Tonight, from the outside, The Haunt looked like a deserted shipwreck as I walked up to the door through barely parted security fences. I was wondering if I had come to the right place, but, stepping through the double doors into the venue space I was relieved to feel the warmth of the gathering crowd as I caught the tail-end of Lost Idol’s set. The room was full of another warmth too, the pleasant tones of clever, digitally-produced analogue synth sounds. Lost Idol whipped out a miniature megaphone, to add distorted vocals to the end of a great sounding tune, and I made a mental note to check out some more of his stuff as soon as I get the opportunity.
After a short break clambering for space at the bar, Fujiya & Miyagi strode onto the stage before a room that had swelled to near capacity. The band kicked off with ‘Serotonin Rushes’, the lead track from EP1, released earlier this year. Amusingly this got a call back later, as the band were drawing towards the end of their set an audience member shouted out requesting the track. “Somebody got here late, didn’t they?” acknowledged singer David Best with a wry smile, prompting a ripple of laughter from the crowd. Fujiya & Miyagi are on fine form tonight, confident and relaxed they work through nearly an hours worth of career spanning material, including plenty of cuts from the two EP’s they’ve released this year. The new stuff actually comes across so strongly at times it outstrips (pun intended) their older, better established tracks. I may be a little biased though, as I’ve been playing them both back-to-back a lot for the last month: I might have to pick up the vinyls! ‘Serotonin Rushes’ sounds amazing, setting the scene perfectly, with the pace taken up just the right amount to start tempting our feet into movement. With the three men across the front whispering in unison, “Keep on pulling, pulling/ keep on pushing, pushing” and Best’s heavily effected guitar solo, it feels like a ready-made anthem for the band and is clearly already a firm fan favourite.
They followed this in the best way they could, with the deep mellow funk grooves of ‘UH’ and the pumping kraut of ‘Ankle Injuries’: two of the best known and most popular tracks from their back catalogue. Most people save their ‘greatest hits’ for the finale, but Fujiya & Miyagi’s strong opening works exceptionally in a live setting. Three tracks in and you’ve already ticked a bunch of mental anticipatory boxes; the mood has been set, you know they’re nailing it, so you can relax and enjoy the rest of the show. There’s an ease to the Fujiya & Miyagi sound which is very infectious. I only felt unwanted tension at one point in the night: I was right at the front for ‘Knickerbocker’, one of their more kraut-influenced numbers, when I made the mistake of focussing on the bass-player and my mind turned from ankle injuries to wrist injuries and RSI (although I’m pretty sure they didn’t play that one tonight).
Tonight ‘Collarbone’ sounds particularly glorious, I’d almost forgotten about it, so it was great to look around the room and see everyone sharing in the knowing grin and incessant head-nodding this classic cut produces. It’s tracks like this, with a hint of old school funk, that seem to be heading straight for my feet tonight, and I’m not alone! Towards the end we get two tracks from EP2, my personal favourite ‘Extended Dance Mix’, and the excellent ‘Outstripping (The Speed Of Light)’ which went down extremely well with the crowd, proving why it’s such a good choice as a single. The one misstep for me was ‘Flaws’ from their last album, Artificial Sweeteners. The hard electro felt a little overcooked to my ears, but maybe that’s just because I was moving through the crowd at the time and somehow found myself in a sort-of reverse-sweet spot, where all the bad noise coalesces and attacks. The kick drum became like a man with a pair of tiny plungers trying to pull my brain out through my ears. All was forgiven, however, for the mellow slow-burn of set closer ‘Electro Karaoke’, taken from their début album. Long instrumental passages, expertly built up through layers of Steve Lewis’ synths and full of playful moments of guitar noise from David Best; leading us to the whispered chant of their own band name. It feels like the only song they should ever finish on and stands as the perfect ending to a great night of grooves from one of Brighton’s favourite acts.
Read our Interview with Fujiya & Miyagi here: brightonsfinest.com/html/index.php/spotlight/1951-fujiya-miyagi-interview-2016
Read our review of EP1 & EP2 here: brightonsfinest.com/html/index.php/12-music/1926-fujiya-miyagi-ep1-ep2