then threw it down with a "uugh!". Southern Girls saw a terrific Bun E ending; Surrender saw a CT97 and KISS flat thrown out. Rick came on for the encore, and started the crowd doing some sort of synchronised applause thing. Bun E broke a stick during Goodnight, the top end flew onto the stage near Tom.
The show was stunning. The band were smiling and visibly having a great time, and the crowd were very, very enthusiastic throughout. I was glad we got to the front, because it must have been tough further back with the crowd pushing forward and all. And during the song people were jumping up and down and going wild. It was so crushed at the front that for nearly every song I was being dry humped by some guy right behind me an odd experience! As at the following shows, Rick frequently said how good it was to be back in Japan, and the crowd lapped up every word. I didnt count how many "Hais", "Domo Arigatos" or other expressions that Rick used, but there were plenty!
After the show, Mari, Mika and I walked to Harumasas first floor bar nearby. Like the karaoke bar the night before, it was small and narrow, but this was Beatles themed. At one end were some guitars, mic and amp, and a piano, and Harumasa played two "sets" of Beatles/Lennon songs, including Working Class Hero, Woman, Here There & Everywhere, Dear Prudence and You Never Give Me Your Money through Golden Slumbers from Abbey Road. Terrific!
Tues 3 April Shizuoka and Cheap Trick (and earthquake!)
We took the lunchtime train for the fairly short trip up the coast to Shizuoka, and our hotel was situated just a few hundred yards from the railway station. After Id taken a short, mid afternoon stroll around the centre of the small city, we went and ate before the 10-15 minute walk to the venue. The Shimin Kaikan was part of a large concrete building complex which I think housed the civic offices too. It was good to see Sushi Man and Masako again, also the California contingent of Danny Saint, Mindy, Elsa and Lisa! Many hugs and photos all round. We went into the venue at 6.10, to find a nice, cosy theatre, with main floor seating which banked up a little (offering everyone a good view). It also had a balcony, but that was closed. Id guess the crowd was around 500-600.The band took to the good sized stage at 6.30pm.
RN Purple jacket, black pants, black CT logo t-shirt
RZ Black suit, black v-neck t-shirt, white straw hat
TP Long cream jacket, black pants, black shirt
BEC Black/white patterned shirt, black pants, CT logo cap
Aint That a Shame, Hot Love, Clock Strikes Ten, Downed, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Oh Caroline, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.
Robin did the famous intro to IWYTWM. After that song, Rick noted that theyd been in Shizuoka 23 years ago, and had promised to come back and here they were! Robin was very animated during Wrong All Along, and after that song Rick talked to the audience from stage front without using his mic. He noticed Danny, sitting surrounded by women, and asked if that was his entourage! After 8 Miles Low, Rick mentioned his shave and that his chin was now "as smooth as a babys butt". He invited a woman in the front row to feel, which she gingerly did then he said "now can I feel yours?". Typical Rick wit! After Caroline, there was a short pause for guitar changes, so Bun E filled in with a little swing type rhythm, which prompted the Bun E chant! Great BC ending to Heaven Tonight, during which Rick gave his guitar to Sushi Man.
It was a really good show, and an enthusiastic crowd. At the end each band member except BC took applause, and Rick invited Tom to centre stage, where Tom bowed and stayed bowed and motionless for around 2 minutes or more. Amazing, the crowd clapped throughout, and Id wondered if Tom had fallen asleep on his feet! But he finally straightened up, waved, and walked off stage.
The Californians, Sushi Man etc, and the band all headed back to Tokyo that evening, whilst Mari, Mika and myself stayed in Shizuoka. We bought some snacks at a convenience store on the walk back to the hotel, and sat back in the room, chatting from around 9pm. At just before midnight, something very odd happened I was sitting on the edge of my fold out bed, when, the room suddenly started shuddering. It wasnt hard enough to send objects falling to the floor or anything, but it was quite a shock. That lasted around 10 seconds, and Mari or Mika said "earthquake". Moments later, it did so again. It was strange, I could feel the building shake for another 10-15 seconds, and to be honest, I was somewhat concerned. After the large earthquake at Hiroshima only 2 weeks or so before, I was wondering when the next tremor would occur but it didnt. We turned on the TV, and a local station was already covering the event. As we watched for the next hour, we discovered that the 5.3 magnitude quake had occurred at 23:57, and was centred on Shizuoka. I guess Bun Es ending to Heaven Tonight had upset the fragile rock beneath the city or something We felt a few mild aftershocks too. In Cheap Trick terms, we were All Shook Up, the House was Rockin etc. No major damage was caused, though the railway and some roads were closed for a while after the quake occurred. Probably no big deal for any Californians reading this, but with my coming from a country not known for earthquakes, it was a somewhat uncomfortable experience.
Weds 4 April Tokyo and Cheap Trick
A grey damp morning broke to sunshine as we ate some breakfast in the room and I watched the end of Braves v Mets (4-6 after 10 innings) live on TV. We took the 11.18 train to Tokyo (the trains were running fine again), and had a spectacular view of Mt Fuji as we passed by. Got into Tokyo at 1pm, and got ourselves to our hotel. Luckily we were no more than a 15 minute walk from the venue for tonights show, so we passed through the local shrine and beautiful cherry trees in blossom and walked to the Akasaka Blitz. The two 20ft tall Power Rangers nearby were an essential photo op. Doors opened at 6pm, and over 450 people were already inside by the time we got in (our tickets were numbered in the 470s, and people are let in according to ticket number). The stage front area was already crowded, but we took a spot maybe halfway back, some 25-30 feet from the stage. It was very cool that there were 2 or 3 lines of crush barriers, at 15 ft intervals from the stage. We were able to get to the second barrier, which afforded us something to lean on. Those at the front wouldnt get too crushed during the show either. The club venue was cool, large, mostly painted black, with a high ceiling and a small balcony to the rear and sides. There were also some TV cameras in evidence, apparently the show was being recorded for Japanese TV or video. At around 6.30, the voice of the Japanese woman announcer was interrupted by "Asimasen, this is Rick Nielsen"! The band came on at 7.05pm to a large and excited crowd.
RN Silver suit, black CT logo t-shirt
RZ White jacket, white shirt, gold tie, black leather pants, black CT bucket hat with the CT logo in dark thread, the hat was fashioned into a cowboy hat shape.
TP Black suit, grey shirt
BEC Orange flowered shirt, black pants
Aint That a Shame, Hot Love, Clock Strikes Ten, Downed, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Oh Caroline, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.
Introducing IWYTWM, Robin first whispered "I want you ", then shouted "TO WANT ME!". During IKWIW Rick played a new Fernandes guitar, similarly decorated to the guitar mostly used for "Anytime" in 98/99, and this new one had PARONG spelled down the neck. Rick kept flicking sweat out into the front of the crowd during the show. He also announced that the Silver CD was to be released in Japan later in the year, though some American copies were being sold on the merch stand (along with a Japan-only tour programme, a Japan tour shirt and other regular merchandise). Rick had some sort of problems during Surrender as he kept gesturing sidestage. He threw out a KISS Alive II/Heaven Tonight flat, which was caught by someone up in the balcony. Coming back on for the encore, Rick held up his bottle of water and bantered with the crowd, including the line "Im as strong as a bull hung like one too!". With the crowd calling for Bun E, Rick persuaded the drum king to come to the mic and Bun E mumbled something. At the end of the show, Rick and Tom milked the applause from stage left, centre and stage right! Again, another fine show.
It was great to find Cheryl from New York after the show, apparently shed just made it in time for the start of the show. Good also to have met the guys from Cheap Trick before the show too. A little later, we met up with California crowd, plus Tokyo Zander and another Japanese fan at the Cavern Club in the Rippongi area. The Cavern was a Beatles bar, and a Japanese Beatles band were already playing when Mari and I arrived. The band sounded great, and they played at least four 15-20 minute sets of songs. Our table were loud and enthusiastic throughout, which I think somewhat surprised the band. Big cheers in particular when they played Day Tripper and Magical Mystery Tour! "John Lennon" was somewhat surprised when I gave him a Rick pick between sets. We all sang along, danced, drank beer, and it was a great night out. Just dont ask to see the video of me drinking beer or dancing, OK? Im still trying to bid high enough to buy the tape so the evidence can be destroyed! Back to the hotel at 3am, ouch!
Thurs 5 April Tokyo
Another beautiful sunny day, Mari, Mika and I went out during the afternoon to see the Budokan, and the incredible displays of cherry blossoms around the Imperial Palace gardens. Indescribably beautiful, there were literally hundreds of cherry trees, along the roads and around the top of the moat, all covered in thick cloaks of white and pink blossoms. An amazing sight, and it was very lucky that CTs visit (at least the second week) had coincided with both great weather and the cherry blossom season. We had a wonderful meal at one of Tokyos best sushi restaurants early in the evening, before heading back to the hotel.
Fri 6 April Tokyo and Cheap Trick
Another beautiful day, though unfortunately I was starting to get some cold-like symptoms. Mid morning we set out for the bookshop district of Jinbocho, home also of a number of sporting goods shops. Sadly it seems you cant buy ready made Japanese baseball jerseys :-( In a store specialising in music books and magazines, we found a number of old magazines from around 78 and 79 featuring CT. One included an amazing c78 shot of Bun E as Paul Stanley, wearing a wig, platform boots, and a sparkly jacket over his regular clothes! Looked at some of CTs merchandise lists in Japan around 78 too, amazing. Those things would be worth a fortune on Ebay these days.
Late in the afternoon, Mari and I took the subway to Shibuya, whilst the others took taxis. Mari and I finally managed to find our way out of Shibuya station onto one of the most famous road insections in Japan, if not the world. Tall buildings with Japanese advertising and video screens surrounded the intersection which was criss-crossed with pedestrian crossings. Add late afternoon sunshine and a mass of people, and youve got one of the enduring images of modern Japan. We walked up to the Shibuya Kokaido Hall, to wait for everyone. Whilst waiting, I finally tried a rice burger with tempura from Moss Burgers nearby actually it was OK! Tasted better than it sounds and looked! Everyone finally arrived, and we went into the nondescript concrete building (thats how it looked from the outside) at 6.45pm. Inside was a really nice, plush theatre, large stage, banked seating on the main floor and a good sized balcony too, and the whole place was full. The band came on at 7.05pm, and everyone in the theatre stood up, balcony included.
RN Purple jacket, black pants, black t-shirt with "Ichiro" and "51" on it
RZ Black suit, black/brown patterned shirt
TP Long dark brown velvet jacket, black pants, black turtle neck shirt
BEC Black/white patterned shirt, black pants.
Aint That a Shame, Hot Love, Clock Strikes Ten, Taxman, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, It All Comes Back to You, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.
During the show (and at others during the tour), Rick mentioned the famous Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki, who has just joined the Seattle Mariners, and who made a good start with them during this week of shows. Every time and place that Rick mentioned Ichiro, the fans went wild! Rick introduced Clock Strikes Ten as being "our first single (in Japan) many years ago, hope you still remember it". Taxman was a very cool change to the setlist, and the band played a scorching version. During I Know What I Want, Rick played a new gold coloured Fernandes guitar. After Wrong All Along, Rick mentioned that "people were here from Tokyo, Leeds, California... any more?". Someone shouted out "Toledo", to which Rick quickly replied "Toledo? Ohio gozaimas!" (Ohiyo gozaimasu is Japanese for "good morning"). Someone else shouted out "Chicago", to which Rick replied "go back to Chicago! We will be on Sunday!". After 8 Miles Low, Rick mentioned that they plan to release a new studio album next year, and said theyd be back in Japan too, and will go to Budokan to much cheering - "but, just to visit, yknow? And where else? Tokyo Dome ?". The latter was a reference to Bon Jovi, who were playing at the Tokyo Dome tonight. During It All Comes Back to You, Rick played what I think was a see through green guitar, similar to the yellow one. Now I could be mistaken, but Im sure these were two different guitars, and not the same one. Rick played the yellow one later, and even allowing for different light, the colour of these guitars looked different. I noticed this again in Yokohama on the next night too. Bun Es ending to Heaven Tonight was awesome, and longer than usual. For the encore, Rick returned wearing a yellow logo on black Cheap Track t-shirt, which looked great. Bun E draped a white logo on black Cheap Track shirt onto the front of his drumkit where it stayed during Voices. These guys like Cheap Track! On Dream Police, Rick as usual did his spiel in the middle, but hammed up the line "They dont get paid or take vacations or let me alone" in his best Shakespearean voice, very funny! At the end, several fans reached towards the stage to offer gifts for Robin, so Rick persuaded Robin to come back, and to bring on little Robin to take a bow. Little Robin sat side stage on Toms side for every show I believe. Several times during the show I watched the crowd not the stage, and the fans right up to the back of the balcony were totally into the show. But very polite, everyone just rocked out but in their seat area, very Japanese. And alcohol isnt on sale at any shows in Japan.
I was then invited to join Sushi Man and about 20 other members of the Japanese Fan Club in going for a meal. Apparently many of these people havent met, so it was not so much a party as a get together meal, which was very cool, and which I felt honoured to be invited to. Much fun, good food and good company (despite my almost non-existant Japanese)! Shige, Cheap Tracks drummer, drove Mari, Mika and I back to our hotel. The 4-5 mile drive took nearly an hour, driving in Tokyo is nuts on a Friday night. Add to that the road works too, in several places. Though in Japan, unlike the US and Britain, if the road narrows for road works, even at midnight or 3am in the morning, there are actually people hard at work fixing the road! Japanese efficiency!
Sat 7 April Yokohama and Cheap Trick
Another bright, warm but hazy day. We left the hotel at nearly 11am to go to Yokohama. The show was earlier, being as it was a weekend, but we were stopping at Mikas apartment in Yokohama en-route. We took the subway, which I forgot to mention before was very clean, efficient and on time. Such a contrast to London. At Mikas apartment I got to see the "Boy Against the World" episode which featured Rick. Mika also displayed her prowess on the bass guitar, playing along to some CT songs on the stereo.
Took the train to a couple of stops past Yokohama central station, and then a taxi to the Bay Hall which is down on the bay about 2-3 miles from the centre of the city. From the taxi we got good views of the harbourside and giant Ferris wheel, plus the Marine Tower. We stood out in the warm sunshine for around 30 minutes before doors opened. We were around #180 going in, and the front stage area was already pretty packed. The venue was a small club type place, all standing, with a large floor area in front of the stage (perhaps 30 feet back to the soundboard), with a crush barrier at 15 feet. Behind the soundboard was a raised standing area, and this was empty when we went in, so rather than join the crush down front (how I remember that from last time!), we all went and stood behind the soundboard. We were probably 5 feet higher than the main floor, and we had a terrific face-on view of the small stage. Plus, we could watch Lee do all his work on the soundboard. Great spot! So there we were, Danny, Mindy, Mari, Mika, me, Lisa and Elsa, all with a great view for the last show of the tour. The lights went down at 5.05pm, and the crowd went nuts
RN Cream jacket, black pants, blact CT tour shirt
RZ Sparkly bronze t-shirt, black pants
TP Red, long sleeve t-shirt, blue pants
BEC Black/white patterned shirt, black pants
Aint That a Shame, Hot Love, Clock Strikes Ten, Stop This Game, I Want You to Want Me, Didnt Know I Had It, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, It All Comes Back to You (setlist said Oh Caroline), Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight.
Rick intod Hot Love by playing a few bars of Stiff Competition. Stop This Game was so cool, and a terrific intro to that too. For Didn't Know I Had It, Rick played the gold Fernandes whilst Robin played acoustic guitar. After Wrong All Along, Rick introduced each band member to big cheers, leaving himself last. He announced himself as "Home Run Ichiban (#1) Nielsen", again in homage to Japanese hero Ichiro. He then introduced the 70s Song as being on Fox TV in the US. Tom looked quizzical standing on Ricks side of the stage, so Rick said "You watch TV in the US dont you?" to which Tom replied straight faced "No, only NHK!" (the Japanese national TV network). Got to love Toms off the wall sense of humour! Southern Girls was introduced as "Its time for YOKOHAMA girls, yummy!". Being where we were, we thought that for once we were in flat territory! The KISS/CT97 flat thrown out during Surrender headed towards Danny Saint but hit the low ceiling and bounced down into the soundboard area. Lee collected it and threw it back into the front, so some unsuspecting person suddenly found themselves in possession of something that moments before had flown way over their head!
What a fabulous show! The band played well, and it was fantastic to be able to watch the crowd easily too. As in 99, the standing area in the front of the stage was enthusiastic, lively and moving a whole lot throughout the show. The lighting was excellent too. Not sure why I noticed at this show, but the lighting set up was simple (it being a small venue and stage) but very well done. Its hard to pick out the best shows, but I think I must choose the club dates in Nagoya and here in Yokohama as highlights. Small, intimate, high energy, totally crazy audiences Wonderful stuff, though Shizuoka and the Tokyo shows werent shoddy either!
Afterwards saw the usual mobbing of the band as they left the venue, and it was weird to leave a show and find that it wasnt dark outside, well, not totally dark! It was probably around 6.45pm by the time we exited. After the band had left, we decided to eat in Yokohama, though Danny etc chose to head straight back to Tokyo. So Sushi Man, Masako, Mari, Mika, myself and another fan from Nagoya drove/taxiied to the beautiful harbourside. In the taxi we passed by the lit up Marine Tower, which I must visit next time. The harbourside was spectacular, almost too beautiful to describe. The worlds largest Ferris wheel was lit up as a clock, each second lighting up a spoke of the wheel. And at intervals (every 15 minutes?) the wheel would suddenly burst into dazzling displays of patterns and colours. There was an old schooner along the harbourside, plus a lit up funfair, plus cherry trees in blossom, plus the few tall buildings were lit up too. The sight was truly stunning. We ate in the nearby Hard Rock Café, and shortly after we finally got a table, we heard the familiar sound of the Beatles "Birthday". That reminded us of Ron from Milwaukee, whose birthday we celebrated here after the Yokohama show in October 99, so I grabbed a napkin, wrote "Ron-san" on it, and propped it up at the spare space on our table. So Ron, we missed you but you were there in spirit :-) The meal was good, and the VJ played CT performing IWYTWM on the video from Hard Rock live. Yeah of course we sang along, getting a few strange looks from other diners! Sushi Man drove us back to Tokyo via the Yokohama Bay Bridge, which afforded a wonderful view of the Yokohama skyline <sigh>. Back at the hotel we met up with the Californian contingent in the lobby, and had a drink in the lower floor bar before heading to bed. I had to pack before sleeping too, as I was catching the 8.45am coach to the airport.
Sun 8 April The journey home
As usual, a long and exhausting affair. Goodbyes to Mari in the room, and also Junko and Hiromi in reception, before boarding the coach. Mika came with me to see me off at the airport before she went home to Yokohama. The streets of Tokyo were strangely quiet on this Sunday morning, such a contrast to the past few days. Along the way, a good example of Japanese efficiency with space we passed by a field, a little larger than a soccer or American football field, which had a baseball diamond in each corner and three games were going on simultaneously. I bade farewell to Mika at Narita, and took the 12 hour SAS flight to Copenhagen. I got perhaps an hours sleep, otherwise it was long and tedious, not helped by my position at the rear (centre) of the plane (so I couldnt even see a window), plus the person in front had their seat lowered right back for much of the flight. I HATE that! The food was good, and the movies OK. We arrived a little late into Copenhagen due to headwinds, and I literally walked off the plane from Tokyo, 20 yards to the next gate and straight onto the plane for Manchester. I did see my yellow bag get unloaded, so hoped it would make the short journey from the side by side planes. The 90 minute flight was uneventful, though by now I was tiring of airline food. I was tired and just wanted to get home! Watched the luggage carousel at Manchester Airport with a sinking feeling in my stomach of course my bag didnt make it onto my flight. So, I reported that and went to catch a train to Leeds, only to find that my journey home wouldnt be simple. Had to get a train to Manchester Piccadilly station, change onto a train to York which was supposed to stop at Leeds but wouldnt. So had to take the train, get off at Huddersfield, and onto a coach that took me slowly to, and round Leeds before finally dropping off at the railway station. After all that, I was thankful to find a taxi and go home, arriving exhausted just after 9pm. All this, and back to work at 7.30am tomorrow <sigh>. Oh well, another memorable trip to one of the most amazing countries in the world (not to mention experiencing the earthquake!). BTW, my bag got delivered safely to my home, 24 hrs later, so you can rest easy!
DOMO ARIGATO GOZAIMASU!
Many thanks are due, as always, to some special people. Ichiban, Mariko and Mika for making so many of the arrangements for me buying show and rail tickets, booking hotels, plus being great companions, guides, and for putting up with me for a week! Thanks so much to you both! Many thanks also to the famous Sushi Man for getting Tokyo tickets, some transportation, and fabulous sushi! Thanks also to Shige for a couple of aah interesting road journeys in Tokyo! Thanks to so many friends from California, Danny, Mindy, Lisa and Elsa, Cheryl from New York, and from Japan, Masako, Junko, Hiromi, Mutsumi, Yaico, Noriko, Yumika, Atsushi, and many others whose names escape me right now. It was great to see you all! And last but not least, thanks to four great guys (and their three great chords), plus Carla and all of the crew! You are the reason for it all!
For the Record the set lists from the first two tour dates (which I didnt go to) were:-
Osaka, 29 March
Aint That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, Clock Strikes Ten, Downed, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Oh Caroline, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight
Fukuoka, 30 March
Aint That a Shame, ELO Kiddies, Clock Strikes Ten, Downed, I Want You to Want Me, I Know What I Want, Wrong All Along, 70s Song, 8 Miles Low, Ghost Town, Heaven Tonight, Southern Girls, Surrender // Voices, Dream Police, Lot to Lose, Goodnight
Kim Gisborne, Leeds, England 11 April 2001
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne