August 18, 2007

Sleep Walker with Little Dragon at Shibuya Quattro

On a boiling hot Friday evening (it had topped 40 degrees earlier in the day), I was off down to Shibuya for some live music.
First on stage were Little Dragon from Sweden featuring Swedish-Japanese vocalist Yukimi Nagano. Yukimi has featured as guest vocalist for a number of other artists, such as Koop, Hird and Sleep Walker over the last few years, but this is her own project and they were in town to promote their newly released eponymous debut album.

Accompanying Yukimi there were bass, drums and cool retro-sounding synths. The band delivered a tight and interesting set of quirky electronic pop that went down well with the packed house. Personal favourites for me were 'Forever', 'Test' and 'Wink', and I'll be on the look out for the album online I think.

After a short break while the stage crew made all their preparations, it was time for the main act, the some classy dance jazz act Sleep Walker. There was a huge roar as they took to the stage and launched into 'Quiet Dawn' from the new album. This was then followed by 'Into The Sun' and the hugely popular 'Ai-No-Tabi'. The band were really on form as they delivered storming renditions of their tracks, which the dancing crowd lapped up. There were lengthy solos and improvisations from all members at different points and pianist Hajime Yoshizawa looked as though he was truly lost in music as he hammered away at the keys, but then with the slightest of glances towards the drummer, they whole band would kick back into the main riff just like that. During 'Eclipse', sax player Masa Nakamura had technical problems with the mic, and so after the intro riff, he simply signalled to the bass player and the rhythm section delivered an amazing improvised passage that really worked the crowd, while the crew fixed the glitch. Masa and Hajime are the so-called leaders of the band, but the rhythm section truly hold the whole thing together.

Later in the set the band were joined by Yukimi Nagano, who sang 'Wind' and 'Afloat', which both went down really well, and then it was time to wrap up the set with the epic 'The Voyage', though they came back on for an encore, one of their best-known tracks 'Ai-No-Kawa'. Superb stuff.

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