Having been through the disappointment of a cancelled Stone Roses gig last year in Tokyo, there were two ways I could have approached this one.
The conspiracy theorists may suggest that it was very convenient that Reni ‘broke his rib’ last year but miraculously recovered in time for the massive dates in Manchester just a few weeks later, and decide to boycott this gig as a result.
For me however there was no way I was missing out again after hearing how good they were at those Etihad gigs last summer, not to mention how much time I spend reminiscing about Benicassim 2012 and the Heaton Park gig of the same year. Truth be told, I couldn’t hand over my ¥9,000 quickly enough!
I met Adam (who you may remember from Mt Fuji and the Japanese Grand Prix) at Kudanshita station at around 5pm and we swiftly decided that food and beer were top of the agenda. With gigs in Japan often having no support act and starting much earlier than back home, it’s always a bit of a rush to get enough beer down you before the band take to the stage.
Thankfully for us there was a bar not too far away from the Budokan which was just calling our names. With the promise of non-stop Stone Roses, reasonably priced alcohol and good food, we were sold.
After eating my second helping of raw horse meat in a week and downing a few swift beers it was time to head on over to the venue for the 7pm start. After all, we wanted to get a good spot for the gig.
Yeah, about that…
Having gone for the tickets with the title ‘arena stand’, we were fully expecting to be standing on the floor level in the front of the stage as I usually am at gigs. Imagine our surprise to find that the entire venue was seated! All seating! At a Stone Roses gig!
Just to rub salt into the wounds, not only did we have seats, but we were right up in the gods. Marvellous!
One apparent positive however was that you seemed to be able to bring your own cans into the venue. If only we’d known! Instead we had to shell out ¥400 for a small can of Asahi and with queues about 30 people deep, we opted to get four each to tide us over until the end of the gig. In hindsight this was an excellent move as they managed to sell out way before the end of the gig to our dismay!
In very un-Japanese fashion the band were about 10 minutes late on stage but very quickly made up for it by reeling off hit after hit. After the obligatory opener of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ it was nice to hear ‘Elephant Stone’ which I’d never heard live before. At one point Ian Brown even tried out some Japanese by telling the crowd “kata ga itai” (my shoulder hurts), which was quite impressive!
Unfortunately the Budokan is not a venue specifically for gigs and the sound quality really proved that; and no, I’m not talking about Ian’s voice. Many students had told me before the gig that the venue was known for its poor sound and sadly they were right. It was almost impossible to hear the entire band at once, as one instrument always seemed to be quieter than the rest.
Their quality did shine through though and Reni in particular put in a mind blowing performance. At times I found myself absolutely in awe of the man and I’m struggling to name a better drummer I’ve seen in the flesh.
As expected the band played their entire self-titled first album, a few from ‘Second Coming’, a few randoms as well as last year’s comeback single ‘All For One’. There was a notable shift in the crowd’s enthusiasm when the band played anything not from the debut album, as the large majority seemed less interested.
It was during one of these more subdued moments that I noticed what had to be the single most Japanese thing ever! Despite the gig being all seating, everyone in the venue took to their feet as soon as Mani started the iconic bass line of the opening number. However, there were certain boundary lines to be adhered to, and adhered to they were! Outstandingly well!
After the standard set closers of ‘This Is The One’ and ‘I Am The Resurrection’ it was time to head out into the night – or evening, seeing as the gig finished before 8.30pm!
Unfortunately the poor sound quality of the Budokan let the band down, but it’s always a pleasure to see John Squire and Reni in particular putting on a clinic in their respective instruments. I’m not sure if or when there’ll be more new music, even less so what to expect from it but for now I’m just enjoying the third coming.
Long live the resurrection!
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