by Natan Khishchenko
Club Quattro, Osaka, Japan. February 23, 1996.
Here are two shows I saw in Japan for which you definitely won't have the set lists. The Japan part of the Punchbowl tour was only 5 shows in 2/96: 2 in Tokyo, 1 in Nagoya, and 2 in Osaka. They were all played in small clubs (the place I saw them in was definitely 300 people or less) with no opening act. Both shows were pretty short by US standards: 80 min apiece. Both shows were good, but the crowd was fuller the 2nd night and the band really responded and played with a lot of energy. I have a great recording of the 2nd night.
Herb was playing a smaller kit during these shows- a standard Tama kit instead of the huge Pork Pie or Tama set he played at the Roseland shows. Eleven, from the 2/22 show had a different intro, without a drum solo but with some weird bass part. Before Del Davis (2/23) Les explained the song to the audience and when he was talking about his love of the countryside, Ler started playing Sweet Home Alabama in the background (no cover, just a little tease). Toys had weird guitar intro and medleyed straight into Pudding Time after 2nd chorus. The encore was fabulous. They were about 8min into Southbound, jamming out, when a Japanese girl yelled out "Les I love you" in a thick accent. Les stopped playing, bringing the jam to a halt, ran up to the mike, yelled "What the hell are you talkin about gal? That puts me in the mood for something" and went straight into Tommy.
I got to meet the band after both shows. My friend and I went to their hotel after the first night, met the band and ended up hanging out in the lobby with the road crew. The band wasn't too chatty the first night and Ler had a cold, but there is a good picture of me and Ler and we got free passes to the 2nd show. There were a lot more groupies at the hotel the 2nd night, but everyone was in a good mood and we made it upstairs to the hotel room where Ler and the tour manager were staying. We drank some beers and got involved in this crazy pellet gun war with the road crew which ended when hotel security showed up.
I only met Les briefly and Herb was very quiet the whole time (this predates him quitting the band by about half a year, but with hindsight the tension between him and Les was defintiely there). i got to talk to Ler about some of his favorite music and we talked about Rush and King Crimson for a bit. Ler also told a few stories, including how he went to Alex Lifeson's house for dinner, everyone got wasted, he got naked, Lifeson put a bowl over his head and chopped off all his hair around the bowl with scissors (thus explaining the 92/93 era Ler hairdo). He also told me that his car had been scratched up and his house had been busted into before by fans looking for boots and studio tapes/jams (reminds me that fan is short for fanatic). All in all, an amazing experience.