MIYAVI at The Fillmore, San Francisco

live report - 04.27.2017 20:01

On April 6th, MIYAVI returned to San Francisco for the first time in eight years as part of Live Nation’s Asia On Tour.

On April 6th, MIYAVI returned to San Francisco for the first time in eight years as part of Live Nation’s Asia On Tour. Also playing were Thai band Slot Machine and Koreans KIHA & THE FACES. The personal significance of performing at one of the Bay Area’s most prestigious live venues was evident, and a few band members took some time during soundcheck to take in the myriad of famous faces that plastered The Fillmore’s upstairs lounge.

Once the show was underway, KIHA & THE FACES were first on. During their set, frontman Kiha Chang enticed the crowd to sing along with their catchy indie folk rock. Next, Slot Machine raised the energy level with their brand of Thai pop-rock. Still, it was clear the main attraction for most of the crowd was the “Samurai Guitarist”. A few diehards had even broken out their old-school J-rock fashion game for the occasion.

From the moment MIYAVI walked on stage, his presence dominated the venue. Blue lights illuminated his face and metallic hair as the crowd went wild. “MIYAVI, I love you!” shouted many, and he responded in kind: “I fucking love you guys, too.”

The first twenty minutes were a luscious wall of relentless sound. Beginning with Raise Me Up, his supporting DJ mixed the songs, both old and new, into a seamless flow while MIYAVI enthralled the crowd with his savant mastery of the guitar. He then took a moment to share some stories of his visits refugee camps in Thailand with the UN Refugee Agency, and voiced his desire to create music to help save the children. He also spoke of his gratitude for everyone coming out to the show, and said how proud he was to be touring with other bands from Asia: “It’s not easy being an Asian on tour in America.”

As the set resumed, he continued to rock hard: thrashing about, screaming, and falling to the ground as he energized the crowd song after song. More than once, he reached out to high-five fans in the front row, which always prompted a mini-stampede as people surged forward, desperate to touch the hand of MIYAVI. Even though The Fillmore was bigger than the venues that’d hosted his previous San Francisco shows, the atmosphere still felt as intimate as one of his early club gigs.

The guitarist slowed down for Where Home Is, a song co-written with his wife Melody, who sang the vocals. He told the audience about his experiences being a father to two young daughters, and the struggles of being on the road and not being able to see them often. He also had the audience cheer his supporting drummer BOBO, who MIYAVI revealed would soon be a father himself. It was inspiring to see such honesty and vulnerability from a Japanese rock star, most of whom tend to keep fans at a distance.

MIYAVI then encouraged everyone to sing along with his cover of P.O.D’s Youth Of The Nation, an interesting choice that showed his familiarity with American alternative rock. Much of the set was dedicated to newly-remixed songs, the majority of them from recent compilation album ALL TIME BEST "DAY 2". The crowd remained utterly enthralled throughout, many waving their hands in the air, singing their hearts and lungs out.

Unfortunately, the night couldn’t go on forever, and despite everyone being aware of that fact, it was bittersweet when MIYAVI returned for an encore. Beginning with the instrumental Mission Impossible Theme, he paid homage to his older fans by singing Wonderful World, which was released in 2007.

It was one of the few numbers in the set from the phase of his career when he sang predominantly in Japanese, and it served as an interesting contrast to his English-language fare. MIYAVI ended the night with What’s My Name 2017. By the end, it was unlikely anyone there was ever going to forget his name.

Set list

01. Raise Me Up
02. Ain't No Sunshine
03. So On It
04. Cool Girl
05. Ha!
06. Ganryu
07. Epic Swing
08. Dim It
09. Where Home Is
10. Youth Of The Nation
11. Fire Bird
12. Afraid To Be Cool
13. Cry Like This
14. The Others
15. Long Nights

Encore

16. Mission Impossible Theme
17. Wonderful World
18. What's My Name 2017

After the show, a group of fans gathered at the foot of the stairwell to the second floor, waiting for the meet-and-greet Live Nation had arranged. Several members of MIYAVI’s fan club stood at the front of the line, discussing what they planned to say to the "Samurai Guitarist". Two by two, fans were ushered upstairs into a room where they got a few moments to speak with MIYAVI while being professionally photographed.

In a separate lounge, members of Slot Machine asked fans to make the band’s signature triangle symbol with their hands while posing for a group shot. Meanwhile, KIHA & THE FACES were all smiles as they greeted each pair of fans. It was a rare opportunity for such an intimate encounter with the artists, and it’s one fans are sure to remember for a long time to come.

Check out our video interview with MIYAVI below:

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