In a celebration of the release of her debut album, Good At Falling, The Japanese House played a short acoustic set to a packed-out Rough Trade crowd.
The room was stuffy, the lights were low and leaving the crowd mid-set ceased to be an option as re-entering was near impossible. The result meant that everyone was glued to what Amber was doing on-stage; in her own quiet way, her stage presence became magnetic.
Despite her rising popularity, The Japanese House has proved time and time that small and intimate shows are where her talents best lie. Accompanied only by two other band members providing backing vocals, low-key synths and an acoustic guitar, all eyes were on Amber and her upside down Stratocaster. While there were a few moments when the vocals felt somewhat forced, there wasn’t much to take the audience out of what was happening on-stage – it became easy to lose yourself in the moment. There were hardly any voices in the crowd singing along, it was quiet and all the better for it.
Amber and co. managed to wrestle their way through the crowd up onto Rough Trade’s barely elevated stage and, within a few seconds, kicked things off with lead single ‘Lilo’ – much to the audience’s satisfaction. Personally, ‘Lilo’ is one of my least favourite tracks of the record, however, this stripped-down live version forced me to see the song in a new light. Whereas the instrumentation in the studio version feels like it lacks direction and purpose, the live version was far more ethereal and delicate, aided by incredible harmonisation from both supporting band members.
During the second song, ‘You Seemed So Happy’, a member of the audience fainted and Amber immediately stopped playing, making sure everything was ok before re-starting the song. This move from Amber was admirable and the sense of audience’s respect for her was palpable.
Amber then played ‘Somebody You Found’ from her earlier EPs showing that, while this gig was all about the new album, she still enjoys plying older tracks. The latter half of the show flew by; ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’ was played beautifully even in its stripped down form, and ‘f a r a w ay’, which Amber admitted was her favourite song on the album, put the audience into a kind of trance – eyes glued to the stage. Amber drew the short set to a close with her most popular song ‘Saw You In A Dream’. Unlike before, now you could hear some quiet voices singing along.
Intimate gigs is where Amber’s on-stage talents truly lie. The room watched her every move but she seemed un-phased; with minimal stage-lighting and stripped-down instrumentation, the gig was a fairly relaxed affair. While The Japanese House is about to embark on a tour of larger venues, it was great to see Amber play a smaller venue again – something the audience welcomed with open arms.