Hello Asian Junkie readers! I know it’s been a while, but I needed to take a little hiatus to deal with some health stuff. But I’m back with some high quality concert shenanigans!
We’re kicking off the second half of this year with a personal favorite … MIYAVI.
With the show at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, Miyavi is now half way through the American portion of his No Sleep Till Tokyo World Tour, celebrating his new album (of the same name) which was just released on July 24th. The album itself is a departure from Miyavi’s past releases, with an emphasis on his vocals taking the forefront as opposed to his genius-level guitar riffs.
Don’t get me wrong, his guitar is still there dominating the sound, but now it’s accompanied by an almost surprisingly warm and entrancing vocals. We knew Miyavi could sing. What we didn’t know was how damn good he could be with the right beats, and a new found enthusiasm to try new sounds and attempt to breathe new life into an otherwise stagnate genre.
I arrived to the Constellation Room a whopping hour early because much like a first day at a new job, I wanted to feel like a responsible adult for once. What I found was an already packed venue, wall to wall with Miyavi acolytes, humming with excitement and very little room to shoot. Luckily, the Constellation Room was super accommodating, giving the photographers multiple options to shoot from. And this is where the adventure begins!
You know I’m a curious girl! I’m gonna look for the best angle for my camera! So I wandered around the area they allotted to us, looking for the perfect shot. A few minutes before the show, I decided to just stay in the front corner, so I headed back through the kitchen. I stopped to check a setting on my camera, looked up, and stared Miyavi straight in the face!
“Oh!” he said and pointed at me from about 10 feet away. I smiled as I felt my brain completely freeze.”Hi!” he said and waved. “Hi!” I waved back as he smiled at me. We both stood there super confused for a second before I motioned him to go forward first. His entourage followed him, Bobo (his long time drummer), DJ Johnny (his current DJ) and his bearded and imposing security guard walked with him through the back hallway as I lagged behind, fearing I was going to miss the first part of the show but not wanting to crowd him or run past him as they seemed to be filming. I was stuck!
I assumed he would turn off somewhere and enter at another location … but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He stopped just short of the door I needed to go through. Someone handed his guitar through the crack of the door and I stood there, sweating in panic, trying to be as small as possible.
He began his before stage ritual. I took a few steps back and turned away to give him privacy. I was desperate to not invade his space, the entire time my brain was screaming in my ears to run away, but I had nowhere to run to.
“Hey.” I head his voice. “Hey come on…” He called. I looked up from staring into my camera settings and over my shoulder to find him smiling and waving me over. “Come pray with us.” I practically pulled a muscle in my face from shock. “Who me?!”
“Yes! Come join us!” His warm inviting voice and bright smile stunned me as I stumbled forward to find myself standing next to his drummer. I clapped my hands together over my camera lens and bowed my head as he said a few words of encouragement. Clap! And it was over.
But not before everyone fist bumped everyone else (I’m never washing this hand again because yep they totally included me in the fist bumps). I laughed and shook my head as everyone entered the stage door. Again I tried to hang back and let everyone go first, only to be told to walk with him by his team. I was so confused but did what I was told. Miyavi going straight up the stairs to hit the stage to screaming fans; me, taking a sharp left in an attempt to escape and find a spot to shoot from the corner of the stage.
What followed was an amazing adrenaline pumped performance by an artist who is just otherworldly in his capacity to entrance an entire room full of people.
Miyavi walked up the stairs to the shattering screams of fans. He started with “Stars,” it’s piercing initial vocals amplified by it’s pounding beats and guitars. He didn’t hesitate to mix his favorites from the past with the new album throughout the set list. He moved fluidly into “Flashback”, which is the opening theme to ‘Kokkoku’ and ‘Samurai Session Volume 2.’ “Rain Dance” from his more recent ‘Samurai Sessions Volume 3’ followed before he addressed the audience.
As always, Miyavi spoke and it was welcoming like a verbal embrace as each time he spoke throughout the show, he talked about how he wanted to try something different, this time adding his own vocals as a focal point in the music, trying new beats and dedicating songs to those who needed to feel accepted for who they are.
It’s not his first time talking about his initial experience living here in the US. He uprooted his family and moved to LA, apprehensive of the language barrier. But because of accepting people in his circle and community who embraced him, he felt confidence to get involved live happily here in LA. He wants others to feel that embrace. What better way than his music?
From here we were bombarded with an onslaught of power starting with the tour and album’s namesake: “No Sleep Til Tokyo.” This was followed by “Samurai 45” which is an epic live performance!
He performed my personal favorite from the new album, “Tears On Fire” and I couldn’t help cheering and singing alone with the fans around me. The song pulls at your heartstrings with a touch of longing in an infectious grip.
Of course we got “Other Side,’ ‘Guard You,” ‘We Cant Stop It,” and “Under the Same Sky” as well. At this point it was a nonstop high intensity party with Miyavi bouncing from one end of the stage to the other; one moment flying in the air with epic jumps, the next writhing as he pushed his guitar to the brink.
He performed “Fire Bird” and the entire audience flung into a frenzy as they screamed and cheered. This was a meticulously curated set. As we headed toward the end, we got “Day 1,” “Dancing with my fingers,” and an absolutely gut-wrenchingly beautiful acoustic performance of “Fragile.”
He’d stepped off stage and the crowd immediately started cheering for an encore. Miyavi returned to the stage and thanked everyone for being with him for this performance. He performed “Others” and finally, as per tradition, “What’s My Name” as his encore finale! The entire Constellation Room shook with the movement of the packed audience as everyone moved to the song, screaming the lyrics back at him.
The show ended, fans thoroughly satisfied, as Miyavi leaned into the crowd and highfived fans, shaking hands and getting as close to them as possible. He always gives his fans everything he can!
Miyavi is currently on this wild world tour, determined to reach as many fans as he can, and if there is anything I can tell you, it’s see him live. Do it. Do it now. Don’t miss the chance because there is nothing like a Miyavi show and this brilliant new album needs to be witnessed live.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play the Lottery and apply for every dream job I can while Miyavi’s magic is still twinkling within me.
Thank you to Miyavi and Miyavi’s Management for allowing Asian Junkie to be a part of this event.
For more information about Miyavi and the No Sleep Til Tokyo Tour, please check out his website: http://myv382tokyo.com/