MIYAVI at The El Rey, Los Angeles

live report - 04.15.2019 20:01

The concert was a dazzling showcase of MIYAVI’s evolution and versatility, featuring many talented performers, whose musical colors contrast and coincide with his own.

On a cold rainy night in February, The El Rey Theatre couldn’t have been any hotter as fans eagerly awaited the start of MIYAVI’s Los Angeles album release party. Giving one of his most electrifying performances, the LA show proved even more magical as special guests from his latest album, SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 - Worlds Collide -, joined MIYAVI on stage. The opening number was unlike any other MIYAVI opener heard before, as the distinctive and widely recognizable voice of Samuel L. Jackson reverberated through the concert hall. A bombastic narration welcoming the audience to “the hottest dojo” in town, is as close to a perfect introduction to MIYAVI as one can get. In dazzling flashes of bright lights, MIYAVI bounded onto the stage, whirling from corner to corner during his opening track, Rain Dance.

Bold, bright stage lights bathed MIYAVI in color washes that gave him and his pristine white guitar an almost otherworldly glow. Waves of fans ebbed closer to the stage as he hovered near the edges in a textured reflective silver jacket, white tank, and jeans. Powering tirelessly through his SAMURAI SESSIONS discography, including tracks Flashback, In Crowd, and Dim It, MIYAVI’s unbridled energy was infectious and captivating. His nimble and edgy guitar riffs, mixed and mingled with funky dance beats, were the perfect storm for a dazzling and spell-bounding first set. MIYAVI’s showmanship and charms invigorated the audience – fans following every movement and guitar slap as if he were a stringed pied piper.

MIYAVI took his first real breath in between sets to officially welcome the LA audience to his SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 - Worlds Collide - release party. “I’m so happy to be back in LA,” MIYAVI stated. “Every time I have a show here, you guys come and I’m very thankful.”

While MIYAVI has played The El Rey numerous times since his relocation to Los Angeles, he still caught himself welcoming the LA audience in the same manner as a foreign artist. “ ... But I’m living here. We’re neighbors!” he remarked, chuckling. MIYAVI’s hybrid identity as a citizen of two cultures manifested in a kaleidoscope of music that articulated itself throughout SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 - Worlds Collide -.

Special guest artists from the SAMURAI SESSIONS trilogy joined him at The El Rey for an eclectic and exciting performance. The swagger filled funk/hip-hop sound of U.G.L.Y came alive with Duckworth dropping bars and jamming on stage with MIYAVI and his guitar. The musical tango didn’t end, as Mikky Ekko strolled on stage to deliver the pop-funk vibes of Knock Me Out. Next, Che’nelle sauntered out in a flowy cape, body suit, and thigh high boots, to deliver an alluring performance of the electro-pop track, Forget You, featured on volume two of the SAMURAI SESSIONS trilogy.

Decades of performances under MIYAVI’s belt has proven that all he needs is his guitar to captivate an audience. However, the special guest performances showcased another side of MIYAVI – a side that takes great joy in the cooperative experience of blending musical energies with other artists.

As MIYAVI masterfully slapped the strings, he navigated the audience through a variety of crowd favorites and classics, including Ha! and Selfish Love, while revisiting his poignant track Long Nights, followed by the crowd-rousing Fire Bird and Dancing with My Fingers. Vocalists Seann Bowe and Cassandra Violet added all the essential vocal layers, while DJ Jonny and drummer Anthony Lopez laid the groundwork through which MIYAVI wove his guitar magic. MIYAVI’s presence was all at once playful, commanding, and coy with his bandmates and the fans.

After a brief intermission, MIYAVI returned to the stage and discussed his current artistic journey through music and film. “We have a solo album right now. Every day there is a video – we tried new things ... but actually, I don’t like my vocals – my voice.”

As the audience voiced their loving disagreement regarding his statement, he continued, “I try to sing with the guitar; but with this album I tried to sing with my words.” MIYAVI went on to talk about his movie “Stray” that was recently released. “I play a bad guy, again!” he mused. He then proceeded to give a shout out to his director who was also in attendance at the show, “This song is dedicated to him, and for everyone who is sensitive; and it’s not wrong at all, to survive in this world. Fragile.”

The heartfelt track, stripped down to simple chords and drumbeats, was a tender contrast to his powerful stage persona, giving space to vulnerability often unseen or explored in a live show. Special guest Yuna rounded off the set with her wistful, ephemeral vocals for Me and the Moonlight. Yuna and MIYAVI invited the audience to turn on their phone lights, bathing the hall in a canopy of lights reminiscent to stars in the night sky.

MIYAVI’s show ended with REAL?, and the crowd participatory, fist-pumping anthem, What’s My Name?. Forever thankful and humble, MIYAVI reached into the crowd and clapped every hand in gratitude, while sending a kiss and giving a gracious bow to his audience. The concert was a dazzling showcase of MIYAVI’s evolution and versatility, featuring many talented performers, whose musical colors contrast and coincide with his own. MIYAVI’s artistry remains authentic, while continually challenging itself to grow and expand. His fanbase mirrors that growth by also continually expanding and evolving with him. It’s no wonder that MIYAVI’s concerts are always filled with widely diverse and enthusiastic audiences.

Set list

01. Worlds Collide
02. Rain Dance
03. Flashback
04. In Crowd
05. Dim It
06. Aint No Sunshine (Bill Withers Remix Cover)
07. Sicko Mode (Travis Scott/Skrillex Remix Cover)
08. U.G.L.Y. (featuring DUCKWRTH)
09. Knock Me Out (featuring Mikky Ekko)
10. Forget You (featuring Cheʼnelle)
11. Ha!
12. Survive
13. Selfish Love
14. Long Nights
15. Fire Bird
16. Raise Me Up
17. DAY1
18. Dancing with My Fingers
19. Fragile
20. Me and the Moonlight (featuring Yuna)
21. Real?
22. What’s My Name?
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