I wake up feeling a little bit fizzy due to beer and a nip of sake at 2am. We take a train into the centre of town and I stow my bag in a station locker. Yasuko and I meet Misako, another friend, for lunch. We go for a wander around Yokohama, it is utterly modern and weirdly artificial. I buy more stickers.
Today I don’t really care about anything other than getting to the show on time. As it turns out we are early and I sit outside with a beer and chat to Chris and the intense American woman who was around the other night. I don’t think they’d realised that I would be talking to Thom the other night, I’m trying to be laid back but I’m probably not doing very well.
Once I’m inside I have enough time to buy a poster, there is a special folded one with Amnesiac artwork just for this tour. I’ve got a seat in a box again, but it’s a different one to last night, slightly further back. Clinic have already started and it’s dark so I can’t see. By the time the Ink Spots CD kicks in, I’m in my seat and ready.
From the first moment they know that tonight is the one. Bam! They hit the stage with full force and it stays like that for the whole of the first hour. I hardly notice the time passing, I’m on my feet doing the freaky dance for the duration, I have to rest during Paranoid Android because my legs are starting to hurt. I don’t care if I’m in anyone’s way. I get some energy back and dance to a typically jerky Idioteque. Everything In Its Right Place, which has been my favourite every night, is so great. I clap until my hands sting. The feeling is at its strongest and I’m not sure whether to cry or scream or just keep repeating “Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go!”.
Looking at my copy of the set list, I can only remember elation mixed with the feeling I get when it’s the final show of a tour. Thom reminded the crowd it was the last one like he was happy that he got to go home now… he also seemed unsure when they would be playing live next.
By now the live versions of the Kid A and Amnesiac songs are outstripping the recorded ones about three fold. Kid A seems hollow by comparison. In the live stuff there is abandon and energy in place of the clinical precision. This is the main reason why I keep coming back for more.
The crew’s promised practical joke was a remote controlled robot that invaded the stage during Paranoid Android, in the end it was a bit half-hearted. Ed and Coz tried to kick it and Thom didn’t even notice. They came back on for the “good vibes” of Street Spirit, absolutely rocked out The Bends and then all five of them came back to form a line at the lip of the stage to take a bow, each clutching a champagne glass to toast the crew.
Then they proceed to play a tidy version of Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. “We love this!” says Thom. It has riffs, flourishes and joy. I don’t know the original (yet) but I’m humming it all the way through the throng to the back of the hall to wait for the others. Caffy is there with her laminate and I try to make Yasuko wait here so I can get her in with us. I’m feeling good as I know I will see Thom again one more time and complete the mission to get everyone’s stuff signed by Jonny.
We get beer and talk to Caffy. I want to help the others to meet the band but I also need to be an individual entity for the evening, a separate person. We wait a long while for other folks to appear, so by the time I get a pass for Yasuko, she’s already been chucked out of the venue. The beer flows and so do the vodka and orange juices. I have to stop worrying about everybody else. I shouldn’t try to do impossible favours, this is the last show and who knows when the next one will be, good vibes have to be stored, goodbyes have to be said and so do thank yous.
I chat to Phil. “So that’s the last one then, have you enjoyed it?”
“Of course,” I say. “You get to go home now.”
“So do you.” He replies.
I explain that I’m staying around for another week and then going to Australia for a month. I tell him I’ll have to get a new job when I get back and he says, “Would you rather be working or touring around?” I tell him I think we have already answered that question…
There’s a spare set list from tonight’s show on top of a flight case so I nab it and when Thom appears he finds Keiko and I are still standing while everyone else has got stuck into the vodka, he sticks around to talk to us.
“Did you hear I got mobbed?” he asks gleefully.
“You what?!” I’m surprised he seems so uncharacteristically pleased about this.
“You know that T-shirt you gave me, well it’s probably going to be in The Face. We went outside into the people waiting at the back door and Jason took photos.”
Apparently everyone was a bit stunned but he just stood there and let them crowd him. He stands stock still to demonstrate. “It was mad!”
“You love it!” I say, laughing. He laughs too.
I have more Tokyu Hands stickers and hand over one with “It’s new I’ll give you a ride on it!” over a picture of a moped, for him to give to Jonny, who is yet to show up himself. Keiko is a bit tipsy and she’s hugging everyone. I produce the set list and ask Thom to sign it, as he made a mess of autographing my magazine last night. He leans on my book and does a completely over the top satellite O in his name, which makes me unfeasibly happy.
“Oh,” says Thom, “He didn’t get a scooter in the end. Bottled it at the last minute.”
I give Thom a ‘baby on board’ sticker when he said he’d not seen that particular one. He’s trying to take some more from my pile but I tell him off, he’s already got loads. He goes off to get another drink and see some people, but says he’ll come back to us later.
The jumpy American woman bumps up, the US contingent had been huddled together in a corner looking on disapprovingly at our drinking, taking things seriously while me and the Japanese girls were enjoying ourselves. She’s got a bag of stuff, mini discs, CDs, books and apparently she’s trying to lighten her luggage. She circles on Thom wanting to explain why she’s here and what she’s got for him, keeps repeating herself and can’t get it out. He’s got his head on one side listening, being very understanding. I cough and hint and Keiko makes a face and Thom makes a face at me in return. She’s just about done. I want to pull Thom away and rescue him. She’s going, no she’s still here. By now we are all three of us trying not to laugh.
Jonny is around and I trouble him for a signature on Atsuko’s stuff. I tell him I’ve given his sticker to Thom, but he is polite as ever and willing to talk to me. I tell him that tonight was the best show, that Japan has been amazing and that I’m off to Australia next, it is possible that I would travel somewhere without the incentive of Radiohead gigs.
Thom comes back and Keiko is in full hugging mode, language seems inadequate. She thanks him for playing Lurgee and later she told me that he whispered to her that they played it because it was her favourite. She’s a bit teary and we’re all getting a bit tired and emotional. When the beer runs out, she drinks some of Thom’s Champagne.
We are still chatting as the rest of the band are leaving, space and time is unravelling with drink. Keiko gives Thom a huge hug and I ask if it’s OK to take a picture. I take one of Thom and Keiko, Keiko takes one of him and me and he takes one of me and her. As he turns to go he tells me to have a good time in Australia, and I give him a hug myself. The big bouncer is asking us to make our way out and I’m so happy and full up, I don’t want the moment spoiled. We know the drill by now, don’t rush us.
Keiko and Izzy wobble down the long corridor, I’m sort of crying now, following behind, it probably won’t ever get better than this. Outside there are a pack of patient people waiting to see the band off. The Western contingent stand around separately. The other intense American woman is there and Jeff and his friend, plus Astral Chris. Yasuko is crying, I hug her and explain and apologise, give her the autographed stuff. Remember the good things, what else can we do? I’m too emotional right now. I manage to talk to Chris, without having to say it, none of us want to leave until the very end.
Eventually Keiko phones home and her folks come to pick us up. One of the intense American women gives Keiko a present for Phil, that she hadn’t yet managed to pass on. She doesn’t like these people being so familiar with her but it is taken as read that Keiko will go to the airport to wave the band off in the morning. It’s like she says, “This is my job.”
Back in Tokyo we eat and try in vain to sleep. Izzy turns up in the early hours, unable to remember how she got back…