Thursday, February 5, 2015

(Review) Kodo: One Earth Tour - Mystery

I attended Kodo's new show this past Sunday and wanted to talk about it.

The last time they came through, it was the first show touring here under their new Artistic Director.  It was too big of an  artistic shift for me, as a long-time fan and admittedly I struggled with it.  I went to this new show with uncertainty...but I liked it.

There were things I'd never seen in a taiko show - from the giant, snake-like dragons that coiled and slithered around stage with amazing dexterity, to the creative use of lighting that I don't want to talk  about so as not to ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet.  There was also more humor in the show than I've seen in a Kodo show, almost a bit much for me but still very entertaining.

One interesting aspect was seeing all of Kodo's "standards", such as Yatai-Bayashi, Miyake, Monochrome, and the odaiko solo...but in different fashions.  Yatai and Miyake were done on a much smaller scale, Monochrome was set up almost the same before taking a very different turn, and the odaiko solo was the last piece but framed differently (seen above).

After watching a few pieces, I came to realize that Kodo has effectively become style-less.  That is to say, they're more about moving well and playing well vs. adhering to a specific visual aspect.  The overall effect is very powerful!

I miss some of the "folky-ness" in the singing; it felt too polished for my ears but wasn't a huge element of the show.  I also miss seeing some of the more experienced players, but I know the newer members tend to get sent out on the U.S. tours.  However, if I had one "complaint", it would be that while I liked the new pieces, none of them stuck with me like older pieces have.  I have the new CD and will be able to get familiar with some of these pieces, but I miss driving home and repeating songs in my head until I'm sick of them.

The highlight of the show for me was being able to go backstage: saying hello/great show to some of the members, and see the dragons up close, haha.

I admit, I really do miss the more straight-forward pieces that dug their way into my brain as well as seeing the members I'd seen come up the ranks for years.  But if I look at the show for the show itself, I see a very skilled, energetic troupe with a creative vision putting on a fantastic show and I'm really curious what the next show will be like!

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