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July 25-27, 03 - Japan - Sheena & the Rokkets were among the many bands at the Fuji Rock Festival. In spite of the rain, more than 100,000 people came to dance to the music and had a great time. The Festival site is very large, set up on a golf/ski resort. It was impossible to see all of the more than 100 acts but there is so much going on all over the place that we saw some great shows and had lots of good food and drinks and laughs with friends. We got very little sleep and had a fantastic time!

 

Thursday night the fans start to arrive. Festival producer Masa Hidaka points out what a great job his assistant Shigemi did by taking care of every detail of the event.

Joe Strummer's daughters Lola & Jazz arrive ready to camp out and have fun.

Many people camp out in the fields around the stages. It is one of the cleanest festivals I've ever been to. Everyone recycles their garbage and smokers carry little portable ashtrays and don't even drop a butt on the ground.

The Festival opened with a dedication to Joe Strummer. I said a few words and Masa read a letter from Joe's wife Lucinda, while Lola and Jazz looked on. Jason and Gordon held Strummerville flags.   (Click here for my words)

The first band on the main stage were punk rockers Thee Michele Gun Elephant.

11 AM in the rain and the crowd cheers for TMGE!

Sugar Ray was one of the most entertaining acts at the Festival. He communicated well with the wet crowd and had everyone cheering and dancing.

The Libertines put on a powerful show. Backstage Carl Barat shows how he feels about the rain after playing to the enthusiastic fans.

Elizabeth and I are ready to dance our way around the Festival site. Many unusual artworks were set up all around the site by Gordon McHarg and his wife Ale.

Our favorite cafe, the Kapu Kapu, had a cheery staff and tasty Sochou from Okinawa.

In the Field of Heaven, Masaya and his friends sell politically inspired T-shirts and many interesting things.

People stop by the stream on the festival grounds to wash some of the mud off their feet. This year Masa built a boardwalk through the woods by the stream.

In a free area just outside the main entrance known as the Palace of Wonder, Jason Mayall and a gang of Joe Strummer's friends from England kept a bonfire burning all weekend. It was a good place to warm up and dry out from the rain.

At three in the morning the Can Can Girls at the Mutoid Waste Company stage in the Palace of Wonder wake up the audience with homemade kerosene flamethrowers. The show was a cross between a Medieval theater group and Roadwarriors.

Sheena and Makoto of Sheena & the Rokkets played an inspired blues/rock set. Sheena reminds me of Tina Turner

The next day Coldplay entertained on the Green Stage

Elvis Costello played a set of romantic tunes

Masa says Hi! to Elvis after his set as bodyguard Patty Callahan gets ready to lead Elvis to his van.

Iggy Pop gave his usual searingly high energy performance.

Even in pouring rain Iggy's fans were so hot steam was rising from the mosh pit.

British guitar legend John Mayall showed music lovers how to play the Blues. His sons Jason and Gaz also performed at the festival, Jason as a DJ and Gaz with his Ska band

.

The Counterfeit Beatles played all over the festival, from the main Green Stage to a small one set up in the woods. Wherever they played everyone who saw them sang along. You gotta love the Beatles.

Late at night in the Red Marquee the Boom Boom Satellites kept everyone entranced.

At another late night event, talented French star Tigerman got into a rockin' jam set up in front of Soloman's Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cafe.

Nearing the end of the Festival, Gaz Mayall took a turn with the Can Can Girls at the Palace of Wonder stage.

 

And as the sun finally came up, Joe Rush and the English contingent were still dancing as Jason Mayall kept the music going.

Before we went to the Fuji festival we spent a few nights in Tokyo. We saw Patti Smith do a rare poetry reading at the Parco Art Gallery where there was an exhibition of Patti's paintings.

On our first night in Tokyo, we went to Shimokitazowa for a memorial tribute to Johnny Thunders. Lenny Kaye (from Patti Smith's band) was there and joined Sheena & the Rokkets and Diamond Yukai for a few songs.

We saw a Blondie warm-up show at a small bar in New Jersey so we were glad that before we left Japan we could catch up with their world tour at the Summersonic Festival outside Tokyo. It was Blondie's first trip back to Japan in 20 years. The sold out show in Chiba Stadium was fantastic.

The Strokes also played at the Summersonic Festival. It was their first live show in a long time and their first time in Tokyo; the fans loved them.

 
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