Box News #279 – March 26, 2019

Mick Box and his 2019 daily Tour Diary with Uriah Heep!

Mick documents the mighty Heep’s ‘Living the Dream’ Japanese tour 2019. “Appy days”!

Well it was only 6 days at home before we were off to Japan to play 2 shows in one night in Osaka and 4 shows over 2 nights in Tokyo at the Billboard Live venue in both cities.

As it was an early check in on British Airways I decided to stay at the London Heathrow Travel Lodge hotel the night before, along with Bernie, Scampi, Brian, Angus and Aaron. Everyone else came in the morning. I find the Travel Lodges just fine on a quick overnighter like that, and it sure beats fighting the traffic in the morning.

We all met at the British Airways check in desk, and as we were carrying our flying gear it was imperative that we all checked in our own suitcase and one piece of equipment each. A couple of days earlier we had a business meeting with our managers Ace trump and Adam Parsons at Kings Cross, and it was really cool that Ace was coming to Japan with us.

After checking in, Phil and I had breakfast at Giraffes Restaurant, Russ and Davey had brekky in Wagamama’s, while the rest all went in the lounge. I always like to start the journey off with a good healthy breakfast, that you do not always get in the lounge, even if it is for free, and it is always a gamble to what you get on the plane.

We settled in on the plane and we were in Premium Class, which actually did make a difference. However Brian’s luck was in, as he was bumped up to Business Class. I watched 4 films on the journey one was ‘Green Book,’ which was excellent. ‘A Star is Born’, which is brilliant, and ‘The Girl in the Spiders Web’ which was also good. The final film was the light hearted ‘King of Thieves,’ about a bank robbery, which was an easy watch. The food and drink were all good and really it was an eleven hour flight, that was not too bad in the end.

Once in Tokyo we had to catch a connecting flight to Osaka. This was pretty easy and we caught the flight that was only an hour long. On arrival we were met by our promoters representatives for Billboard Live, and we drove to the hotel. We arranged to meet at 7 o’clock in the bar to go out for dinner. Russ decided to stay and eat at the hotel which I am sure he regretted as it was £10 just for a coffee latte. We ended up eating in a Japanese Restaurant close by the hotel down the Ginza strip. It was a bustling place with so many places to eat, and you really felt like you were in Japan big time.

As it was St Patrick’s day we found an Irish Pub which was pretty surreal, as when we walked through the door there were Japanese musicians playing traditional Irish music, on traditional Irish instruments. Also all the beer and Sake had green food colouring in it. We found some of the crew in there already and a lot of the people had Green wigs, so we joined in, and celebrate we did. So much so Ace had to get me home which was very kind of him. The others stayed there until late, but for me jet lag and Sake is not a good combination.

In the morning everyone had a story to tell about Jet Lag and to a man we had been hit hard with it. Luckily it was a day off, so we could try and acclimatise, but It was a problem that did not seem to want to go away. We had a pretty relaxed day and had lunch in a Burger restaurant called ‘Shake Shack,’ that Ace said there was a chain of in the USA. I think after that heavy night the Burger lunch was just what we needed. Russ tried to join us, but he could not find it so we did not see him until sound check time.

After this we went to Tower Records and had a good old time. This was just behind the hotel, so it was just a short walk which was great. Davey bought some Japanese ‘Queen’ items and so did Ace. We had pictures taken with the staff, and they asked if they could use it on their media site which of course we said yes. It was a sad day when Tower Records in Los Angeles and New York closed as they were fantastic places to hang and browse in, especially in the good old vinyl days, as you could lose hours in there.

We then met in the bar for 7pm to go to dinner. We went back to the Ginza area and had a confusing meal. The lady serving us could not understand what we wanted and all the food orders were wrong, so it was a major disappointment. I must point out at this juncture, that I am absolutely useless with Chop Sticks. I find them so labour intensive balancing a grain of rice on a stick is not my style, so I always ask for a fork. That way I am always guaranteed satisfaction and a good mouthful of food, the way it should be! Anyway after our disastrous meal we ended up eating a snack back at the hotel before going to bed. However, Bernie could not wait, so he went off for some Sushi on his own.

The following day was a gig day at the Billboard Live, and we had to have a sound check, as we were on hired gear as well as our own flying equipment. We were doing two shows one at 6.30pm for an hour and one at 9.30pm. Our sound check was at 4pm, so there was a lot of hanging about to do.

The Billboard Live venue is a strange venue, as it was a place where the audience goes in to eat dinner, while looking at a giant video screen over the stage of Japanese Artists performing. Apart from the rows of tables in front of the stage there are huge spaces either side with tables and 3 balconies high up facing the stage. All in all it holds a whole lot of people. Our friend Pat Choy introduced to us by our manager Ace Trump, joined us from Los Angeles. Well actually Pat had been in Tokyo for a few days prior to joining us.

Well our intro tape went on, and a cheer went up, and although it was actually 9.30am UK time, we hit our stride full of adrenaline and it was a great show. The Japanese audience were marvellous and they were waving and cheering and it seemed like they were just happy to be there and rock out with us. They even knew the new songs which was great as we start with Davey’s ‘Grazed By Heaven,’ and they were all singing the chorus with arms in the air.

We were contracted to play at each venue, two 1hour shows, so the first performance seemed to be very successful, but over very quickly. On leaving the stage on the first show I was presented by a lovely lady a bunch of flowers, which was very kind of her, but soon it was back to the dressing room to have a light snack before the next performance. It was a 2 hour wait but there was nothing we could do about that. However as we had 2 shows we did mix up the set lists, so that each set was slightly different. I was glad we did that because on the second show, I saw a number of faces that had been to the first show.

Well the second show was much like the first and we had them all standing up and rockin’ out from the first note to the end. It may have been different to what we usually do concert-wise, but it was still a lot of fun and great to see how much they all enjoyed our music. To be honest after they had been sitting through their dinner with a relatively quite video screen to watch, and then we come on like a Panza Tank speeding at 80 miles an hour at full volume, I was surprised at how well they rocked out with us. Osaka did us proud!

After the show we had a little dinner and then most of us went back to the hotel to try and get some sleep, to attempt to try and beat the jet lag. Well in the morning at breakfast there were cries of I had 4 hours sleep, I had 2 hours sleep from everyone, and just general quality shut eye was in short supply.

Well we had to fly to Tokyo the following day as well as play two shows, so it was a tough one. The crew took an earlier flight so that they could set up at the venue and the band and Ace took a slightly later flight. The bottom line was that we arrived at the hotel with just one hour to go before sound check time. Bernie’s face looked like a Salvador Dali Melting Clock, so he skipped the sound check and went to bed. The rest of us had no choice, so we rushed and got ready and went down to the show.

Apart from the sound-check, between that and the first show, were scheduled a bunch of interviews which although were necessary, we could have well done without. On the plus side though at least it stopped us from nodding off in a corner somewhere. Bernie joined us about 30mins before showtime and this venue was identical to the one in Osaka in every way.

It was a 6.30pm kick off for the first show, and it was packed to the rafters and we had a great time. It was a good atmosphere and it felt good to be back in Tokyo. It was a fantastic reaction and it is strange that no matter how tired you are, you raise your game from the first note you play, as if you were as fresh as a Daisy. That is good old adrenaline kicking in. It was another 2 hours before the next show which we filled with having a bite to eat and just generally bantering around keeping ourselves busy. I kept having presents sent back to me in the dressing room and given to the staff to give to me, which was amazing. They ranged from Chocolates, Japanese Fans, Heep bootleg CD’s & DVD’s, and cards and letters etc.

My wife Sheila’s sister, Anne-Marie’s son Mark, is living in Tokyo, as he works there for an Insurance Company, and he was coming to the second show with his lady Cintia. I was really excited to see him as we have not seen a lot of Mark over the last couple of years with him being ensconced in Japan. Well he turned up at the second show with Cintia and some friends and he managed to get back to the dressing room which is no mean feat, as there were lifts involved and a whole kitchen type world back where we were. It was good to see him and he like me is a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur’s football fan, and before leaving for Japan I popped down to the new gift shop in the new stadium and bought him a Spurs watch and some Spurs Headphones, which he loved.

The other surprise we had was that Judas Priest had just arrived in Tokyo from Australia to play the Download festival, so guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap came to the show.

The second show was much like the first and once again I saw quite a few people down the front that were at the first show. We had another cool concert and the excitement went up another level when Richie jumped up on to the stage to play ‘Easy Livin’ with us. That’s was a real blast and it was so good to see Richie and Andy prior to us joining them as special guests in the USA and Canada starting 3rd of May in Florida for 2 months.

Well we left everyone standing and shouting for more and it was great to see how into our music the fans were, which was great, and we then headed back to the dressing room which filled up considerably with all of the guests. It was buzzing there for quite a while.

After some time it was back to the hotel to the bar to have a night cap. Well for some this turned out to be the whole hat shop, as after one drink in the bar they all went out to a club.

How they could do that I will never know, but jet lag can do funny things to you after a few bevvies. Mind you I used to do it regularly in the old days, so I do not know what I am talking about, but hey I cannot do it now for sure without the pain that goes with it.

Well with that mass exodus from the bar, it left Bernie and I with the bar bill from hell. I paid most of it and Bernie helped, then we went up to our rooms.

At the hotel Bernie had the room across from me, so we arranged that he would bang on my door for breakfast. Well I had a hellish night of no sleeping, but I got out of bed on my alarm and went to the toilet for number ones which ended up being number twos. Well the toilet seat was very warm as they are over there in Japan, and while I was sitting there my eyes got very sleepy basking in the warmth, so when Bernie banged on my door to go to breakfast, I said quietly, ‘Mate I’ll skip it today and see you for lunch’ and while the warm toilet seat had made me sleepy, I tried to keep that moment going, and I quickly washed up and crawled back into bed and got the best 3 hours sleep thus far. ‘Appy days or should I say ‘Appy heated toilet seat days!

On the toilet front, the Japanese really do have it down so to speak. Apart from a heated seat there are a number of controls on the side that will wash and dry just about any permutation you can throw at it. I am a simple man so I left it all well alone. Also they never leave anything to chance as I was using a toilet outside in Tokyo, and beside the urinals they had a hook for your umbrella. Now that’s a first, but when you think about it holding an umbrella and trying to have a pee can be quite treacherous, but not for these guys. Put the brolly on the hook, pee to your hearts content, job done.

At lunch Bernie and I found a restaurant a short walk down from the hotel called the ‘Outback.’ Now I had eaten in this chain of restaurants before in other countries, so we had a full-some lunch, and we returned to the hotel to get ready for the show. Now I do love Sushi and Japanese cuisine, but there is only so much of it I can eat, so our lunch in the ‘Outback,’ was most welcome.

The show today was even earlier as for the first set we were on stage at 4.30pm Japanese time. The stories started to unravel about the shenanigans of the night before, and so it goes some of the party made it back to the hotel for breakfast and then went straight to bed for a couple of hours before the lobby call.

Going on that early was strange, but once again when we were on stage and saw how into the music they all were, we were fine and we had a good time. Between shows I was given another lot of presents from fans which was lovely. My suitcase was laden down with them all. The second set was a 7.30pm start so we were all done and dusted by 8.30pm.

I have to say as unusual as it was playing the Billboard Live, coupled with the Jet lag, it was an incredible experience that I am glad we did. The venue staff were courteous, nothing was too much trouble for them, and everything ran on time from the transport to being on stage on time. The Japanese fans we met in the venue, and in the hotels and even in the street were fantastic, and the cool news is that we signed more ‘Living the Dream’ product than anything else, which is a good sign in my book.

We had a 9am lobby call the next day, so after breakfast we packed our flying equipment and suitcases into the waiting transport, and of we went to Tokyo Narita Airport. Leaving behind Ace and Pat who were staying on for a further 7 days to enjoy the delights that Japan has to offer.

Our British Airways flight home was fine and I watched in between napping, a film called ‘Widows,’ and one called ‘A Cure for Wellness’ which in all honesty I slept through most of it, though a film called ‘Can you ever Forgive Me’ was great. The food and drink were fine and we landed on time. We all collected our suitcases and took our various transports home, and it was good to walk through my front door to be attacked with happiness from my dog Iggy, hugs and kisses from Sheila and Romeo, but not even the slightest acknowledgement form Biscuit our cat, but I expected that. Oh boy my bed was looking good, but I had to stay up a few hours otherwise I would be hit with the UK version of Jet Lag, which I so wanted to avoid. ‘Home Sweet Home,’ you cannot beat it.

‘Appy days!

2 Responses to “Box News #279 – March 26, 2019”

  1. Glen Doucet (Canada) Says:

    Glad the short Japan tour went so well……Heep has fans in every corner of the globe…..’appy Days…..

  2. I am truly delighted to glance at this website posts which contains plenty of useful data,
    thanks for providing these kinds of statistics.

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