British alt-pop artist The Japanese House, also known as Amber Bain, brought her tour to Le Studio TD in Montreal last weekend in support of her 2023 album “In The End It Always Does”. Words and photos by Serena Yang.

The evening kicked off with singer-songwriter quinnie’s mesmerizing acoustic-folk opening set. Her spectacular soprano vocals and poignant lyrics touched on themes of girlhood, love, and sexuality through a 70’s style delivery – featuring trio harmonies reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. Though soft-spoken, she had the audience captivated; you could hear a pin drop as everyone was absorbed in her performance. Standouts from her set were her hits “man” and “touch tank”, along with the unreleased track “ripples”.

Taking the stage with her 4-piece touring band, The Japanese House ignited the venue with “Sad To Breathe”, “Touching Yourself”, and “Something Has To Change”, her fans fervently singing along. Transitioning seamlessly into the sultry “Follow My Girl” and hazy “Saw You In A Dream”, Amber showcased her versatile emotional range, captivating the crowd throughout. Addressing her audience with playful banter, she dedicated the next song, “Boyhood”, “to all of my gays”. One of the highlights of her performance was “Chewing Cotton Wool”, where she delivered gut-wrenching lyrics of heartbreak over a minimal instrumental composition, complemented by a saxophone solo. “She’s the sound of your own voice / She’s someone else’s drink / She’s living in the countryside / She’s the whirlpool in the sink”. 

The band momentarily exited the stage after “Dionne”, then returned for an encore with the wistful ballad “One For Sorrow”. Wrapping up the night, they ensured the audience left on a high note with “Sunshine Baby”.

After listening to her recent album “In The End It Always Does”, I wondered how the dreamy synths and stacked vocal layers would translate to a live performance. Amber and her band expertly fused the polished electronic pop quality of the studio recordings with the rawness that defines live music, delivering an atmospheric concert experience. For fans of Brit-pop, she’s a burgeoning star to see live, with further tour dates scheduled in her home country in May next year.


Serena Yang is a concert, fashion, and event photographer from Ottawa.