46. Osaka, Osaka-Jo Hall, 30 September 2001

Yasuko and I walk through the underground mall to avoid the rain, have breakfast in a café and then catch the courtesy bus back to the Imperial Hotel.

We are going to stay in the hotel tonight, we are sharing with Atsuko, if we split the twin room three ways it’s only a little bit more expensive than the very basic place we stayed at last night. We can’t check in until 2pm, so we go to Keiko and Izzy’s room and find them just getting up. We all go out and meet Katsu in another mall, Hep 5, it has a Ferris wheel attached. We look around Snoopy Town, a shop entirely dedicated to characters from the Peanuts cartoon. Then we all have frozen yoghurt in the Lovers of Yoghurt shop. We head back to the hotel in time for the 1 o’clock organ and discover there is actually a person down there playing.

I’m sitting on a sofa, nonchalantly looking at my book and the others are scattered around the lobby. Thom is at the check-in desk, he’s early for once and then he comes and sits on a stool in front of me and has a moment. He’s a bit hung-over, a bit tired, he’s had about 4 cups of coffee (“it’s not strong enough”), it must be jetlag and I mutter something about my own insomnia and then wish I hadn’t when he looks concerned and says, “That’s not good.”

The others descend on us to say their hellos and give him gifts, then Thom shows us some of the cool stuff he’s bought this morning in Tokyu Hands hardware store. Jonny bought a coat for his very small dog. Thom shows us a sign with a crossed out mobile phone (which will end up on stage later on the back of the Rhodes organ) apparently it translates as ‘NO mobiles in the hospital’; he has a selection of stickers and he says they are destined to go on his guitar. One has a sleeping baby, that’s for Noah. He leafs through the pile of stickers to show the others and then passes them to me. He asks me if I’ve been to the shop yet and I tell him I did briefly, he comes to a blue sticker with a panda on it that bears the legend ‘I miss you’ and I make an appreciative noise (I have a thing for pandas). “You can keep it,” he says, “I’ve got more.”

More girls appear with gifts and want autographs. Izzy has a copy of Cut magazine from last year with loads of Stanley’s Kid A artwork in it. “Sign your favourite one.” Thom hasn’t seen it before and begins leafing through the pages. He turns to the flying bears one, which I say is my favourite, although we agree it’s a little weird now after New York and everything. And then he realises that the next picture is actually called World Trade Centre. “Fuckin’ ‘ell!” we both say.

We agree that there is some dark stuff in Stan’s brain. Keiko produces special pens and gets Thom to draw on her phone and he does elaborate Os and signs things for the others, I don’t have anything handy for him to draw on. The promoter shows up and it’s time to leave. Izzy says he was a “Chimpira” (a jerk) for not realising who we were, didn’t see Thom with us, was rude to her. I demonstrate how to react to such treatment with a hard stare. I teach her how to say “Don’t you know who I am?”.

We retire to Keiko’s room and slowly get ready. We meet Atsuko at Osaka-Jo station. I’d forgotten how tiny she is, but it’s good to see her. We talk a lot. We walk to the venue and realise that the doors open very early – 5pm for 6. We check the guest list and collect passes for all of us. We sit in almost the same seats as last night, all in the same row. On the way I eat a skewer of yakitori and drain a bottle of coke but it only goes a small way to countering my headache, I don’t think I’ve been getting enough caffeine.

Clinic are hard work the second night in a row but their allotted half hour passes fast. I see “Astral Clouds” (a.k.a. Chris, one of the boardies I met in Belfast). He is sitting behind us and wants to meet the legendary Keiko. I point her out but now it’s time for the gig. The atmosphere has lifted, last night everyone commented on how quiet it was, now it feels more lively.

The band do everything right tonight and somehow it’s got more of the feeling than last night. Sometimes when they have to fight for it, it shows through in the performance, they are more determined. Everything In Its Right Place gets REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It as an intro. Idioteque kicks in with full-on berserk dancing. We can see Ed doing his best effortless sexy rock moves on the big screens. They do Permanent Daylight and then return for an encore of The Thief (by Can, “buy all their records, they’re great. This is dedicated to George Bush who is a thief and will always be a thief, just someone else’s monkey.”) They end on The Tourist, which calms it down nicely.

We wait around. Atsuko sits against the wall, someone told her they could see a ghost behind her and she’s not taking any chances. We persuade Yasuko to use her pass and come with us, it will be her first aftershow and she is nervous. There are issues at play here that I don’t understand.

Tim is first on the scene, trying to break the ranks. He’s had enough of the rather officious Japanese security and their over zealous tidiness. He can’t put anything down anywhere without someone moving it, he couldn’t take drinks onto the stage. He asks Keiko for some choice Japanese phrases and when I produce my phrase book he reads out some of the cultural tips to the amusement of the assembled natives then takes it with him to make notes.

Tim says “Don’t stand here talking to me, go talk to the band.” But they are all engaged. Thom is behind us with uber-fan and magazine boss Mr Tanaka from Snoozer. He’s talking about having trouble keeping up with new music since Noah was born. Again there is no booze, only pear juice, but the band have found their white wine. We’re all standing in a big circle and Thom comes to us next. I tell him that the freaky dancing was even freakier than usual and he says he put his back out during Idioteque. He is rosy cheeked from his wine and the heat and very talkative. It was a better show but they still found the crowd quiet. He said he tried to keep the gaps to a minimum, leaning and beckoning during You And Whose Army usually whips up the throng but here it was greeted with bewilderment.

It’s too early, we’re all sober. “Sober!” you should go and get drunk. He promises Izzy some Vodka for when Caffy is here. Caffy will be in Tokyo for only two days, that’s no time to be sober. He says he wanted to say “How’s your business?” in Japanese – a standard Osaka greeting, but he wasn’t sure the crowd would take it the right way.

Yasuko and I go back to the Imperial via a convenience store, I have some cold noodles and a beer. I chat to Atsuko for ages, talking rapidly to reclaim my English, it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t understand me, she knows what I’m talking about. It’s soon past midnight and I’m falling asleep. All three of us share the big bed. Atsuko has to get up at 6am and go to work. Yasuko, sitting out in the corridor for most of the night, doesn’t seem to sleep at all.