Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yunn & Yuyake Lamp At Grapefruit Moon

For several years now I’ve felt that Yunn and Yuyake Lamp’s Yumi, formerly of Orange Plankton, is one of the most expressive Japanese singers I’ve ever seen. She transforms the stage into an orchard of sound, growing with her soft voice shoots of unique musical phrases, the stage lights her sunlight. She squeezes out songs with her entire body—her voice makes even those not interested in the sort of gentle piano pop she plays stop and take notice. I always know going to Yumi’s shows that I’ll come away filled with new energy.

But at the same time, sometimes in weeks between shows I have slight doubts: was she really THAT good, as good as I describe, for example, in this post?

Wednesday I saw Yunn and Yuyake Lamp at the Grapefruit Moon in Sangenjyaya, and I immediately knew I wasn’t wrong. I’ve seen hundreds of singers perform in Japan, but very few have her ability to make you visualize what she is singing about and pull you into her world. In one of the first songs of the night, with a tiny wavy gesture of her arms she brought to life the sea, the subject of that song.

The crowd wasn’t big. I saw three or four Chinese characters 正 (‘right’ or ‘proper’) marking the number of fans who came to see the band, meaning that at five strokes per character, fifteen to twenty had come. But it was an interesting cast of characters: there were, among others, a pro wrestler, a TV commercial director, and a young, pretty actress, all in some ways connected to Yumi’s music.

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