Romantic Moon, Tokyo 2009

Romantic Moon, Tokyo 2009

Stewart / Gaskin live in Japan 2009
Barbara Gaskin (vocals / keyboards / perc), Dave Stewart (keyboards),
Andy Reynolds (guitar / keyboards / vocals)
Live mix by Ted Hayton

Tsuki-miru Kimi-omou, Aoyama, Tokyo
Friday 20th March 2009

SET LIST
1. Jupiter Rising
2. Rich For A Day
3. Henry & James (inc. A World Of Difference)
4. Let Me Sleep Tonight
5. Walking The Dog
6. Any Guru


- intermission -

7. In A Silent Way (Joe Zawinul)
8. Shakin' All Over
9. This Wind Blows Everywhere
10. The Arms of Miklosko
11. Rat Circus


- encore -

12. Lobster in Cleavage Probe / Whole Lotta Shaking In My Heart / Waiting in the Wings (medley)

- encore 2 -

13. Walking The Dog (repeat)

Review by Masahiko Miyazaki

This being the first night, they seemed a little nervous as they walked on, but the audience burst into very loud applause. After the applause died away, they opened with Jupiter Rising from the new album Green and Blue. This is also the first track on the album, brilliant and melodious, but above all unique, driving and poppy. An excellent opening number with a refrain that rang in my ears for a long time. Right from the start there was a very good feeling throughout the whole audience - just from this song, I could tell this concert was going to be really wonderful. From the opening line “In my dark room” to the chorus of “I can show them Jupiter rising”, the vocal requires great skill - the difficult melody lines and key changes are much trickier for the vocalist than the instrumentalists.

The second number was the classic ‘B’-side Rich For A Day. It sounded aggressive but with an oriental atmosphere. I like this song very much. Dave (keyboards) and Andy (guitar) swapped hard-edged guitar riffs, without seeing Dave’s hands we couldn’t tell who was playing what - Dave’s keyboard ‘guitar solos‘ really do sound like a guitar. Near the end Barbara played percussion, a very nice sight for the audience. I liked Barbara’s ‘Huh!’ interjection in this song - so cool.

The third song Henry and James was originally a ‘B’-side too, but they drastically changed its arrangement. Though it had a programmed backing track, they never played the song this way before - they obviously change the backing tracks every time when they play live. It was great fun for me when Barbara played a keyboard solo in the middle of this song. Maybe it was all ad lib, but she looked so nice as she considered what to play next. Some parts of the song seemed problematic to sing but she mastered it successfully.

The fourth number was Let Me Sleep Tonight from the new album. This is a really tender ballad. They played it in 2001 (in Tokyo) but naturally, the arrangement was different this time. If I didn’t know the background to this tune, I’d believe it was purely a love song. This is a truly lovely song.

Next was a cover song, Walking The Dog. A CD single of this was included in their sales merchandise on this trip. It has three tracks and was released in the UK in the early ‘90s by German label Line Records. As a special offer to the first people to buy Green and Blue, Disk Union (a Japanese record shop chain) attached a free CDR which includes two tracks from this single (but with no cover artwork and just a plain disc). If you don’t have this single, keep your eyes open for it - the mix is different from the original album version. Live, they perform it very playfully. Really fun, with a lot of barking and yapping on the backing track!

The last song in the first set was Any Guru, which they also played in Japan in 2001. Of course, it now has a new arrangement; I’d say it has become much more colourful. There was a good atmosphere at the end of the set prior to the intermission. As he went off stage Dave joked, “See you in 10 years . . . No actually, 15 minutes!” and smiled.

After a short break, they started the second half with a cover version of Joe Zawinul’s In A Silent Way. It opened with a short solo by Dave, then Andy joined in on keyboard and Barbara did a great free-time vocal. Again, a really good starter.

After this quiet, beautiful piece, they played a loud rock’n’roll number, Shakin’ All Over. They first played this in 1996 at a London show and again in 2001 in their Tokyo concerts. Dave told me beforehand that those two arrangements are very different from each other. A rough mix of the 2001 version featured on the ‘TLG Commemorative CD’, and there’s certainly a big difference between that and the current arrangement (which is almost the same as the version on Hour Moon). In an after-show interview at TLG in 2001, Dave asked us all what we thought of the arrangement. We answered “Yes, it’s very good!” but Gavin Harrison and Barbara sighed “He’ll re-do it”. I remember those words!

The next song, also from Hour Moon, was This Wind Blows Everywhere. It’s really fantastic. I asked Dave and Barbara why they didn’t put it on Green and Blue and they answered that there were too many numbers to fit on one CD. Of course, they must know this song is wonderful. I really think this is a deeply moving song, it echoes in my ears for so long.

To my surprise, they then played an unreleased song The Arms of Miklosko, dedicated to the West Ham / Czech international goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko. The rhythm and groove feel very good and I can imagine the big waves of mighty din in the football stadium. I was really surprised that this brand new song was not included on Green and Blue or Hour Moon. Wow! The next album can’t be too far off, I think.

Rat Circus was also played at TLG in 2001, but of course this is a new arrangement. This song has a sting in its lyrics about the music business, which still continues to exploit artists and musicians. Good groove, and I can imagine myself punching the air like a rock fan. The impressive small hand cymbals (Balinese ceng ceng) played by Barbara sounded very strong, with a hard attack. At the end they waved to the audience and walked off stage.

But before they’d even left the stage, the audience started clapping for an encore. They soon came back on and thanked the audience. Dave started playing on his own - the tune was Lobster in Cleavage Probe from Hatfield’s first LP, which he dedicated to Pip Pyle. The backing track gradually came in and the music moved to a much louder section in which Dave played more aggressively. And then the riff of Whole Lotta Shaking In My Heart started up and Barbara and Andy joined in . . . it’s going to burst into rock’n’roll!

The band has been playing this song in Japan since 1991. Every time I hear it, it’s combined in a medley with different songs. In 2001 it followed The Kinks’ Till The End Of The Day and this time the medley started with the Hatfield number Lobster. Hearing it now was a very happy surprise for me. The arrangement is much rockier than before, I think. The really nice thing for me was to see Andy smiling all over his face as he sung the chorus harmonies. At the end, as before, the medley goes into Waiting In The Wings. For this final section the atmosphere changed totally into ‘Dave and Barbara world’. This was a landslide performance. The audience were really excited but after bowing, Dave, Barbara and Andy left the stage.

Of course, the clapping for another encore continued. Again, the three came back on and Dave said, "If you keep on clapping, we’ll on keep playing!" with a big smile. He added, "But we don’t have backing tracks for any more songs, so we’ll play Walking The Dog again." They really like this song! The solo-trading between Dave and Andy was very enjoyable. But this song also had to come to an end, and now, finally, it really was all over.

After the show (as Dave had announced during the concert) the band came out to the hall to meet the fans and chat with them. Every fan took photos and had their albums and CDs signed. Some even bought CDs in a hurry, because as the official Fan Event was on Sunday afternoon they hadn’t brought any items for signing with them. It was a very relaxed scene. Ted the sound engineer was smiling as he saw all the fans, and asked how the CD sales had gone.

That was how things went on the first day.

The Second Night

Tsuki-miru Kimi-omou, Aoyama, Tokyo

Saturday 21st March 2009

SET LIST
1. Jupiter Rising
2. Henry & James (inc. A World Of Difference)
3. Rich For A Day
4. Let Me Sleep Tonight
5. Walking The Dog
6. Any Guru


- intermission -

7. In A Silent Way (Joe Zawinul)
8. This Wind Blows Everywhere
9. The Arms of Miklosko
10. Lobster In Cleavage Probe / Whole Lotta Shaking In My Heart / Waiting in the Wings (medley)
11. Rat Circus


- encore -

12. Shakin' All Over

- encore 2 -

13. Walking the Dog (repeat)

The set list running order was different for each show, though main points such as the opening number of each set stayed the same. These three running orders were well thought out and discussed in advance. A fan who came to all three shows said "It's the magic of the set lists!" I was surprised that last night’s encore medley appeared in the main set today. I was a bit concerned that Barbara's voice was suffering from jet-lag, but that only affected a few moments of her performance early on. For the rest of the show, Barbara let us all hear her really wonderful voice.

To our great surprise, Dave Sinclair (ex-Caravan keyboardist) came from Kyoto to see his namesake Dave, and Barbara. I hear that he is very busy working on his new album these days, but he did find time to come along and talked happily with Dave and Barbara after the show. Funnily enough, Dave Stewart had told us earlier during an interview that when he started playing organ he copied the sound of Mike Ratledge and Dave Sinclair. Good story, isn't it?

Those were the notable events from the second night.

Final Day

Tsuki-miru Kimi-omou, Aoyama, Tokyo

Sunday 22nd March 2009

SET LIST
1. Jupiter Rising
2. Shakin' All Over
3. Henry & James (inc. A World Of Difference)
4. Rich For A Day
5. Let Me Sleep Tonight
6. The Arms of Miklosko


- intermission -

7. In A Silent Way (Joe Zawinul)
8. This Wind Blows Everywhere
9. Walking The Dog
10. Lobster In Cleavage Probe / Whole Lotta Shaking In My Heart / Waiting in the Wings (medley)
11. Rat Circus


- encore -

12. Any Guru

- encore 2 -

13. It's My Party (performed by mobile ringtone!)
14. The Arms of Miklosko (repeat)

On Sunday, we had a matinee performance in order to fit in the after-show fan party. This was the final show on this trip and the band seemed reinvigorated.

As this was the third performance, some fans managed to follow the choruses of Jupiter Rising. This new song has a really difficult melody line - many fans marvel at how well Barbara sings it! Today they were playing really energetically, it’s the best of the three shows. Dave’s soloing is awesome and sends a cold shiver up the spine. I can only say Barbara is very beautiful when singing and her vocals tonight were the strongest of the three concerts. My lasting impression of Barbara is of her looking left and right at Dave and Andy in turn in time to the music with a smile and tender eyes during the instrumental passages when she wasn’t singing. From the audience’s point of view, Barbara rarely smiles on stage, so when a smile like that happens it makes them especially happy. Dave handles the MC duties and impressed us with his style of announcements. But these musicians don't need to make big theatrical gestures on stage because the mere fact of their appearance makes a really big impression on the fans. We are happy simply to see them performing on stage in Japan.

I noticed some famous professional musicians and a well-known Japanese radio presenter / critic in the audience tonight. Some old friends of the duo also came along, including Yasuo Matsunaka (former editor of Keyboard Magazine, Japan), keyboard player Bunmei Ogawa and Junko Fukai of Korg Inc. The famous prog rock keyboardist Hiroyuki Namba walked around to the side of the stage to watch how Dave’s hands move on the keyboards.

The ‘fan event’ took place after the show. After the concert ended, the fans went outside to wait for the room to be re-organised, then came back in again. Even though they had had to wait outside in the rain, most of the audience were still there. Dave and Barbara sat side by side at a table with Andy. At first they just chatted informally with fans while drinking and eating snacks. Some time later, a Q&A session with microphones and Japanese translation started. There were many questions about their current activities, about their old bands, and of course about their future plans. At one point, Dave loudly declared: “I’d like to make an announcement: I am NOT going to retire, I intend to keep rocking. We will definitely make a new album”. This produced the loudest applause of all (and very little booing - D.S.). After a short break, there was a signing / photo session. Very long queues formed, with people bringing many LPs / CDs / books for signing. After a long time, the fan event finally came to an end.

That was the final day.

Epilogue

The morning of their scheduled return to the UK, a FedEx cargo plane crashed at Narita International Airport, resulting in the cancellation of all flights that day. Dave & Barbara were forced to postpone their return trip for two days, so took the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Tokyo while they waited for their flight home.

Masahiko Miyazaki


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