Intensely physical - entertainment to hypnotise

Mugenkyo Drummers
Mugenkyo Drummers
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Mugenkyo Drummers - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

CELTIC folklore and Japanese legend intertwined as the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers made a return to the Grand Theatre.

Although the formidable looking drums reappeared, a more mixed group of musicians showcased their hypnotic sound than the five Amazonian looking women of 2009.

The Scottish based group were joined on stage by flautist and Shinobue player Noboko Miyazaki whose haunting sounds regularly sliced through the percussion.

The drumming itself is intensely physical and at times, almost comparable with a martial art.

Dimmed lighting and a ritualistic element to the performance underlines the very spiritual undertones of the sound.

Although the artists, four men including founder Neil Mackie, and two women, made the performance look effortless, the rhythms were incredibly complex. This was particularly notable in Ikkoyo, which means One Vibration where the different sounds harmonised to create a mesmerising big, fat, hefty buzz.

Fudoshin, where two women played opposite ends of an enormous mounted drum almost relies on a sixth sense to get the rhythm right according to Neil Mackie’s guidance.

Sections where all the drummers played were powerful to behold. Noboko Miyazaki’s flute playing added an extra dimension, but at times hearing her breathing very clearly through the microphone was distracting.

A section where dancers with phantom masks moved fluorescent scarves in time to the drumming was very evocative and was a highlight.