Although something of a household name in his native Japan, singer Miyavi is relatively unknown over here, though a recent concert in London indicates that among a younger audience, there is a niche interest. That being said, for the world roots fan in search of some authentic Japanese music fused with western rock, there is sadly little to commend here. Miyavi seems to have been heavily influenced by Prince and this manifests itself in the attention to fashion and androgynous look that the singer has cultivated and, in parts, in the music with funk-tinged bass and guitar while the use of vocoder-aided vocals hints at Daft Punk minus the instantly catchy grooves. However, where the two differ is in their approaches to music. Whereas Prince has demonstrated an ability to create innovative sounds and experiment even to the extent of commercial suicide at times, Miyavi is firmly in the easy listening pop territory and his sound is just a tad too smooth for this writer to digest in anything other than short bursts.
The lightweight funk is tolerable up to a point with ‘Ahead of the light’ acceptable, if somewhat predictable, with thumping drum accompaniment, but his weak and indistinctive vocals are at best the fodder that mid-teenage adolescents might appreciate and certainly not a discerning adult audience. The DVD provides an insight into how Miyavi the phenomenon came into being and he is best known in Japan for being featured on Japanese television adverts while his portrayal of a Japanese POW camp soldier at the behest of Angelina Jolie no less has given him something of a profile among film buffs. It may well be that he is better placed in that field of the arts and comes across as a Japanese equivalent of David Beckham with a body full of tattoos to boot. Tim Stenhouse