Living in the Southeast, especially in or near TN/GA/AL, one knows that Birmingham, Nashville, and Atlanta are the three best cities in terms of getting to see bands. Not that the bands are necessarily better, but if your favorite band is going to tour in this region at all it is likely that one of those cities will make the cut. When Miyavi first planned on touring in the US, I was thrilled to see that Atlanta was to be one of the planned stops; however, after the original tour was cancelled I feared that the concert manager would not set another destination in the region, since even with these three cities we do often get left out from major tours. Thankfully when the announcement that Miyavi’s tour was rescheduled I found Atlanta on the list of tour stops, and immediately my friends, brother, and I purchased tickets to attend. We are certainly glad that we did, and as you read on through my concert review you’ll see why.
After getting lost on the route to The Masquerade, where Miyavi was to perform, we finally found the venue twenty minutes after the show was scheduled to start. Being late has its advantages as we passed through empty gates knowing that probably just thirty minutes ago a substantial line had stood where we were at. Entering into The Masquerade we were excited to see that Miyavi hadn’t started yet, nor was there any apparent opening band, so we took our time and perused the venue. The Masquerade venue, at least the inside portion, looked similar to a bar characterized by a relatively low ceiling, dark lighting, and a rectangular shape a little wider than the stage. In the venue there appeared to be two bar sections, where patrons could buy drinks and/or food, and one table area for patrons to sit. The stage was located on one side of the room, opposite of the bar/merch., and was perhaps five feet high. Upon entering we could see mics., a drum kit, and a keyboard already in place on the stage. Having checked out the stage we then decided, since no one was on stage yet, to check out the merchandise table. For the tour Miyavi’s merch. consisted of a number of T-Shirts, including a white and black tour shirt, two posters, and a pen. The shirts costs 35$ but knowing the opportunity was once in a lifetime I decided to purchase a black tour shirt for myself, along with a pen for no particular reason at all. After purchasing these items, and my friends purchasing more, we stood by the sound guy in the center of the venue, just far enough from the main crowd to be able to see over them, and still enjoy the music. Our timing was perfect because right after settling down 9PM hit and Miyavi took to the stage.
Taking the stage without an opening act one might expect diminished energy from the crowd. Instead I feel that Miyavi, both due to the audience’s building anticipation and his own energetic force, quickly took reigns of the show and punched up the enrgey! Beginning first with one of his newest tracks, Survive, Miyavi was able to demonstrate his vocal skills, and his amazing guitar prowess. His only accompaniment at this point was a drummer, but together the two of them pumped out sound like only a full piece band can. Miyavi subsequently delved into some older tracks, more fitting his earlier VK styling. If my memory is correct during one of these songs Miyavi wowed the crowd by not only playing the guitar behind his back, but walking right in front from end to end of the stage, all the while strumming more ferociously and fantastically.
After a couple more of Miyavi’s older tracks, he took some time to speak to the audience, in fairly decent English. While our distance from the stage prevented me from hearing what he was saying 100% of the time, I could grasp majority of what was being said. Like most concerts the communication for the most part was more centered on a call / response dialogue with the audience, so as long as I responded with whistles/shouts/clapping/fist pumps then I was participating. What really drew the audience into this conversation, and likewise helped spike the energy, was Miyavi’s question “What’s my name?”! Miyavi yelled this a couple times and then worked this into a song, and the audience participated by dutifully yelling “Miyavi”! This is when my friends and I first realized that Miyavi must’ve learned only one American cuss word, the F word, which he would use every third time to punctuate name as in “What’s my F’ing name?!?”
Following Miyavi’s call / response he then asked if we wanted to hear any new tracks. Of course the response was yes and Miyavi obliged. Beginning with a song called “TORTURE” Miyavi, the first single off of his album to be released in September, Miyavi would switch between recent tracks and a couple more new songs. During this portion of the concert Miyavi brought the final member of that evening’s ensemble, who would play the keyboard and later use it for mix effects as well. Taking another pause Miyavi introduced the band members, and then spoke introspectively, about the tour, and about the support of his fans in the US and worldwide. Taking advantage of the somber moment Miyavi created, he then played one of the most beautiful songs I think he’s ever written, titled “A Wish”. Singing softly and playing softly at first Miyavi drew in the audience emotionally. Building the song’s continual crescendo only seemed to tie our connection with Miyavi further, and perhaps because of the moment, and my love for the song, tears threatened to encroach upon my eyes. The moment ended as the song ended, and Miyavi, taking a little longer than usual perhaps, readied the next song.
Miyavi had played for a full hour at this point, but as I saw on the sound guy’s sheet Miyavi was scheduled for another hour presumably with an encore included. That is exactly how the concert went as Miyavi switched between newer songs such as “Superhero”, my newest favorite of Miyavi’s, and Miyavi standards such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Not Dead”. Miyavi then returned to the classic call / response connection we had early by having the audience join in on “Are You Ready To Rock?”. This song lasted for about ten minutes, and even though the lyrics and chants remained simple, and repetitive, I think Miyavi had the crowd glued in at this moment more than ever. I for one do not generally shout at concerts; however, I and everyone else it seemed in the room couldn’t help but join in. After ten minutes, with our throats sore and Miyavi presumably quite tired, he ended the song and left the stage.
Aside from a quick rush by many to the merch. booth, little occurred in the break after the main performance and before the expected encore. Occasionally the fans would chant Miyavi, or encore, but this wasn’t maintained for the full fifteen or so minutes we waited. Miyavi was probably understandably tired after performing that long, so I wasn’t surprised about the duration of the waiting period. Likewise the fans were tired, so I didn’t expect them to keep up the chanting. Therefore, I began to talk with my friends about the show, discussing how “Miyavi’s hands are a blur on the guitar!!!” and talking about which songs we knew and which ones we hoped he’d play in the encore. Shortly thereafter Miyavi came out and played a couple more tracks including one of my personal favorite’s “Subarashiki Kana, Kono Sekai -WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD-“. I wasn’t nearly as emotional during this song, but I was hoping Miyavi would encore with this song, so I was indeed overjoyed. The end came as it always does to concerts, and Miyavi finished just as he began – full force.
Before he left the stage Miyavi was kind enough to take gifts from the fans. He also took the time to step down onto an in-between section on the stage so that he could approach the fans and physically reach out and touch many of them. Since we hung back for most of the show, we didn’t dare try to enter the mob up front, so instead we just looked on in awe. This venue is likely smaller than most of the ones that Miyavi plays at in Japan, so to get that level of intimacy, after and especially during the show, was probably rare for Japanese fans. One moment that sticks out was when a fan asked Miyavi to speak Japanese, and hearing the request Miyavi did, causing one of the loudest roars of the night. Truly I feel fortunate to have seen Miyavi’s show.
I’ve known about Miyavi for only two years now, which is about half the time that I’ve been into J-Music. However, in that time I’ve purchased almost all of his albums with plans to get his future releases as well. The more I listen to Miyavi the more I love his music, his originality, and his skill. There’s only one Japanese guitarist I love more, and that’s X-Japan’s hide, who has passed on, and while I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to move hide out of my #1 spot, Miyavi continues to astound and impress me with every new release. Knowing that I’ve seen Miyavi in concert is still almost unimaginable, but of course I know my friends and I did. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to see him in the US, but even if I don’t, like my fellow Miyavi fans out there, I’ll continue to support him from afar, buy his albums, and revel in the wonder that is Miyavi.