Alex’s Tour Update

I am writing this in the early hours of the morning in our hotel in Nagoya after the 2nd show on the tour. We’re having a lot of fun and we’ve seen some really great bands so far – more on this later.

Guitar case in the left hand, guitar case in the right hand, bag with some clothes on my back. Dublin airport 4.30 am, Tokyo International Airport 9am the next day (midnight UK time). What follows is a brief account of what has happened so far… or the bits I remember anyway.

Ueno Station

Day 1. Narita to Ueno.
Tracer AMC and all of our gear crammed onto the limited express on the Keisai line from Narita to Ueno Station and on to Minami station – This would be an early test for the much more packed journeys that would follow. Finding the hostel took a while and our hands, necks and backs hurt from carrying all the gear. Around 1pm, Niall and Jonny roll into bed, Keith and I head out the door.

Music Vox

I’m off out in search of 9 volt power adaptors, towels and some food. Train to Akihabara for a first look and then on to Ginza; food in the Muji cafe keeps me right and Bic Camera provides the first of the plug adaptors. A stop in the Apple Store lets me send some much needed emails and I arrange to meet up with Tim at Akihabara Station later. Music Vox provided us with 4 boss adaptors, good to see they are much cheaper here than at home. I take Tim to Super Potato (nintendo, sega, neo-geo graveyard shop!) and we eat pizza before a bit of wandering around the city. Back to the hotel by around 10. Sleep. Up again the next morning at 8am for a trip to Ueno. Picked up the towels we need in a 100 yen shop. That’s 50p.

Jonny in Shinjuku

Day 2. Show 1. Shinjuku Marz
Sore, we carried the gear back to the station and onto the busy JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku. Moving guitars through Tokyo on a busy underground is not easy! I saw Miaou in Marz in April so I knew exactly where to go. When we arrived at 1pm the venue staff were setting up. Loaded in the gear, filled out our spec sheets for sound and lights and had a rest. Miaou arrived shortly after. [at this point I retire to sleep, the rest of this entry is written in soundcheck in Kyoto].

Introductions followed. Miaou are Mayumi, Tatsuki, Naruki, Hiromi and Yoichiro (who we are to call Yo!). Takuya is driving one of the vehicles and selling the merchandise. Tim arrives down to the venue and soundcheck happens in a timely fashion. Naruki, Yo, Tim, Fang and Tracer AMC head out to eat… Jonny’s first chopsticks and Japanese food. Refueled we head into the Kayabucho and take some photos. Jonny and Keith briefly visit Mens Hot box before being asked to leave.

Shows in Japan tend to start around 6pm to allow people to get the train home. Folk Squat open up the show and are followed by Lite (who some of you will have seen in Dublin playing with Gaju). Lite played a great, energetic, show while Miaou were fantastic. The sound was huge and really well layered. Live Mayumi and Naruki share bass, keys, fender rhodes, guitar and glockenspiel duties, switching almost every song. I really enjoyed the show and look forward to seeing them on the rest of the tour.

There were a few technical difficulties right before the start of our set but Miaou came to the rescue with the lend of some distortion pedals. The audience in Japan couldn’t be more different from a typical UK audience; complete silence during the songs and *everyone* listens so attentively during the set. Nineteen was not planned but played. We really enjoyed the show and we will hopefully get a little video up soon.

After the show we chatted to everyone for a couple of hours before driving to Yugawara (c.100km from Tokyo). Driving through Shinjuku and Shibuya at night is quite a sight. In Japan, roadwors only take place at night. Drive down the same road during the day and you’ll never know they were there the night before. We got pulled in by a routine police check – the tinted windows in the van allowed me and Tim to hide. Due to the weight in the van, Naruki stopped by his house and four of us travelled on in his car to Yugawara. The house in Yugawara was lovely with stunning views out over the bay. There was plenty of food and some interesting TV that involved ‘school girls’ wrestling each other. More chatting and then off to sleep.

Jonny in Tokuzo
Day 3. Show 2. Nagoya Tokuzo.
After a good nights sleep we leave Yugawara for the drive to Nagoya. Weare back to traveling in two vehicles for the rest of the tour. I’m riding in the van with Mayumi, Hiromi, Tatsuki, Naruki and Tim. Four of us play Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS against Yo! in the other car. Plenty of fun. We make the journey to Nagoya in good time and arrive at Tokuzo to meet Michael and Annette who arrived there on the Shinkansen. Tokuzo is a fantastic room with a bizarre wooden wall on the stage.

Skrew Kid who opens the show plays some lovely tunes… very quiet jazzy music based around his acoustic guitar. I buy the cd and can’t wait to listen to it. Lullatone play next. I loved them when I saw them in April and I love the even more now. The new songs sound fantastic. If they were sweets they’d be Jelly Tots. They have beautiful visuals and throw balloons out for the audience to pass around during the songs. Miaou play another great show. The sound was perfect and the audience loved them. We fix Jonny’s pedal problems from the night before and the set goes pretty well. I mess up a couple of times, Niall doesn’t notice. Jonny makes me provide an English translation for everything I say on stage. Attempts to make jokes in Japanese fail.

After the show we stay in the Plaza Inn in Nagoya’s bongo district. Niall and Keith wander the streets til 5am. The rest of us grab some much needed sleep.

Miaou Soundcheck in Kyoto

Day 4. Show 3. Kyoto Metro.
Driving down to Kyoto saw more DS action; this time Tim and I are beaten to a pulp by Mayumi and Hiromi in Tetris. Even with Naruki on our side we still failed to win!
Miaou are soundchecking now. We are discussing the possibilities of playing Catherine Holly for the first time in years. Let’s see how it goes.

Ma ta ne.

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