Review: Miyavi @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire



One of Japan’s most vibrant rock stars is in England as part of his Slap the World Tour

By Jacqueline Fanchini

He may have slightly toned down his visual style in recent years, but after Miyavi’s performance this Saturday there’s no doubt that he is as dynamic and talented as ever.

The aptly named ‘Slap the World Tour’ shows off his unique slap guitar technique, warranting his ‘Samurai Guitarist’ nickname. Miyavi is one of Japan’s most vibrant rock stars and music producers, having released nine studio albums since he first became active in 1999.

Over the years his fan-base has grown to include people from around the globe and he is beginning to reach even wider audiences by switching to English vocals.

He says that learning English was important to him as it enables him to directly communicate with his fans. What seems most important for him with the tour and new self-entitled album is that his audiences can sing along.

“When my international audience sings along in Japanese, that’s the most beautiful feeling in my career. I love it, but I don’t wanna let myself get satisfied with that current situation,” says Miyavi.

“On this album I wanted to bring a stronger beat, something more organized, manipulated synthetized. So that it’s more pop, catchy. So that people can sing along. It’s the key of this album.”

Not only did people sing at Sheperd’s Bush Empire performance, they danced, they chanted his name and created a thrilling atmosphere that captivated even those who were hearing him for the first time.

Usually only coming up for business, he’s not had the opportunity to go sightseeing, but his impressions of London are very strong.

He says: “London is one of the places that make music history, that’s why I feel that the audience in London is more difficult, more sophisticated than other countries.

“The more you are familiar with good music the more you know what’s good. So it’s really good to have my show here, and have a performance in front of a great audience.”

The set started off with ‘Day 1’, which he mentions is the track he enjoys playing the most and was the most fun to record. Although the gig is dominated by the current album, Japanese classics such as “Kimi ni Negai Wo”, ‘Selfish Love’, ‘Subarashikikana, Kono Sekai -What A Wonderful World-” and ‘Please, please, please’ also made an appearance and were marked with widespread enthusiasm.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Miyavi gig without at least a couple of mash-ups and some guitar improvs, but unlike previous ones, the fourth world tour is simpler, with less frills and relying more on the music itself, his fingers still running up and down his instrument with stunning dexterity and agility,

“I miss the colorfulness but I’m confident to entertain or rock people with my current style, without any decoration,” he states.

His presence on stage was powerful, enhanced by the dynamics shared with his fans and the raw energy he manages to project – mostly through his awesome facial expressions, funky moves and epic guitar strumming. So give him a chance and he’ll slap your socks off. Check him out here.

Photo courtesy of wrasse records, with thanks.

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