Last week we went back to Osaka for another Daihachi Ryodan gig. The last time was the Haru Ichiban festival in a beautiful Spring park, but this one was at a funky place called Rain Dogs in the Umeda “entertainment district” – a zone of cheap eating and drinking places, interspersed with various disreputable-looking establishments offering some kind of “service”… Very much an Asian city scene packed with neon signs, strolling customers, hustlers,sounds, smells… and much bigger than any equivalent in Nagoya. Osaka is big – with 6 million people, and then Kobe and Kyoto close by, this is an urban conglomeration to rival Tokyo/Yokohama.The Osaka expressway is quite something – this maze of overhead highways snakes to and fro between high-rise buildings just like something out of the comics that were around when I was a kid. The difference between that view of the future and the reality it’s turned out to be is that the people in those pictures looked happy and relaxed as their futuristic vehicles flew here and there – now everyone’s late for a meeting or something and stressed out. Why do we have to spend so much of our time going from one place to another these days?
Topping the bill at Rain Dogs was Noboru Abe and the Magic Animals (I wish I’d thought of that name!) who were really good, in an odd sort of way. No spectacular solos or anything, but an original groove and interesting vocals. One of those bands that creates their own world. I suppose they’re a sort of cult band – they don’t even have a web page. Abe san is a dai sempai who in 1998 was hanging out with Mickey Hart when I was just starting College, and one of the moving spirits behind the Haruichiban festival.
Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and district) is kindof cool these days and you can hear kansai ben on NHK where before it was all standard Japanese, a bit like the increase in regional English on the BBC. Osaka is sometimes compared with Birmingham in the UK, but the people remind me more of Londoners – quick talkers, great sense of humour (Osaka’s the centre of manzai ), on the lookout for a quick profit but friendly and kind. They make good audiences too, and Daihachi’s performance went over quite well I think. A nice outing.