Youn Sun Nah Trio in Toronto

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Youn Sun Nah. Toronto Centre For The Arts, George Weston Recital Hall. Photo: Atael Weissman

Youn Sun Nah Trio – Toronto Centre For The Arts
George Weston  Recital Hall – June 29, 2019

K-Pop Tis’ Not

Youn Sun Nah or YSN as she is referred to, is a south Korean vocalist based in France. She is not well known in North America. She should be better known, as she has a fantastic voice and a distinct, innovative style. Her website shows that she has performed in over 500 concerts between 2009 and 2015, most of them sold-out, 10 albums and some of them are gold records – in France and Germany, Same Girl and Lento on the  ACT label. In 2019, she released a new album: Immersion on the Warner Music Label.

Joining her on this performance is Tomek Miernowski (guitar, piano, synthesizer), and Rémi Vignolo (drums, double bass, electric bass). The show would open with Youn Sun Nah at centre stage with a music stand close by and electronics at hand. Her guitarist sits to her right; the bassist is behind her and to the left, near the drum set.

The opening song started with the guitarist setting the scene, he plays with a middle eastern sounding groove. The vocals glide in, smooth and fluttering, like a bird. Youn Sun Nah sings, avant-garde style. The bassist provides a solid rhythm on the bottom end and fills the room with a pleasant sound.

Tomek Miernowski, Youn Sun Nah. Toronto Centre For The Arts, George Weston Recital Hall. Photo: Atael Weissman

For the second song, the guitarist moves to the keys; the bassist moves over to the drum set. Youn Sun Nah had control of some electronics being used; there were *pre-recorded back up vocals, providing harmonies at the flick of a switch.

The band performed some melodic ballads, “Immersion”, “Isn’t it a Pity” and a beautiful Flamenco sounding number “Asturias” with plenty of dramatics, Youn Sun Nah’s arms and hands are flowing, reminding me of a Spanish dancer. This song has everything, vocal chanting, a wonderful guitar feature by Tomek Miernowski and a cool drum groove by Rémi Vignolo.

The performance featured numbers in duo and trio settings. Tomek Miernowski in his acoustic guitar chair performed a duet with Youn Sun Nah later in the show.

I enjoyed the duo number with Rémi Vignolo taking up his double bass and opening up with a gorgeous solo, the vocalist would join in and a striking duet conversation ensued.

Youn Sun Nah, Rémi Vignolo. Toronto Centre For The Arts, George Weston Recital Hall. Photo: Atael Weissman

Youn Sun Nah gave a wonderful seagull like interpretation in one of the songs, as the guitarist made sounds that emulated an ocean. The trio used many electronic effects to good use. Near the end of the performance, Youn Sun Nah picked up a Kalimba (hand held thumb piano) it was plugged into the sound system through a cable connection. Playing the instrument and singing in her passionate manner with lots of body dynamics the cord of the Kalimba disconnected, only briefly. Everyone laughed, including her accompanists. She turned what could have been an embarrassing moment into a playful segment of the show garnering applause from the audience.

The overall sound of the performance was pleasing and full, with dynamics that covered a wide range. From the soft and mellow of the Leonard Cohen tune “Hallelujah” to the downright heavy grunge rock song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”.

The concert was highly enjoyable and my guest and I were happy to have found a new artist to follow. Youn Sun Nah is a gifted vocalist and a wonderful entertainer, especially when accompanied by her multi instrumentalist bandmates, a pleasure to witness.

*Editor’s note: Tomek Miernowski kindly clarified that there was nothing pre-recorded during this performance. What writer Paul J. Youngman referred to as pre-recorded back up vocals were actually live vocal effects.

Photos of Youn Sun Nah Trio by Atael Weissman

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