Wednesday, February 9, 2011

bfg on seeing the face of god; or Starbucks Challenge #2: Nagoya

My lungs are on fire. It hurts to breath much less swallow and little men are stomping on my eyelids saying, "Close it dammit! Close!" But my fingers are itching to write this. I have to write this.

When my friend Vanessa (yes same name and both from Montreal at that! Luckily she has blonde hair) announced on her facebook status that Miyavi was performing in Nagoya in February, I hastily commented that I would love to go with her. Up until today, it was hard to believe that I would go see him...

Now she was probably disappointed to discover that I am not a Visual-K fan not by choice but just that until today I never really bother with the term. And no, I don't know any of his songs really. I first "discovered" Miyavi by accident two years ago; I was looking for a youtube video of "Hit the Road Jack" and came across this:

I remember watching this and just falling in love. Usually, one does not notice accents when you listen to someone singing and yet here even if blindfolded you would know this fellow is Japanese with his clumsy "r"s and "l"s. I continued to watch several of his music videos loving his cutting edge style, his effeminate ways (to me) and his guitar. God, that black guitar... And the entire time I thought how I would never see him live. He would never come to Montreal and what was the chance of me being in Japan when he is playing? Right?

You would think of course that since the time Vanessa bought my ticket, I would have spent more time researching and memorizing the lyrics to his songs but in all honesty it never really sunk in that I was actually going: not when I bought the ticket, not when I was riding the Shinkansen, not even when I was stuffing the locker at the back of the concert hall with my bag and coat. Possibly because I am sick but I think mostly because he was just a Youtube fantasy in my mind. I never really imagined him beyond the 2nd dimension.

Some Wally Lamb book ends with the line "God is in the roundness of things"; that line came to mind when Miyavi walked onto the stage. I was expecting a get-up a la Boy George Golden Years: full make-up, an outfit that out does Lady Gaga and Elton John on their most extravagant days  and a hat. Instead, a slim body dressed in an almost too thin black shirt with a boat neck cut, black shpants and, yes you guessed it, black sneakers walked on stage. The only other person there was his drummer, a talented individual who I didn't even notice was playing in his zebra print underwear until the second half of the show because I was all eyes on Miyavi.

I never do well in crowds or parties since I get all shy; I much prefer intimate drinking gatherings so though I was relatively close to the stage I was probably the Audience Oldie standing with my arms folded preserving my voice by not shouting and standing in the way of the all to eager jumpers.

From the first note, I just could not stop thinking of how amazing this artist is. Some of his songs I do not enjoy in the least; not my type of music. But the show was mesmerizing principally because of how charismatic that man is with his guitar. No professional, I could not help but gawk at each note, his pace, his rhythm. Even his timing... it was like a Kawabata novel! His songs, especially at the end, often fool you; you expect something low like a "dam -dam" and he gives you a light "bing" and says thank you. You expect a high note ending with some screaming, and just when he builds you up, it ends. And then right when you have nothing left to expect he belts out this scream where even from where I was standing I was able to admire two perfect white rows of teeth (truly an achievement here in Japan).
Then is the fact that other than the drummer it was just him and us. The stage had five microphones set up with one split so that he can make "rap like noises" ( I really do not know what else to call it - please forgive my ignorance). My favourite was the microphone facing the drummer. Instead of the drummer being behind the singer he was next to Miyavi, his right side facing us. (picture it now...) So that when Miyavi was facing him, it felt like they were in their own moment and we had a chance at a sneak peek. It created this intimate feeling of getting a glimpse  of what it must be like when it is just the two of them playing together. 
Much more handsome in person than in photos (and he is handsome in photos so you can imagine) the best part of his looks are his eyes because they too deceive. Manga eyes, not like Bambi but almond shaped that when closed you think they are tiny so each time he opens them it is like "Wait a second...!"
I can go on but all of this quiet frankly just made me so curious as to who this person is. Why did he pick up a guitar because it looks like he was born with one? And though I praise him for his genius the best part of tonight is seeing a man - A HUMAN being create this pregnant atmosphere of abandon and transparency. When he felt like flicking his wrists or dancing Celtic or jumping in the air he did it - so it was no surprise when the little Japanese lady with her hair tied up in a scrunchy that made her look 70 years older than she was squat down in sumo position and fling her head side to side in complete loss of self - though she did excuse herself when she knocked into people. It is moments like that which make me want to do something, write or draw (god, I can't draw), sing or prance, or SOMETHING. I think that is why I love meeting authors and such; I realize their not a name on a cover or an "idea" or a youtube video but a person who simply just did not hold back. 

I left Nagoya with an empty wallet having claimed my Starbucks prize, a travel mug which I can now check off the list, along with a Miyavi t-shirt and bag. I do intend to return to the city but this night was, despite being poor, sick, looking like a troll, cold and having missed the last bus home, perfect.

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