Friday, March 10, 2006

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand 18 March 2006

So we are down under! Hot hot hot.

Japan was finished off in Nagoya and Osaka. Nagoya is a fine city, with its own Central Park running down the middle of it. The beautiful old castle there was partially destroyed during the war. It was rebuilt thereafter. The emperors of old took refuge in this fine abode after a busy day of pillaging and burning. The rocks used to build the temple were dragged over wooden rollers and dumped here.

The kids in Osaka went crazy at the gig. Moshing and a-leaping, crowd surfing and baying like wolves for more at the end of the set. Afterwards there was a frenzy amongst the kids to acquire any form of souvenir associated with the band...setlists, plectrums, broken and unbroken drum sticks, Murph's sweaty towel, anything. What is also amazing about Japan is that the true fans always find the information, time and energy to track down their idols at airports, hotels, train stations, etc. The band were met on numerous occasions at train stations or in hotel lobby's by fans, who somehow found out where the band would be, and would wait for hours to get either and autograph, or picture or both.

The Japanese crew that accompanied the band were fantastic too. Everything would be ready by the time we arrived at the venues and made simple. Shows start early in japan. Doors normally open at 6pm, and the main band is usually onstage by 7pm. That means and early finish and dinner after the show.

And then Australia. Arrived in Perth where it was 28*C! Rather warm actually. Perth, like many of the Aussie cities, left me thinking of Florida mixed with Blackpool! It's somehow tropical and fab with a hint of America, but also a wee bit trashy and naff, with a sprinkling of Blighty! The locals are young and beautiful, but they are happy to fart and belch as loudly as possible without blinking an eyelid. The waterfront is cool and open and lush, and just behind it all are the malls which are concrete jungles.

You will hear "no worries mate" being uttered alot possibly followed by a belch. Aussies let it all hang. I spent my Sunday at the WACA (famous cricket ground) to watch the cricket : Western Australia vs. South Australia. A more perfect way to spend Sunday you could not have.....lazing in your seat, watching the game, watching people, writing postcards, eating lunch, maybe opening a tinny or two, or having a wee snooze.

For Byron Bay read Byron Dismay. A surf / hippie town which attracts all the young dudes and dudettes form Oz and beyond. They are here to surf, swim, get drunk, get high and have their first sexual experience. Its a one street town. You can walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes and you've seen it. But it does have a beautiful beach. J and I went scuba diving and saw turtles, manta-rays, wobbygong sharks, and other beauts. The dive leader came to the show and was happy to see that J didn't have the bends onstage.The audience at the gig were great - the best on our Aussie tour.

The Brisbane show was at the Metro Theatre...a beautiful old Victorian building. Hung out with the local builders restoring and building in the theatre. At the end of the day, they pulled out a bucket of cold water and filled it with tinnys. Those boys proceeded to tear through those beers at a rate that would put Guided By Voices to shame. They taught me the local lingo and told me how the Aussie sheilas were the best in the world. No argument there. Les, the most charismatic builder there, looked like WG Grace with his long flowing white beard (more cricket references folks). He told me how he used to play rugby league for Widnes in the 80s. could never tell.

To get to shows within Australia, you have to fly from city to city. No vans or buses needed for these long trips. Apparently there are 2 sleeper buses in Australia and they are used by MTV Australia which shoves some hapless band in there, and throws them on a merciless tour of the land, filming them the whole time, watchinh them crack under the strain!
Had a bizarre experience leaving Brisbane airport. i had on my Cockney Rejects shirt on, and as I walked through security, one of the security ladies practically ripped my head off in joy at seeing a Rejects shirt! She said she was an old punker and in all her years working there, she had never seen anyone wear any type of punk shirt....certainly from bands that she 4-Skins, Vice Squad, Discharge, Angelic Upstarts, etc! Glad to have made her happy!
2 shows done in Sydney and 2 shows in Melbourne. For a rock nation, I have to say that the audiences in Oz were lame. I expected rowdy crowds, who would heckle and pogo. Instead we got the polite people. Come on up! At least Chief was there (Kevin's injun friend from the reservation) and he sure made the party happen in Sydney on the first night. Injuns and alcohol!
I did however walk over the Sydney Bridge! Amazing! Steel sent from middlesbrough, England and designed by an engineer from M'boro. It takes 100 people to maintain this steel structure full-time. The ANZAC bridge across town needs just 2 full time staff....concrete you see. But what a fantastic structure....I love great feats of engineering. Rivets galore. And what a view of Sydney and the surrounding country. Ripper mate.

Onto Auckland, New Zealand. left Melbourne at 5am and arrived at the venue in Auckland at 7pm! The gig was fantastic! The crowd were excellent...moshing, jumping onstage and dancing and generally much love being spread around. take that Australia! I also met up with Conway Paton, a thoroughly agreeable gentleman who happens to co-run the unofficial "The Fall" website (way better than the official one folks). We talked all theings The Fall....very nice.
A big thanks to jason, our Ausiie tourmanager for swearing, farting and belching at the right times.

sooooooooooooooooo friends that was the first Dino tour of the tour. The band buggered off to other climes and I stayed in New Zealand on my own to investigate the south island.
Booked a cheap flight down to Christchurch. On arriving booked a cheap car for a week. Hit Christchurch which was uninspiring and left straight away. Drove to Lake Tekapo which is a beautiful place and stayed there the night. The colour of the lake is a shade of blue I have never seen comes about due to the fact that in years past, glaciers scraped along the rock, giving off a dust which gave the lake its particular hue. Stunning.

The next day I drove to Mount Cook. A beautiful mountain located on the southern alps of New Zealand. A gloriously sunny day paved the way for perfect views of the mountain range. I drove from there and headed south. I saw a young fellow hitching my the side of the road and stopped. He said he was also heading south and so I obliged him with a lift. His name was Mitch and he provided to be excellent company for the 6 hour journey south and a great source of information about his country. We sped through amazing countryside....mountains galore, lakes aplenty, wide open spaces, deers and sheep littering the fields. Deers are farmed here for their flesh....they are highly prized. i have seen more deers than sheep on this trip. Deer farms everywhere. We stopped by the roadside in Cromwell (fruit centre) and got tasty fruit for the road. The wine from this area is apparently overpriced, but darned tasty. The man who invented bungy jumps...AJ Hackett...was from this area. We visited his centre where he started the craze and watched people leaping 100m into the unknown! Not for me thanks Cyril.
We finally hit Te Anau in the south of the island. I will furnish you with further tales later.....the money on this internet server is fast running out. Stay tuned for tales of glaciers, Captain Cook, dolphins and sea-lions, and dead rodents.


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