REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY AKI FUJITA TAGUCHI
PROOFREADING BY YOSUKE TAGUCHI
Swiss rock band YOKKO made a second appearance in Japan and I had a great honour to photograph them again at Tsutaya O-Nest in Tokyo on Tuesday night. The first time they came to Japan was in 2017 for supporting their second album ‘To the Fighters. To the Boxers’ released in March 2016. I had opportunity to photograph their two shows at that time. Their beautiful melody and the great personality of each member really touched my heart and I have been looking forward to seeing them again.
YOKKO was formed in Bern, Switzerland, in 2011. Their music style is often called as indie, pop, rock, alternative and so on. However, they named their sound as ‘Atlantic Wave’ by themselves. I think it is a good idea because it is far better than to be categorised by someone else. And it speaks their specific sound very well. The words ‘Atlantic Wave’ make me imagine their dynamics and deepness of the sound that encompasses a wide variety of music styles.
Should I explain about their band name? I suppose so. The band name ‘YOKKO’ comes from Japanese name Yoko. They were planning to play internationally right from the start. So they researched a name that everyone around the world can pronounce easily and found a Japanese female name Yoko. With adding ‘K’ to it, the band name ended up ‘YOKKO’.
After they made a big success with releasing two albums that climbed to top 10 on the Swiss album charts, receiving a Swiss music award, playing 300 shows in Europe and Japan, they went on a hiatus. Some embarked on a journey, others focused on writing music. Each member took time to rethink his life and music. And, they are back!
On this tour, keyboard player Timo joined and supported the band. On hearing the first note, I realized that they have dramatically changed since 2017. Their earlier work has a much more pop feeling, which is good of course, because we can feel the simple joy of music in it. There’s no reason to deny pop-rock music. However, they must have found their way to go much deeper. Their sound has become heavier and darker. The lighting was also dark and that made my shooting a little bit challenging.
Their set list was almost filled with two EP’s released this year, ‘Soliva’ and ‘Soliva Ⅱ’. The atmosphere was serious and dark mostly throughout the night. Many songs have both very calm part and explosive part. I felt that the big dynamics is the most fantastic part of their updated sound. That was well received by the Japanese audience. They often got excited on the explosive part.
Beautiful and powerful voice of Adrian was amazing and I was impressed by his emotional stage behaviour. Although he is a lead singer, he stood on the left side on the stage during the show. I guess this might be due to the changes in their style. Philipp’s rich guitar tone has been the core of their sound since 2017, and I felt it became more and more significant.
For the last song in their encore, the band walked down to the floor and performed an acoustic version of ‘Calling All Gods’ from their first album ‘Seven Seas’. That was such a good mood and especially touching.
In a conversation with singer Adrian after the gig, he said he once deleted the pop elements of their sound, and after the hiatus, he wanted to go much more deeper and darker. I loved their updated sound. It was full of inspirations and struck a chord with me.
It was very nice to see them in this intimate gig, but I believe they deserve a far larger audience. That’s why I take pictures of them and write a gig review. If you haven’t seen them yet, I highly recommend you going to their show. These guys are a band to watch out for in the future. Luckily, they will come to Japan next year for the event of Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Nothing about live performance has been confirmed yet, but let’s make it happen! Keep your eyes peeled for more updates!