1 June 2016

Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans - Shinjuku Kento's (22 May 2016)

Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
A couple of weeks ago I was in Japan visiting Osaka and Tokyo as part of an overseas business trip. 

As previously mentioned on this blog, mainly when I have bought his records, I am a fan of the Japanese surf guitarist Takeshi Terauchi, and when thinking about things that I could do during some free time, I thought that I would look to see if Takeshi Terauchi would be preforming as I understood that he had a semi-regular residency at a cabaret place in Tokyo. 
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
Due to a stroke of extremely good fortune, fortuitous timing, the stars aligning etc. he had two shows scheduled at a venue called Kento’s in the Shinjuku are of Tokyo the day after I was due to arrive in the city. 

I arrived in to Tokyo from Osaka in the late afternoon of the Saturday, the day before the gig. After checking in at my hotel, I did a Google Maps search to find the venue and proceeded to leg it across Shinkuku to try and buy a ticket as I was due to meet a friend for dinner in the evening. I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be any tickets left as I was leaving it very late and the venue looked pretty tiny judging from a few photos I looked at online and the venue’s floor plan. 
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
I found the building that Kento’s is in and got in the lift to the 6th floor. Thinking that I may have language issues when trying to buy the tickets, I grabbed a flyer for the gig that was on a stand outside of the lift and took it in to the venue with me. After some initial confusion, obvious bewilderment that I was even asking about tickets for Takeshi Terauchi, and a moment where I thought they might be all gone, I now had a pair of tickets to see him live.

I go to a lot of gigs and Kento’s certainly isn’t the type of venue I usually go to for live music. A cabaret venue and judging by the flyers and posters one that specialises in nostalgic and tribute acts. You sat at a table and waiting staff then bought out your drinks and food to you. I should also note at this point that as well as the cost of the tickets, food and drink, they slap a ‘live music charge’ on to your bill when paying at the end.
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
It’s hard to say what I was expecting from the gig itself. I was certainly excited to actually have the opportunity to see Takeshi Terauchi live as I thought the opportunity would never come about. But part of me was concerned that it would be terrible and I feared that I had spent a fair bit of money on a show that clearly wouldn’t be able to live up to my expectations. 

My friend who was accompanying was able to translate any onstage chat from ‘Terry’ and apparently 2016 marked his 50th year as a performer and tonight he was performing with his long-time backing band, Blue Jeans.  
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans were on stage at exactly 19:30 and played until just gone 21:00. He was really good even if the set felt a little too steady and one-paced at times. I think listening to many of those 60s and 70s LPs that I have bought made me think that it would be completely wild forgetting that he is now in his late 70s. 

The band performed mainly versions of old Japanese folk songs, songs he said that he finds himself always returning to and that remind him of mother, and their performance wasn’t that energetic if I am to be totally honest. I also had no nostalgic frame of reference for the songs, so to me they just sounded ‘pleasant’, whereas the rest of the Japanese audience knew what they were and seemed massively appreciative. 
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
There were times when Terry would step back from taking the lead and the other guitarist in the band took over and even if energy levels dipped at times – keep in mind that this was the band’s second set of the evening – Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans played with a timeless elegance and respect for the songs they were performing. It was obvious that these interpretations were important and meant a lot to them. It wasn’t a touristy appropriation of Japanese culture. I felt that it could have done without the two keyboard players constant use of the ‘Panpipe Moods’ setting though.  

To provide respite for the now 77 year old guitarist, and I guess to inject some variation in to the mostly instrumental set, the band were joined by a female singer for much of the latter part of the evening giving Terry the chance to catch his breath – though he did remain on stage playing guitar.
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
There were some moments that were genuinely exciting; like when Takeshi Terauchi played through his delay pedal and it sounded like the notes were pinging across our heads and near the end when he started doing these fast palm-muted runs up and down the fretboard. He looked totally exhausted by the end. 

Asking him for his signature at the end turned out to be extremely awkward. I sort of had to pounce on him as he walked past my table barging loads of Japanese out of the way in the process. He then held the pen upside down and I had to grab it out of his hands and turn it the right way for him. 
Takeshi Terauchi and Blue Jeans live
I’m eternally grateful to have been to catch Takeshi Terauchi live and there something almost serendipitous about him finally seeing him play in the city where I have obsessively searched for and bought his records

Takeshi Terauchi website
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1 comment:

snarnok said...

Interesting reading this blog from a fellow western fan. Likewise I am a big fan of TT, even though collecting his stuff can be quite frustrating. His output is very variable, ranging from absolutely awesome, melodic and clever and original arrangements to very rushed cover versions that do not do well as instrumentals, or his obsession with playing the same things over and over again, including masses of re-re-re-re-re-re-cuts. There are many tribute bands on YouTube that always play the same few tunes by TT.