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KENSAKU Satou’s musculature is testament to his dedication to Taiko drumming, a tradition that calls for strength and stamina as well as percussion nous. His performance has touches of theatre, as he arrives in robes and changes costume several times before concentrating on the massive power and precision of the finale, and each piece has its own character as, between times, he moves from drum to drum to a drum kit of five instruments that he negotiates with startling skill.

The variety of these drums can be measured by the biggest being “played” with a kind of mini caber that Satou bounces adeptly on its skin and the others, including one worn over his shoulder and featuring impressively “flying” hands, requiring sticks of different dimensions from baseball bats to super-thick wooden knitting pins. Taiko can sometimes be regarded as an austere art form but Satou eagerly involves the audience at one point and the over-arching impression is of an artist who communicates with not just superb sticksmanship but also genuine musicality. Ear plugs aren’t required.

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A masked figure, all in white, carries the biggest drumstick you’ve ever seen and drops it on the biggest drum you’ve ever seen. Seriously, this thing is basically a tree. Boom! And again. Boom! Then the beat develops. The figure controls this gigantic log and masters the beast of this humongous drum. This is One – The Man Chosen by the Spirit of the Japanese Drum.

Drums! All the drums! Big drums, small drums, medium size drums, lots of drums! “Powerful like a dragon, supple like a dancer” is the sexy tagline provided for Japanese Taiko drummer powerhouse Kensaku Sato, performer at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, and mesmeric solo performer at this year’s Fringe. And it’s a pretty apt description, Sato is a beast on the drums and man can he move. At one point he pounds the drum so hard it shatters the drumstick into pieces. Not that he lets that stop him. He keeps the beat and immediately has another stick in hand; hashtag, pro.

There’s also dance and song accompanying the drumming and also juggling: actual juggling with drum sticks while still managing to keep in time and also build up to a crescendo. And if that wasn’t enough, great costumes, beautiful lighting and an accompanying soundscape of chimes add to the mysticism of the event, making for a solid hour of Japanese drumming entertainment. The repetitive nature of the show means it’s hard to stay transfixed throughout, but that shouldn’t seriously impact your enjoyment.

If Japanese drum is your thing, or drumming in general, or if you just fancy something a little culturally different then give this a try. It’s a very good way to spend an hour in the afternoon.

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A very nice show. energetic performer. you will enjoy it 🙂

Kensaku Satou is not only the most amazing drummer you will ever hear, but an athlete, artist and magician. The name of the show is well chosen because the whole performance, from the beginning, when hidden beneath a ghostly veil, he “warms” his drum , to the stunning finale, which is an athletic fete, is an honoring of the connection between the man and the drums. Stunningly beautiful.

Came to this with no expectations and was moved, thrilled and enchanted. Both serious and playful this is an amazing opportunity to experience something new you will not be disappointed.

Superior drumming by a highly skilled master. More than a performance, this is a tribute to the art of drumming. Forget the other drum performances, this is the one to see.

Superb! Rhythm, amazingly dexterous hands, and immense strength are all needed to get any semblance of a decent beat from these types of drums and Kensaku has it all. Learning to play these instruments looks scarily dangerous. All credit to a super strong dragon for giving us a whole hour of stomping fun.