MIYAVI’s “Imaginary” Tour Exclusive Report

On October 22, 2021, MIYAVI’s ‘Imaginary’ tour dropped by Pittsburgh’s Thunderbird Café. Named after the artist’s 2021 album, the set felt like a fulfilled promise after he was unable to perform in the same city for Tekko 2020. The thought of live shows was “Imaginary” 18 months ago, but not anymore.

MIYAVI came off a virtual performance at Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto prior to his set at Thunderbird’s. The two-story venue may seem like a drastic shift by comparison. This night showed how the Samurai Guitarist’s priority is to share his craft in every setting possible.

MIYAVI’s “Imaginary” Tour Becoming Reality

Setting the Vibe

Miyavi’s “Imaginary” tour started off with the pre-recorded ‘Take on Me’. But, it cut off from the speakers abruptly as MIYAVI and CO stepped on the mainstage. Bathed in haunting blue, each member of the ensemble took their place and settled in.

It wasn’t long till the intro to MIYAVI’s album, ‘Holy Nights (Intro)’ came together to fill the silence. Rhythmic chants drew the crowd in as if it were a séance. Then, with a fully-captivated audience, ‘Need For Speed’ kicked off and shot a bolt of lightning through every living body in the venue. Two songs in and already the crowd was on-board.

MC Miyavi

Lights raised–MIYAVI used the applause as an opening to speak directly to the crowd. He greeted the crowd and introduced his crew—Anthony on drums, DJ Johnny, and the choir.

MIYAVI thanked everyone in the fully-packed venue for the opportunity to perform live, considering the state of the world. (COVID-19 screenings were required to attend). He echoed this gratitude throughout the night. The artist also recounted to the audience that his manager advised: “Don’t go crazy when you’re outside, but you can go fucking crazy in the venue.”

Back into Performer Mode

When the first beats of ‘So On It’ played, MIYAVI strut across the entire stage back-and-forth while shredding. The energy carried into ‘In Crowd’ albeit for something more of a chilled bop. After the last beat, red light poured down on the stage. The pulse in the air slowed as ‘Bumps in the Night’ followed with higher intensity despite the shortened tempo. It was enough to warrant a break once the song ended to check in with the crowd.

The Energy Boost Everyone Needed

“I’m not the only one who’s sweaty, no?”

The crowd cheered, apparently ecstatic to be perspiring profusely in public among a pile of people.

“Hard times for this world, but—as I’m always saying, this fucking virus is invisible, but–”

A stray ‘woo’ cut through an otherwise silent crowd
“—not the right time to ‘woo’, ya know?” The entire venue laughed.

MIYAVI recounted their difficulties with neighbors after arriving in-town due to noise complaints. Still, he reasoned those people would likely have a good time because of the nature of live performances.

“Sometimes it’s pretty risky to get together like this, but… this is also what we need

“Some say there’s an indescribable phenomenon that happens when crowds of people move in-sync to the rhythm of one beat.

“What we feel in our energy exchange… I get the power from you, and I give you my everything”

The audience responded in kind—MIYAVI and the audience bounced energy off of each other.

No One Sleeps in TOKIO

The first notes of ‘Tokio’ played. But, in contrast to the other songs thus far, this felt more like an organic jam session. Although it’s also possible some pacing was called for ahead of the next track.

Queue the aptly-named ‘Perfect Storm’. Faster tempo, more trotting, and even co-vocals from the choir to play off MIYAVI’s lyrics. If one talented front-performer can amplify crowd energy, adding the right voice next to them can make it exponential.

MIYAVI’s “Imaginary” Tour as a Safe Space

After the last tone faded, MIYAVI asked the crowd, “Having a good time?” Naturally, cheering ensued.

“Good Time, Good Music, Good People, Good Vibes—No Virus.”

Thanks to rigorous virus screening policy, the venue was virtually a little slice of before-times. “What we spread is love, good vibes, and positivity.”

The Samurai Guitarist seemed deeply affected by social isolation. He explained that despite being ‘stuck’ in Japan during the peak of the pandemic, he pushed on. MIYAVI didn’t want to dwell or complain—preferring to find a creative outlet wherever possible.

Hence ‘Imaginary’.

And ‘Kate’ on Netflix.

But also, a hint that “something big is coming in November”. It turned out to be music and voice acting contributions for the animated League of Legends series, “Arcane.”

MIYAVI also expressed deep pride for his performance in Kyoto given his aesthetic, which highlighted the dual influences in his work. On one hand, western music heavily contributed to his identity and artistic path. On the other, he felt drawn to incorporate his Japanese roots into the creative vision as it was innate to him.

Perhaps the goal was to make something new out of bridging people and cultures that normally rarely meet.

Referencing one of the most cross-cultural creative works of all time, MIYAVI claimed to be the only guitarist with Super Saiyan hair. Although, it was questionable—after thinking about it for a second, he corrected himself. “Maybe John Mayer, but his hair is natural”

Article written by:

A firefly that got stuck in that big, blue-ish black thing in the night sky. Too curious for his own good—loves wordplay, hot sauce, and hip-hop. Currently working on the sickest mixtape no one will ever hear.

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