Live Report: Asia on Tour Concert Series featuring Miyavi

Live Report: Asia on Tour Concert Series featuring Miyavi

San Francisco's historic The Fillmore auditorium on the edge of Japantown played host to three bands this past Thursday. The concert series, officially designated "Asia on Tour" and headed by promoter Live Nation, aims to bring a slice of Asia's best bands to both new and old fans overseas. 2017's inaugural series had South Korea's Kiha and The Faces, Thailand's Slot Machine, and Japan's Miyavi tear things up in progressive fashion as the night went on. Each band added their own flair to the night and eventually resulted in a fever pitch when Miyavi took the stage.

The North American west coast kicks things off with a total of six shows before Asia on Tour heads east cutting across the lower states like Texas and Georgia before heading north to New York and eventually terminating in Toronto. The three bands will then head to Europe and play in the UK, Germany, and France, among others. Tonight's show is the third show of the tour and the second stop in America.

KIHA AND THE FACES

Leading things off was South Korea's Kiha and the Faces. Frontman Chang Kiha serves as the namesake of this indie band. They don't fly around the stage like many rock bands I've seen but that's part of their charm; their quirky stage presence alongside the folk rock they produce is what makes Kiha and The Faces Kiha and The Faces. I can't speak a lick of Korean, but you get the feeling that the band is about fun and watching their music videos helps confirm that idea. The crowd was receptive to the total package and a lot of people in the audience seemed to know them already. That's one of the best parts about tours in the US: bands in their home countries might be hard to see (or hard to get near) but here you can have a much more intimate show and be closer than you'd think.

The most animated member of the group is Kiha himself and he led the crowd in singing parts of the song "The Smell's Gone." Another one people could sing along to was a cover of Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime." Their songs are full of funk and bass and make for a good way to kick off the night and ease into things. The songs are catchy and fun and even for someone who can't understand them I couldn't help but tap my toes and bob my head to the rhythm.

SLOT MACHINE

 

I'll admit I did not know of Thai band Slot Machine until looking up this concert. Their Wikipedia article reads like advertising copy (and chances are it is) but I'll be damned if they don't live up to it. The band has been around in some shape or form ever since the turn of the millennium and released their first English album "Spin the World" late last year. It's sung in all English and much of the set list tonight would be representative of it with a few Thai songs were thrown in for good measure.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when they came on stage but as I saw them walk in wearing suits I was sure it was going to be good. Vocalist Karinyawat Durongjirakan (aka Foet) with his slicked back hair and sunglasses immediately commanded the stage with scepter in hand. He would get into the music too with tambourine as well as joining drummer Settharat Pancgchunan (Auto) for a bit later in the set. Bassist Atirath Pintong (Gak) had to take off his leather jacket after a few songs since things were getting heated and showed off his guns. Guitarist Janevit Chanpanyawong (Vit) prowled the right side of the stage and held it down. Formally the band is a four-man unit but tonight they had two additional session musicians in the form of a DJ and an additional guitarist nestled in the back of the stage.

The band opened up with "MRT" and continued on with a lot of songs from "Spin the World." "And We Go," "Sky Burning Stars," "I Know, I Know," "Spin the World," and a few in Thai. I could have swore I heard "Give It All to You" but maybe that was just during the interval between Kiha and The Faces and Slot Machine. The band ended with an onstage photo of them and the crowd all with the pyramidesque thumb-and-forefingers-touching in the air.

I think this band could go far with some playtime in America. Foet said that it was hard writing in English but you can't at all. They sound just as good as any of the bands played on American radio right now. I can easily see (or hear) them being in the mix.

MIYAVI

As the third act began guitarist extraordinaire Miyavi walked out of the blue-tinged fog. He should be no stranger to American fans and in fact this marks his 15th anniversary in the scene. He's a showman who has played in the band Due le Quartz and has bumped shoulders (and shared the stage) with the likes of X Japan's Yoshiki and Sugizo and Malice Mizer's Gackt in the supergroup SKIN.

Miyavi's animated style of guitar playing makes for an entertaining one-man whirlwind as he spins and dances across the stage while doing his trademark finger-slapping. Tonight he would be accompanied by a DJ and a drummer but make no mistake: Miyavi is the main attraction. He wore a long dark overcoat that showed just his arms and feet for the extended version of opening song "Raise Me Up." As he transitioned to "Ain't No Sunshine" he stripped off the overcoat, bared his tattooed arms, and the show went from there.

He managed to pack a whopping 17 songs into the just over one hour of playtime on stage. More than a few songs from his newest album "Fire Bird" were featured on the setlist but snuck on some special ones like "Youth of a Nation" that he played at SXSW. Even though he might not have a full band behind him he makes it work. He dips into a modern sound incorporating electronic/breakbeat and even a bit of dubstep. It's a far cry from the visual kei of Due le Quartz where even back then he dominated with his skills. Miyavi has evolved and much like the phoenix has been reborn.

For his 15th anniversary he had a message for the crowd: "Thanks for believing in me, and helping me believe in myself." More than a couple of times had the legendary guitarist bantering back and forth with the crowd and replying with "I fucking love you too."

He closed the night off with his rendition of "Mission Impossible" and one more song titled "What's My Name?" More of a gesture than anything since everyone knows it by now. As the show ended he waded into the crowd to greet fans and gave away the setlist to one lucky girl.
[[Photos go here]]

I've been telling my friends that this is a concert worth seeing. One had intended to just show up for Miyavi but I urged him to come early and see all three bands. I'm going to stick to that judgment: if you're in this concert's path, come on by. Tickets are a steal and you get way more than the monetary cost might suggest. Three world class acts on one bill.

The Asia on Tour concert series continues on to San Diego on Tuesday. A full list of American dates are as follows:

4/1 Vancouver, BC (CAN) - Venue
4/4 Seattle, WA - The Neptune Theater
4/6 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
4/7 Anaheim, CA - The Parish at House of Blues Anaheim
4/9 Los Angeles, CA - The Belasco Theater
4/11 San Diego, CA - House of Blues San Diego
4/14 Dallas, TX - The Cambridge Room at House of Blues Dallas
4/15 Houston, TX - The Bronze Peacock at House of Blues Houston
4/18 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
4/21 Philadelphia, PA - The Foundry - Philadelphia
4/22 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
4/23 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
4/25 Chicago, IL - House of Blues Chicago
4/26 Toronto, ON (CAN) - The Phoenix Concert Theatre

For more information and tickets visit: http://www.livenation.com/artists/167727/live-nation-presents-asia-on-tour-feat-miyavi

Last modified on Saturday, 20 May 2017 10:33
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