Review: The Japanese House at The Joiners, Southampton

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Having missed the The Japanese House at The Joiners last year, I jumped at the opportunity of watching their return to Southampton’s iconic venue on the second leg of their tour across the UK, Europe and the US; the eclectic trio fronted by Amber Bain failed to disappoint.

Supporting Bain and co was London-based Kamran Khan, under the the guise of the indie project Fake Laugh, who delivered somewhat whiny vocals in ‘Mind Tricks’ and ‘Kinda Girl’. These overshadowed an emotive, electric guitar-dominated opening set and drew a muted response from the tight venue, that upon my arrival almost two hours before the main act was surprisingly rammed. Colouring, on the other hand, offered a varied, infectious sound and frontman Jack Kenworthy’s honest appreciation was evident and an aspect of the set that the crowd definitely warmed to. The band’s slower, acoustic tracks such as the Coldplay-esque ‘Everything Has Grown’ and the upbeat, electronically-inspired ‘In Motion’ were two highlights of a stellar introduction to the headline act.

Following a lengthy stage set up which by the end included a multitude of synthesisers, electric guitars and percussion, now synonymous with The Japanese House’s live repertoire, Bain’s arrival was met with rapturous applause and emotion. She opened with the infectious ‘Clean’, a personal favourite which energised an impatient crowd, who Bain mentioned was one of the best she experienced on last year’s UK tour. In spite of the Joiners’ modest size, it was clear even by this point that the audience was in for something special as the acoustics and synths blended impeccably to deliver a unique listening experience that noticeably differs from the studio releases you might hear on Spotify.

Lying at the pop-rock end of Bain’s genre-spanning spectrum was the recently premiered ‘Face Like Thunder’ and this contrasted superbly with the funky, addictive number ‘Sugar Pill’ and yet again with the recently released, marimba-inspired ‘Swim Against the Tide’, demonstrating the breadth of her sound. Being a particularly new release the latter arguably lacked vocally, perhaps through lack of practice, but this was more than atoned for with the artist’s more popular tracks, namely the atmospheric duo ‘Teeth’ and ‘Sister’ from Bain’s debut EP, Pools to Bathe in. Bain also debuted two imminent releases, ‘Leon’ and ‘Good Side In’, which she also admitted had only been performed a handful of times live, but were nonetheless the brand of quality, chilled electronica we have come to expect, characterised by the more subdued ‘Cool Blue’, which was also performed flawlessly.

The melodious fan favourite ‘Still’ closed the set and drew the euphoric response it most definitely deserved. Bain and The Japanese House certainly left an imprint on the crowd that even included an avid fan dressed as a ‘Japanese House‘, yet another highlight of an exceptional feel-good set; it was an intimate hour of immense quality by an artist who is destined for huge future success.

With the exception of a handful of US dates, tickets for all dates across the UK, Europe and North America are still available here.

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Final Year Economics Student. Below-average tennis player, festival-goer and coffee lover.

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