Big in Japan
1. Stop: Tokyo, Japan
I started my journey to Japan in Frankfurt and after travelling by train, I arrived at Frankfurt airport in early evening on Sunday August 31. When I arrived there, I also saw Unisonic & Edguy members waiting for the same flight than me, which was of course a little unexpected. It was even better and Mandy Meyer of Unisonic sat next to me in the plane. I used the time for some internet surfing, which gladly worked at this Lufthansa flight very well. Later I tried to get some sleep, which did not work so well, because of some disturbance of a crying child.
We arrived around 11 years later in Tokyo on September 1st. Me and all band members were really very tired after arriving there and because of this, I just took a Taxi to my hotel. I stayed at the Shinagawa hotel, which is directly at the place, where the concerts take place. The view from the tower is really stunning. After 3 hours sleeping in my hotel room, I was contacted by a Japanese friend that I know since 20 years, but who I met in person for the first time. He invited me for a Japanese dinner and it was great. Later we to Kai Hansen’s favorite bar in Tokyo to meet up with Kai and Dennis from Unisonic, accompanied by Edguy band members like Tobi, Jens, Dirk and Felix. After a great party, I went home to my hotel.
Tokyo (1st Night), Japan
One of the reasons for me to do this travel was the co-headliner status that Unisonic had for this tour, since they sell more records in Japan. This was also obvious the following days and even Tobias Sammet commented about the outstanding vocal performance of Michael Kiske. The next day was the first concert of Unisonic & Edguy on 2nd September at the Shinagawa stellar Ball. I arrived at the venue around 18:20 and it was obvious what is different in Japanese concert: picture taking is strictly forbidden. Security staff went immediately against anyone talking pictures. Since I had a photo pass, I luckily could take pictures for our fanclub and especially I could take them directly at the front of the stage, where all photographers take their pictures. When Edguy started, the concert hall was filled around 70% and people quite enjoyed Edguy.
When Unisonic started their concert, the concert hall was almost completely filled and people screamed for them. Japanese people are a little calmer in the beginning, but I could see they became more and more passionate during the concert. They really enjoyed it very much. There were a few technical issues, like Kiske’s voice was a little too low, but this could have been due to the position I was standing. Unisonic played around 70 minutes and finally another new song and one of my favorites was played ‘When the deed is done’, a great masterpiece of melodic metal. The band played very energetic with perfect guitar duels between Kai and Mandy. Additionally Kiske’s voice was in perfect shape and I could not hear any mistakes or problems with very difficult to sing songs like ‘Your time has come’. The Japanese fans celebrated the whole performance and you could see and hear their love for this band. After the concert, Unisonic band members celebrated backstage together with Tobias Sammet and members of Edguy. It was really visible that both bands like each other very much.
Tokyo (2nd night), Japan
The next day I spent some time with sightseeing and later went to the sound check of Unisonic. After the sound check, I was able to do the little fanclub and tour impression interview with Kosta and Dennis. After this I went back to my hotel to have some resting until the concert started.
I arrived again at the venue around 18:30 and I had the impression some less people were there this time, especially during Edguy. This was a pity, since Edguy did a much better performance than the day before, with Tobias joking with the fans etc.
When Unisonic started their concert some more people arrived, but still a little less than the day before, so maybe better next time doing one more concert in a different city than doing 2 concerts at the same venue.
Unisonic also played tighter and with less little technical issues than the day before. This time I watched the performance from different places and the one from the upper rows was very good to get an impression about the very good overall sound of this venue. One little critic was that they played again the known old Helloween songs ‘March of Time’ and ‘I want out’. I had some hope for a little change with this, especially since they played 2 shows at the same venue. Maybe ‘I want out’ is a ‘must play’ song, but the 2nd one could differ a little from concert to concert. So the set-list was the same than the day before. Nevertheless, they were again fantastic and the audience enjoyed it very much. I talked to some of the Japanese fans afterwards and they almost had tears of joy in their eyes.
2nd Stop Nagoya, Japan
The following day on September 4th, I had some travelling by Japanese trains, which a ‘must have’ experience is for everyone. I used the Shinkansen train company and reached Nagoya after only around 1:30 hours. Finding the hotel turned out to be a little more difficult and took me 1 more hour. The same happened for finding the concert hall of the Nagoya and I finally had to use a taxi and some Japanese translation that a friend of mine gave me before. I arrived a little late at the venue, but just in time when Edguy started. The venue was very small and to tell it with Tobias words “this is the smallest thing we played in many years’. So sadly there was not photo taking area at all and also no professional photographers etc.
When Unisonic started their show, the venue was very crowded, if not almost sold-out. Additionally it was very hot, which eventually later was the reason for some technical failure. The audience was very close to the band and Kiske shook hands with the people several times. It was again a very good performance of the whole band and it seemed the more kind of ‘club’ atmosphere made the band more enjoying themselves on stage. It seemed to be the same set-list than the 2 shows before, but then and technical issue happened with Kosta’s computer and it broke before they could play ‘When the deed is done’. Kiske said this happened due to the heat in the concert hall and Kai gave him his guitar to do some improvisations. So Kiske played for the first time ever one of his songs from a solo album. It was ‘How the web was woven’, a cover version of Elvis, which was used for the Japnese bonus of the album ‘Past in different ways’ in 2008. The audience enjoyed this interlude very much, so the band played a little longer this evening, which was as well.
3rd Stop Osaka, Japan
The next day I travelled again with the Shinkansen train company and this time to Osaka, which took less than 1 hour. I arrived in Osaka on September 5th and after checking in at my hotel, I met again with my Japanese friend. We drove to the hotel of Unisonic & Edguy to pick up some of the band members for another party. We were again joined by Kai and Dennis from Unsionic and Jens, Dirk, Tobi and Felix of Edguy. Kiske just returned from shopping, shortly before we left for the bar. It was again a long night, but we all enjoyed it.
The next day was the concert and this time the venue was completely sold-out. Again there was no special photo taking area nearby the stage, but a place at upper rows to do so. The sound was very good and I was nearby the mixing desk. People again enjoyed Edguy quite much, but it seemed a little bit, that they were waiting for Unisonic.
Unisonic then started their show and the audience was with them from the first minutes on. Even people at handicapped places showed all of their passion for them with raising their hands and screaming. It seemed to be the same setlist as in the first Tokyo shows, but suddenly there was a little surprise, when Kai gave his guitar to Kiske. Kiske later told that the day before their computer broke and he had to sing an Elvis tune. Since everyone loved it, they decided to do this again. This time he did more than one Elvis cover song with ‘She’s not you & Don’t cry Daddy’ with some additional jamming of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The audience enjoyed this interlude very much and I really hope the European fans will get something similar as well. It was again a fantastic concert and it was finished with Kiske jamming Kai’s guitar, while he was kneeling down. A perfect conclusion of a sadly little bit too short tour in Japan.
The Japanese tour was finished with some meet&greet of Unisonic & Edguy band members with Japanese fans in the bar, where we celebrated the day before. This time almost all members joined this fan meeting like Kosta and Mandy. They could not stay too long, since the next day they had to leave very early in the morning for the airport. Nevertheless it was a perfect finish for an outstanding Japanese tour and hopefully more to come soon. I stayed some more days for sightseeing of the cities Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. On September 11th, I took a plane back to Frankfurt, Germany and with a lot of fantastic memories.