Monday 29 February 2016

Live Review: The Japanese House - The Exchange, Bristol 26/02/16

After spending an hour trying to find a nearby parking space, giving up and walking the 20 minutes in freezing temperatures to the venue, I finally found myself inside Bristol's Exchange. It's strange to think the last time I was in the very same four walls was to witness The 1975 on what was probably one of their last shows of such intimacy. It makes a fitting choice then for fellow label-mate The Japanese House to follow in their tracks with another packed out room in support.

With only a handful of shows under her belt, Amber Bain's already established minimalistic art form is a sound that readily flourishes in a live setting. From her shy and awkward stance between songs right through to her music's gripping and profound affliction, there's a clear link here between emotions and tangible life experiences - made all the more real when you experience it in person. For someone with little performing experience under her elusive moniker, it doesn't show in the slightest as the evening got underway with Clean as its twinkling intro gave way to her distorted guitars and unique auto-tuned vocal delivery.

Switching between guitar and keyboard, Bain's artistry comes in to a distinguished light as the fragmented Pools To Bathe In showcased its swelling ocean-like sounds amongst the fragility and honest lyricism, each intricate layer swirling to form a constructive interference of haunting beautification. Just 2 songs in and the audience seemed awash in emotion, heads nodding, eyes transfixed to the stage. "we've got one more sad one for you before something more upbeat" exclaimed Bain as she launched in to the guitar looping Letter By the Water followed by the aforementioned more lively number. Filled with whimsical guitar strums, backed with a stunning array of crisp percussion and swirling vocals, once more her vast talents are demonstrated in breathtaking style on Cool Blue.

"This is my second time playing in Bristol, this show is a lot bigger though" ushers Bain. A sign of her growing fan base that only looks set to continue as I chatted to fans before the show who'd come for the support act performances and stayed for hers. I'm sure there's no doubt they'd be back for a second helping should she return as Still's chest thumping kick drums punctuated the room amidst her soaring vocals. The perfect prelude to Sister, another track that's effortless multi-part harmonies and heart-tugging emotions serve an abundance in luscious atmospheric qualities.

Rounding up on a stripped back new song, a euphoric effort with plenty more swelling guitars and vocals that set alight the night's atmosphere, the chants of "1 more song" echoed throughout the room. Sadly there was to be no encore as the lights finally came on but for someone with such a limited catalogue of tracks, her mastermind performance was second to none - the sense that this might be the last time fans will get a chance to see her preform in such an intimate setting. Definitely the start of something very special.


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