Unshin – Waltz for Broken Dolls

Norwich Playhouse

Norwich Playhouse

Unshin is an 18-year-old Japanese singer-songwriter whose forthcoming Waltz for Broken Dolls is a concept album.

In the words of her bass player, it is about a Japanese girl growing up under the restraint of Japanese society and her quest to be an individual.

Accompanied by a five-piece band, Unshin played it straight through to a remarkably receptive crowd at the Playhouse on Saturday.

While many people write overwrought, self-absorbed poetry in their teens, few set it to a succession of pompous jazz-funk workouts and 80s-style power ballads. Perhaps more should - it is apparently an untapped market.

With its bombastic quiet-loud dynamics and earnestly grimacing instrumentalists, second song Drug set the punishing tone. This was only alleviated when the band refrained from ostentatiously tricksy arrangements just long enough for the pleasant ska groove of Evidence and the (almost) Pixies-like rock of Running.

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However, these two numbers were oases in a desert of hectoring noise. Future shows will apparently feature accompanying Japanese animation. Hopefully, this will constitute an effective distraction.