21 Oct 2000 - Rod On The Road: Japan 2

So l left you at 6.30 am - worked on with emails etc til about midday cooped up in room again, and had English breakfast. One of the things here is that everywhere is beautifully air conditioned - very effective and efficient. But boy does it dehydrate you after a couple of days. You can end up just that the only fresh air you get is getting in and out of cars between hotel/gig/restaurant/club/hotel - not very healthy. l usually try to get out for a walk but this time here it took me til the last day. By the way l am typing this on the Virgin flight vs 901 back to London Heathrow - its about 4pm japan time - 8am in UK. I watched a film on the video cassette players they supply. Aptly this was ROSHOMAN, which was the first breakthrough film by AKIRA KUROSAWA, the brilliant Japanese director. One of his most famous films is THE SEVEN SAMURAI on which Hollywood based The Magnificent Seven but he also did YOJIMBO and MASHIMA which Clint nicked for A Fistful of Dollars and A Few Dollars More. Two more recent Kurosawa classics are RAN and KAGEMUSHA. All of these are very much worth checking out - all are available on both VHS and DVD - they are subtitled in English but don't let this put you off.

Anyway about midday l had a lie down on the bed and next thing l knew Coxy was calling - time to go to the gig at the KOSEINENKIN HALL, the first of 3 Tokyo shows. So off to the gig. Not the best gig we ever did - Nicko was distinctly the worse for wear but the others were also pretty dazed and confused with jet lag. We apologise to our Japanese fans for not hitting the form people expect of us and we expect of ourselves and pride ourselves in thinking we usually do. Also with South America moving from Oct to Jan to accommodate the huge Rock In Rio gig, we ended up having 3 weeks off at short notice, so you do need a gig or two to get back into it fully. But having said that the audience were terrific. Our friends Masa Itoh and Koh Sakai were at the show and they seemed to think it was ok - but maybe this was just Japanese politeness ;-)

A word about the gigs. Usually when we tour we take our own PA and production and hired lights, but Japan is a long way so although we bring our production, we use locally supplied sound and lights. In the early days - early 80's- the gear left a lot to be desired. Very basic PA and lighting rigs completely based on parr cans - and nothing could be flown (ie hung from the ceiling) as it was considered too dangerous considering the number of earthquakes they experience here - yes, this is true. Flying the equipment makes for a better show and you will see most shows in big venues fly PA and lights - the PA to give a better, higher and clearer throw to the audience, and the lights to give a clearer view without legs to hold it all up. However now the gear is much better - bigger pa's and moving lights - the works really. Also l think either last year or at the most 2 years ago flying was allowed in most venues which makes for a much better show for the audience.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the incredibly efficient and thorough organisation which makes it really easy and pleasurable to tour - especially for the crew. A Japanese crew accompanies our crew and after a few tours everyone knows each other. And the local crew put up and take down most of the equipment which means our crew get a much easier time of it - and l cant say they don't deserve it as we really do have a great loyal crew. And they get to spend the nights in the same hotels as the band rather than on the tour bus going from gig to gig which is what happens in North America and Europe.

On top of all this …the concerts start really early and there is no support - it is very rare to have a support act in Japan due to cost of getting the act there and internal costs. Weekends it's on stage at 5pm and midweek it's 6.30 - so you can go out every night if you wish. Compare this to Europe and America where you usually come off stage about 11.30 - by the time you have showered and relaxed a bit all the bars are closed!! After the Tokyo shows there is always a dinner with record co or promoter and tonight it was dinner with Mr Udo at his wonderful restaurant Seraynas. Kobe steak is the main dish and it really is special. As there is little agricultural land in Japan - small islands, many people - most of the land is used for crops as it is more effective. Also the Japanese diet is more based around fish so there is not as much call for meat. So when cattle are bred it is done very carefully which leads to beef of supreme quality and this is cooked on large rocks which have been baked in an oven for 24hours. The chunk of beef is placed on the rock and the time it is left on decides how well done it is. Anyway a very good evening was had by all band and crew, so thanks Mr Udo.

Back to hotel - Nicko went to bed - thank God. By the way, l notice in his diary he didn't mention the dancing to YMCA - yes really!!! - or the Karaoke bar. It must have been a good night though cos l see in the first part of this series on japan tour l said it was our 13th tour there but it isn't - it's the 12th - so next time is the unlucky one!!

A few of us ended out in the hotel bar til they threw us out at about 1.30am - so not too bad. I met up with Andi Deris the singer with HELLOWEEN who was staying at same hotel for a promo visit for the great new album THE DARK RIDE. Had a very interesting chat - Andi is very computer literate and has a lot of good ideas.

Anyway… to bed to try to get a decent nights sleep!!!!!!
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