Saturday, August 15, 2015

In search of drums

I've been a fan of taiko, Japanese drumming, since I first encountered it in Karuizawa in 1997 at the World Junior Curling Championships. Since then I've seen many performances, with the great Tao my favourite, see here.

I thought it might be fun to seek out the drums of Japan at this year's Fringe, and see if the magic was still alive.

First stop was Venue 34, in the basement theatre of Adam House in Chambers Street, where the University of Edinburgh has a number of examination halls.

I thought it quite kind of one of the venue staff to warn me that the performance was going to be pretty loud. And of course these days, it's nice (?) to be sold a concession ticket without even being asked one's age!

The sign above is probably the understatement of the month!

I had come to see a performance by Tenrindaiko Seed, a young company, average age just 17, from Kasugai City, on their first visit to Edinburgh. You can read about them here.

The performance was called 'Advancement'. Good? Absolutely - five stars from me. How might I describe it. Accomplished, entertaining, energetic, fun, physical, .... taiko at its most powerful. These are the best young drummers in Japan. LOUD. And if you don't like sweat, then don't sit in the front row! At full blast, this is powerful stuff. I loved it.

Standing ovation. The performers came into the aisles at the end to thank the audience for coming along. Nice touch.

And this time, I DID buy the tee shirt!

Now, other Japanese drum performances are available. I did wonder if it was hazardous to health to take in two taiko shows in one day! But I had seen the next group before, and I knew how good they would be. 

So it was to the rather posh Venue 43, the Space©Symposium Hall, a converted church in Hill Square. Samurai Drum IKKI have been in Edinburgh before. Formed in 2002 by Ikki Hino, the group comprises just four performers, the master himself and three female acolytes. But what quality!

The programme included 'Makoto', a solo by Ikki Hino on three Shime Taiko drums. Unbelievable. How does he DO that?

The website is here. You can find YouTube clips of Samurai Drum IKKI here, and here. But watching and listening to taiko on a laptop or computer hardly compares to hearing and experiencing the drums live. 

Which performance did I enjoy more? Impossible to decide. Both excellent in different ways. I would go back and see both again. But there is more taiko to seek out this month in Edinburgh. And I look forward to that.

Photos © Skip Cottage except that of Tenrindaiko Seed on stage, which is from the group's website.

1 comment:

  1. That's some fantastic drumming Bob - thanks for flagging it up as it were.
    On a noisier, less elegant, closer to home, but still effective front - have you heard this lot: