Sunny side of Yuzu

Yujin Kitagawa (left) and Koji Iwasawa roused the audience with their energetic and joyful performance.
Yujin Kitagawa (left) and Koji Iwasawa roused the audience with their energetic and joyful performance.PHOTO: SENHA&CO



*Scape The Ground Theatre

Last Saturday

What a fruitful journey it has been for Japanese folk-pop duo Yuzu.

Yujin Kitagawa and Koji Iwasawa started out busking on the streets of Yokohama in 1996 and have gone on to perform at major arenas such as Tokyo Dome and Yokohama Stadium.

To mark their 20th anniversary, they have embarked on their first Asian tour, which kicked off in Singapore at *Scape.

There is certainly demand for their concert here as tickets were snapped up within four hours.

The Ground Theatre has a capacity of 500 and the majority of the fans there were Japanese. It prompted Iwasawa to joke in English: "Welcome to Singapore."

The duo spoke largely in Japanese with Kitagawa throwing in a few explanatory phrases in English.

But mostly, their songs spoke for them. There was a joyousness to their sunny and breezy tracks that was irresistible and they were clearly happy to be performing here.

Accompanied by guitars and the plaintive wail of the harmonica, they harmonised on early hits such as the catchy Goodbye Bus and the elegiac Someday.

They also took on more recent works, including the title track from their 13th album Towa (2016) and Reason, off their award- winning record Land (2013).

During one segment, Yuzu went back to their busking roots as it was just the two of them on stage without any backing musician. They sang their original birthday song and inserted the name of one lucky fan.

On many of the numbers, fans clapped along, waved their hands, sang and even danced, making it feel like a cosy, communal experience.

To get everyone loosened up, there was a short workout segment that took place before the gig started. It all led up to the mass dance for the track Love & Peach, in which Kitagawa and Iwasawa appeared with pink peach butts while two Japanese Citron (yuzu) Monkeys led the choreography with instructions such as "Tap tap your bum".

The energetic two-hour concert ended where it all began, with Yuzu's first single released in 1998, Natsuiro (Summer Colour). To chants of "one more time", the duo extended the feel-good track twice before bowing out.

Inevitably, summer must end but, like the season, fans hope that Yuzu will return.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2016, with the headline 'Sunny side of Yuzu'. Print Edition | Subscribe