It’s not a secret that Miyavi is known to bring the rain wherever he goes, but in a twist of fate, a day that was forecasted all week to be rainy instead turned out to be bright, sunny, and hot in New York City! It’s been just over a year since Miyavi was last in town and fans were eager to see him hit the stage at Irving Plaza again on Sunday, May 20th, 2018, lining up hours before doors with the line wrapping around the block!
Miyavi brought the heat inside with a non-stop high-energy performance from start to finish! He came bounding out onto the stage after his bandmates, guitar slung over his shoulder, leather jacket unbuttoned with a cool painting/lettering on the back of it, jumping right into “Flashback” off of his recent album “Samurai Sessions Vol. 2.” This was quickly followed by “Dancing With My Fingers” which had the audience dancing along to the super catchy tune.
“Day 29 of the Day 2 World Tour, New York City!” The crowd cheered. “So this weather, what happened? It’s supposed to be raining!” Miyavi joked as he greeted the enthusiastic New York crowd. “We had a good time last year at this same place. But I’m sure tonight will be way hotter!”
If you’ve been a Miyavi fan for a while, you know his style has changed vastly from when he first debuted. His current live band lineup includes drummer Bobo, who has been with Miyavi for over 8 years, DJ Jonny Litten who began mixing for Miyav’s previous album, “Fire Bird”, and backup singers Seann Bowe and Heather Ogilvy. Having these people in his live performance allows Miyavi to focus more on his guitar playing and leaves him free to move around the stage – which he takes full advantage of. There were 3 microphones set up around the stage and Miyavi used each of them to their full extent, leaving no side of the audience far from him at any given moment.
His current concert feels like a dance party from start to finish. Both “Samurai Sessions Vol. 2” and “Fire Bird” rely heavily on mixes from DJ Jonny in a way that is unique to the sound Miyavi is known for. It is mixed beats, but with a heavy focus on Miyavi’s guitar playing creating a sound unlike any other.
For “Dim It”, a song featuring vocals of Rosie Bones in the recorded version, Heather came forward and sang the female vocal parts. This is certainly a new stage of Miyavi’s evolution and what a fantastic change it is! He was in fact able to concentrate completely on his guitar playing and it showed!
But Miyavi hasn’t forgotten his past either. He played “Selfish Love”, originally released back in 2006, to the delight of the audience. It had an updated sound, as Miyavi tends to do with his songs – modify them to fit his style at the moment. It was a treat to hear for old and new fans alike!
Miyavi spoke about his work as an UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. He was unsure what the reaction would be the first time he visited a refugee camp in Lebanon, but when he brought out his guitar and saw the kids eyes light up, he knew he could really do something with music and make a change. He spoke about how the refugee crisis is not a natural disaster, but a human disaster. “That means humans can fix it.” Miyavi wants to spread good messages to the entire world.
Miyavi himself is an immigrant, moving to the States a few years ago with his family. There was both a language and cultural barrier, but that only made him respect the diversity of the United States even more. “We can make a bright future,” Miyavi said.
He also played at the United Nations earlier this year. Speaking of that time, Miyavi said, “Acceptance is the key to unity.” Japanese, American, or anything else – we’re all different but we can be one through music. This bold and hopeful statement lead right into, “The Others.”
Of course, Miyavi did sing vocals in certain songs including “Long Nights” which he recently released a music video for, featuring Afghan Rapper Sonita. It’s a powerful song, and even more so when performed live. Music honestly transcends all barriers.
All too quickly the set was over, the night flying by. Eager for more, as soon Miyavi walked off stage, the crowd began chanting his name. He didn’t make the crowd wait long, with the band and Miyavi all returning wearing DAY2 tour t-shirts – all except Bobo, that is! “Bobo is in the bathroom right now.” Miyavi said as he continued to introduce the rest of the band. As Bobo walked back on stage, Miyavi joked with him, “Did you wash your hands?” and the audience chuckled as Bobo nodded that he did.
Miyavi introduced his precious band: (his words)
DJ Jonny – He’s the one who has created the crazy new beat since Fire Bird – he’s been doing a great job.
Bobo – We’ve been working together over 8-9 years now. I’ve learned many things from him.
Seann Bowe – He’s part of our LA team, we’re making music together now. (Seann also collaborated with Miyavi on his recent single, “So On It.”)
Heather – She’s a new member – I’ll be saying this even at the last tour stop in Mexico! She joined us since the tour was in Europe.
With them, Miyavi can focus on guitar.
In another throwback, Miyavi played “Sakihokoru hana no you ni ~Neo Visualizm~” from the “THIS IZ THE JAPANESE KABUKI ROCK” album! It was amazing to hear one of his older songs played with his newer style – of course, his style is always “Miyavi” so regardless of the era – all sounds feature his signature samurai guitarist epic guitar playing.
“Real?” is a song that had both Seann and Heather coming to the front of the stage again to help with vocals – this song sounded brilliant with both of their voices and Miyavi’s guitar.
And of course, what’s a Miyavi concert without Miyavi asking the crowd, “What’s my name?” Incase anyone had forgotten. The crowd obliged and shouted his name back to him, along with the lyrics to “What’s My Name 2017 version.” Irving Plaza is known for its ledge on stage right that is close to the balcony. Last year Miyavi climbed up here and he did it again this year to the delight of all. With a spotlight shining on him, all heads turned up to watch him as he shred on the guitar to close out the evening.
New York loves Miyavi and it seems from this show and last years show that Miyavi loves New York too. He mentioned he wouldn’t be playing again this year but he does hope to tour the States again next year! We’ll all be waiting, Miyavi! Until next time, let music keep us all together – and one song at a time, make the world a better place.
For full gallery of photos, please visit Flickr here.