Joe Rush and his small crew of Mutoids arrived in Neaba with a 40 foot container filled to the brim with what the Japanese crew thought to be a huge pile of rubbish - exhaust pipes, steel girders, scrap metal and composter bins. Within days the pile was transformed into a fabulous exhaust pipe fire tree and a car-eating ant with a DJ booth on top where DJ's Sim and Jim partied high in the air.
Joe Strummer set up his campfire with friend Keith Allen's karaoke, and from Las Vegas, John Stott's Globe of Death performed their incredible stunt show. The Rookie stage moved in from over the road, Luli set up the Vegas Milk Casino, with backjack and strippers, while white stage headliner Manu Chao played an impromptu acoustic set around the fire and between stage performances, George Clinton was chauffeured around in a mutated Toyota Crown Custom with outrigger seats and large dragonfly on roof!
The Mutoids create their own stage using truss, tarps and hubcaps - featuring the raunchy Can Can girls, Paka the Uncredible, Eddie Egal the Pyromancer and The Great Voltini's electrocution show. Skulls were carved and a London Black taxi was mutated into the Dragonster. An enormous winged flying Fender telecaster was made as a tribute to the late Joe Strummer - with a massive campfire that warmed and dried. His gondola cabin was unearthed from the hillside and remains to this day. Finally at 4 am on the Monday morning the POW crew were able to commandeer some backline from the Rookie Stage, and put on a special sunrise performance from The Trojans. The first rays of sun after a very wet weekend.
The first year of the POW club tent, a 15 metre circus marquee, the only circular tent on site, with a full line up of DJs and bands: UFO's Toshio Matsuura, Gaz's Rockin' Blues, Son of Dave, Very Be Careful and many more. For the first time in Japan we presented the gravity defying Wheel of Death plus the world champion Ethiopian jugglers Bibi and Bichu. The Rookie Stage grew larger and more popular. Adding to our collection of sculptures, the Fire Tree, giant Ant and Dragonster, the 40 foot container was once again filled with more scrap metal, plastic and curious objects, to create the Minator and a 5 metre dragonfly which balanced on a 15 metre hand. The weather was fine and the party rocked!
The year of the Rooster - so Joe made one out of a VW beetle. The Dragonster taxi climbed onto the container. We saw the return of the Club tent, now with lush red velvet and gold braid interior deco by Gideon Berger. Legendary Tokyo clubs, London Nite and Club Ska presented a host of famous and highly influential Japanese DJs. Ska Cubano played an electrifying set, Norman Cook followed Kid Carpet's kiddy disco shit hop set and Big Willie's Burlesque had all the men groveling and the girls jealous. The highlight, however, was Jean Monti in the POW arena, climbing to the dizzying height of 42 metres. He performed one arm handstands and breathtaking stunts in the drizzling rain and gusting wind. Truly death defying, but beautiful!
The boss of Fuji Rock wanted a Palace! So, of course, he got one. The grandest Speigeltent, The Crystal Palace, was shipped in two 40ft containers from Amsterdam. This most beautiful of tent is a work of art in itself, with 45 tons of wood, glass and canvas! Inside Luli's girls served champagne and Guinness at the Black Velvet bar. Friday night was Tequila Savoy, so Katteni Shiyagare packed the tent and Japan's finest latin, be bop and jazz DJs grooved until morning. Gaz's Rockin Blues celebrated their 25th anniversary party on Saturday night with live acts Barrence Whitfield & The Rizlaz and Osaka's Rude Pressures featuring Rico. Sunday night's theme was "Let's Crazy", with Big Willie's Burlesque, the wonderful and very weird Murasaki Baby Doll, a firing set from the Panorama Manbo Boys and the most indescribable striptease show with Lucifire suspended on hooks in her back. Outside in the arena, AD Tree Pirate's 10 tonne Oak scorpion, Eddie Egal's Fire Shower and more of the bizarre Fire Tusk Painproof Circus amazed the crowds.
Entering through Mutoid Sam's silver Sumo baby legs, we span on the Hakata Ramen mad merry-go-round ride, wobbled on a Weeble, bounced on tyres, played roulette and sneaked a peek at the naughty peep show. Main arena headline was the Globe of Death with a difference - Infernal Varanne's Splitter -with 3 bikes whirling around inches from each other, then splitting in two. An invasion of Joanna Peacock's cavemen and their huge rock scared the wits out of unsuspecting Japanese kids. Crystal Palace, now a fixture, had a line up that just got better, with blinding live sets from Tan Tan & the Cool Wise Men, Stranger Cole and the Dreamlets, Little Fats, Jonathan Richman and Osaka Monorail featuring the legendary Marva Whitney. DJs King Nabe, Ego Wrappin's Mori, DJ Jin, Wild Jim West, Muro and DJG span the most eclectic mix of pure vinyl from over the ages. Tightrope fiddler Kwabana Lindsay ended each night with his hilarious Gypsy circus act and The Rookie Stage was packed all weekend. Can we get more space please?
Bulldozers are brought in to dig out the mountainside for the space needed by robots, fire, lightning, water and mayhem. The Rooster mutates into the giant ape, a tropical fish flies in and a bridge is built over a toxic river. Stand back! The Lords of Lightning arrive - two maniacs battling each other with 4,000,000 volt light-sabers. The loud, stunning and beautiful spectacle of the "Feuerwasser", a 12 metre fountain of water with fire balls racing up and down captivates the crowds. The Crystal Palace is the venue the artists want to play, with Seasick Steve, Trave-Wrappin and the Flying Padovani's rocking the Friday. Saturday sees the super funky Mocha Mountain Kilimanjaro precede the Cumbia Kid, Big Willie's Burlesque, Jim West and Gogol Bordello almost bringing the tent down with their memorably wild and free performance. Sunday rocked with Sheena & the Rokkets, grooved with Pinch, got down with Tomi the Jazzy Monk, JVC Force and the gorgeous belly dancers led into a sweet as ever closing set by our very own Sim Cass. The sun came up and the party continued outside with Gogol accordion, sing song and sinners. No rest for the wicked! And no sleep til Narita.