Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Nelson Great and Kyushu Night

Monday night was Kyushu night.

I went to the Chelsea Hotel in Shibuya to a show featuring Nelson Great, a trio from Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four big islands. Dr. I, a friend who appears from time to time in these pages and is himself originally from Oita in Kyushu, had introduced me to the music of Nelson Great, one of his favorite groups. Due to work I barely made it to their show just as the first song was getting underway, but it was worth rushing to get there.

Nelson Great consists of two girls, a vocal/keyboard and a drummer, and a guy bassist. The singer, Takashima-san, is one of those petite Japanese women who despite her small frame is blessed with a strong voice that fills up halls. She sang with passion to fine ensemble playing that made me almost forget there were only three musical instruments. "Avant garde pop" is the way they describe their sound in their home page. By coincidence, they've played in Osaka with Orange Plankton, one of my faves and a band that I've written about numerous times in Japan Live. I liked Nelson Great's music so much I bought one of the CDs they brought to the show, and I chatted briefly with the singer, who said little on stage but was friendly in person.

Listening to his beloved Kyushu-based band, Dr. I apparently became nostalgic for Kyushu and its food, so we headed to a Kyushu food izakaya (bistro) a few blocks down, eating basashi (horse meat sashimi), mentaiko (spicy cod roe ), karashi renkon (Japanese mustard-filled lotus roots), all washed down with shochu... Ate too much in fact.

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