Review: The Japanese House @ The 1865, Southampton: shimmering indie pop creates a unique community spirit


Amber Bain, performing as The Japanese House, has returned to the stage to tour her new album In the End It Always Does. 

Credit: Frankie Lochhead

Kamran Khan’s band, Fake Laugh, is opening the tour for the last time tonight. His daydreamy indie-pop style is pleasant, however it’s unknown to the audience who quietly chat and watch while finding their places. There is a compelling sort of shyness about his character, which compliments the quiet of the music but doesn’t necessarily hold the stage presence to charge the crowd before Bain’s appearance.

The audience, an eclectic mix of fans who seem to be the calmest people I’ve ever met at a concert, wait in hushed anticipation as the stage clears. Instead of pushing towards the barrier or trying to find the best view, they opt to have their own bit of space to sway, dance, sing, laugh or cry.

Bain arrives with her bandmates, including opener Kamran Khan now on bass, and meets the cheering of the crowd with a smile and a simple ensemble that looks like she could fit into the audience. The band, wasting no time at all, jump into Sad to Breathe. This electro-indie song builds the audience up with crystal clear musical symphony and provides the perfect start to the set. The audience’s rapt attention continues through her other newer releases ‘Touching Yourself’ and ‘Morning Pages’. These songs are clearly known and loved, shifting between opportunities to dance or to fall into a kind of musical lull.

However, it isn’t until Bain begins to play songs from her first album, ‘Good at Falling’, that you realise the community surrounding you in the crowd. Every word is sung and shared, accompanied by shifting lights which creates this dreamlike atmosphere. The audience really shines with Bain’s oldest and goldest, her haunting ballad of ‘i saw you in a dream’ is sung word for word by the audience and after this song the setlist shimmers with classics that the audience knows like they wrote it themselves.

Credit: Frankie Lochhead

Bain does not inflect the show with breaks between songs for explanations or moments of intimacy, instead, she cracks the occasional joke (in our case about her newfound donkey friendships) before returning promptly to the music. This style of performance lends itself so perfectly to Bain’s music, which possesses a soothing sort of hypnosis that lengthy periods of dialogue would break. Instead, the value is held in the rhythm and flow between song transitions – building the audience up and bringing them, quite drastically, down.

Returning for an encore after her setlist, Bain takes to the keyboard. The previously kaleidoscopic lights shift into a gentle backlight as she performs a heart achingly acoustic rendition of her new song ‘One for sorrow, two for Joni Jones’. After the audience have wiped their tears, Bain returns to her guitar and offers us the ultimate end to a show with ‘Sunshine Baby’. A accumulation of her genres, she smiles and laughs along with the audience. The chorus is paired with silly and simplistic hand gestures, which the audience follow like a call and response leaving the show upbeat and energetic.

She thanks her fellow bandmates and waves goodbye to the audience before leaving the stage, and audience, dumbfounded with the magnitude of her performance.

The Japanese House is currently on tour in the UK & US and you can purchase tickets here and you can watch her live film below.



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