Tokyo • Monday, November 5, 2018

ConcertBy Paul McCartney • Part of the Asian leg of the Freshen Up Tour
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Ryogoku Kokugikan

Some songs from this concert appear on:

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From, September 28, 2018:

The ‘FRESHEN UP’ Tour 2018

Monday 5th November 2018 – Ryogoku Kokugikan 

“Hey everyone in Japan! We’ve added a new date to our concert list in Japan at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. We can’t wait to get back, we’ve always had such a great time. We are going to party with you soon.” – Paul

Today, 28th September, Paul announces his most intimate Japanese concert ever at the historic Ryogoku Kokugikan.  This concert will take place when Paul brings his new ‘Freshen Up’ tour to Japan at the end of October for two shows at the Tokyo Dome as well as visiting the city of Nagoya for the first time for a show at the Nagoya Dome.  

With a capacity of 7000, this venue is a fitting choice for Paul as he has long been a fan of sumo wrestling. On previous tours Paul has made time to watch the wrestling and often commented on how much he likes it.

From For Whom The Bell Tells, February 8, 2019:

Saturday 3rd November

As I leave the hotel this evening to grab a quick dinner I bump into Paul and Nancy in the hotel corridor. They both look very elegant and are heading out for a meal themselves. They ask me what I’ve been up to today and we discuss shopping for our children, as well as talking animatedly about what a great place Tokyo is.

Sunday 4th November

I have a day to catch up on emails, with the excitement and anticipation of an evening event ahead. Paul and Nancy have very kindly invited us out on a river cruise on a traditional Yakatabune boat. It’s rather a drizzly evening, but the crew are in very high spirits as we board the small cruise vessel. It’s a lot of fun and a wonderful way to see the city. Paul asks his official tour photographer MJ Kim to get us all together for a crew photo on the boat – a special moment captured for us all.

Paul has lived almost his entire adult life as one of the most recognisable people on the planet and yet he still loves to do some of the things we all take for granted unhindered. It could be a stroll in the park or a tube ride to a venue. Today he has taken a bike ride in the city and he tells us that while he was gliding along, he spotted a guy playing ‘Come On To Me‘ on an acoustic guitar, which he then proceeded to film. Imagine if that guy jamming in the park realised what was going on. Unreal! (I guess he might know now!)

Monday 5th November – Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo

Half an hour out,” announces security guy Brian Riddle at 4:18pm at the Ryogoku Kokugikan venue. He’s just had the call that Paul has left the hotel. The already industrious team, many of whom were here to load in the equipment at 1am this morning, all seem to move up a gear as they run their final checks and preparations.   

The historic Ryogoku Kokugikan is a much-loved sporting venue which would probably be the Japanese equivalent of something like playing at Lords Cricket Ground in London’s St John’s Wood. The show will be even more intimate than Paul’s concert at The Budokan on his last trip. This hallowed venue will embrace 7,500 of his fans for a very special event. Gone are the massive screens (they simply can’t fit in here!) so the focus is all on the incredible performance. Tonight it’s a loud rock show made up of 31 songs.  

Paul’s learnt some new phrases and moves for this show. It’s no secret that Paul is a fan of Sumo wrestling. When we came in 2013, he took us along to watch some which proved to be a fun afternoon out. And before that, in 1993 he went to watch the wrestling too. Indeed he actually put up some prize money for an iconic bout between wrestlers Harumafuji and Tochiozan.

Tonight as he heads on stage Paul, with the characteristic sumo gesture of a wrestler taking his prize money,declares: “Got-san dess!” This delights the audience gathered inside a venue which is more usually associated with the ancient heavyweight sport.

Before the encore there are more Sumo phrases too as he tells the crowd: “Dos koi, dos koi.”  Again, this thrills the fans who seem to be making just as much as noise as the 40,000 people who were in the Dome just a few nights before (the following morning the media call Paul “the champ of rock”).

Following the show there’s a party back at the hotel where Paul enjoys a well-earned Margarita, made to his own special recipe, along with a delicious veggie burger. After nourishment and refreshment it is time to let loose. Paul and Nancy get up to dance and encourage the team to join them on what becomes a spontaneous makeshift dancefloor. Photographer MJ does a mean Gangnam Style dance (he is from South Korea like the song’s creator Psy) but Paul easily matches it, much to the delight of the party. I’m sure, one day, a video will surface.  

From The Asahi Shimbun, November 6, 2018: 

Former Beatle Paul McCartney belted out such classics as “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” during a Nov. 5 concert at a sumo arena in Sumida Ward, even gesturing like the wrestlers in tribute to the venue.

After opening with “A Hard Day’s Night,” McCartney performed a traditional “shiko” stomp, then said in Japanese, “Today, I’ll do my best to speak Japanese again,” to the delight of the crowd.

The concert at Ryogoku Kokugikan was the third leg of his seventh solo Japan tour, following performances at Tokyo Dome on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

It was the first time for the 76-year-old to perform at a concert hall in Tokyo other than Chiyoda Ward’s Nippon Budokan hall or Bunkyo Ward’s Tokyo Dome.

The musician arrived in Japan on Oct. 29.

McCartney is known for being an avid sumo fan. During a visit to Japan in November 2013, he attended the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, putting up prize money for a total of 15 wrestlers.

Typically, such money is provided by companies aiming to promote their businesses.

Banners akin to those used for sumo events were hoisted around the venue featuring the musician’s name.

During the concert, McCartney said, “Gottuandesu,” an expression used by sumo athletes, meaning “Thank you.”

Over a two-hour set without break, McCartney sang more than 30 songs, including a new release. For the encore, he sang “Helter Skelter,” as many of the about 7,000 spectators held colored glow sticks in the air.

The music icon is scheduled to perform at Nagoya Dome in Nagoya’s Higashi Ward for the first time on Nov. 8.

A total of about 135,000 spectators are estimated to attend his four concerts in Japan, part of the musician’s “Freshen Up” world tour, which started in Canada in September.

About the venue, from Wikipedia:

Ryōgoku Kokugikan (両国国技館 Ryōgoku Kokugikan), also known as Ryōgoku Sumo Hall, is an indoor sporting arena located in the Yokoami neighborhood (bordering to the Ryōgoku neighborhood) of Sumida, one of the 23 wards of Tokyo in Japan, next to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It is the third building built in Tokyo associated with the name kokugikan. The current building was opened in 1985 and has a capacity of 11,098 people. It is mainly used for sumo wrestling tournaments (honbasho) and hosts the Hatsu (new year) honbasho in January, the Natsu (summer) honbasho in May, and the Aki (autumn) honbasho in September. It also houses a museum about sumo. The venue is also used for other indoor events, such as boxing, pro wrestling, and music concerts. In past years, it has hosted the finals of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual G1 Climax tournament as well as the Invasion Attack and King of Pro-Wrestling events and the WWE’s The Beast in the East event in 2015.

Last updated on March 13, 2021

Ryogoku Kokugikan

This was the 1st and only concert played at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Setlist for the concert




Foxy Lady

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