Tour of Japan – Report – May, 2009

2 May 2009 21:00 Ottorisha – “Con Tempo” – Kita-Senjyu, Tokyo  

Set List: 3 Pieces for Polyphonic Guitar: I (E Major), II (E Major), & III (Ab Minor)


Tonight was the first show of the tour upon invitation from recent acquaintance, Wataru Shoji. The venue was an old Japanese house that had been converted into a performance space by Shoji and his colleagues from the Tokyo University of the Arts. It reminded me of my time at STEIM in April, which is where I made Shoji’s acquaintance. It had a lot of character. Regardless of how bad my jet lag had been since my arrival in Tokyo, I had been anticipating this performance with a great deal of enthusiasm. I had put together a short set in a more experimental vein that I hoped would be more appropriate for the venue. Shoji and Odawara commenced proceedings with a laptop set that utilised a series of customised controllers. It was an interesting sound world that I very much enjoyed.  The next performance was given by a Japanese Irish Traditional trio whose standard would challenge traditional musicians from home. You can view the Harpist’s blog here.


After what had been a relatively successful sound check, I began to prepare for my set. To my dismay my break out box for my polyphonic guitar had become inoperable. Some ‘off the cuff’ live soldering was required.


Once rectified, I began my set. Samples of the sounds prepared for this set can be heard below:

Download Track 1 (Sample)

Download Track 2 (Sample)

You can view Waturu Shoji’s Flickr Page here.



3 May 2009 20:00 Pink Cow – Shibuya, Tokyo  

Set List: Improvisation I, Without, Music Box, 1314, Rain Down Fire, Pilate, & Improvisation II


I played the Pink Cow the last time I was in Tokyo and had enjoyed it thoroughly. It is a very relaxed affair. The performance started off a little slow, but by the second track momentum built and the crowd engaged. My execution of each track was good overall, although some moments could have been a little more together. This event was a concept that had been put together by the owner to serve as an opportunity for indie musicians to network with one another. The Pink Cow streamed this performance via UStream.



5 May 2009 20:00 Ruby Room – Shibuya, Tokyo  

Set List: 1314, Music Box, Pilate, & Improvisation II  


I went cycling around Tokyo today before a meeting with Dave and Ross from the label. It was a good experience, regardless of nearly falling off the bike a few times. We made our way to the Ruby Room around 6pm. The Ruby Room is a small club located in Shibuya that I had played twice before in 2007. I enjoyed it then, and tonight was no exception. It was great to hear my set through a bigger sound system. All was well received by the audience and management. There were some interesting performances from punk right through to a man with a didgeridoo. I love this venue. It has great character. After the gig, I gave a workshop on my equipment to a few local musicians. This was a good opportunity to network contact information and music.  


6 May 2009 22:00 Daisy Bar – Shimokitazawa, Tokyo  

Set List: Improvisation I,  1314, Without, Music Box, Rain Down Fire, Pilate, & Improvisation II  


A brilliant gig tonight. The Daisy Bar is a highly established venue in the artist district of Tokyo. I was accompanied by two other acts by the name of Miracle Works and This Is A Pen. The latter are an impressive female electronic duo from Tokyo. Do give them a minute of your time.  


I received a recording of the gig on MD, a popular but obsolete format still in circulation in Japan. They still use VHS at this particular venue, which I find interesting. The recording will be available shortly, once I find an MD player. The gig was listed in Tokyo’s Juice magazine, a magazine similar to NME. The gig listing can be viewed here.


7 May 2009 22:30 Seco Lounge (EP Launch) – Shibuya, Tokyo

Set List: Improvisation I,  1314, Without, Music Box, Rain Down Fire, Pilate, & Improvisation II


Despite extremely poor weather, the turn out was O.K. and the performances went very well. I received a recording of the event in full, and on listening back I am very happy with my live mix. The label intends to book Seco Lounge again on my return as it is an established venue with an unusually large venue capacity for Tokyo. My thanks to those who attended the show and to Noe, Odawara, and Shoji for providing their support.


You can listen to the recordings below. Thanks to Taro for the recordings.

Download ‘Pilate’ (Sample).

Download ‘Rain Down Fire’ (Sample).

Download ‘1314’ (Sample).

The gig listing can be viewed here.



8 May 2009 19:00 Encore – Shibuya, Tokyo  

Set List: Without, & Music Box


Encore served as an opportunity to perform a shorter set in a relaxed club environment as part of their ‘Platinum Live’ event. Encore has an interesting concept allowing customers to select live concerts via a touch screen that are then displayed on a screen on stage. The tables in the venue seated one person per table. It was if I was performing in front of a classroom of school pupils. It was an interesting but unfamiliar concept.


A DVD recording was made by the staff, which is available here.  My thanks to the Encore staff for their welcome, professionalism, and accommodation.



9 May 2009 17:00 Koido House (Workshop) – Warabi, Tokyo

Materials: Technical Exercises, Major Modes, & CAGED System


The workshop was organised by the Koido family in the Warabi area of Tokyo. The workshop covered rudimentary guitar techniques, CAGED system,  modes of the major scale, and other soloing concepts. The workshop lasted 2 hours in total.

My extended thanks to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and to Dave and Ross at KR-International and CD Lunch for all your hard work in booking and promoting this tour. My thanks to the Koido household and to the students at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. Thank you to all who attended the shows and to Laura, my family, and friends for your continued support. Mata ne.


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