Live at El Rey, February 18, 2015
Live report by Nhu Nguyen
“Now you look at me? Don’t look at me!” Miyavi sarcastically says to the crowd, poking fun at his new found fame and fans attending the show from his work on Unbroken. While there were faces scattered among the crowd I wasn’t used to seeing at Japanese concerts in Los Angeles, a more Hollywood-type, the room was clearly supported by pre-Unbroken fans as exemplified by the best crowd reaction to classic hits like ‘Selfish Love’ and ‘Subarashiki Kana, Kono Sekai – What a Wonderful World’ played during the encore.
El Rey is a beautiful, intimate, art deco venue, perfect for Miyavi backed with drummer Bobo, who did very well despite having just flown in from Tokyo to support him. The 13 song set list started off with him hyping up the crowd with ‘What’s My Name’. By the third song ‘Chase It’, his jacket had come off. The musician was going to give his all to this show, a concert that was re-scheduled from December. Every two to three songs, Miyavi took a breather speaking at great lengths in English. For a non-native English speaker, he’s more eloquent than many native speakers I know. During the MCs, he entertained the crowd with stories of his acclimation to Los Angeles life, everything from how long the line is at the DMV, the bad traffic, feeling awkward when he introduces himself to his daughters’ teachers to his time in Unbroken. “Let Go” was written after he had thrown up from the stress caused from getting into the role of pathologically brutal sergeant, “The Bird”.
Miyavi is now, “From Tokyo, based in Los Angeles”. Based off of the two new songs unveiled from his upcoming album, ‘Come Alive’ and ‘Others’, a more rock and roll sound on the songs showed off that his new home has had a clear influence. Even ‘Selfish Love’ was amped up with the electric guitar, creating a grittier version of the originally acoustic slap guitar played track.
The merchandise booth sold shirts with words about slapping the world, but not much slapping was found that night. Anyone looking forward to seeing his signature acoustic guitar slapping may have left a little disappointed at not seeing much of it. He makes up for it with the only acoustic song in his set, the beautiful ‘Guard You’, that he dedicated to the fans who camped out for the Wednesday night show. The lights drew to a deep blue, and the guitars crisp sound rang through the venue. As he sang the song I’m reminded of his two young daughters on the balcony I saw dancing and jumping excitedly for their father earlier in the night.
The night was a rock show up until the end of the main set with ‘Day 1’, where it briefly converted into a mini-rave. The samurai guitarist pulled double duty by DJing his own show at that point, causing everyone to dance. This is what he does best, connecting with the fans through his music. There is a recurring message Miyavi never fails to mention and something his fans always feel when listening or experiencing his shows: There is no language barrier when it comes to music.
WHAT’S MY NAME?
Cry Like This
Subarashikikana, Kono Sekai -WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD-