One would assume that to be a winner of Britain’s Got Talent, you would have to have a gimmick of sorts. One would be correct.
Tokio’s music blends intricate piano work with modern pop and chart music - tending to start with famous classical pieces which showcase his piano skills before transitioning into mainstream music as Tokio dramatically stands up from his piano and starts bashing about the symbols and drums hung and stood around his enormous piano.
These include mash ups of Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' and Ed Sheeran and Rudimental’s 'Bloodstream', and Han Zimmer's Interstellar soundtrack and Rag 'n' Bone Man's 'Human'.
It’s a euphoric moment when Tokio makes the switch from piano to drumwork. It’s creative, it’s unique, and it’s original. The first few times you see it.
The only thing is, after watching a few songs run in this formula back to back, the predictably euphoric switch becomes a little less euphoric and unique. And you can pick some fairly obvious holes in the creative aspect too.
The transitions and input into other songs are more apparent and creative, and there’s no doubt that he is a likeable guy and talented pianist, but when Tokio stands up to set about the drum kit, you have to wonder if the moment would be better if he was instead still at his piano, and there was someone else on stage - perhaps an actual drummer, with a full drum kit - doing the drumming.
On stage, Tokio’s piano was surrounded by two bass drums, a snare and a bunch of toms and symbols hanging in the air. We can imagine the musical options open to Tokio would grow tenfold if he instead had a drummer . The end sound may feel more complete and coherent too.
The problem with this of course, is that Tokio is known as a one-man-band. He can’t add anyone else to help him out. Who knows, maybe Simon Cowell won't let him. Either way, it's possible that this gimmick is holding his music back.
The melodies from the tracks could also have been louder. Tokio’s piano is highlighted in the live performances for obvious reasons (and to good effect) - but when he’s not playing the piano there seems no reason for the speakers not to be pulsing out basslines hard enough to make the audience shake. That is, other than the fact that on the back of Britain’s Got Talent, his show may be aimed at a family audience (and that did seem to be who turned up to the all-seated gig).
It’s a shame though, because it’s harder to get lost in the sound as a result of all of that. His support act, the very talented Van Ives, certainly proved the speakers were up to the task as far as the bass was concerned, as well.
The best moments of Tokio’s set were often when he was playing the piano, solo, without any other distractions. That’s when you can see his talent plain and simple.
Tokio is an impressive musician, there can be no doubt about that, but turning the one-song-a-night, talent-show demands of Britain’s Got Talent into a full, captivating live concert performance is something that may take him a little more time to perfect.