McCartney, One Direction and Atoms for Peace head to Japan in November

by James Mallion

Special To The Japan Times

He’s been knighted, named the richest rock star in the world, has an Oscar, has done a guest spot on “The Simpsons,” has played to the largest stadium audience in history and has been imprisoned right here in Japan. That’s right, rock god Sir Paul McCartney returns to Japan after an 11-year hiatus in support of his latest album, “New.” Japan has always loved The Beatles, so it has been no surprise to see tickets for each of the six stops on the Japan leg of his “Out There” tour sell quickly — even at ¥12,500. McCartney will be showering Japanese fans in rock history starting at Osaka Dome on Nov. 11 and 12, moving on to Fukuoka Dome on Nov. 15, and finishing up the tour with three shows at Tokyo Dome on Nov. 18, 19 and 21 (7 p.m. start; ¥12,500-¥16,500).

Before seeing the pop icon who practically invented “hearthrob status,” you can catch current titleholders One Direction,who are playing back-to-back shows at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe on Nov. 2 and 3. The group will wind up their world tour here and release their first motion picture the same weekend. Coincidence? Not with these boys. (5 p.m., 4 p.m. starts; ¥8,000-¥9,000).

While pop fans are swooning at Makuhari, those with more eclectic taste may want to check out the Red Bull Music Academy Weekender (Electronic Music of Art Festival), which takes place Nov. 1-4 (times and prices vary, www.redbullmusicacademy.jp/jp/events) The four-day event features cutting-edge DJs, VJs, bands and singers. Stand-out acts include longtime BBC radio host, DJ and tastemaker Gilles Peterson. He’ll play Liquidroom on Nov. 1 as part of a gig that’s separate from EMAF, but that looks to be the most intriguing. It will feature a live run-through of his “Worldwide” show and feature performances from psychedelic funk/soul band The Stepkids, trip-hop/acid jazz MC Rob Gallagher and Japan’s own nu-jazz pioneers Jazztronik (6:30 p.m. start; ¥5,500; 03-5464-0800). Another highlight from EMAF should be Ninja Tune’s Daedelus / Adventure Time (Daedelus & Frosty) playing at Shibuya’s intimate WWW club Nov. 2 (11 p.m. start; ¥2,500 at the door; 03-5458-7685).

Keeping on the electronic vibe, beat lovers should be looking forward to the yearly Electraglide festival, which takes place on Nov. 29 at Makuhari Messe. This year’s lineup of James Blake, 2manydjs, !!!, Modeselektor and more is sure to keep the venue bumping all night long. It’s pricey, but bringing this many top tier DJs for a single show is worth it for fans of electronic music — each of the main acts could very well pack a club night on their own (8 p.m. start; ¥8,800).

November also brings the return to Japan of super group Atoms for Peace, who will play two shows at Zepp Namba in Osaka (Nov. 18 and 19) and three at Tokyo’s Studio Coast (Nov. 21-23).

Another group sure to sell out and bring Japan’s British rock fans some cheer is Franz Ferdinand, who will play Zepp Tokyo on Nov. 19 and 20 and Zepp Namba on Nov. 22. This post-punk group of Scottish lads has been going hard for more than a decade and is touring in support of latest album, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” (7 p.m. start; ¥7,000).

Another Scottish act returning to Japan are veteran alternative rockers Primal Scream, who will play shows at Studio Coast in Tokyo on Nov. 5 and 6, and at Zepp Namba on Nov. 7. Fresh off releasing new album “More Light” and a big showing at Glastonbury this past summer, the group should be in good form (7 p.m.; ¥7,500).

If you ever felt indie rock from the Nordic countries was under-represented in Japan, you’re in luck. Now in its third year, next month brings the return of Hokuo Music Night at Shibuya’s Duo Music Exchange in Tokyo on Nov. 22. The festival, in cooperation with NOMEX (Nordic Music Export) and Japan’s Creativeman showcases each Nordic country with one act. On the roster this year are Finnish indie-rock band French Films, FM Belfast from Iceland and Japanese guitarist Leo Imai (6:30 p.m. start; ¥5,800).

If jazz is your thing, Bunkamura Orchard Hall will host famed big band, Glenn Miller Orchestra, under the direction of band leader and singer Nick Hilscher. The group will tour many parts of the country starting with a show at Sumida Triphony Hall on Nov. 14 (1:30 p.m. start; ¥5,000-¥7,000) and winding up with a show at Osaka Festival Hall on Dec. 12 (6 p.m.; ¥4,800-¥8,000). Gigs in Hokkaido, Akita, Saga, Fukuoka, Yamagata, Aichi, Miyazaki, Ehime and Kanagawa prefectures are all in between, starting times and ticket prices vary according to venue (www.glennmillerorchestra-japantour.com).

Tokyo’s famed Blue Note Club hosts the likes of the classic reggae band The Wailers from Nov. 1-4, who will perform twice on each day (7 p.m./9:30 p.m. on Nov. 1, 5 p.m./8 p.m. Nov. 2-4; ¥7,350).

Smaller venue Shinjuku Pit Inn in Tokyo will host New York-based Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman on Nov. 2 and 7 (8 p.m. start; ¥5,000 in advance), and Japanese electro-jazz outfit Tokyo Zawinul Bach on Nov. 11. (8 p.m. start; ¥3,000).

In Yokohama, Japanese quintet Tri4th play Motion Blue ahead of their new album, “Five Color Elements,” on Nov. 15 (7 p.m./9 p.m.; ¥3,600).

Barely squeaking onto the list of must-see November shows is the two-day, one-stage, indie-rock festival Hostess Club Weekender on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. This edition features acts such as a reunited Neutral Milk Hotel, Deerhunter, Okkervil River and Sebadoh. Electronic acts Four Tet and Omar Souleyman will also play (2 p.m., 1 p.m. starts; ¥7,000 for a one-day pass, ¥13,900 for a two-day pass).