Having been inflicted with a cold from last week's wet weather that was only aggravated by the antics and debauchery that would unfurl during the St Patrick's Day weekend, my body wasn't awfully keen on leaving bed and trekking to Cowgate on a chilly Monday evening. However, this wasn't a gig that I'd want to miss for a simple illness. If anything, it might just cure me.
Preceded by the rest of her band, Amber bounces on stage to the roar of her adoring fans, wearing a big smile that she maintains during the majority of the set. And what’s not to smile about? Her now month-old album 'Good At Falling' has achieved large commercial and critical successes, taking her work to new heights having spent 4 years releasing assorted EPs and singles. Either that or the fact that her dog was also in attendance, surely very comforting for a musician on a tour.
Each track is met with a collective swoon from the crowd and every lyric is sung word for word. It’s a dynamic that differs incredibly from listening alone, a powerful testament to the sheer depth of emotion attached to Bain’s lyrics with their carefully crafted soundscapes, made even more ethereal as they fill the beautiful stone arches of The Caves. And Amber seems to be enjoying herself as much as the spectators, cheekily smiling and occasionally twisting her mic so that the youthful throng at the front can be heard belting out everything from infectious banger 'Maybe You’re The Reason' to the slower and slightly more reflective rendition of 'Saw You In A Dream'. A particular highlight would be an almost effortless transition from the eerie yet intricate introduction of 'Sister' into newer track 'Everybody Hates Me Now', a beautifully poignant piece that is as introspective and emotive as The Japanese House have ever been, and as familiar to the crowd as any older track.
The eloquence with which older and more recent tracks combine within the set is outstanding, highlighting an emotional maturity that has developed through her four EPs and particularly now in her new album, a work that largely deals with coping with the struggles of heartbreak. It brings back emotions not felt since being at sixth form, showing, to myself at least, a personal progression that has been lived through her stunning music.
Throughout the set she doesn’t speak all that much, at one point to tell a fan that she doesn’t have a pen on her to sign the record they lift up. After finishing up the fifteen song set with sprightly indie-bop 'Clean', the band leave without an encore, leaving some disappointment yet not enough to quash the general feeling of content that sits amongst the crowd like a wave of sunshine.
Bearing witness to one of my favourite artists in such a gorgeous setting is a privilege that no sore head would ever impair. Like a hot cup of tea and a big hug from your mam, the enigmatic sound of the Japanese House cleanses the soul and reassures you that everything will be ok, whilst at the same time taking you on a reflective emotional journey in which you are rid of your worries and fears. A must-see live.