The Japanese House - O2 Ritz, Manchester

Despite stepping up to one of the cities bigger venues, o2 Ritz, The Japanese House returned to Manchester with an intimate, warming display of growth last night.

As has been the case with Amber Bain’s previous Manchester shows, the spaciousness of o2 Ritz felt sparse; but was by no means any reflection of the quality of the sheer quality which comes from both her now abundant choice of material, and live talent.

Although sounding a little shaky in opener Face Like Thunder, Bain, alongside her band infatuated the room with an all too short set packed with enthralling melancholia which, in most settings would put a dampener on the mood. However, the confidence and personal growth which has been bubbling throughout the past few years in both her live shows and songwriting has now surfaced to reveal a whole new happiness and energy in Bain’s performance; providing a genuine feeling of pride in any fan who has been around long enough to watch Amber mature.

That growth is clearly evident in album tracks such as Somebody You Found and Follow My Girl, but more so in 2015’s Still, during which it’s hard not to reminisce to the anxious, more awkward performances of previous years. Now, four years on The Japanese House is brimming with confidence, carelessly chatting to her adoring crowd in a way that’s almost incomparable to even last year’s shows.

While not a single track lacked in quality or excitement, highlights came from a stripped back version of Saw You In A Dream, in which Bain allowed the warmth of her crowd’s singing to take focus; and a fun, feel good take on Maybe You’re The Reason.

Although her last headline show “for a long time”, The Japanese House’s return to Manchester felt like a true landmark in her career; an example of an artist who has truly come into her own. Culminating with the recently released Something Has To Change, Amber Bain is an artist deserving of plenty more acclaim than she is receiving, but no doubt will should shows of this calibre continue.

Photography by Ianthe Warlow

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