By Ginger | October 28, 2000
It’s been some time in preparation and the past few months have been torn between public opinions from “can they pull this thing off live?” to “will they be a disappointment compared to The Wildhearts?” and “I hope to God it’s as good as I hope it’s gonna be”.
The proof of this particular pudding is in the playing, so we went to Japan to try it out in front of some of the most loyal and hardened of fans. This thing was going to either sink or swim when placed in front of an audience. Either way we had to find out quick. Before we could convince the world that we were the shit we had to convince ourselves. And there is no bigger critic.
Japan, as usual, welcomed us with open arms and flowing alcohol. Our tour manager, Johnnie Allen, took us to his favorite Osaka bar (the RockRock – check it out and tell ’em Ginger sent you) that became our new home and family. A huge amount of respect to Seiji, Nov, Waka and Yoko for the wonderful (Suteki) times.
Random Jon Poole surpassed his earlier attempts at appearing to be the most bizarre human being on the planet, and proceeded to amaze the Japanese with off-stage antics never before seen in this or any other country. A night out with Jon Poole is unlike any evening out with anyone else. This guy is a one man entertainment system that does not tire. From dancing on every shelf / table / level space in the bar (amid rapturous cheers from the patrons), to automatic-stream-of-consciousness ramblings, the show doesn’t stop when Jon comes off stage. In all the years I or any of the crew have been involved with musicians (ie, NiteBob, guitars, who has seem them all come and go since the sixties), no one has ever been around someone like Jon Poole. Not many people have for that matter, outside the confines of a padded hotel anyway.
Then there’s Tom Broman (drums) who is easily the most extreme person on this bus. The most extremely quiet person when sober, the most extremely extreme psychotic nutcase when pissed. Put another way, Tom had a fight before he had a gig. Conny and I have talked at length in the past about the perfect drummer being slightly unhinged, or wired up wrong in the attic. Careful for what you wish for.
And then there’s Conny, the gypsy, the guy that makes every Japanese girl blush when introduced to him. Conny is a dying breed of guitar hero where cool and talent share equal billing. Sometimes you just know that someone is going to be special but can never be truly convinced until you actually see it live. Conny is special.
The first night started out as the most shambolic mess of nerves and pre-gig anticipation, only to transform itself into a slick, professional and confident show when the lights went out. It had been so long since I had this much to prove… and we pissed it! Easy! Osaka rocks. It rocks like fuck.
Nagoya, the next show, wasn’t so great. One good gig down and it was time to have one dodgy one. Well, not so much dodgy as uneven. Two guys loved it, two guys hated it. The result? A band that weren’t communicating. Shit, I know we were only two shows into our new life but like I said we are our biggest critics.
Following the most amazing / disturbing / hilarious ride on the bullet train to Tokyo, we had just enough time to drop off our bags at the hotel and run to the gig… just in time to be really average again. Just as two guys had a bad show yesterday, today the other two guys had one! Of the two nights in Tokyo, the first night barely passed the standards board of excellence… still, there’s always the Lexington Queen to retreat to and sink our misery. Check it out when in Tokyo, guys.
And suddenly, within ten days of leaving London Heathrow, we were backstage at the Akasaka Blitz waiting to go on for the biggest concert of out short lived lives. A 2000 capacity venue and every important person we know in Japan had turned up. Even Seiji from Guitar Wolf (whom I had met properly the day before – the absolute coolest person alive in Japan, and the biggest beer drinker!) was there, as well as five beautiful young ladies who had won a competition to dress up as schoolgirls and sing onstage with us. Promoters ran around officially. The wait was endless. Too much time to think. Too much thinking to rock. Almost too much rock to warrant for a brand new band.
Man, the nerve of this band. If we pulled this off we could all look forward to taking London apart limb by limb in November. If not, we’d better start worrying about the reality of selling out our first headline show in a 1000 capacity venue, to a homegrown audience. Without an album having yet been released. Without any advertising, promotion or press. Man, this could backfire and blow us straight into an embarrassing retirement!
… ALRIGHT TOKYO…
Lights went down, NiteBob introduced the band and the crowd went ballistic. Like The Wildhearts all those years ago we were welcomed like returning sons fresh from battle. The band played like we’d been touring together for ages. The sound was fucking loud, but as clear as Michael Jackson’s criminal record. The girls sang like birds leading the dawn chorus. Guitars were smashed. Explosions the size of Godzilla’s hangovers were ignited. The light show looked like Kiss and Queen had both pooled together to make us look bitchin’ and dazzled the crowd into submission.
The show was pure magic and all thoughts strayed to London, November 9th, where we would do this again in front of our British friends and fans. Only bigger, better and with a more extreme stage show.
To attempt something as large as this, with a relatively unknown band, takes an awful lot of balls, and not many people would even bother. And I can perfectly understand why. If something like this failed you’d be better off having your parachute fail – at least you wouldn’t have to face public humiliation for the rest of your life. Staging something this ambitious has massive risks involved and these are not only financial. But in the gamble that is this business the odds are high that no one else is going to be trying this same trick. If it works we’ve pretty much got the monopoly on big, stupid rock! None bigger… none more stupid!!!
I don’t want to talk specifically about the stage show – for that, you’ll have to buy a ticket. But suffice to say that if I ever mentioned anything about “how much you lot are going to enjoy the Scala show”, I was off by miles. Many, many miles. Venus is closer. The Scala will be rubble on November 10th. All shows so far this year will vanish from memory. Your life will be altered and your standards will be heightened. From now on bands will have to measure up to your new level of expectation.
My only regret is that I won’t be in the audience while we are playing. (Or maybe I will?) Having said that, the stage may well be the safest place in the room come show time! Intrigued? Curious? Well, you’d better get down early. AntiProduct are going on first, and Alex is as on the edge of sanity as I have ever seen a man. Things can only get crazy… there can be no other way.
We’ve been talking about this for a very long time. Sooner or later it had to come, and here it is. It should by all counts be a bit of an anticlimax, shouldn’t it? C’mon, in this age of angry young men, complaining about having the right to complain, this shouldn’t really work. Good-time-core anyone? By rights it should suck large quantities of pink piping, right?
God… this feels good. Wonder what the rest of London will be doing on Thursday November 9th? Tell you what they’ll be doing… they’ll be saying “WHAT’S THAT FUCKING NOISE?” Kings Cross? The last thing to happen to mankind of this magnitude involved a cross too, and guy with long hair.
There. Official. SilverGinger 5 are louder than Jesus.
Repeat after me… SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!
See you there.