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The Japanese House - Dreamy, hot and hazy, live at Albert Hall

On a tropical Friday evening, Manchester's Albert Hall - a stunning converted church venue - buzzed with a unique energy. Though a touch hazy from the summer heat, the 2,290-strong crowd vibrated with an underlying excitement. This being the last date of the UK tour meant that fans were in for a treat from The Japanese House - who’ve been a rising force in the indie scene and part of the growing soft sapphic pop genre. 



Esme Emerson and Bonnie Kemplay, the talented openers, primed the crowd with their intimate sets. Brief but well-received, their performances ensured a buzzing energy by the time The Japanese House took the stage at a quarter past nine, the crowd erupting in a feverish roar as the headliners arrived. The setlist balanced new and established tracks, kicking things off with a crowd-pleasing banger Touching Yourself, the band's most streamed song and a staple on indie playlists, sending the energy soaring right from the start.


Amber Bain, the lead singer, might have taken a more introspective approach for the show, letting the music take center stage with minimal conversation. However, when she connected with the audience by asking “Do I have any queers in the room,” the crowd responded with a loud and proud cheer, highlighting a shared space of inclusivity. 


The stage design amplified the dreamlike quality of Japanese House's music. Giant illuminated spheres like beach balls coupled with the dynamic play of light and wispy smoke resulted in the entire set design transporting the audience to a hazy, celestial dreamscape.


While the entire set was captivating, a personal highlight for me was Boyhood, the lead single from The Japanese House’s second studio album. The pulsing electronic beat and production had a distinct MUNA vibe but with a softer touch and a dash of cowboy flair. This unexpected blend perfectly captured the song's sense of searching and self-discovery which was magical to experience live.


The encore consisted of 3 songs, with a newer song as their second to last, Smiley Face. This infectious bop received a live upgrade with the addition of saxophone, prompting Amber Bain to jokingly ask the audience, “Why didn't we use sax for the recorded version?“.


For their last song, Sunshine Baby, the lighting on stage shone golden hour yellows and oranges - the crowd was the loudest for this track which perfectly captured the summery spirit of the packed and sweaty gig, leaving everyone with a smile on their face. 


This sweltering Manchester night solidified The Japanese House's position as a captivating live act. Their dreamy 80s-infused indie pop found a perfect home in the stunning Albert Hall, and with the crowd's fervent response, it's clear bigger venues await them on their next Manchester return.


 

WORDS & PHOTOS KATE LEATHER


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