Note:All photos, unless explicitly stated otherwise, credit to Samantha Ferreira, and were taken in accordance with agreed upon photo policy for Anime Boston
Seating for MIYAVI’s concert began at 6:00PM sharp, when the doors opened, and hundreds of eager fans flooded into the Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. I quickly found my seat, which was cordoned off for folks within the media, and began to chatter with the various reporters who would be covering the evening. My phone buzzed shortly after I was seated, as Seth informed me that he was on the way, and that I should save a seat. I was happy to comply.
Seth arrived shortly afterwards, as a team member circled around to brief us on photo policies and regulations. We verified what the artist would allow, and began to discuss what our plans were amongst each other. Seth gave a quick warning that, where Spinal Tap’s amps would go up to eleven, MIYAVI’s went up to twelve. He was the Samurai Guitarist, whose skill with a guitar and ability to work a stage were something to behold. And, tonight, I would have a chance to see him in action.
As the lights went down, the booming voice of Samuel L. Jackson began to boom through the speakers, as MIYAVI and his band took the stage. The lights kicked on and MIYAVI, clad in a white tank top, silver jacket, and black leather pants, began to play the opening riffs to Worlds Collide. All the while, the recorded voice proclaimed “the reports of the death of rock and roll have been greatly exaggerated […] You are now fucking with the Samurai Guitarist. Did I mumble, motherfucker?!”
The wailing notes grew louder and more urgent, as Jackson’s voice commanded “Say his name!” to the crowd. The audience, meanwhile, was eager to comply. Moments later, the lights kicked on, as MIYAVI began to cut loose with a funky, almost playful tone as he bopped and bounded around the stage, often mugging for the crowd and the pit of photographers that snapped eager shots in their perch within the pit before the stage. The familiar progression for Flashback was quickly heard, as the crowd erupted.
Through each of the songs that followed, from In Crowd, to Dim It , MIYAVI dominated every inch of the stage. It was clear that he was here to jam with an intensity that could shatter the walls of a lesser venue. Whether he was riffing the main chords of Dim It or belted out the sassy melody of In Crowd, MIYAVI brought an energy that most artists would reserve for a sold-out stadium. His sound was loud and brash in the very best ways, to the point that one could think he was in a rock-off with the Devil himself, and kicking his butt in the process.
The biggest treat of the night, though, came after Dim It, as MIYAVI cried out “No Sleep Til Tokyo!” The crowd erupted in applause and cheers, as he laid out four all-new songs: No Sleep Til Tokyo, Tears On Fire, Can’t Stop It, and Otherside. Each of the songs, which will appear on upcoming album No Sleep Til Tokyo, carried that same raw energy and presence that the earliest entries in the set had promised.
No Sleep Til Tokyo and Tears on Fire, and Can’t Stop it were playful, vibrant pieces that felt right at home with the high energy set that had rocked the halls before. Otherside, though, proved to be a pleasant surprised. He prefaced the song with a brief comment, saying that “it’s about memory.” The song was a much slower, more mellow piece than had come through before, that was dripping with emotion. It was melancholy and raw, and it hit the room with a shock, as the audience began to sway along.
As the song ended, an electronic beat began to play, as a recorded vocal track sang “I made up my mind today. When the sun goes down, it’s time to break. When no one knows I’m wide awake, I’ll spread my wings and fly away!”
The artist then kicked into the grungy progression for Long Nights, a 2018 single that he had cut with Afghani rapper Sonita. The audience was enraptured as MIYAVI’s playing and the raw emotion of the vocals reverberated through the room. Several joined in to sing along with the chorus, as he continued to bring the rock onstage.
After Long Nights, MIYAVI disappeared into the backstage area, as the audience chanted his name. “MI-YA-VI! MI-YA-VI!” could be heard in a deafening roar, that swelled even louder as he returned to the stage, clad in a black sweatshirt. He smiled and greeted the audience for the evening, as he introduced his band for the evening.
What had felt like an ending was merely a beginning for this musician. It was time to rock. As the band began to take their positions, the background vocalists began singing “I’m on fire”, as MIYAVI set the stage with a few words before kicking into the lightning-fast intro to Fire Bird. Though it had felt like an ending just moments before, MIYAVI was able to bring a renewed energy to the room, as his cocksure tunes once again filled the room. As he cried out “Jump! Jump! Jump!”, the audience was eager to oblige, as the floors of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium literally shook with the audience’s explosive excitement (and their jumping, of course) for a few brief moments.
He cut directly into Raise Me Up, which kept the energy high, as he brought his slick shredding together with the rhythmic raps that had punctuated the evening previously. The energy remained high as he riffed and rocked his way through Day 1 and Dancing With My Fingers.
The high point of the evening, though, came at what many thought to be the finale. As the lights went down, and MIYAVI took a spot front and center onstage, he began to strum the opening chords to Fragile. His singing rang with a melancholy, which the room could feel as the realization that this evening of music and pomp was coming to an end. The audience embraced the moment, though, raising their phones as they swayed to the song. The white rectangles of light pierced the black darkness that had been present just moments before, creating a rocking sea of light that glowed gently upon the stage. MIYAVI’s performance, meanwhile, was brilliant, his guitar weeping gently along chords he played.
That said, he isn’t one to end the night on a low note. After a brief pause for applause, MIYAVI brought the bombast of his early performance back with the opening chords for Wonderful World.
He strutted along the stage through the song, bringing back the energy as he mugged for the crowd. That same cocksure dominance of the stage that we had come to know and love for the past hour was back, as he rapped and sang with a playful ease. As the song finished, he dropped to his knees as the room erupted once more. Amid the cheers, the artist played a long, fast lick on his guitar, before crying out “What’s my name?!”
The room exploded in a roaring cheer, as he burst into the final song for the night, What’s My Name. Just as the night had begun with an explosion of technical talent, so did it close. MIYAVI’s playful style and raw energy shone through for one last time, bringing a smile to every face in the room, as fans jumped along and joined chants in unison, and the artist brought his very best to close off the night.
The Samurai Guitarist had claimed another venue tonight, and it was clear that the fans at Anime Boston weren’t about to forget MIYAVI’s name any time soon.
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