Review by Charlie Tennant with Photography by Gaz Mather

A night of pure euphoria provided by a truly evolved project.

Since the start of The Japanese House that we know today, Amber Bain has taken her sound from quality to quality. Crafting a unique blend of lush dream pop and musing electronica, The Japanese House take to stage after a short break, having released the much awaited debut album Good at Falling on March 1st, the release ties together the sounds we have been teased over the last four years.

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Swaggering onto stage, Bain opens with ‘Face Like Thunder’, a bright 80s synth-laden hit taken from her 2016 EP of the same name. Historically her encore song choice, Amber Bain is ready to demonstrate not only her expanding catalogue of music, but together with her live band, a more energetic and interactive show, lathering each masterpiece with sharpness and passion.

Introducing sounds from her debut album, ‘We Talk all the Time’ was up next. A funky fusion of drums, synth pads and pop sounds mixed with raw and emotional lyrics – this song discusses the breakdown of Bain’s relationship with her ex, Marika Hackman. Amber once noted in an interview on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 that she remains good friends and still talks to Hackman all of the time – the song is bittersweet, and Bain conveys this beautifully live.

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Continuing on this fusion of beauty and emotion, Bain blends the EP and album versions of ‘Saw You in a Dream’ together, to create a song that almost brought the audience to tears, and then transformed into something bigger. Bain once noted that this song is her favourite that she’s ever written – it’s about her friend who recently passed away; she mentions that the fact she gets to play the song each night of a gig is almost therapeutic, yet emotionally torturing. I strongly felt the emotion in this song – without knowing its deeper meaning prior to hearing it live, Bain managed to convey her two feelings very clearly – I was almost in tears.

Raising the mood aurally, Amber takes to an acoustic guitar to perform ‘You Seemed So Happy’. A breezy, catchy track from the new album, yet, dealing with despair lyrically. This one’s about herself, and the persona she puts on in public. Opening with “Sometimes I start believing in things that aren’t real”, these are the fake emotions she presents, which she almost fools herself into holding.

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Potentially the true highlight of the evening was ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’, the second track off the new album. This song takes Bain’s multi-EP-progression up a notch, belting out a chorus with melodic and lyrical positivity – the track saw a flood of phones in the air ready to capture the moment, and rightly so. This was beautiful.

Ending with an incredibly passionate rendition of her 2015 single, ‘Clean’, a triumphant and tender anthem which brought the night to a comfortable conclusion – with no encore, this hour-long set stood testament to Bain’s incredible level of artistic abilities – it kept the shine from wearing off, and left us all eager to see what direction Bain takes The Japanese House in next.

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See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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