Following a January appearance at Tokyo Dome, Jamiroquai
return for an encore performance at the venerable Budokan.
It was only a few years ago when the irresistible grooves
of Jamiroquai's 1995 debut The Return of the Space
Cowboy and subsequent albums ruled Japan's charts.
Leader Jay Kay had hit a commercial nerve, updating the feel-good
'60s Motown vibes of Stevie Wonder with the gloss of
the '90s UK acid jazz scene.
Not only did singles like "Morning Glory" and
"Virtual Insanity" receive blanket airplay on
J-Wave and the nation's other top commercial broadcasters,
but the group's songs could also be heard providing
the soundtrack to the mating dance at trendy Aoyama nightclubs
like the fabulous post-bubble Apollo.
These days, Jamiroquai faces a tougher battle: US hip-hop
and R&B rule the charts, and the UK acid jazz boom has
long since fizzled. Despite these obstacles, Jamiroquai's
recent album, A Funk Odyssey (Epic), their first since 1999's
Synkronized, made a respectable showing, Jay Kay's
familiar hat-wearing head dancing across MTV in the single
The durability of Jamiroquai's appeal was recognized
early on, when Sony signed them to an eight-album deal based
on just one single, "When You Gonna Learn?"
written for Acid Jazz Records. They have since borne out Sony's
hopes in record sales, as well as proving a consistent draw,
with promoter UDO booking them into stadiums and arenas.
In a recent interview for The Times of London, the formerly
fast-living Jay Kay reflected on turning 30 and overcoming
his cocaine addiction: "It felt like an enormously
momentous time. It made me look back at where I've
come from, and project ahead to where I wanted to be. And
that meant accepting that I had personal problems of a lifestyle
nature, ones which invaded me every now and then, and which
would make it impossible for me to achieve what I hoped to,
unless they were dealt with."
Meanwhile, in a late announcement, UDO has added British urban
soul singer Rhianna Kenny to the bill as opening act. Sister
to recent phenom Leigh Stephen Kenny, a.k.a. LSK, the vocalist-known
simply as Rhianna-first came to attention as a duet
partner for LSK on his hit single, the provocative tribute
to fraternal love, "Hate Or Love."
She also appeared in Tokyo with LSK in a showcase at On Air
East two years ago, singing a number of her own selections
and providing a warm, feminine counterpoint to LSK's
musky presence. The big-haired, multi-cultural chanteuse has
also just released her debut album, Get On, due out this month
in Japan. With influences ranging from Kate Bush to Nelly
Furtado, the album has already spawned a top 20 UK hit, "Oh
Jamiroquai play Nihon Budokan on
October 29. See listings for details.
Photo courtesy of UDO