Japan Duet Tour -- June 9, 2006
5/27/2017 2:16:15 AM - June 9, 2006 -- Rainy days and Mondays...I was bound to run into bad weather as June is rainy season in Japan. Fortunately we were headed to Osaka where the rain had already lifted.

We nearly missed our shinkansen because of the Friday traffic and in fact changed our course midway from Tokyo Station to Shinagawa station to catch the stop after Tokyo, and made it with minutes to spare -- whew! The Japanese train schedules are NEVER off, even by a second.

I always feel a little unsteady, almost dizzy and lightheaded, after riding the shinkansen, and today was no different. Probably something to do with the magetic fields of the rails. After staying at the luxurious Cerulean Tower, the hotel in Osaka was a definite step down but in a great location, right at the Osaka station with 3 major department stores just steps away. The Blue Note was also close by so I knew the area well.

Today's performance was at a new live house, Shangrila. A nice cozy venue with a proper stage and PA, I predicted the sound was going to be great and was right. I also had the omnious feeling, though, after meeting the less than hospitable and rather cool manager, who barely looked at me in the eye let alone never once greeting me with a simple hello, and seeing the lack of flyers or anything to promote the live, that we were going to have a skinny audience. My senses are rarely far off.

In all fairness to the club, aside from the manager, the rest of the staff were really great, making sure we were comfortable with the sound, ultra-professional and courteous. After sound check, we went straight to dinner -- Nyoro found a great tofu restaurant in our hotel building. She has a great nose for food. I barely had time to slap on my make-up before heading back to the venue for our 8:00 performance.

The floor had morphed with chairs for the audience, which I personally like for the duet setting as opposed to people having to stand, but the club had put on heavy and minimal instrumental music, making the mood very DARK. By the time Higuchi-san and I walked out on stage, the bg was one lone trumpet ala Mark Isham and I got the sense that this is probably not what an audience wants on their Friday night. I would've been bored to tears!

We split up the set of 11 songs, putting a 15 minute break in between. I like to try and fire up an audience in the beginning by putting 2 strong and lively, but easy, pieces, then slowly move into more complex or softer tunes. Osaka audiences are especially moody, something Genta taught me in the beginning of my performance career years ago, and if you don't catch their interest from the beginning, you've lost them the whole concert. So when the claps seemed less intense by the 4th tune, I started to fear that perhaps I was losing them, but by the very end, people seemed to have finally relaxed and I started to see more smiles, and even was able to coerce them to sing along on some songs. That night I also sang "Lovin' You" at the suggestion of Nyoro, who said that she'd seen postings in music sites from fans wondering if I was going to do it this tour. Apparently the "Free Soul" compilation which came out last September, which included my acoustic live version of "Lovin' You," had caused a buzz in the Kansai area.

Overall it was a good night, the sound was fantastic, and the audience, while a bit shy, was warm and generous with their praise. There was a group of 4 young guys who were so sweet who I had a good time hanging with at the end. One had a sad story of his estranged father who now lies in his deathbed with cancer whom he hadn't seen in years, and another had brought along his pet, a beautiful puppy with sad eyes and soft white fur, whom he'd found as a stray 6 months earlier. I like moments like this where I get to see the audience not as those who are there to hear and see me, but as individuals with stories of their own.
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