I’ve been robbed, readers.
Nothing’s been taken from my luggage, nobody has held me up at gunpoint. I’m missing no money (apart from what I’ve wasted on room service – trampling another New Year’s Resolution into the dirt). So, what’s happened? Well, I’ve had 24 hours of my life whipped away from right under my nose. That’s right, an entire day – stolen.
You see, following the Grammys, our schedule had two blank days before the first Japanese show. Granted, one was a travel day, but that still left a glorious day of recovery in Tokyo. As we leave the hotel at 9am for the flight out of LAX, I casually enquire as to the time difference between LA and Tokyo. "They’re sixteen hours ahead". Slowly, the wheels whir in my head. "Wuh?? That means it’s already tomorrow there, then?" ….and with that, the thief vanishes into the night.
Tokyo, as anyone will tell you, is an amazingly intense place. The sheer urban density is astounding. It’s very much as though Manhattan, London and Berlin have been caught getting swallowed into a black hole and you’ve been dumped at a freeze frame just before the last suck gulps down the whole concrete lot for good.
Mix this in with the fact that the language is impenetrable, plus an alphabet that is quite simply the most baffling thing imaginable and you have a recipe for feeling upon arrival that you’re not just in another country, but you’ve quite possibly landed on another planet. The woozy confusion of jetlag serves only to round things off with a nice dreamlike glow.
As well as the timezone-induced disorientation, our first gig days in Tokyo are the first ones back on the job for a while. It’s a little strange to be standing under the stage in my familiar bunker again after a lengthy break. I know that I know what to do, but it’s all coming a bit slower than it usually would…
The tiny crappy plastic keyboard that made its stage debut at the Neil Diamond tribute gig is clearly suffering from jetlag somewhat more seriously than the rest of us. It makes it to the first chorus of I’m A Believer in Tokyo before falling asleep. It turns up for the Osaka shows, but even the screams of fifteen thousand eager fans won’t wake it from it’s slumber. Lightweight…
Japanese shows tend to be early ones, which has been a blessing for a bunch of tired and dazed westerners. You have to love being back in the hotel for 8.30… The crowds too, have been a huge lift. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Japanese crowds have this reputation for being silently pin-drop polite which I just don’t really see. I guess it’s true that they do quieten down when the song starts, but in all other senses, they’re one of the louder and more enthusiastic crowds on the planet. They’re cheering and clapping along in time to the intro tape, they’ve got their arms in the air (quite literally like they just don’t care) through In My Place and they go off in grand style for Viva.
In all honesty though, the entire Japanese run has passed in a hazy blur of feeling tired and not-quite-right for me. The Grammys certainly seems like a long time ago now, but I’m having a hard time recalling what went on in the days since. We’re flying west now, back towards London. In amongst recovering from our third major timezone shift in ten days, we have a couple of rather heavy days coming up trying to get the band set up simultaneously at the Brit Awards and at a War Child charity show in Shepherd’s Bush the same night. It’s difficult not to wonder whether somewhere, someone is trying to break us. As ever though, when there’s a challenge, everyone will rise to the occasion with only a modest portion of grumbling, bickering and moaning. And hey, there’s a glorious few weeks of sunshine in Australia to look forward to…
Right then, it’s 3.30pm where I’ve been, which means it’s 6.30am where we’re going. I might have a go at a couple more hours sleep.