Tokyo Stories DVD
Having spent the previous couple of weeks comparing prices on Japanese Web Sites for this and the Private View CD it was a great and welcome surprise to see both available at the London gig and at just £10 each saving both postage and frustrating waiting time.
Having been treated to the well received live albums, a live DVD is a natural progression / continuation and is something that will play multiple roles, for those who have been fortunate enough to see them in the last couple of years a chance to re-live those memories or for the less fortunate who didn’t get an opportunity to catch a show this will be as surprising and rewarding an experience as the discovery we experienced at Bush Hall.
The content itself is essentially a live concert but with the benefit of additional behind the scenes footage bringing the unique flavour of the location and creating a time capsule snapshot for fans and band alike.
Thankfully the songs appear in their entirety, not faded down early as in documentaries. A good proportion of a typical set from this era is presented with the additional footage interspersed after every couple of songs.
The whole film has a distinctive charm to it, from the dreamy title page with the “And The Flowers Will Grow” interlude from Private View (an ultra mellow version of “You On My Mind”), to the pacing of the camera movements and montages, we see and feel up close the reciprocated warm relationship the band has in Japan with fans, musicians and media, something we’ve always known about but seeing it here you really get to feel the universal affection. Whilst a similar souvenir of the Bush Hall gigs would have been nice, footage of us being drenched in rain spliced with shots of Kebab Shops, Mini Marts and Shepherds Bush Market doesn’t quite have the same gloss to it. And that’s the key to the film, they are a fantastic live band in the midst of discovery having found a format and a nucleus of musicians that works so well, it just had to be captured at this time and in such a distinctive place.
So, lights out, surround sound up high, phone off the hook (or “switched off” for younger readers) and a large jug of something summery….
“Twilight World” opens the show and you’re quickly re-assured that the sound is clear with a warm richness to it. The stage is dark – as gigs are, with the spotlighting as precise as the musicianship.
The slower “Breakout” is often a surprise to many in the audience and here it’s additional “I’ll Be There” tribute is a moving moment.
Then come the title credits! Is this a Bond reference – we’ve already had a mouth watering slice of action and then in come the credits!
“Everyday Crime” is a welcome addition to recent sets with some great interplay from Andy and Noel Langley.
“Butterfly” from more recent times features strong vocal collaboration and as ever switches between cool and punchy sublimely.
“You On My Mind” benefits from the addition of Flugel Horn replicating the distinctive uplifting melody of the original. A seamless diversion into the “Always On My Mind” part ends the song which is followed by footage featuring a montage of moving and still shots with audio blending into the intro of “Now You’re Not Here” which has been significantly re-arranged creating space for further expressive playing within its fragile progression. “Trombone Kimono” sees Noel and Voichi Munata rehearsing the brass parts of “Breakout”.
The “Nature Boy” title rang a bell (and I thought the phone was off the hook) and I instantly recognise the familiar words and melody from the Central Line version but it’s significantly different here with Tim’s distinctively skilful gentle guitar accompaniment. This blends effectively into “Alpine Crossing”, a stunning part of their live sets. At its peak (no pun intended) it defies the number of musicians and voices on stage as it just sounds so full bodied and intensely projected, yet played and sung with such control and tight precision.
“Who’s Been Sleeping” achieves great rhythmic momentum sounding warmly organic but supple at the same time.
“Stoned Soul Picnic” – that moment of the night when even a forty year old carrying a long term football injury can’t resist dancing (more Physio required). Fantastic faultless vocal interplay (Until when I join in) and again a great rhythm track, things peak when Gina soars skywards to great effect and is joined by yet more vocal power (and once again I apologise).
“Breakout Encore” is an exception to the “Un-edited” rule but thankfully the dramatic climatic ending is present. Further footage of the warm affection for the band follows as an appropriate ending.
The bonus features on the DVD are two additional “scenes”, firstly footage and audio of a soundtrack performance of “Surrender” is overdubbed with audio from an interview. The other, “Opium Kiss” is a lengthier montage of footage of the Tokyo landscape and occasional appearances of band members bringing a further essence of what they experience there, effectively sound-tracked by “Kiss My Petals Open” by Rotary Head featuring Corinne taken from the Vivo compilation album.
We could all bemoan the absence of a particular favourite song, but no, this is gold dust, a big thank you to all involved in delivering the end product.
A charismatic snapshot of a moment in time tastefully without the self indulgence that can creep in to some documentary footage / live footage blends and importantly plenty of great unedited live music.