MIYAVI celebrates SAMURAI SESSIONS Vol. 3 at El Rey (Live Report)

J-Rock Reviews

El Rey Theatre – February 23, 2019

Concert Review by Nhu Nguyen
Photos by David Cirone

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

MIYAVI celebrated the release of his SAMURAI SESSIONS Vol. 3 – Worlds Collide album at a special show on Saturday, February 23, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

Vol. 1 of the guitarist’s SAMURAI SESSIONS collaboration series was released in 2013, followed by Vol. 2 in 2017, and Saturday’s concert was the first time he performed tracks from these sessions live in L.A. “Thank you all for coming,” MIYAVI said to the fans in his first MC break. “Some of you came a long way, but I live here… I’m so glad you could join me here in my hometown,” he joked.

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Miyavi DCKWRTH Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Though the concert’s special guests were the main focus of the concert’s promotion, most of the collaborations came early in the set list — “U.G.L.Y.” with DUCKWRTH was absolute fire, “Knock Me Out” with Mikky Ekko was groovy, and “Forget You” with Che’nelle was full of 2000’s J-Pop and R&B goodness. The synergy between artists came alive on stage, with even more power than the recorded versions.

The collaborations on Samurai Sessions Vol. 3 form a diverse mix of genres, and watching the artists vibe off one another on stage and feed on the audience energy was a true joy. “Me and the Moonlight” with Yuna during the encore was stunning.

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Miyavi Yuna Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

The two-hour concert was packed with over 20 songs, but still moved at lightning pace. Even without the guest stars, this was still very much a MIYAVI show, reminiscent of his previous concerts — filled with great guitar playing, consistent energy (always count on it from MIYAVI!), and tracks chosen from across his eclectic career, such as the visual-kei era “Selfish Love” (2006), his classic self-anthem “What’s My Name?” (2010), and “Long Nights” (2016), written for his UNHCR Ambassador efforts with Lebanon refugees.

A major highlight of the night was MIYAVI’s performance of “Fragile”, his solo track from SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 — his delivery was vulnerable, sincere, and touched every member of the audience. Such heartfelt moments were balanced out by MIYAVI’s natural playfulness and his joy of performing live. He even made time to take a crowd selfie — “I just learned to use Boomerang on Instagram today!” — and give thanks to the crowd and his collaborators.

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Saturday’s release party proved MIYAVI has moved past simply being a touring “J-Rock” artist — he’s able to share the space effortlessly with international performers while staying true to his own personality and convictions.

Set List
1. Intro: Worlds Collide (VO by Samuel L. Jackson)
2. Rain Dance
3. Flashback
4. In Crowd (Original)
5. Dim It
– MC –
6. Ain’t No Sunshine
7. Sicko Mode
8. U.G.L.Y. (with DUCKWRTH)
9. Knock Me Out w/ Mikky Ekko
10. Forget You w/ Che’nelle
– MC –
11. Ha!
12. Survive
13. Selfish Love
– MC –
14. Long Nights
15. Fire Bird
16. Raise Me Up
17. Day 1
18. Dancing with My Fingers

19. Fragile
20. Me and the Moonlight w/ Yuna
21. Real?
22. What’s my name?

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

Miyavi Samurai Sessions Vol 3 El Rey

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