Review by Julia Pattison: The Yamoto Drummers at the Grand Opera House, York

The Yamoto Drummers.
The Yamoto Drummers.

Concert: The Yamato Drummers

Venue: Grand Opera House, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

I last reviewed this fabulous drumming troupe back in 2015, when they performed their awe-inspiring show Baku On, achieving their goal of sending the audience home with “a new vitality and passion for life”.

Their latest show for 2019, Jhonetsu (Passion) must surely be their most ambitious show yet, clearly demonstrating that The Yamato Drummers are athletes as much as marvellous musicians.

I joined Jared Hardwick’s Tengu School of Taiko Drumming classes back in January 2017, and if I was impressed with the show back in 2015, I now fully appreciate the skills of these energetic Far Eastern drummers, having struggled to master the most basic of drumming routines at times!

The packed audience on February 18th included many members from Tengu, as well as other Taiko members from the area and away I’m sure, but it was a pleasure to look around and see such a wide range of ages in the audience, something the whole family could enjoy, and come away inspired and uplifted.

The show Passion was well named - full of energy and enthusiasm, and breath-taking pieces using a huge variety of drums from small, hand held drums to the gigantic barrel like Odaiko (big, fat drum).

All the music was composed by the group, and was wonderfully varied, from beautiful melodies featuring the shamisen (a Japanese string instrument similar to a tiny guitar) and the shakuhachi (similar to a flute), to pieces that built up gradually to a resounding crescendo stirring the spirits of all listening; with atmospheric lighting adding to the spectacular vision along with the invigorating sound of the many drums.

There were many highlights in this amazing, and colourful show, but the five percussionists’ piece featuring five mid-sized drums placed vertically at the edge of the stage was a stunning example of their strength and discipline, and gained well-deserved, rapturous applause.

There was a great sense of fun and mischief from the troupe too; the suggestion of competition between the players, and a perfectly timed “pass the sound“ performance using cymbals was highly entertaining.

Lots of audience participation was requested too, receiving an energetic and enthusiastic response.

Can’t wait for this talented troupe to return again.