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From For Whom The Bell Tells, December 4, 2013:
Wednesday 13th November:
No show today. Time to catch up on some other bits and pieces. You will have seen by now that Paul wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin about the Greenpeace protestors back in early October and Greenpeace were keen to publish it. Putin didn’t respond even though the Russian ambassador in London did send a holding note back. We had made plans to release the letter the following day – so you will have by now seen all the widespread coverage on this.
As the day progresses I start getting calls about Paul’s plans in Fukuoka. It appears word is out there that he might be going to watch the sumo wrestling tomorrow. Apparently all the wrestlers want to meet him along with the head of the organisation.
I leave my room to get some air and have a walk around the block. The first thing I nearly walk into is a Big Issue seller outside the hotel. Who is on the cover? Yep you’ve guessed it – I buy some copies for my files.
In the evening Paul has very kindly invited us out for a lovely Chinese dinner. We have a brilliant evening and Paul, looking very dapper in a sharp suit, is on top form, telling us some amazing stories. He talked about cover versions of his songs and the ones he really rated from Joe Cocker and Marvin Gaye to Guns N’ Roses. Paul told us that when Guns N’ Roses did ‘Live and Let Die’ his kids used to tell their mates at school that their dad wrote it but they didn’t believe them! He also gave us an amazing revelation and, I don’t want to give away the full details, but recently he discovered at home a drawing he did of the concept of one of The Beatles albums – the drawing was used as the basis of the artwork. Charlie (Paul’s videographer) says to me we’ve got to pinch ourselves to check we are awake. I agree. We all go to bed very happy.
Thursday 14th November:
Travel to Fukuoka – Bullet Train
As I update my diary on Thursday night I note that this will be a day I will never forget, regular readers will know I’ve had a few of these over the years! A total experience start to finish. Today it feels like we really get out of the touring bubble to get a genuine Japanese experience.
The day starts at the train station in Osaka. We are here along with Paul and Nancy to jump on the bullet train to Fukuoka. My son is obsessed with bullet trains and has been talking about little else at home so I feel extra excited about the journey. The experience didn’t disappoint. It was great thundering through the Japanese countryside seeing beautiful green landscapes, modern looking skylines, old cities and huge Orwellian looking industrial areas.
On the train Paul happily chats and signs autographs for passengers who can’t believe that they are on the same train.
At around 3:20pm the train reached our destination, Fukuoka. Word was out that Paul would be arriving. The train station was packed with fans and media. Paul had to complete a three-minute walk with people coming at him from all angles. It was crazy. Mark, Ady and Mike (the security team) had their work cut out but got Paul and Nancy safely to the waiting cars.
Next stop was Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center to watch champion Hakuho wrestle. This was Paul’s second sumo experience having attended the 1993 Fukuoka meet. At the end of the session after watching Hakuho’s victory Paul got on his feet to leave. The audience had been very respectful but at this point they got to their feet too and chants of ‘Paul, Paul’ rang round the venue. Paul posed with some fans and shook some hands on the way out.
Getting out of the venue was chaos too. Although this was meant to be a low key trip, fans clutching albums hoping to get an autograph indicated that someone had let the cat out of the bag ahead of Paul’s visit.
It was a great way to spend the afternoon and actually really addictive. Talking to Paul afterwards he cleared up a lot of questions I had about it – he really knows his sumo! He said he spent some time watching on TV some years ago and ended up getting hooked on it.
The following morning Nishi Nippon newspaper reported, ‘The chorus of cheers and applause that greeted him as he arrived at the venue reveal his enduring popularity, and he smiled and waved back at the loud cries of ‘Paul’ that followed him as he left.’
Friday 15th November:
The third show day arrived. Another outrageously huge dome, the Fukuoka Yafuoku Dome, home to the Softbank Hawks Baseball team. The venue capacity is 40,000 but it looks much bigger. Paul played here in 1993. That night he opened with ‘Drive My Car’ and played 32 songs. Tonight he opened with ‘Eight Days A Week’ and played 37 songs, only 11 in common from his last trip here.
Ahead of the show Paul takes another Japanese language lesson as he wants to learn local phrases and makes sure he gets the accent right. It pays off. When he hits the stage and welcomes the audience they respond with equal enthusiasm.Stuart Bell
Last updated on November 14, 2020
Setlist for the soundcheck
Setlist for the concert