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Japan, as ever, was full of people. It was good to see Mr. Udo and his team of loyal helpers, and all the concerts went off without a hitch. We had some great shows. The only problem we had, and always have had over the years, is adjusting to the restrained ways of Japanese audiences, who are very enthusiastic but incredibly polite. Let me tell you how it goes from a band's point of view.

We wait in the wings for Charlie to give the order, "house lights off," at which point audiences in Europe or America, or anywhere come to that, start roaring. The same happens in Japan but the roaring ends abruptly within a few seconds and we find ourselves making our way on to the stage in absolute silence. I mean, occasionally you hear someone coughing - usually one of the crew - but there is a breathless hush that descends over the place and you can almost hear people sitting closer to the edge of their seat. You start to wonder if there is anyone in the place. It is an eerie sensation and a relief when we start playing so we can see that there really is an audience out there.

Of course some places were louder than others, the Tokyo audience was great for example, and in fact all of them were great once we were into the set - my particular favourite was Sendai. The other thing that is a little difficult to get used to is the early start of the shows, usually six thirty, and there is never an opening act. Still, we did a lot of shows and proudly raised the Purpendicular flag over Japan. Mr. Udo took us out for a superb meal in Tokyo and Ian Gillan proposed the toast to him with an expression of thanks for his support when we most needed it in 1994.

We departed Japan in good spirits, looking forward to the next step, North America here we come.


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