The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend – 19th November 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Amber Bain headlined Newcastle O2 Academy to a very excitable crowd. I was one of those excitable ones as there is just something about the production that Bain puts into her project The Japanese House that when I listen to her music, it’s like riding an emotional rollercoaster. I have seen her perform live once prior to this date and watching her is almost trance-like, well for me at least, as a lot of the crowd gathered at the front are in a different kind of state that makes them scream and wanting to reach out and touch Amber. I guess that could also be considered trance-like but as I said, an emotional rollercoaster, it definitely is!

Art School Girlfriend

My excitement hit another high before walking into the venue. I somehow missed the memo that a fairly new act going by the name of Art School Girlfriend was the support act of this tour. ASG has a similar vibe to TJH but maybe more so on the ‘chill vibe.’ I first saw ASG at The Great Escape earlier in the year and people were lucky to get in to see her. She was high on the list of ‘ones to watch.’ She also headlined her own tour a few months prior to this support slot. Both times, she was with a full band. However, on this tour, she’s flying solo and was just as mesmerising. Her performance didn’t feel any less complete than if she was with a full band. I was stunned into silence but sadly, half the crowd were immersed in their own conversations. ASG was the perfect opener to this night and seeing her perform solo was a wonderful surprise.

The crowd pushed closer to the stage when The Japanese House appeared. A low tempo opener introduction put an excited silence over them as smoke and blue light filled the stage then the first sight of Amber sent them into a frenzy as she and her band opened with Face Like Thunder. Bain interacts with the crowd from the get-go as she shouts out ‘How you doing?’ to little waves, winks and smiles to members of the audience. The same interaction is given to her band as she shares a laugh here and there to even a drink!

Mid-way through the set we are given new tracks Lilo and Follow My Girl and the fans have already been studying the lyrics as you can not only see a lot of them mouthing the words but also hear a good few sing along with Amber. It is like this with every song of the night, each song also met with screams of appreciation. Then there were the handful like me that are simply in awe of getting to not only hear but to see Amber on stage as The Japanese House.

Every note delivered feels very emotive yet effortless at the same time. Most of the crowd sing their emotions loud but for some, singing along sometimes feels like you are detaching yourself from what you are really feeling, if that makes sense. There are times when I sing my heart out (very badly) at gigs but at a gig like that of The Japanese House (and the support of Art School Girlfriend) I feel ‘absolute chill’ that my body feels like it is in another place and time until the house lights go on. I guess you could say it feels like euphoria.

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