MIYAVI wraps tour in New York, shares experiences with refugee children

Although I’m no stranger to a Miyavi show, whether in the U.S. or Japan, I nevertheless was stoked by the infectious enthusiasm and prodigious stage presence Miyavi brought to the stage in May at New York’s Irving Plaza. As the last stop of this successful “Day 2” World Tour, the NYC show certainly did not disappoint.   

There was no opening act but Miyavi made sure the crowd got warmed up immediately, taking to the stage precisely an hour after the door time with “Flashback” – by then the whole venue was already packed. From the very beginning, the audience was engaged, responding to Miyavi’s every move, head-banging to the beats and cheering on the exquisite guitar melodies. Miyavi himself did not hold back on his energy either. The guitarist stepped onto the stereo set to get a better look at the already screaming and fainting fans, then jumped high up to the middle of the air with a strong stroke on his guitar string, which sent the crowd into a tizzy. 

After the nightclubby “In Crowd”, Miyavi took a brief break to jokingly complain about the mercurial weather in New York before proceeding to play a few of his recent songs heavily influenced by modern hip-hop and electronica. Though a considerable amount of fans at the plazz were from as early as his Visual-kei period, they seemed to embrace Miyavi’s evolution. A lot of fans had even queued up outside the venue for the entire day just to get a closer position to the stage. Their enthusiasm paid off. A fan told me while they were waiting outside, they got to see Miyavi himself entering the venue. Before soundcheck, Miyavi took the time to shake hands with almost everyone in the line, greeting them with an appreciative smile. 

As the music tapered down towards the middle of the set, Miyavi made probably the most important speech of the whole night, sharing his experiences and thoughts on his multiple trips to refugee camps in Bangladesh as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency).

“I was initially doubtful of what I could do for these kids after seeing their dire living situation, but as I started singing and playing the guitar, I could see how the music lit up their eyes. From that moment I knew it was my mission to cheer them up with my music. I knew there was something I could do to help.” said Miyavi.

“This war. It’s not a natural disaster. The pain is caused by human, thus can be, and should be, ended and cured by human being.” added the guitarist with words which received the loudest applause of the evening. It was at that point that it became clear to me how deeply and genuinely these people respected the artist known as “the samurai geisha.” 

Miyavi went on to comment on the heated subjects of immigration and racism. He admitted that he is an immigrant himself, traveling between America and Japan for work but primarily living in Los Angeles with his family. He said he wondered why people are treated differently just because they come from other places.

“Japanese people, American people, we are all human, right?” he questioned. “Let’s unite each other as one, through music.” he continued as he called on the audience to spread the message of the respect for diversity, integrity and inclusiveness. It wasn’t until then that I realized how diversified this crowd was, looking around all the friendly faces surrounding me. I guess his message has already been delivered in one way or another through music, hasn’t it? 

After the inspiring speech, as the next notes hit the ground, the whole venue immediately turned into a wild party. People danced and laughed, celebrated and worshipped. The time passed so fast that no one was prepared for the last song to come so soon. Miyavi ended the great show with “WHAT’S MY NAME 2017” and impressed the audience again with his exceptional guitar riffs. Those slender fingers moved so fast on the guitar that it was almost magical.

Following the final song, Miyavi thanked the crowd many times before leaving the stage.  Many people wouldn’t leave, still immersed in the excitement of seeing the rock star yet longing for more.

Photos: Mena Ru

All – Kyodo News+

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