For Whom The Bell Tells… Issue 25

For Whom The Bell Tells… Issue 25

Japan Tour Diary

I’ve changed the format slightly for my latest blog and wanted to share my diary from the last two weeks with you. I hope you enjoy reading this. We had an incredible fortnight in Japan. I can’t do it the justice it deserves but I hope this gives you a sense of all that I experienced.

Happy reading!

[Read Stuart's update in Japanese HERE! / ジャパン・ツアー日記]

Saturday 9th November:

It's 4pm at Osaka Airport. I arrived here yesterday. The combination of jet lag, being so far from home and the sense of excitement here is all very discombobulating. Sometime in the next couple of hours our boss is due to arrive. There are literally thousands of people in the arrival hall all hoping to catch a glimpse of our man. It's orderly chaos here. Some fans are laughing, some are crying, groups of people are singing - there are all sorts of emotions here but everyone one is united over a common cause. By the arrival doors I see evening TV news channels making live broadcasts. I can't speak any Japanese but something from the tone tells me it is all very positive and the news anchors are as excitable as the fans themselves. The photographers all jostle for position in what to me seems like a very polite way. I'm not sure my friends in the UK press would be as accommodating to each other as these guys are. Each time the arrival doors open and an unsuspecting traveler walks through there is a sense of disappointment in the crowd as the poor traveler looks totally bewildered walking out to thousands of fans and a media pit crammed full of TV crews and photographers.

Just after 6pm airport officials let us know that Paul has landed and is working his way through immigration so he'll be coming through the doors shortly. Excitement here in the arrival hall is almost tangible! For some fans it looks like it could be getting a bit too much but their friends and fellow fans keep them calm. Then it happens – boom! - the doors open and out comes Paul McCartney with his wife Nancy. The airport erupts.

The fans scream, the media shout, everyone goes wild - even the airport officials scramble for their mobile phones to get a keepsake. Paul and Nancy look happy in their Happi coats and smile for the photographers and Paul takes his time to walk past the fans, stopping to sign autographs, say hello, read signs and take some gifts. There are children here as young as three and four, equally caught up in the excitement. Paul sees one of these youngsters, a little boy, and makes a beeline for him to shake his hand. As a father of a three year old I thought it was such an amazingly cool thing to do; something that little boy will talk about and treasure his entire life. The parents were beaming!

Eventually after navigating his way past all the fans and media Paul reaches a lift which security whisk him into to take him away safely to a car that is waiting on another floor. In the lift (his first moment of calmness after the incredible scenes) Paul is clearly very moved by what he has just experienced. 'Oh boy', he says to us. 'Isn't this something, just incredible'. As the lift goes up through the building there are even more fans screaming with banners on every floor we pass. The lift reaches the top floor and Paul leaves, off into a car and hotel bound. What a welcome! Japan, you certainly know how to do things.

Sunday 10th November:

My first trip of the day is to the newsagent. Sure enough I'm not disappointed. The text looks totally alien to me but I recognise the couple in the pictures. Paul and Nancy's arrival has certainly got some attention here, hitting the front pages of the leading daily papers. McCartney buzz is alive and well in Osaka. The TV news is running on-the-hour bulletins and I hear 'New' in the taxi as I travel back to the hotel. As I check all the Google alerts on my phone looking at all the global coverage I see a story from The Sun newspaper in the UK with the headline 'Hey Judo', nice one guys.

In the afternoon Paul is scheduled to rehearse in a theatre about an hours drive from the hotel. I travel over with Charlie (tour videographer) and MJ (tour photographer) and on the drive we excitedly chat about yesterday’s arrival, looking at pictures on social media sites. The drive to the theatre takes us through a heavy industrial area which is a striking site as the sun starts to set. We arrive ahead of Paul and I meet up with the local PR guy who takes me through the text of the morning’s coverage and explains that Paul's arrival here is big national news, which I had kind of worked out without speaking the language! Additionally he has brought some monthly music magazines, which Paul is on the cover of to support the tour and release of ‘NEW’, a number one album in Japan.

After rehearsal Paul is scheduled to record a TV interview with 'Tokudane', Fuji TV for Japan's largest breakfast TV show. He is to be interviewed by a legendary Japanese broadcaster, Mr Ogura, a household name in Japan and is treated with great respect by everyone in the rehearsal building when he arrives. Mr Ogura asks to watch some of the rehearsals and asks questions excitedly about the songs Paul and the band are jamming and the instruments that are being used. In the rehearsal we are treated to some songs from ‘NEW’ that Paul has yet to play publicly live. He jams 'On My Way To Work' and 'Alligator' amongst treasures such as 'Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five' and 'Maybe I'm Amazed' and they do not sound out of place against such well-established tunes.

I linger waiting for Paul to finish up so I can grab him for the interview and as soon as he's done I do just that. First up Paul goes into makeup that the TV crew have set up for him. The local makeup girl, who doesn't speak much English, introduces herself. In return Paul says, 'Hi, I'm Paul'. The makeup girl blushes and giggles and says something in Japanese. The translator laughs and says, 'Yes, she knows who you are'.

Minutes later Paul is in the interview seat and patiently listening to the questions in Japanese, then the interpreter, before answering each question. It reminds me of a scene out of 'Lost In Translation'. It turns out Mr Ogura is a massive fan who saw The Beatles when they played in Japan as well as seeing every one of Paul's solo shows here to date. As a present for Paul he has brought him a miniature hand made Hofner bass guitar. At the end of the interview Paul has his picture taken with all the crew and shakes everyone's hand individually before leaving the room. The producer tells me that many western artists are not this polite.

Minutes later Paul is in his car and off back to the hotel. And that's it for day two.

Monday 11th November:
First show in Osaka

The eleven-year wait is over for Japan and the first show day is here. Paul is back in Osaka for what will be his third show in this city but his first since 2002. My morning is spent organising accreditation for media - photographer passes, TV crews, liaising with security etc - the lists are always endless with last minute requests but these days are so exciting. The venue is already buzzing in the morning and each tour department is busy working away in the outrageously huge dome, running last minute tests. Fans are lining the streets around the venue and the countdown to show time begins.

Meanwhile the man they are all here to see is back at the hotel getting ready in his own way. Going to the gym, having a massage and getting himself prepared for the day that lies ahead. When Paul leaves the hotel he calls into Japanese radio station FM Cocolo. That morning I spoke with their drivetime presenter DJ Meme who told me she couldn't sleep last night as she was too excited about speaking to Paul saying she still won't actually believe it until it happens. Sure enough it did happen.

Shortly after 4pm two massive black SUVs come driving towards the entrance. The fans have worked this out and are waiting by the gate that Paul's car will come into. They've been waiting all day but the pay off is worth it. The cars pull up in the entrance and Paul jumps out, happily waving and mouthing hello to the delighted onlookers. Then it's straight to stage for soundcheck.

As it's the first show in Japan for Paul in eleven years, happening on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Paul agreed to do a special competition for eleven lucky fans to win the chance to meet and have their picture taken with Paul after the soundcheck. The winners assemble by the side of the stage and we take them back behind the stage to where Paul will come and meet them shortly. The ages of the winners truly represent a McCartney audience. The youngest winner was eleven (coincidentally fitting with our 'eleven' theme!) who learns English by listening to Paul's music. The rest of the group were made up by teenagers, twenty something’s, thirty something’s, ranging to a man who wasn't quite able to get to see The Beatles when they visited.

Paul comes to say hi, shakes everyone's hand individually and jumps in the middle of them to have a photo taken. He suggests the guys make a couple of poses. A student in his young twenties bursts into tears and the translator explains he says he is just so happy and says this is the greatest day of his life. After some photographs Paul thanks them all for coming and is ushered by security down a corridor towards his dressing room. As he leaves Paul turns and waves. The assembled group of winners all scream in unison, hugging each other and jumping up and down with excitement.

The time now is nearly 5:30pm. In just under 90 minutes Paul will be on stage. Time to relax? Not for Paul. At this point Paul takes a crash course Japanese language lesson. One thing I've learnt whilst getting a ringside seat on all these tours is that Paul loves communicating with people and wants to do it in the best way possible. He wants to be able to talk to people in their native tongue and make an effort for the people that have come out to see him. He has also insisted that the screens have a simultaneous translation feed throughout the show when he does speak in English. A considerate rockstar demand that benefits his audience!

After the lesson it's time for business. Paul disappears into his dressing room to get ready. Ten minutes later he appears in the corridor dressed in a resplendent burgundy frock coat lined with an antique kimono. The kimono features a pattern that represents good luck and happiness. He goes to see his band for a warm up and then makes his way to the stage.

At ten past seven he walks out on to the stage and the audience are up on their feet. Now, whilst to me this would seem like a normal reaction, a standing ovation is actually not a regular occurrence in Japan. What's more interesting still is that the audience remains on their feet for the duration of the show. Again the local promoter and army of translators reliably inform me that this is unusual and signifies their respect and enjoyment for the entire experience.

There are some NEW additions to the setlist since the tour's last outing in Canada in August. From ‘NEW’, Paul has added 'Save Us', 'New', 'Queenie Eye' and 'Everybody Out There'. They work perfectly in the set. Still riding high in the charts here, the press comment in the reviews that follow that ‘NEW’ was an album made to play live.

The show ends at 9:45pm. It feels very early by Paul standards. A weird feeling as this is normally the time Paul goes on stage in South America! We do the traditional runner which means we are straight on the buses back to the hotel before the audience are out of their seats. When we get back to the hotel we gather for some post show drinks and food with Paul and everyone is in agreement that we are off to a great start.

Tuesday 12th November:
Second show in Osaka

The reviews are Out There! I'm up early and off to see my new friends at the newsagents who I am pretty sure think I'm a mega fan! I get back to the hotel room to take a look properly. The newspapers here are physically huge, like the British broadsheet papers used to be. The bright colours they use make them almost like comics. They look great. I stuff them in a bag and head to the venue to see if I can find someone to translate them.

Arriving at the venue the local PR, Masa, excitedly runs up to me clutching the papers. We spread them all out over a couple of tables in our media office and it does look very cool. Masa explains this level of coverage is unprecedented which our translator Simon confirms.

Reporting tends to be pretty factual, talking about what time Paul went on stage and what time certain things happen in the show, but the overall tone is brilliant.

Nikkan Sports:
Tadaima Paul! (I’m back!)
36,000 ecstatic fans enjoy a special evening getting high on a superstar.

He mischievously greeted the crowd in the Osaka dialect. The setlist offered an impressive spread pleasing fans with career spanning songs, and including new material such as ‘Queenie Eye’ which gives this Japanese tour a special edge.

He spoke several times to the audience directly in Japanese, which drew enthusiastic applause. Paul had them on their feet from start to finish.

Daily Sports:
High on Paul! Two and a half hours nonstop, joking in Japanese and the subtitles were a brilliant touch.

Sankei Sports:
Maido Ookini Tadaima! (Cheers lads, I’m Back!)
Powerful Paul has 36,000 fans laughing and crying with joy.

Sports Nippon:
Ookini (Cheers!)
Paul’s tour kicks off in Osaka after an eleven-year absence. He doesn’t disappoint. The packed hall was on its feet from the first. He used Japanese wittily saying ‘I’m Back’ in the local dialect and even making a joke about being more fluent in English.

Asahi (leading broadsheet):
Hey Paul! ‘Ookini’ (cheers)
Paul played to 36,000 ecstatic fans. In between songs he greeted the crowd in Japanese and even drew a laugh with his remark about being more fluent in English!

You get the idea.

As with yesterday, shortly after 4pm Paul arrives - this time though many more fans are outside as they've worked out from yesterday exactly where he arrives. He greets them and is straight off for soundcheck.

Hours later he's back on stage for show two. Another packed dome and an awesome evening for all.

Wednesday 13th November:

No show today. Time to catch up on some other bits and pieces. You will have seen by now that Paul wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin about the Greenpeace protestors back in early October and Greenpeace were keen to publish it. Putin didn't respond even though the Russian ambassador in London did send a holding note back. We had made plans to release the letter the following day - so you will have by now seen all the widespread coverage on this.

As the day progresses I start getting calls about Paul's plans in Fukuoka. It appears word is out there that he might be going to watch the sumo wrestling tomorrow. Apparently all the wrestlers want to meet him along with the head of the organisation.

I leave my room to get some air and have a walk around the block. The first thing I nearly walk into is a Big Issue seller outside the hotel. Who is on the cover? Yep you've guessed it - I buy some copies for my files.

In the evening Paul has very kindly invited us out for a lovely Chinese dinner. We have a brilliant evening and Paul, looking very dapper in a sharp suit, is on top form, telling us some amazing stories. He talked about cover versions of his songs and the ones he really rated from Joe Cocker and Marvin Gaye to Guns N' Roses. Paul told us that when Guns N' Roses did 'Live and Let Die' his kids used to tell their mates at school that their dad wrote it but they didn't believe them! He also gave us an amazing revelation and, I don't want to give away the full details, but recently he discovered at home a drawing he did of the concept of one of The Beatles albums - the drawing was used as the basis of the artwork. Charlie (Paul's videographer) says to me we've got to pinch ourselves to check we are awake. I agree. We all go to bed very happy.

Thursday 14th November:
Travel to Fukuoka - Bullet Train

As I update my diary on Thursday night I note that this will be a day I will never forget, regular readers will know I've had a few of these over the years! A total experience start to finish. Today it feels like we really get out of the touring bubble to get a genuine Japanese experience.

The day starts at the train station in Osaka. We are here along with Paul and Nancy to jump on the bullet train to Fukuoka. My son is obsessed with bullet trains and has been talking about little else at home so I feel extra excited about the journey. The experience didn't disappoint. It was great thundering through the Japanese countryside seeing beautiful green landscapes, modern looking skylines, old cities and huge Orwellian looking industrial areas.

On the train Paul happily chats and signs autographs for passengers who can’t believe that they are on the same train.

At around 3:20pm the train reached our destination, Fukuoka. Word was out that Paul would be arriving. The train station was packed with fans and media. Paul had to complete a three-minute walk with people coming at him from all angles. It was crazy. Mark, Ady and Mike (the security team) had their work cut out but got Paul and Nancy safely to the waiting cars.

Next stop was Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center to watch champion Hakuho wrestle. This was Paul's second sumo experience having attended the 1993 Fukuoka meet. At the end of the session after watching Hakuho's victory Paul got on his feet to leave. The audience had been very respectful but at this point they got to their feet too and chants of 'Paul, Paul' rang round the venue. Paul posed with some fans and shook some hands on the way out.

Getting out of the venue was chaos too. Although this was meant to be a low key trip, fans clutching albums hoping to get an autograph indicated that someone had let the cat out of the bag ahead of Paul's visit.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon and actually really addictive. Talking to Paul afterwards he cleared up a lot of questions I had about it - he really knows his sumo! He said he spent some time watching on TV some years ago and ended up getting hooked on it.

The following morning Nishi Nippon newspaper reported, 'The chorus of cheers and applause that greeted him as he arrived at the venue reveal his enduring popularity, and he smiled and waved back at the loud cries of 'Paul' that followed him as he left.'

Friday 15th November:
Fukuoka show

The third show day arrived. Another outrageously huge dome, the Fukuoka Yafuoku Dome, home to the Softbank Hawks Baseball team. The venue capacity is 40,000 but it looks much bigger. Paul played here in 1993. That night he opened with 'Drive My Car' and played 32 songs. Tonight he opened with 'Eight Days A Week' and played 37 songs, only 11 in common from his last trip here.

Ahead of the show Paul takes another Japanese language lesson as he wants to learn local phrases and makes sure he gets the accent right. It pays off. When he hits the stage and welcomes the audience they respond with equal enthusiasm.

Saturday 16th November:
Travel to Tokyo

Not too much to report today. We have an early morning start to travel to Tokyo. The airport is peppered with passengers in McCartney t-shirts excited by our presence and hopeful that they might see the man they saw last night. But Paul will actually travel later in the day. I go over the papers with Simon (our translator and Japanese expert) in the airport lounge. Great reviews and lots was made of Paul’s localised choice of phrases and remarks.

I experienced another first in the evening. Some of us had gone out for dinner in Tokyo and just after 8:30pm there was an earthquake! The locals were totally comfortable with this and just carried on as normal but we were all pretty freaked out!

Sunday 17th November:
Day off in Tokyo

Monday 18th November:
Tokyo show 1

Nikkan Sports newspaper has a massive picture of Paul holding a Japanese flag on the front of their paper today. The headline when translated reads 'Paul is turning Japanese'. Japan has really taken Paul to heart. He has impressed the nation with his effort to speak their language and by getting involved with the sumo.

Masa can’t stop smiling. ‘You don’t understand what a big deal this is’, he keeps telling me but I’m pretty sure I do! What he means is that entertainment very rarely makes headline news in Japan. He also explains there is a big US artist in town this week playing tonight who will get no coverage as all of Tokyo’s media are at the Dome.

The Tokyo Dome is another unbelievably massive venue and when I arrive in the morning fans are already forming orderly lines, waiting for the venue to open the doors.

It’s a busy day today that, like so many of these days, goes by in a flash. Paul arrives at the venue just after 4:20PM and is straight into soundcheck.

After soundcheck Paul met evacuees from Fukushima that he had specially invited to the show.

The ten he met were all forced to leave their homes and as yet have not been able to return. The group included a couple in their 50s, a 30-year-old man and his 20-year-old niece from Namiemachi, a town from the evacuation zone established after the nuclear accident. The party also included two girls and a teacher from the Iwaki Municipal Middle School, a school that has been taking in pupils who have had to leave areas with high radiation levels. The two girls belong to a media society at the school, which still continues to broadcast messages from people who have been evacuated from the disaster zone. Another member of the party is a 40-year-old man who has been giving voluntary concerts of Beatles songs to encourage other evacuees, despite being a victim of the disaster himself. The last two were a couple in their 30s whose shop and house were destroyed by the tsunami but are starting to rebuild their lives, despite the husband losing his father as well, they also brought their very cute one year old daughter to meet Paul too.

Paul chatted with the group and listened to their stories. After meeting with Paul the assembled group told me, “We’ve been through a terrible darkness and I can’t believe we’ve had this chance to meet Paul. It was really encouraging for all of us to meet him. He seemed such a kind man and was really concerned about Fukushima.”

The show itself is another brilliant evening of rock n’ roll. Paul has learnt even more Japanese now and one word he’s be using that the fans have been picking up on is ‘最高!’ (Saikoh! Pronounced psycho-r!) – it means fantastic!

Later that evening we talk about it with Paul and he laughs that he’s going to bring the word back with him to England and start using it in every day use.

Tuesday 19th November:
Tokyo show 2

I wake up to local TV news reporting on Paul meeting the evacuees and coverage from last night’s show.

Today also starts with another Nikkan Sports cover reporting on last night’s show:

Paul brings the house down with tributes to John and George – Tokyo Dome cries!

Just a mile from the landmark location of where they played their Beatles concert Paul revealed his true feelings for his bandmates.

Speaking in Japanese at the start of the sixteenth song Paul said, “This next one is for John. Let’s hear it for John”. It was the clearest possible statement of his feelings for his former bandmate.

At the end of the song he raised his hand in a trademark peace sign and was seen to wipe away a tear. The 50,000 strong crowd responded, instead of cheers, with a wave of heartfelt applause. It was the only time in the concert you could hear a pin drop.

Later in the evening he paid tribute to George. His use of the ukulele given to him by George touched the hearts of the whole audience.

Mixed in with shots of Paul and George were images of audience members with tears streaming down their faces. It was yet another really touching moment.

To hear Paul talking in this way about John and George was something that his Japanese fans had been waiting to hear. His final message “We love you Tokyo” was a significant nod to The Beatles’ first visit here and not missed by anyone.

Everything about this tour seems tailored towards the Japanese audience. A lot of detail has clearly gone into ensuring the best possible experience, even down to Japanese subtitles on the screens.

Inside the paper also reports on Paul's meeting with the evacuees:

Paul’s in Tokyo, Yeah Yeah Yeah!
Ten people from Fukushima invited to the show

Before the start of the show Paul met with the group backstage shaking each of them by the hand and listening intently to their stories. “We’ve been concerned about what’s been happening in Japan in recent years and I hope our music might do something to help heal people”, he said.

A 30-year old man from Namiemachi, the centre of the exclusion zone said, “He was so friendly for such a massive star. He looked everyone in the eye as he spoke to them. He’s not just here to do the shows he was really interested in our situation. I was so happy to see how much he seemed to care about us.”

So no pressure for tonight’s show! Paul has set his standard very high once again but rises to his own challenge for another emotionally charged evening in the Tokyo Dome.

Back at the hotel after the show we have a few drinks. Paul is on great story telling form and corrects a few of my attempts at the previously mentioned ‘saikoh!’

When the clock strikes midnight he jumps on the piano in the room and leads us all in a version of Happy Birthday for Mrs McCartney. Very sweet.

Wednesday 20th November:

There is no show today but we have an awesome evening as Paul threw a surprise birthday party for Nancy on the 24th floor of the hotel we are all in. It’s a private event so not fair of me to report on all the details but special surprises included a Queen tribute act called Gueen and a Beatles one called Parottsu (The Parotts). Gueen had us in stitches and Parottsu had us all up dancing and singing our hearts out. We couldn’t help but think how nerve-racking it must have been for them playing in front of Paul and equally what kind of memories it evoked for Paul. They got the thrill of their lifetime when we all screamed for Paul to join them and he did! He sang ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ with them. What a treat for everyone! Nancy’s birthday is a night we’ll be talking about for years to come.

Thursday 21st November:
Last concert - Tokyo show 3
The last couple of weeks have flown by. The last show of any tour always brings mixed emotions with it. Whilst people are looking forward to getting home we’ll all miss the shows and our second family away from home. It is safe to say we’ve all had an incredible time. At the venue the crew are all in high spirits and looking forward to another great night.

Paul arrives for the final soundcheck around 4:30pm. Even more fans are assembled outside now then on the previous concert days. He’s all smiles as he walks in the venue and greets crew members with friendly hugs and shares some banter about the previous nights party.

Meanwhile across the country in Fukuoka another first that involves Paul is taking place. Back at the wrestling some ‘NEW’ banners appear ahead of the day’s final bouts. The prize money that the fighters receive is based on the sponsorship of each bout and the banners of the sponsors are paraded around the dohyo (the ring) prior to the bout. This is the first time an international rock star has ever sponsored the sumo! This itself creates more front-page news the following day!

Back in Tokyo and word is out in the local Japanese media that the new Ambassador Caroline Kennedy is expected at the show tonight. Masa tells me that Paul’s visit is the story that keeps giving and all the press are chomping at the bit for any information about Paul and the Ambassador possibly meeting.

Sure enough she does come to the show and meets Paul minutes before he takes to the stage for the last time on this run.

The final show is another monumental occasion and the highlight came when Paul stepped on stage for his second encore. When he launched into ‘Yesterday’ every member of the crowd responded by waving a red glow stick in the air. It was a total surprise to Paul and he was clearly moved by the gesture. It was really quite a sight to behold, a sea of 50,000 glow sticks swaying in time to the closing songs. A beautiful parting gesture from Paul’s fans who had made the entire Japanese experience totally magical.

Then it was back to the hotel for a few drinks before we’d all be going our separate ways the following morning. The consensus amongst Paul, the band and the team was that this was their best trip to date to Japan and we’d all been blown away by the reaction to Paul wherever he’d been over the last few weeks.

Before Paul left for the night he went round the crew saying goodnight, goodbye and thanking us for our work. I think I can speak on behalf of the crew by saying that it is us that should say thank you (or domo arigato) to Paul for being part of such a mega experience and part of such a special team.

Friday 22nd November:

Today we are up early to leave for home. Time to get a bit of rest on the long plane journey back to London.

12 hours later and I land to an email from Simon, our translator and general advisor over the last few weeks in Japan, which I think is a good way to end this blog.

Hi Stuart,

I was walking the streets of Tokyo today with the sun on my face feeling like a tornado had just passed through town and somehow I'd managed to miss saying goodbye to most people, but just as I was reflecting on all this and wondering what the tornado had left in its wake, my eye fell on a letter published in today's Asahi Newspaper. I thought you might perhaps like to see it. It goes something like this:

"Paul's Power gives me Strength

As someone who has never been to more than a handful of live concerts, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see a concert by Paul McCartney during his Japan tour in 1993, which brought back moving memories of my youth and love for The Beatles. It was such a wonderful experience I vowed I would never go to another concert again, in order to keep the memories fresh - and in fact I have not done so until now.

But to my astonishment I was lucky enough to get tickets to see Paul McCartney play live in Fukuoka just a few days ago, something I thought would never ever have the chance to do, and so after 20 years I was able to see him again.

I was bowled over by his powerful performance that totally belied his 70 years, and moved to tears by his performance of ‘Let It Be’, which he dedicated to the victims of the Fukushima disaster. This concert too has left me with wonderful memories, and given me new strength to carry on. I am so grateful for such a fantastic experience!"

So for those moments when we perhaps wonder whether the hard work behind the scenes does make a difference, this is a good reminder. The Asahi Newspaper goes out to 8.5 million people every day, so the editors clearly thought it struck a chord with the nation. Made my day, anyway!

Love and safe travels,


Made my day too, very nicely put Simon.


Photography by MJ Kim

Japanese Language Version:

ポール・マッカートニー ジャパン・ツアー日記
(byポール・マッカートニー パブリシスト:スチュアート・ベル)


大阪・関西国際空港、午後4時。僕がここに到着したのは昨日のことだ。時差ぼけ、母国から遥か遠く離れた地にいるという事実、そして興奮感が入り交じり、どうにも落ち着かない。あと2時間以内には、僕らのボスが到着する予定だ。空港の到着ロビーには文字通り何千人もの人々が、我らが御大を一目見ようと集まっている。ここで繰り広げられているのは、秩序ある混沌だ。笑い声を上げているファンや涙を流しているファンもいれば、歌っている一団もいて —— 様々な感情がここに溢れているが、共通の理由で皆が1つに結ばれている。到着出口の脇に置かれたテレビから流れているのは、夕方のニュースの生放送。日本語が全く話せない僕にも、実にポジティヴな雰囲気が画面から伝わってきて、ファンの皆さん同様、ニュースキャスター達も興奮を隠せない様子だ。良い位置を確保しようと競い合っているカメラマン達の押し合いすら、僕にはとても礼儀正しく思える。英国のメディアで働いている僕の友人達に、日本の取材陣のようなお互いへの気遣いできるかどうかは自信がない。到着出口のドアが開き、事情を把握していない旅行者がそこから出てくる度に、集まった大勢の人々の間から失望感が湧き上がり、気の毒なその旅行者はすっかり戸惑った様子で、何千人ものファンや、TVスタッフとカメラマンで溢れかえった取材エリアの前へと歩み出て行く。

午後6時を回った直後、ポールの乗った飛行機が先程着陸し、彼は入国審査を通過するところだと、空港職員が教えてくれた。つまり、彼は間もなくあのドアから現れるということ。ここ到着ロビーの興奮は、手に取って触れそうなほどだ! ファンの中には、あまりに興奮しすぎて、友人や周りの他のファンに落ち着くようなだめられている人もいる。そして遂に —— ジャジャーン! —— 到着出口のドアが開き、そこに現れたのは、ポール・マッカートニーと妻ナンシー。空港のテンションは大爆発だ。

歓声を上げるファン、叫ぶ取材陣、誰もが熱狂状態で —— 空港職員の人達ですら、記念写真を撮ろうと携帯やスマホを手に駆けつけるほど。法被姿のポールとナンシーは上機嫌な様子で、カメラマン達に笑顔で応えており、ポールはファンの列に歩み寄って、しばし立ち止まってサインをしたり、挨拶を交わしたり、ボードに書かれたメッセージを読んだり、プレゼントを受け取ったり。同じように興奮に沸いている、ほんの3、4歳くらいの子供達もいる。そのうち1人の男の子が目に留まり、その子と握手しようと真っ直ぐ駆け寄るポール。僕自身、3歳の子の父親として、ポールの行動はとんでもなく素敵だと思った;あの男の子は恐らく生涯ずっと、この経験を語り継ぎ、大切に心に刻んでいくことだろう。その子の両親は、喜びに満ちた笑顔で輝いていた!

出迎えのファンとメディア陣の波を泳ぎ切った後は、警備員の素早い対応で、ポールはエレベーターへ。別の階で待機している車まで、安全に案内してもらうためだ。エレベーターの中(凄まじい状況の後、ポールに初めて静けさが訪れたひと時)で一息ついた彼は、明らかに、たった今経験したばかりのことに深い感銘を受けている。「いやはや、」と僕らに言うポール。「すごくないかい? とにかく本当に、信じられないくらい素晴らしいね」。建物内をエレベーターが上がって行く際には、更にまた、通過するどの階にも垂れ幕を手に歓声を上げるファンがいる。最上階にエレベーターが着き、車に乗り込んで、ホテルへと向かうポール。何という歓迎ぶりだろう!  日本よ、あなた達は間違いなく、物事のやり方ってものを心得ている。


満を持して、11年ぶりとなる日本公演初日が遂にやってきた。ポールにとって大阪での公演は、2002年以来の3度目。僕は午前中をメディア認可の対応に費やしている —— 撮影パスや、TVスタッフ、警備担当との連絡等々 —— 駆け込みのリクエストで、いつまでたってもリストにきりはないが、こういった日々は実に刺激的だ。会場は午前中から既に熱気が漂っており、法外なほど巨大なドームの中で、ツアーの各部署が本番直前のチェックに忙しく働いている。会場を囲む道路にはファンが列を作っており、ショータイムへのカウントダウンが始まる。

その間、ここにいる全ての人が観に来ているその張本人は、ホテルに戻り、彼独自のやり方で支度中。ジムに行ったり、マッサージを受けたりしながら、待ち受ける1日に備えているのだ。ホテルを出る際、ポールは日本のラジオ局、FM COCOLOに電話出演。この日の午前中、同局の通勤時間帯の番組プレゼンターであるDJメメと話をしたら、ポールと話せると思うと興奮し過ぎて昨夜は眠れなかった、実際に実現するまではまだ信じられない、と彼女は僕に語っていた。それは確かに実現したよ。




時間は間もなく5時半。ポールがステージに上がるまで、あと90分を切った。リラックス・タイム? ポールにとってはそうじゃない。ポールは現在、短期集中コースで日本語の特訓中だ。これまでのツアーをずっとリングサイド席で見守りながら、僕が学んだ一つのこと。それは、ポールは人々とコミュニケーションするのが大好きだということ、そして可能な限り最高の形でそうしたいと望んでいるということだ。観客とは地元の言葉で話せるようになりたいと考え、自分を観に来てくれた人達のために努力したいと思っている。また彼は、ライヴ中に英語でMCをしている際は、同時通訳の字幕をスクリーンに映し出してほしいと求めていた。ロックスターの要求と言えばワガママなものも珍しくないが、これは彼を観に来てくれた観客への気配りゆえだ!



日本ツアーのひとつ前に当たる8月のカナダ・ツアーで披露されたセットリストに、新たに加わった曲がある。最新アルバム『NEW』から、ポールは「セイヴ・アス(原題:Save Us)」「NEW(原題:New)」「クイーニー・アイ(原題:Queenie Eye)」「エヴリバディ・アウト・ゼアー(Everybody Out There)」を追加。これらの曲は、セットの中に完璧に溶け込んでいる。当地では今もチャート上位にある『NEW』は、プレスのレビューでも、ライヴで演奏するために作られたアルバムだと評されている。

午後9時45分、ライヴ終了。普段のポール基準では、まだまだ宵の口の感がある。南米なら通常ポールがステージに上がる時間だから、妙な気分だ! 恒例の“逃走”をする僕ら。つまり、オーディエンスが席を立つ前に、ホテルへ戻るバスに乗り込むということ。ホテルに帰り、ライヴ後の食事と酒の席をポールと囲むために集まった僕らは、素晴らしいスタートを切ったということで全員の意見が一致した。


今日は昨夜のコンサート評が出て(=“アウト・ゼアー”)いる! 僕は早起きして、仲良くなった店員さん達に会いに、新聞を売ってるコンビニへ。間違いなく、彼らは僕のことを熱狂的なファンだと思っているに違いない! きちんと読むため、再び部屋へ。日本の新聞は物理的な意味で巨大で、かつての英国の高級紙並みの大判サイズだ。色使いが鮮やかで、まるでマンガのよう。実に見栄えがする。僕は新聞の束をバッグに詰め込み、記事を訳してくれる人がいるのではないかと会場へ向かう。






ポール、熱唱2時間30分ノンストップ! 途中、日本語MCでジョークを飛ばし、観客を笑わせる場面も。大型ビジョンに日本語字幕を表示するなど、サービス満点。



ヘイ、ポール! 「オオキニ」


昨日同様、午後4時ちょっと過ぎにポールが会場に到着 —— だが今回は、昨日より大勢のファンが外で入り待ちしている。昨日の状況から、彼の到着場所を人々が正確に把握していたためだ。彼はファンの皆さんに挨拶をして、真っ直ぐサウンドチェックへ。


『福岡に移動 - 新幹線』

木曜の夜、こうして日記をアップデートするに当たり、今日は僕にとって生涯忘れられない1日になるだろうと記しておきたい。いつもこれを読んでくれている皆さんなら、このようなことはここ何年かの間にほんの数回程しかなかったとお分かりのはず! 始まりから終わりまで、丸ごと引っくるめて貴重な体験だった。今日はツアー生活のバリアの中から本当の意味で抜け出して、真の日本を体験している気がする。



午後3時20分頃、列車は僕らの目的地である福岡に到着。ポールが現れるかもしれないという噂が広まっていた。駅はファンと報道陣で大混雑。ポールは、 あらゆる方向から彼に近づこうとしてくる人々をかき分けながら、3分間歩く羽目に。凄まじい状況だった。マーク、エイディ、マイクの3人(警備担当チーム)には大変な仕事が待ち構えていたが、ポールとナンシーは無事に迎えの車に辿り着いた。



午後のひとときの過ごし方としては最高だったし、実際、これは病み付きになりそうだ。幾つか分からないことがあったのだが、後でポールと話した際に、彼が僕の疑問に答えてくれた —— 彼は本当に相撲のことをよく知っている! 何年か前、ポールはテレビで相撲観戦する機会があり、それ以来すっかりハマっているとのこと。



公演3日目がやって来た。ここもまた、途方もないほど巨大なドーム会場。福岡ヤフオクドームは、プロ野球チームであるソフトバンク・ホークスの本拠地だ。会場のキャパは4万人だが、もっと大きく見える。ポールは1993年にもここでライヴを行った。その晩のオープニング曲は「ドライヴ・マイ・カー(原題:Drive My Car)」で、全32曲を披露。今夜は「エイト・デイズ・ア・ウィーク(原題:Eight Days A Week)」で幕を開け、全37曲を熱演。前回と共通していたのは、そのうち11曲のみだ。




この夜、またも僕はある初体験をした。スタッフの何人かで東京の街に夕食に出かけたのだが、8時半を回った頃、地震が発生! 日本の人達は全く心配していない様子で、何もなかったようにそのまま過ごしていたが、僕らは皆すっかり取り乱していた!




マサは頬がゆるみっぱなしだ。「これがどれほどの一大事か、分かりませんよね」と、彼はしきりに僕に言うけれど、間違いなく、僕も理解してますよ! 彼の言おうとしているのは、つまり、エンターテインメント界の出来事が日本でニュースの見出しになるのは極めて稀だということ。また彼の説明によると、今週は米国の某大物アーティストが東京に滞在していて、今夜ライヴが行われる予定だが、東京のメディアは東京ドームに全員集合しているため、記事にはならないだろうという話だ。























今夜の公演には何のプレッシャーもない! またしてもポールは自らに大変高いハードルを設定しているが、思いを込めた東京ドーム第2夜に向け、己に課した挑戦を受けて立つ。




今日は公演はお休み。だが皆で最高に素晴らしい夜を過ごした。というのも、宿泊中のホテルの24階で、ポールがナンシーの誕生日を祝うサプライズ・パーティを開いたからだ。プライベートなイベントなので詳細を全て書き記すことは控えるが、スペシャル・サプライズには、グイーンというクイーンのトリビュート・バンドや、ビートルズのトリビュート・バンドであるパロッツの生演奏もあった。僕らはグイーンに腹がよじれるほど笑い転げ、パロッツのライヴでは皆が立ち上がり、思う存分歌って踊った。ポールの目の前で演奏するなんて彼らは頭がどうにかなりそうなんじゃないかとか、ポールの脳裏にはどんな思い出が蘇っているのだろうかとか、僕らは考えずにはいられなかった。ポールも加わっちゃいなよ!と僕らが口々に叫び、それが実際に実現した時、パロッツのメンバーは一生に一度の興奮を味わったはず! パロッツをバックに「アイ・ソー・ハー・スタンディング・ゼア(原題:I Saw Her Standing There)」を歌ったポール。ここにいる全員にとって最高のおもてなしだ! ナンシーの誕生日は、この先ずっと語り継がれるだろう一夜となった。

『最終公演 - 東京3日目』



一方、遠く福岡では、ポールが関わった“史上初”の出来事がまた1つ起きようとしていた。この日、大相撲九州場所の結びの一番に『NEW』の懸賞旗が登場するのだ。勝った力士が受け取る懸賞金は各取組にかけられた懸賞旗のスポンサーから支払われており、スポンサーの出した懸賞旗が取組前に土俵の周りを一周するのだ。世界的ロック・スターが相撲のスポンサーになったのは、今回が史上初! この件自体も、翌日の新聞1面を飾っている。










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