The best upcoming gigs in Tokyo
LA bassist and singer-songwriter Thundercat embraces yacht rock on his latest single, 'Show You The Way', featuring guest vocals from Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Though its an outlier on his new album, Drunk, it's a natural progression for the former Suicidal Tendencies member and frequent Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar collaborator, who has veered towards cosmic soul, funk and R&B as a solo artist. Set to make his Japan debut with this Liquidroom date, the man born Stephen Bruner should be one of this spring's more exciting musical visitors.
Corinne Bailey Rae
You can expect interesting, sassy, jazzy R&B and nu-soul pop from this likeable, Leeds-reared and former riot grrrl (frontwoman of the band Helen), whose comeback album The Heart Speaks In Whispers brings her to Akasaka Blitz in April. A versatile musician who has demonstrated a readiness to keep trying new things, Bailey Rae appears set to recreate the kind of buzz that saw her win Grammys back in 2008 and 2012.
Born in Uganda and raised in north London, Michael Kiwanuka serves up an old-fashioned brand of soul in the tradition of Otis Redding and Bill Withers. After winning the BBC's prestigious Sound of 2012 poll, his sound took another step forward with brilliantly eclectic 2016 album Love & Hate. If orthodox, sweetly sentimental but innovative soul sounds like your thing, don't miss his one-night engagement at Billboard Live.
A pioneer of Italian ambient, Gigi Masin kicked off his music career in Venice in the early '70s, but it wasn't until the mid-'80s that he rose to modest prominence. 1986 album Wind, created after a lengthy time spent in Sardinia recovering from a broken heart, blew away the boundaries between ambient, jazz and pop, and is now recognised as a cult classic. Sampled by everyone from Björk to Nujabes, Masin was discovered internationally only after 2014, when Amsterdam label Music From Memory released a collection of both reissued and previously unreleased tracks on the Talk To The Sea album. That led to a veritable wave of interest from all over the world, reviving Masin's career and attracting gig offers from Japan as well. Set to hit WWW in April, the 61-year-old will be playing both a piano concert (on April 12) and an electronic set (April 18) in Tokyo during a week-long tour that'll also take him to Niigata and Osaka.
British electro king Tom Jenkinson delivers bassomatic wizardry as Squarepusher, with his sounds veering wildly between jazzy workouts and ravey energy flashes. Returning to these shores for the first time after his solid show at last year's Fuji Rock, he's taking on Shibuya as the frontman for Shobaleader One, a quartet for live, grooving takes on epic Squarepusher compositions. This show will focus on Jenkinson's early work – perhaps a few cuts off Feed Me Weird Things, we hope – and will also see an appearance by ever-evolving 'minimal rockers' Nisennenmondai.
British-Jamaican reggae hero Maxi Priest has the kind of velvet voice and smooth moves that these days would have him tagged as neo-soul. But who cares about genre when you have hits like 'Close to You', 'Wild World' and 'That Girl' on tap? 2014 record Easy to Love made its way up to number two on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, and Maxi hasn't lost a beat since. Catch him over two Golden Week nights in Roppongi.