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ConcertsNEARfest 2005: Kenso

Posted on Friday, December 30 2005 @ 21:12:23 CST by Steve Pettengill
Concert Reviews
Every Nearfest has had a band that unexpectedly bedazzles the audience. For Nearfest 2005, that band surely must have been Kenso. The Japanese symphonic instrumental fusion group played a two hour set that never let up in energy and judging from the reaction, Kenso just might have gone home with Nearfest 2005's Best of the Fest trophy. Call it something in the air, but the band's hyper-kinetic chops and unbridled enthusiasm was simply infectious. These guys were having the time of their lives on stage!

One could (and some did) criticize the band's compositions for sounding too samey on stage but I heartily disagree. I found plenty of variety in the band's compositions, from jazz fusion to Japanese folk to Happy the Man style symphonic rock. Kenso played many cuts from albums like Sparta, Yume No Oka and Fabulis Marabilibus de Bombycosi Scriptis with "Fist of Fury" and "Echoes From Foro Romano", "Les Phases de la Lune" being just some highlights. And how can one forget band leader/guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu's "Nearfest Song" that he composed on the spot?! The quick nimble keyboard runs of both Kenichi Oguchi and Kenichi Mitsuda were enough to leave one's head spinning.

Kenso along with PFM probably got the best audience response of the entire weekend. Indeed, Shimizu was so moved by the crowd reaction that he could barely contain himself and burst into tears. During the encore, Kenso quoted riffs from American bands ranging from Grand Funk Railroad to Kansas in a classic rock medley. Kenso's set will surely be remembered by many for years to come.

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