Miyavi @ A38, Budapest, 2017.04.29
Miyavi had a very interesting career: he first rose to fame around 2001 as the prettyboy guitarist of visual kei band Due le quartz, then, after they split, he went solo and became somewhat of a poster boy of the vk scene, known for his eccentric music and oversized ego, calling himself the king of neo visual kei. Then, after a while, he started to shift away from the visual kei scene and quit it completely by 2010. Besides changing his image (and attitude), he also changed his music drastically around those years, going for a more danceable party-rock kind of sound, with a characteristic slapping guitar playing style. From this point on, he started to expand his musical style, experimenting all the time and did some great and totally unexpected collaborations with acts such as Kreva, Hifana, H Zett M or Yoshida Ichiro of Zazen Boys fame. He started to go to this new direction with 2010’s What’s My Name? album and mastered it on 2013’s Miyavi and 2015’s The Others. And now, it seems that he is at the brink of yet another change.
Fire Bird, his latest album from last year was already a step towards new territories, shifting even further away from rock towards club music and with his current tour he went one step further to that direction. I went to see him in Budapest, at the second date of the tour’s European leg on the 29th of April… which was his fifth time visiting the city. He first played in Hungary’s capital back in 2009, at the end of his visual kei era and returned during every European tour he did since, so we could follow step-by-step how he changed over the years. By 2011’s What’s My Name? tour he got rid of his supporting band and since then his only live companion was Bobo, the drummer, originally from experimental underground rock group 54-71. His songs in this era were more and more shifting towards a feelgood party sound and the shows turned into jamming extravaganzas, with an almost carnival-like atmosphere (just check out the fan-fave Horizon to get the idea). But now, as a clear sign, that he is indeed changing again, he even got a new guy of stage besides Bobo: a DJ called DJ Johnny (that nobody seems to known much about actually). And he was there for good reason, as the first approx. half hour of the show was more like a DJ set with additional live music. For this part, Miyavi gathered all his songs that has no or just minimal vocals, added a new track, plus some weird stuff like Tove Lo‘s Cool Girl with additional live guitar and drumming and spent his time mostly at the front of the stage, far away from his mic, like some kind of Master Of Ceremony With A Guitar and it was pure party time!
After this quite unusual, but pretty cool opening part, we slowed down for a while with his cover of P.O.D‘s Youth Of The Nation and with another new track, Where Home Is, which features her wife, Melody on vocals. And it was only after that when the main section of the show began with a “best of” like selection from his post-2010 ear with fan faves like The Others, Day 1, Afraid To Be Cool and his rendition of the Mission Impossible Theme. And just as last time in 2015, the only pre-2010 track was a somewhat updated version of Wonderful World just before the closing What’s My Name? And well… Miyavi still knows how to put on a good show and the audience loved every moment of it, dancing, partying and singing along.
And speaking about the audience: his first show in Budapest back in 2009 attracted over 1500+ people, in a huge part because it happened at the height of the visual kei craze and it was the first ever big vk show in the country. All his shows since had over 600 people, which is still very decent and it clearly shows, that even though his music changed a lot, his popularity is not fading at all. And it is interesting, that his shift away from his original visual kei roots are actually the very reason why some of his old fans from the early days still follow what he is doing nowadays. As many of those old fans followed a very similar route as Miyavi did himself: they were into vk as teenagers, but then “grew out of it”, lost interest in the scene or just started to listen to other kind of music around the same time Miyavi was changing his style, so they pretty much changed together and could adapt to his music changes and new directions very easily.
The big question is… what’s next? Even though I liked his two previous concerts in Budapest a bit more, this was still a very, very decent show and it was especially interesting to see him changing and trying new things again. And it made me very curios about what he’s gonna do next? If this new direction is just a detour or he will eventually abandon his rock roots and shift towards club music even more? Well, we will just have to wait and see, so, let’s hope he will be back with a new release sometime soon.