Mitski Miyawaki, who performs simply as Mitski, is that rare artist who writes songs that are both musically complex and creates an emotional sympatico between herself and her audience. That skill was on display in her show at 9:30 Club on Friday, the first of two sold-out nights.
Iggy Pop famously mentioned on his BBC 6 program earlier in the year that Mitski is “probably the most advanced American songwriter that I know.” Personal and, at the same time, universal songs like “Francis Forever” with the chorus “I don’t need the world to see / That I’ve been the best I can be / But I don’t think I could stand to be / Where you don’t see me” — and the refrain “’Cause I need somebody to remember my name / After all that I can do for them is done / I need someone to remember me” in “Remember My Name” — from the recently released Be The Cowboy drew in the listener. After a listen or two, it’s hard not to become a fan.
Released in August, Be The Cowboy, Mitski’s fifth full-length release, expanded her sound but that sound remains grounded in love and life experiences. And it’s not a surprise that on her current tour, she has expanded the stage line up from previous years, including keys, guitar, bass, and drums, which frees her up to take the mic, making for some amazing performances. On Friday night, Mitski took over the crowd like few I’ve witnessed before.
Friday’s performance was a late one, and it was chilly outside, but you couldn’t tell by the lines of fans pouring into the 9:30 Club with eager smiles on those cold faces. Once inside, they were treated to a Mitski performance that was artistic and engaging. Starting off with “Remember My Name,” Mitski took center stage as three panels at the back of the stage provided the backdrop for images and colors that at times accented the songs and at other times helped to tell the story.
Watch the newly released video of “Washing Machine Heart” by Mitski on YouTube:
Images of a car running through the city at night changed later to images of ocean waves and then to clouds behind the band as Mitski gestured and flexed. Most of the songs performed were from new new album and from 2014’s Bury My Heart at Makeout Creek, but there were a couple older ones like “I Want You” from her second LP, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business.
One of the best performances I’ve seen so far this year, and I couldn’t help but wish I could make it to the next night. Mitski’s tour is currently rolling along with stops in New York before heading to Australia and New Zealand. Definitely check her tour schedule here.
Remember My Name
I Don’t Smoke
Washing Machine Heart
First Love / Late Spring
Me and My Husband
Dan the Dancer
Once More to See You
I Bet on Losing Dogs
I Want You
Your Best American Girl
Why Didn’t You Stop Me?
Come into the Water
Drunk Walk Home
A Burning Hill
Two Slow Dancers
Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart
Here are photos of Mitski performing at the 9:30 Club on Nov. 16, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.