Live Report Exclusive

MIYAVI at The State Theatre, Washington D.C.

05/12/2021 2021-12-05 01:00:00 JaME Author: Miyabi_Na Photographer: Miyabi_Na

MIYAVI at The State Theatre, Washington D.C.

MIYAVI delivered a warm and wild welcome back to live music for everyone.

© Miyabi_Na

On October 29th, The State Theatre in Washington D.C. had the honor of hosting MIYAVI for his 19th stop of the Imaginary North America Tour 2021, which spanned 19 different cities across North America. As one of the first major tours to be announced during the ongoing pandemic, MIYAVI brought out fans en masse.

Despite the gloomy weather, lines quickly wrapped around the block from the entrance adorned by a giant MIYAVI poster. Flood warnings, power outages, and pouring rain did nothing to dampen the excitement for what would be many fans' first live show since early 2020. What they had to look forward to was a mix of songs from MIYAVI’s latest albums, Holy Nights and Imaginary.

The house lights dimmed over a packed venue, signaling the start of the show. Deep blue lights introduced drummer Anthony, DJ Jonny, and backup singers Dolly and Gaby to the stage while Holy Nights (Intro) blared from the speakers. Each band member joined in the track, welcoming MIYAVI as he strolled to the microphone at centerstage.

He sported electric blue hair and wore a customized leather jacket. One hand was high in the air and the other poised on his guitar ready to play, and when the heavy beats hit mid-track, he theatrically strummed the intense riffs on his guitar. Launching into the fast-paced Need For Speed, MIYAVI bounced from one side of the stage to the other. His backup singers clapped to the chorus and the crowd mimicked them as he greeted everyone with his guitar.

“Washington D.C., welcome to Imaginary Tour stop nineteen. How’s it going out there? Having fun? It’s been great on this tour. So happy to be back, y'know, especially during this hard time. It’s not easy, but we made it! On this tour we realize how precious – how important it is – to have live music all together and share good times,” said MIYAVI. “You know, this virus is invisible, but at the same time the music we play is also invisible, and this is our power and our weapon to defeat this fucking virus! Let’s go!”

Keeping up with the soaring energy of the crowd, MIYAVI played a medley of three guitar-heavy fan favorites – So On It, In Crowd, and Bumps In the Night – popular tracks from his previous tours. Both the backup singers and audience yelled out the well-known lyrics, headbanging and fist pumping as MIYAVI stomped across the stage to the beat.

During a brief pause after the songs, someone in the crowd held up a large painting based on a photo of MIYAVI from his time in visual kei band Dué le quartz. It was passed forward and he held it up on stage. Surprised and awed, he said the image was taken when he was around eighteen years old.

“Wow, thank you so much,” he laughed. “I’m happy and honored to be here as a Japanese. I don’t know how many times I’ve come to this city – three or four? You never knew how nervous I was when I first toured in the States. But in the end, we have music which is a universal language… and we share good vibes, and excitement, and hope for the future. So, thank you guys for coming out tonight. It’s a reunion and at the same time it’s a celebration – an important opportunity to feel and to improve with the power of music… and again, the reason why we are here is to share positivity and love with you guys.”

Following this optimistic message, colorful lighting welcomed Tokio as he invited fans to sing along. Next, the crowd instantly recognized the smooth opening chords of Perfect Storm. They cheered backing singer Gaby to the front of the stage as she duetted with MIYAVI. Together they danced and performed, turning back-to-back to finish it out. Afterwards, he spoke about his gratitude at being able to release music during this time, and that although the way we consume music is constantly changing, he believes the power of music hasn’t changed and that it’s his life’s mission to keep creating so that we continue to share positivity and hope.

MIYAVI discussed many other topics, such as the upcoming music video for Hush Hush, his role in the action-packed Netflix movie “Kate” – which hit the number-one spot within a few days of its release – and his new venture into voice acting for the Netflix animated series, “Bright: Samurai Soul”. He also spoke about wanting to do something special while stuck in Japan during the pandemic, so he collaborated with traditional Japanese musicians and artists and became the first ever rock musician to perform at Kyoto's Kiyomizu Temple. “It’s one of my greatest life achievements,” he said proudly, “So if you get a chance, please check it out.”

MIYAVI was also excited to announce his new NFT collection, now available for purchase through KLKTN online, as well as his collaboration with legendary singer Yoko Takahashi on a promotional remix of Soul’s Refrainto commemorate the 25th anniversary of "Evangelion". Furthermore, a few days prior his collaboration with PVRIS for a song released on the “Arcane: League of Legends” soundtrack was announced across all social media.

Even though he recently celebrated his 40th birthday, MIYAVI confessed that he never imagined he’d have bright blue hair and doesn’t feel like he’s getting older – “As long as you keep challenging yourself, it’s not just aging. It’s evolving, moving forward, and there are many things to experience in this life,” he clarified.

After mentioning his humanitarian work with UNHCR and asking the crowd to help amplify his music and messages to the whole world, Dolly and Gaby opened the next track, Tears on Fire, in their harmonious voices. With slight nod to his visual kei roots, MIYAVI then performed Other Sidewith super dramatic arm movements and facial expressions, all while stalking back and forth across the stage as he passionately played guitar and screamed his way through the intense song. It was truly an emotional performance, showcasing his impressive acting abilities and leaving everyone captivated.

“This generation, it’s crazy. Not only with a refugee crisis, but we also have climate change, racism, poverty, and never ending wars. We need to face many challenges for the next generation, but I always feel strong when I’m with you,” MIYAVI switched guitars while talking, “We can do something bigger when we are together.” He then performed a heartfelt acoustic version of Under the Same Sky, as fans joined in during the chorus. Many could be seen swaying to the beat and sharing hugs, overwhelmed with emotions hearing this special version of the song.

MIYAVI spent a moment pointing out the beauty of diversity in North America and at his shows, and how scary it is that we cannot see the future. He noted that people have the power of imagination, and the ability to picture the future they want to build. “This is the theme of Imaginary – I strongly believe that music can amplify this power, make it stronger and bigger. I know sometimes it sounds like bullshit, but the future is there… there’s a way to move forward and break through, and that’s with the power of imagination.”

Venturing on, MIYAVI stormed through some of his popular songs from the new album, starting with Imaginary, followed by New Gravity and then Warrior, much to the delight of his fans. He rounded out the collection of newer tracks with a remarkable cover of the iconic Nirvana song, Smells Like Teen Spirit, to which the crowd went wild singing along to the well-known lyrics.

Launching immediately into another set of four tracks, blazing red lights bathed the entire venue at the opening of Fire Bird, creating a fiery backdrop as MIYAVI jammed through the song, kissing his guitar at the end. He followed with Raise Me Up and moved right into the fun and bouncy No Sleep Till Tokyo. Closing out with Day 1, fans propelled up from the floor in a massive group jump towards the end.

After a brief break and a slight wardrobe change as fans encouraged an encore, MIYAVI stormed back onto the stage holding his phone and recording the enthusiastic reactions of the crowd. He spent a few moments sweeping over everyone as he yelled and stomped, elevating the excitement for the video. Once he put his phone away, he started his final MC of the night, jokingly admitting he was a little tired after running to and from the green room.

He proceeded to introduce his band members one by one, fist bumping each of them as they returned to the stage. He also gave thanks and kudos to his staff members that were spread out around the venue, mentioning that they only had two more nights of tour left and how sad they were for it to end – laughing about exchanging hugs behind stage despite how sweaty he was.

“It’s great to be able to spend time like this, especially now. I’m the first Japanese artist to have a tour again in the States, I think? It’s been great, I’ve learned many things on this road thanks to you guys. Let’s do this again soon, okay?”

At the promise of another tour soon, the crowd erupted into applause before he continued, “This is what we’ve been missing during pandemic. I held lots of virtual lives in 2020, and virtual lives are great… but still, a virtual live with current technology can’t replace this,” he explained gesturing to the full floor of the venue, “Live music – my passion as a human being. So, once again thank you so much for coming.” MIYAVI then dedicated the first song of the encore to everyone, “With love, let’s dance.”

He started strumming the beginning of a slower track from his Imaginary album, titled Dance With Me. The crowd swayed and listened in awed silence as he sang the heartfelt lyrics, cheering as he hit the final high notes. He immediately moved into the next song, and a stillness settled over the venue as MIYAVI began the first few chords of Over The Rainbow.

Fans closed their eyes, feeling each note of the classic song as it built up to the hard-hitting climax in the second half. Ending on the distorted high note, the crowd erupted into applause while he silently thanked everyone and quickly moved into place for The Others. “Once again, thank you for coming! Are you having fun tonight?” he asked, as everyone clapped and sang along through the entire song.

MIYAVI ended the evening with one of his most well-known tracks, What’s My Name 2017 – once again reminding everyone exactly who he was. The crowd went wild, pounding their way through the chorus and screaming out the lyrics “WHAT’S-MY-NAME” at full power right along with him, throwing their arms to the heavy guitar riffs between each part. At the conclusion of the song MIYAVI asked once more, “What’s my name?” to which the crowd answered “MI-YA-VI!” as loud as possible one last time.

Finally, New Gravity played over the speakers as MIYAVI handed off his guitar and came forward, inviting his band members to the front of the stage. Each of them danced their way up to join him for one final, socially distanced group bow. They all broke into silly dances and interacted with the crowd as fans began singing and bouncing along at MIYAVI’s cue.

After a few moments, one by one they departed the stage with MIYAVI trailing behind, but at the last second, he turned back around and ran from one edge to the other to greet as many fans as possible – slapping hands and waving hello while leaning above many outstretched arms and happy faces. After a final wave, he danced his way off again signaling the end of the show.

The Imaginary North America Tour 2021 certainly delivered a warm and wildly energetic welcome back to the live music scene for everyone. Despite the ongoing pandemic, MIYAVI proved that through the power of music people can safely come together to rock hard, overcome challenges, and in keeping with the overall message of his tour – continue moving forward towards a brighter future.

Set list

01. Holy Nights (Intro)
02. Need For Speed
03. So On It
04. In Crowd
05. Bumps In the Night
06. Tokio
07. Perfect Storm
08. Tears on Fire
09. Other Side
10. Under the Same Sky
11. Holy Nights
12. Imaginary
13. New Gravity
14. Warrior
15. Smells Like Teen Spirit
16. Fire Bird
17. Raise Me Up
18. No Sleep Till Tokyo
19. Day 1


20. Dance With Me
21. Over The Rainbow
22. The Others
23. What’s My Name 2017



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