On a rainy Sunday evening in Hackney as one approaches Oslo you’d be forgiven for wishing you were at home curled up in a warm blanket, but what small handful of us (and when I say small handful I mean all 353 people in the at capacity room) got was a heart warming display of raw musical talent.
For those of you haven’t come across our patron of strings before, Kaoru Ishibashi aka Kishi Bashi has spent his years playing violin for Of Montreal and Regina Spektor before wowing us with his solo prowess. Drawing from a range of genres (from folk to electronica right across to blues) a Kishi show is an experience in itself.
As you watch him masterfully loop a mixture of melodic vocals, violin, keys and even the odd beatbox, its undeniable how talented Kishi is at creating soundscapes that pan genre barriers. Whether breaking the 4th wall midway through Hey Big Star to proclaim this one was his “jazzy song” or leading melodic sing along’s to fan favourites Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her and Philosophize In it! Chemicalize It!, from the minute he hit the stage Kishi had an initially restless Sunday night crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, or more fittingly I say from the ends of his string.
The album behind this tour Sonderlust, epitomises the emotion that’s gone into Kishi’s work and as he describes the german origin of the title, (the sorrow upon realising and accepting that other peoples life’s are as rich and important as your own) the message of tolerance and acceptance is met with unanimous nods of acceptance around the room. Singles Say Yeah and Cant Let Go, Juno received glowing responses with Kishi slowing down the latter slightly whilst coining the term “Hackney Slow Jam” much to the delight of the locals in the room.
As Kishi loops his way through track after track, one mustn’t forget about accompanying musician and support for the night Tall Tall Trees (Mike Savino). After delivering his own solo set of folk inspired banjo rock, Mike provides heart pumping baselines and percussion for most of Kishi’s set aided by a striking electric banjo that lights up based on inputs from a remote which is handed into the crowd. Yes you did read that correctly, I said light up banjo.
Ending the main set list with crowd favourite Mr Steak, Kishi shares his love for this audience even offering up his “300 Scottish Pound” keyboard free to anyone in the audience whilst demonstrating in a comical manner the range of the instrument from samples to its ability to play the CSI theme.
Once the pre-pronounced “Spoiler Alert” encore arrived, the crowd was treated to a stripped back acoustic affair with both Kishi and Tall Tall Trees moving to the centre of the sold out crowd to play acoustic versions of Bright Whites and Q&A under the spotlight of mobile phone LEDs.
As the night wrapped up Kishi decided he wasn’t done there and what better way to go then sell the signed guitar off his shoulder to the crowd with proceeds going to a charity of the winner’s choice whilst accepting a fans request to play out Manchester. You cant really go out with any more class than that.
Live Review & Photography by Geoff D’Unienville
Kishi Bashi @ Oslo on 14 May 2017