IMG_3161Shibusashirazu Orchestra

Glastonbury festival

June 2016

Live Review


John Robb from LTW and the Membranes returns from Glastonbury after seeing this most bizarre 30 piece free jazz orchestra who had a 5000 strong moshpit!

There is someone dressed up in white looking like an alien rolling on the floor, the mask gives away nothing and their feet are twitching in rigor mortis shapes and now pulled behind their head, there are two imperious geisha girls dancing around in slow motion holding giant bananas, there is someone else waiting in the wings in another garish outfit dancing  slow groove . It’s already dislocating the senses and no-one has even mentioned the music yet.

The hypnotic free jazz has been coerced into great slabs of sound, the brass section seethes a zig zag riff wander that is powerful and riffing and somehow sits in the middle of free jazz and rock. They may be experimental but they are also damn catchy as the bouncing audience will testify.

This may be an orchestra but it’s like no other orchestra you have seen before.

To see the Shibusashirazu Orchestra (which brilliantly translates as ‘we don’t understand/are unaffected by cool’)is like nothing else you could have imagined. They come from Japan and play a free jazz tinged post punk that is like Sun Ra jamming with the universe. Their style stems from the jazz movement of the 60s, with the influence of 80s punk and No Wave but has the adventure of post rock and the fire and excitement of rock music.

It’s a glorious sound but also, oddly, danceable and catchy – this is no self indulgent exercise but a stunning show- the brass section play great wonk riffs that make you sway and make you smile with slabs of stunning sound that are pulsating and catchy.

Formed in 1989 by bassist Daisuke Fuwa who conducts tonight, they are a collection of brilliant players with many of Japan’s best free jazz musicians who sit on the stage and play this glorious sound whilst Daisuke Fuwa dances and conducts in a sprightly manner and coerces them into pure genius.

If that’s not enough they also have the afformentioned collection of the bizarrely dressed Butoh dancers – with Evil Blizzard style face masks on doing the contorted apocalyptic dancing that is disconcerting and compelling.

Daisuke Fuwa is the key this whole crazed opus – he writes most of the material and these great players take it by the scruff on the neck and into somewhere else. It should be noted that there are about 5000 people watching them dancing around like loons – this may be off the wall music breaking all the codes but it is no way self indulgent and makes perfect sense.

It’s an aural and visual feast – an adventure into the impossible and yet it works brilliantly -a genius ride on the most bizarre rocket ship ever.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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