Wednesday 12th October 2016 - Tour Blog: Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo
Soundcheck at Umeda Club Quattro, Osaka, great venue with incredible sound!
We departed Australia and shifted back over one hour's time difference to Japan for seven nights of back to back shows (13 shows in total) over as many days in three venue in three cities: Blue Note Nagoya, Club Quattro in Osaka and Blue Note Tokyo, our second home!!! We had just enough time to take the Shinkansen and head for soundcheck between cities. We're used to working very hard in Japan but we are always looked after so well, we are very aware of how lucky we are to get to return so often to play music and absorb such incredible energy from such positive people at our shows. AND we get such hospitality from our hosts and our fans, some of which have become good friends over the years.
We had two very good audiences at Blue Note Nagoya, in fact the second audience was particularly lively for some reason this time - they are normally a little reserved we've found, but they gave us a lot of energy for our first night in Japan, our bodies still adjusting to the travel schedule and lack of full sleep! I met up with my good friend Jes Saito of JES International who supplied me with the Phil Jones Big Head headphone amp that I use on the road A LOT! This time he had a new box for me: the LR Baggs Stadium DI, a DI pedal with 3 band compression and eq plus other features. I haven't had the chance to run it yet, it may have to wait until I'm back in the studio before I can try it properly, unless we get a super long soundcheck!
Club Quattro in Osaka has one of the best live club sound systems I've ever heard. You can feel the punch and clarity even at soundcheck, no one has to turn up too loud. We did an extended set there although the two hours didn't feel like two hours to me (maybe if I was singing it would have!) I'd love to have done two nights there as Osaka is an amazing Japanese city and it feels like we never get to spend that much time there any more.
Aguilar DB750 rig with two GS410 cabs, Atelier Z M265 in hand (where's the label?!!) M245 in stand!
Soundchecking at Blue Note Nagoya
On our way down to the stage in Nagoya
Energised after some typical Nagoya late night food action!
Two Shinkansen rides and four shows later we arrived in Tokyo. It's unusual for us to arrive on show day in Tokyo, normally we get a night off and catch some great band there playing their final night. Turns out that we'd just missed Kyle Eastwood and his band (including some UK musicians that we know) who'd played the night before, it was a shame to have missed them.
It was a holiday weekend in Japan. Four out of five nights in Tokyo were sold out both shows (only the first "back to work" set wasn't completely sold out!) It was great for us to play so many sets back to back to and to be able to record everything from the desk to see how well the set is working. We are more than ready to take on the USA with this line up which includes a few new members for this tour:
Maysa Leak - vocals (USA only)
Vanessa Haynes - vocals
Chris Ballin - vocals
Deborah Bond - vocals
Bluey - vocals, guitar & percussion
Francisco Sales - guitar
Francesco Mendolia - drums
Joao Caetano - percussion
Tom O'Grady - piano & keyboards
Me - bass
Stafford Hunter - trombone
Sid Gauld - trumpet and flugel
Andy Ross - tenor sax & flute
On the final set of the tour we had some very special musicians in attendance. Keyboard legend Philip Woo (Roy Ayers/Maze/Tower Of Power) came and hung out with us after the show. He's been a resident of Japan for many years now and although we've been connected on Facebook for some time now it was great to meet him in the flesh.
Also I could just about make out Nathan East sat a few rows from me during the show. I was aware he was in town as Fourplay were also in town playing at the Seaside Jazz Festival over the weekend too. The last time I saw Nathan was in Detroit when we opened for Fourplay last year (my favourite concert from them!) Nathan had also been playing with his own band so he came down with his keyboard player Kaleb Jones and we all hung out after the show backstage. It had been quite a day as earlier I had run into Kenji Jino Hino at the Atelier Z workshop in Shinjuku too. He couldn't make it down to our show because he had been playing a show that night too. Also bassist Raymond McKinley (Tower Of Power/Sheila E) was in the house. As well as being Rocco's dep in Tower Of Power, he is road manager for ToP and he was in Australia with us last week too. We'd had such a great week in Japan both musically and in sharing each others company as a band that it was truly special to end the week with some of our favourite musicians. Next stop we join Maysa in HAWAII!!!!! 🌴✈️🏊🏾
Toasting w/Bluey and Nathan East backstage
Aguilar DB751 and 2x DB410 cabs at Tokyo Blue Note
Aguilar DB751 and 2x DB410 cabs at Club Quattro Osaka
Francisco Sales tunes up
This Fender Rhodes has a MIDI output fitted and is in perfect working condition, typical of old equipment in Japan, it's been maintained immaculately
Aki, artist liaison Blue Note Tokyo, once again making our lives easy and taking care of every detail. Thank you so much! xx
Late night food again, this time in Tokyo with producer M-Swift (Shouhei Matsushita)
Me earning a few extra bucks an hour advertising our gig...😂
w/Shouhei Matsushita (M-Swift)
Tom O'Grady setting up in Osaka