YAMATO | London, Peacock Theatre

Japanese taiko drumming and percussion ensemble Yamato was formed in 1993, in the tiny village of Asuka, and has since performed to millions all over the world. This exhilarating show is full of deafening, heart-pounding drumming, and genuinely laugh-out-loud antics. The physicality and stamina of these ten musicians and performers gets a huge audience response, including a standing ovation before the finale is even over.

A particular highlight comes in the second half, with five seated drummers pounding away in exciting cross-rhythms on massive taiko drums, which shake the very walls of the theatre. Later, in a completely different style, there’s a fantastic and very funny sequence with little Japanese cymbals, which the performers get amazing rhythms and sounds out of, as well as an imaginary game of tennis.

With hardly a word spoken (except energetic shouts from the drummers mid flow), the ensemble also teach us to join in too, with one or two sequences of highly entertaining audience participation. And on the theme of audience participation, the eye-candy element can also not go unmentioned: there are Magic Mike-esque whoops from the crowd as five of the hunks ostentatiously disrobe in the second act.

In addition to the wide variety of drums and percussion are added traditional flutes, plucked shamisens and singing, from the whole ensemble of men and women. With the addition of creative and atmospheric lighting, the results really are breathtaking. Recommended for all, especially kids… but you might want to bring some earplugs.

Yamato continue to blast the roof off the Peacock Theatre until 31 March 2019.

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