Day 1 - Set off !!!
Milan, Linate, it's early in the morning when a group of long hairy boy,as much sleepy as excited for the start,finally takes knoledge of the imminent tour,that will take it for the first time in its career,into the majestic East.
The invevitable movie,leader character the flight by now near,the already heard prevision(it will fall or not, this flying palace?) and in a while we find ourselves at 10.000m of height.
The travel to Tokyo,interrupted by an intermediate stop in the british capital,goes by fast enough,thanks of the inseparable nintendo Game Boy with relative cable link(to 4!!!)wich presents the first tennis battle to the wonderous four-Cantarelli,Giruzzi,Stancioiu,Bertocchi-and the sun standing by us all the crossing long(the Jet Lag is more than 7 hours).
Day 2 - The Arrival to Tokyo
Narita Airport.The cheerful crew bases its feet for the first time on an Asiatic country.We feel tired,but the joy and emotion of beeing there,it erases the tiredness at all.What it will happen now?It's the question of everybody's asking.The answer comes early.At the exit of the airport,we immediately find Masako,Japanese tour manager,with her collaborators.The reception's at the top,like the travel wich takes us at the hotel.It's only a little taste of the extreme kindness and professionality wich have distiguished every single moment in the ground of Raising Sun.Sincerely,we Italians got much to learn,from this point of view.
Check-in at the hotel and here we go with the first briefing,as usually annouced by our tour manager,Mr.Fabrizio"COBRA"Giruzzi.
Availing of the absence of engagements,we plunge into the lively and charming Tokyo...the ideal for a recovery of our forces and energy to utilize tomorrow on the stage of Shibuy-O-East...by main parts!!!
Day 3 - The concert in Tokyo
The alarm-clock rings early,the day points out very long...From the hotel we reach the venue with a van.The club appears to us in all its splendour.The stage is fantastic,the back line better than we could expect,same thing for the catering,dressing room and technical staff.The sound check goes on fast and good(it happens so rarely!).Then,promotion:with Pier I reach the second level of the room for an interview with Young Guitar,renowned guitars magazine made in Japan.It means first of all to play some little pieces of songs(solos and rhythmics)in front of the tv camera like a didactic video,integrating the whole thing with questions from the reporters of the magazines,to complete the"played"interview.Immediately afterwards we front the photo session,before one by one,then in company of our journeys parteners-read"instruments"-,partners wich we got to make a careful and technical analysis.In the same time Roberto manages through the questions of other reporters for others magazines. The support bands begin their shows. Fast supper for us, based on typical local food .
We're at the hour of reckoning,it's our turn.
Greatest emotion,nobody imagines what it's close to happen. The intro finish, and here we are on the first notes of ‘Synthetic Paradise’.The club is full,people's raving,immediately the feeling takes place,that feeling wich often miss in the tricoloured concerts. At once we understand, from the both sides there's a strong will to have fun,thing wich sometimes,unfortunately,miss in the italian audience,often coming more to judge than to relieve with some sane rock'n'roll...
The prom's going smoothy.On the stage,beatiful lights and colours,we transform ourselves as rarely happens: all around me I see Chris, Pier and Roberto going ahead and giving free expression to their energy, energy wich the audience reicive and, I grant you, turns back to us with multiplied great force.I got many memories of shows all around the world,but i'm sure I'll keep this one as as really special memory.
After the last notes of ‘Thunder’, which usued to sign the last act, there goes Alberto Contini A.K.A. A.C.Wild gets on the stage and with a brief speak in Japanese tongue he introduces ‘The Derby’, piece just of the great Bulldozer! What it happens? Simply the delirium. The executive semplicity of the song makes possible that all the band could leave outside the famous fear to mistake,the stage's a real mess where nobody saves the last forces left inside.
The last notes of The Derby by then fade.The night show's over. The adrenaline will stand still in our bodies for a long time.
At the end of the show, we meet at the bar of the club for a post-concert party where we reicive the compliments from a lot of people "of the field", through wich these of the General Manager of the King Records (for those who don't know it, it's like to take compliments from the General Manager of the Warner Bros.).
There is perhaps someone whom suspects the tourneé were not great?
Sorry but we like to have what we deserve,without getting swollen-headed or something like this,but it's time for the detractors of the band to compare with the reality of the facts. I wish the same could happen to other italian bands, but until now it is happened to us.
Day4 - The first scolding !
The file card of the day foresees the first interview at 9 a.m.,main parts Roberto,me,and the Supervisor of Burn!!!, Masa Itoh (you know him,isn't?). I'm 5-10 minutes late,not so much,it seems, but enough for the "Cobra's" bite could to harvest its first victim... After the interview, the whole band must to sign almost 100 posters and almost 200 postcards. Great, surely, but the next time we'll provide ourselves of an autograph stamp. Completed the promotional engagements,at a run to the station,to take the legendary "Bullet Train", famous train at high velocity "made in Japan", wich takes us in a while at Osaka,second date of the Banzai Tour.
Day 5-The Concert in Osaka
From Osaka’s railway station we go straight to the place where we are waited for the sound check. At the entrance, some fans anda very sweet girl, who had made some labyrinth shaped pendants and a decorated fan with a welcome written on it with her own hands make the arrival in this town really magic.
The place is smaller than Shibuya O-East, but pleasant as well. The crew is the same of the day before and the their work is always very professional.
After the sound check, we run down the street of Osaka. Maybe it was the opportunity to experience a place so far and different from our culture, tradition and geography to make this tour so special.
The city appears immediately quite different from Tokyo, cozier and less caotic. There are no skyscrapers and wide roads, but small and really peculiar small streets.
We exploit the chance to do some shopping and then go back to the place to get ready: we must upside down even the “Banana Hall” of Osaka!
So, here we are again, on our so beloved stage, facing a wild and fun loving public, that even tonight fills every corner of the place. The X is the same of the day before, the ease and the fun to play it again give even more impact to the concert. The night is simply gorgeous!!!
As usual, the concert ends even today with “The Derby” and A. C. Wild on the stage with us… it’s the perfect conclusion of a night that will be remembered as one of the most successful in the group’s carieer. After the concert we dine in a typical restaurant in company of Dreamaker that has brilliantly opened our concerts in Japan, with all our crew and all the organizer of our journey to this marvellous country. Tired, but satisfied as never before, we go back to our hotel, where a lot of funs are waiting for taking pictures and collecting autographs as usual. I don’t know whether I’ll ever succeed to get used to these emotions – maybe I wouldn’t even like to – but still now, while I’m writing, I feel incredible sensations and I feel really grateful to all those people, who have transmitted us so much. I just hope the concert has repaid them for this!!!
DAY 6 – Taiwan (Taipei)
At the sunrise we leave for Taiwan, the plane starts to seem more familiar and pleasant even for those who don’t like it.
At the airport we meet the organizers of the events in the Chinese territory, among them the mytical Space, who will reveal himself as a very pleasant and professional mate during the tour.
We reach the venue wher the concert will take place in the night. Out of the window a landscape quite different from the one we have just left: everything looks colorful and gray is the dominating hue, high skyscrapers share the skyline with almost wretched dwellings, showing the image of a city trying to emerge with a huge effort. The place reflects the same dimension: its structure is less elegant (as far as it may be important), the equipment on the stage is not just the one required, but the members of the Taipei Crew fill the lacks with their professionality and good will. I feel to thank them once again.
The sound check ends later than usual, the day passes inside the place. Fortunately there are moments when inputs stop and allow us to make true and appreciate the dream we’re experiencing. The afternoon in Taipei has been one of them.
The usual moment goes by, difficult to place in our space-time and here we are again, for the third time in three days to perform on stage and face an overexcited public, that makes me fully understand for the first time the meaning of “driving people crazy”. An anecdote about it:
- Fabrizio goes down, among the public to test the audio
- Fabrizio comes back up and the screams of the people suffocate completely the notes played by the band…
That’s how it is for the whole night. The place is overwhelmed by a powerful energy..
At the end of the show we are waited for an almost endless signing session. Sitting at a table, we try to give every fan the possibility, even for a few moments, to meet us, get an autograph or simply take a picture.
We start to file tired; it’s time to get back to the hotel, waiting for the new day, that will welcome us performing in Taichung.
DAY 7 – Taiwan (Taichung)
After a 2-hour bus trip, we find ourselves in the town of Taichung, in the amphiteather of a school where we will perform in the evening.
The venue is very unconventional, but very pleasant in its peculiarity.
As always, remarkable professionality of the crew. The usual check and and we’re on stage again, to perform the X customized for our shows in the Asian lands. The affluence of public is more than expected: another sold out, this time absolutely unforseen, even by organizers.. The show and people energy are the same of the former evening.
You can’t avoid wondering how we’ll be able to play again for a almost still public…
Maybe we’d better just enjoy the night. At the end of the concert, another signing session.
We leave Taiwan keeping inside us the unmeasurable affection of these people, who has given unforgettable moments so the group. Thanks, deep from my heart.
DAY 8 – Hong Kong.
Before leaving for Asia, I tried to figure out how it would have been to find myself in Hong Kong. Well, I must admit that, although my lively imagination (people who know me, know what I mean!!!) I was still far from reality. Hong Kong is what in Italy we call “a real mess”. High skyscrapers, one closed to another, just separated by streets full of people, sparkling signs, cars and streetcars. I wouldn’t be surprised to see appearing Godzilla or Megaloman. And here we meet Sam, our Hong Kong promoter, another very kind, friendly and professional person.
We spend the afternoon on the roads of the city, trying to absorbe as more as possible of this peculiar athmosphere, so different from ours.
Today’s venue is a theatre, too, with the seats placed as in a cinema.There’s a lot of curiosity for the evening’s success. Tireness is always heavier (it’s the fifth consecutive date) and, for the first time, we have to deal with a country, China; less used to this kind of events. The show is opened by Candy a 12-year-old girl performing some pieces of Steve Vai. Yes… I know, it’s unbelievable, but true!
And then begins our show; after the introductive notes of intro, the band explodes on the notes of “Synthetic Paradise”, the crowd springs up from the seats and tumbles down to the stage, overwhelmed by a total delirium. Straight after, I note on my right the panic of some organizers, fearing just these excessive reaction, hard to manage..
So, ended “Living in a Maze”, Rob is forced by authorities to ask the people for more quiet. The audience looks comprehensive, giving up to jump, push and scream under the stage and enjoying the concert quietly seated.
To tell the truth, since the athmosphere experienced, everything has been ok. If the public had not agreed to cool down, the concert would have been interrupted and I don’t really figure out what it would happen…
The evening ends with another signing ssesion, under control of the authorities that, unfortunately, forbid the direct touch with the fans.
It’s a shame, but anyway it has been a step towards a bigger freedom. Our hope is that our concert has contribuited as more as possible to the cultural development of a city that, unfortunately, reflects the influence of historical and political events that have marked China in the latest years…
Ah, I was forgetting: another sold out!
The day after we enjoy the deserved relax, spending the day off strolling around the streets of the city.BEnd of Hong Kong chapter…
Now, everybody straight to sleep, tomorrow, at the sunrise, we leave for Peking!!!!!!!
DAY 10 – Beijing
Here we are, out of Peking’s airport, in a place that we had never figured out to reach with our music.
With a great pride, I can say that Labyrinth is the very first european rock band to reach the huge chinese city after the fact occurred in year 1989… A big satisfation, of which we are proud and which expresses the real level of a band often underextimated in our homeland and abroad… 1 to 0, ball to the center! The landscape at our arrival is really unforseen. Open spaces, west-looking buildings. We arrive to the hotel in the late afternoon and, in the evening, they take us to a place attended by people from all over the world. We did not expect to breath such an international atmosphere in Peking. Once again, I think how far and unconscious we have been far and unconscious of what happens on the other side of the world….
The day after we leave early to visit a school of music, that has invited us to make a short lesson.
The accueil is really touching: welcome stripe, smiles from all attenders, pupils and teachers. Wonderful, surely unforgettable emotions…
We play a couple of pieces and we are overwhelmed by questions from students willing to communicate with a group representing for them not just a band, but a unique opportunity to talk face to face with a sample of western world. An honour for us to be designated pioneers.
DAY 11 – Hard Rock Café Beijing.
I liked the idea of dedicating a paragraph of this report to celebrate the 7th date of this tour. Let’s get to it step by step. Last time we were talking about the school of music, didn’t we?
In the afternoon we visited the forbidden city, where we make a real photo service as celebration of our chinese experience. We couldn’t find a more peculiar place.
In the evening Rob, Cristiano, Mattia, the boss and I, decide to pop up at the Hard Rock Cagè in Beijing. We have an idea… why not asking to play a couple of pieces? After a first “no, you can’t!” Sam comes back with good news: “ok guys, in ten minutes you are on stage!”
Said… done! The group, unfortunately without Mc and Pier, gets on the stage and, among the astonishment of the people, plays “Piece of Time” and “Hand in Hand”.
Believe me, if I ever felt a rockstar, it was that night! Another symbolic medal conquered by the Labyrinth. 2 to 0. Ball to the center, again!
DAY 12 – Rock’n’roll, Pechino!
Here we are, to the great day that will see us protagonists in Peking!
The venue chosen by the organizer is a very broad skating area, on which center is laid the stage. The sound check is made among the skaters that roll around us like waves and we feel as we had seasick…
The organization is not at the same level of the preceeding dates, but we understand that for them it’s the very first experience!
We succeed, even if very hardly, to put up an acceptable stage and a sound able to perform the songs in a way to allow the Pekinese fans to enjoy anyway the show.
Before and after the concert, the group is interviewed and photographed by national TVs and many magazine reporters. We want to know everything about us, even something very personal.
How could we ever forget the question “Excuse me, what do the horns mean?”
On the stage, the usual surveillance of the authorities does not stop us from express the best of ourselves and the energy generated from the group is exceprional. The days off have worked greatly!
Public, as usual, is getting totally crazy and the energy sprung off of the group would guarantee the electric stream to all the Italian washing machines working contemporarily! The affluence is over the fairiest forecasts and this makes us even happier.
Then it comes the moment when lights go down and it’s unavoidable thinking about our beloved and hated country… The day after we travel towards Tokyo, where we arrive to the hotel and wait for the following day, when we take the plain that will bring us back in our homeland’s borders.
Just in that moment I realize that this wonderful experience id coming to its end.
I have written this report very likely and with a certain difficulty.
It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to tell about all the emotions experienced during our asian tour; I hope that the written lines have given at least a slight idea.
It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to tell about all the single episodes making such a long and important experience peculiar; I hope that my words will make you, at least for a while, protagonists with us. I’d like to thank the boys of the groups that, even if unwillingly (and maybe for this reason honestly) have given me emotions I’ll take with me all my life long. I’m proud to share with you my passion. I’d like to thank Fabrizio and Alberto for making it happen and work perfectly. You are the best! I’d like to thank my father, my sister and Laura, who know how to stand by me even when I’m not with them, showing me their love day after day and showing me, once again, that they really understand who I am and how I feed my spirit. I love you all!
I dedicate this experience to my mother, that taught me to be what I’m today. Her teaching brought me here, where I am now. I’d like to let her know that in every moment, emotion and pain experienced during the tour, she was there, with me.
But maybe she already knows!
Photos: Eriko Yahata
A big “thanks” for this “last minute translation” goes to Alessandra Salvadori.
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