Friday, November 13, 2009

Sayonara Screamathon!

Live: The Only Ones
King Cobra Club, Osaka, Japan

Now this is strange. Surveying the darkest corners of King Cobra, I perceive I am the only westerner among the fifty-odd Japanese fans who have made it to Osaka on this chilly November evening. But then I spy an enigmatic looking lady whom I later discover is Peter Perrett’s charming wife Xena.

I’m amazed to run into a few Kyoto friends stage front.
Who knew they were into this band? Look out, there might be some secret Only Ones fans in your neighborhood, too.

The DJ is playing a decent selection of new wave tunes, the kind of singles you might have heard at any Only Ones show back in ’78: A Certain Ratio, Durutti Column, The Undertones and - most fittingly - the late, great Johnny Thunders.

No sooner has she started spinning Joy Division’s Isolation than here come The Only Ones and, as in Tokyo, they begin with a full tilt version of The Immortal Story.
It's a brilliant start and I’m astonished when a Japanese guy immediately in front of me starts to pogo! Time Warp City!

The guys continue with Programme and Perrett looks chuffed at the warm reception. By the time they get to Black Operations the crowd is going bananas and starts shrieking and whooping up a storm. Maybe they think it’s The Beatstalkers up there. The show quickly turns into an hilarious screamathon as the band join in with the fans.

I hate to say it, but this does conform to the stereotype of Osaka people as the loosest, loudest, most in your face of all Japanese. Certainly last Saturday’s Tokyo crowd - enthusiastic as they were - didn’t get nearly as rowdy.

The sound isn't great but the music rocks. When they hit Another Girl, Another Planet the place predictably goes nuts and the guy in front starts pogoing again. A good portion of the crowd sing along not only to the band’s most celebrated song but with most of the other numbers too.

I must say that after 8 years in this country I have the utmost respect for Japanese music fans. On the surface reserved and taciturn, they are a committed, knowledgeable bunch who support their favorite artists with a passion. There’s inevitably a relaxed, welcoming vibe at Japanese shows, and this newly chilled-out bunch of Only Ones seem to dig it too.

For the second time in a week I find myself coming over all emotional at an Only Ones show. Two teary Japanese guys fling their arms around me in a gesture which goes beyond words. I think it means, “I'm on another planet with you.”

Then we are treated to a song few fans have heard of, let alone witnessed live. In Hamamatsu they played a chorus of Watch You Drown for the first time in thirty years. Tonight Peter manages to remember two verses and there’s a gorgeously expressive solo from Mr. Perry.

The version of Miles from Nowhere the band conjure tonight is, quite simply,
immense, Perry’s guitar soars. Then the guitar man introduces Why Don’t You Kill Yourself? as “a bit of hari-kiri for ya.”

There are two encores. From Here to Eternity features more gritty guitar from Perry, maybe the best he’s played tonight. Finally The Beast builds and builds until it ends in a maelstrom of feedback, an appropriately dramatic finale to the Only Ones’ whirlwind 2009 tour of Japan.

And that's yer lot.

Four shows in six days and a hell of a week for Only Ones fans in the land of the falling yen. Peter, John, Mike and Alan, "Sayonara,” and “Arigato gozaimashita!” Don't be strangers and come back soon. Y'hear?

Set list: The Immortal Story/Programme/In Betweens/Transfixed/It’s the Truth/Black Operations/Till it Hurts/Flaming Torch/Louder than Words/As My Wife Says/ 'C' Voyeurger/ The Big Sleep/Another Girl, Another Planet/Me and My Shadow/Watch You Drown/Is This How Much/Lovers of Today/Miles from Nowhere/Why Don’t You kill Yourself?/From Here to Eternity/Trouble in the World/The Beast

Photo Set HERE

Video: The Only Ones, "Is This How Much?"


MC said...

Ms. Kakoulli's name- Xena.
'Program' is actually Programme,
New songs- World Without Her Love is called 'C' Voyeurger, Is This How Much is correct as is Black Operations and Louder Than Words (if it's the one with the line 'That's the way it goes, That's the way it always goes'). Not sure of Night Child, Till it Hurts.
Great series of blogs on all of the shows, thanks.

Shiffi Le Soy said...


Thanks a million for the corrections! Very much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Are you Shiffi or Dale?

Cushion Meg said...

Hi Shiffi, I was just about to ask you whether you really came to see their Osaka live that chilly night and how you felt about the audiences here in Osaka. Oh, before my posting, you posted up your answer to my asking. I see, I can imagine. It seems that it was almost the same as I had expected. (^^)

Shiffi Le Soy said...

So we are both psychic, Meg!!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Anonymous: Dale is Shiffi and Shiffi is Dale and never the twain shall meet!

Dave said...

Its nice what you said about the Japanese fans. I guess they are famous for their love of music.