Miyavi @ Shepherd's Bush EmpireAlso known as 'I am so embarrassing.'
The day started with MYVxKIRITO
, the usual nerves (the nerves of a country bumpkin heading to the big city) and a pleasant train journey. It was swiftly followed by the crushing fear of the tube (the fear of a country bumpkin on an underground train) and the relief of checking into the hotel without incident (for us this is a nice surprise).
We headed to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, navigating ridiculous road crossings, and encountered the usual chaos of The Queue.
There’s always a tangible sense of confusion surrounding which queue is for which ticket holder and we bumbled around until I finally asked someone where we were meant to be. With a cheery ‘Thanks!’
I headed back to MYVxKIRITO
and herded us to the correct queue. A few minutes later a security man came up to us and asked if we were VIP ticket holders. We answered in the affirmative and he replied with a jaunty ‘You’re in the right queue then.’
Over the course of the night that man became a hero. He was friendly, funny, helpful and just all-round brilliant. There’s nothing I appreciate more at gigs than good security staff. He actively approached fans to make sure they knew where they were going and to point them in the right direction if they didn’t. He came round a little later to give out purple wristbands to the fanclub members (of which MYVxKIRITO
is one) and then to give out gold ones to the VIP ticket holders (of which MYVxKIRITO
was also one).
It was at this point that I started to really regret my decision not to join the fanclub (a decision made on the basis that two of us registering from the same house may have looked a little shady) but nevertheless my little gold wristband was enough to remind me of how lucky I was. The rest of The Wait was spent in nervous, excited anticipation.
6:45 rolled around sooner than expected and the fanclub members were soon allowed in. Within minutes, if that, the VIP crowd followed. With my ticket checked I was ushered straight past the merch stand and into the hall where I quickly spotted MYVxKIRITO
in her James May cardigan. I sidled up, shimmied in and together we amazed at our position at the barrier, right in front of the mic. We took it all in with the familiar combination of awe and impatience, shifting from one uncomfortable position to the next, until the sound check, the arrival of the photographers and then the dimming of the lights.
And it began.
And it’s at this point things get a little hazy.
There was Bobo – in his tiny shorts on his tiny drum kit – and Miyavi – in an open see-through shirt, chest bared to the world – and that was that. Their time on stage is just a blur of colour and movement, raw vocals and epic guitar. In-between songs Miyavi addressed the crowd with such passion and emotion, talking about the hardships we all endure – both the big problems in the world and our own personal troubles – and that, for one night, we could throw them away and just enjoy
. He spoke of music and how it broke down barriers, that it didn’t matter if we were Japanese or British, what language we spoke or where we were, that we were all connected through the music. United. And when he played, there was no doubt of that.
Personal highlights were Day 1
, with which he stormed into the set, and What a Wonderful World
, with which he raised the roof. But the stripped back rendition of kimi ni negai wo
. It’s a favourite of mine and it was played with such emotion, such sincerity, and with the star-like lights circling the stage it was just so painfully beautiful. I turned to MYVxKIRITO
at the end to find her not at all okay from it all and so I held her hand and together we swayed our way through Guard You
until she found her ability to can again.
Of course there was more, so much more, but it’s difficult to remember it coherently. There are flashes of a brilliant smile, one-sided banter with Bobo, exquisite riffs performed with a back arched so low, the cling of zebra-print trousers, the glimpse of Don’t hesitate & go
and the echo of that wonderful, beautiful voice. Though, of course, it shall all forever be eclipsed by ‘fish and chips’
, a running gag that seemed to very much run away from Miyavi. It will go down in history with ‘tube map on his arse’.
And in what seemed like the blink of an eye it was all over. Miyavi posed in front of the crowd for a photo, we called his name and as he walked off stage he punched the air in a show of exhilaration that mirrored that of the fans. It was a lovely thing to see, a private gesture that allowed us to see that it meant as much to him as it did to us.
With the ghost of his voice still playing in my head I turned to MYVxKIRITO
and together we set about tracking down the location of the meet and greet. We asked every member of the security team we came across for directions until we finally found ourselves in line up in the highest level of the venue. MYVxKIRITO
was directed to the back of the queue with the other fanclub members.
My VIP ticket allowed me to have a photo taken with Miyavi (and three complete strangers – hello, photo bros!) which was lovely but awkward (Oh lord, please don’t document my face). After the photo he said something briefly to one of the other fans and then turned to me. We shook hands (so polite) and then words happened. I’d prepared for the moment, rehearsing what I was going to say all day. It was going to be something cool like ‘The show was awesome.’
Or ‘Good luck with your film.’
But no. In that moment as we released from the handshake, I looked up at him and said ‘Thank you. That was wonderful.’
That. Was. Wonderful.
I could not have been more formally English if I had tried.
Miyavi was smiling though and he didn’t look confused or horrified so I might have got away with it. I’ve heard he likes English accents so I’m going to believe that he was blown away by my utter polite, formal Englishness. In any case, I left.
Outside, where I was waiting for MYVxKIRITO
to emerge from her fanclub meeting with Miyavi, I listened to the tales of other fans – many of whom also succumbed to panic-speak – and finally looked at the card that had been passed to me as I fled. It was a signed postcard, the date and location of the gig written in silver pen over a wonderful photo of Miyavi. That, and the gold wristband still on my wrist, are a nice memento. The only mementos, really, as by the time I came out the merch stands had been closed off.
finally staggered out, looking somewhat dazed and with a freshly signed membership card case (‘He asked me what my name was. I was like:
<prolonged, panicked silence> Oh! Jayme.’
) we decided to hang around to see if we could catch a glimpse of him leaving. Happily we caught more than a glimpse. Bobo appeared first, loading a case into the back of a minivan before disappearing again. Shortly after Miyavi came out and waved at the small group of fans loitering outside. We waved back and waved some more as the minivan rolled slowly backwards out into the road and carried him away towards his next gig. The small crowd dispersed and MYVxKIRITO
and I stopped off at the petrol station for some grapes and a drink before heading back to our hotel.
We laughed out our embarrassment and waxed lyrical about the night until the grapes were near gone and alarms were set. And as I drifted off to sleep, in the surprisingly warm cocoon of a budget hotel duvet, I marvelled at the wonder of it all. As I’m still marvelling at it now.