Wise came out dressed head to toe in camo and twirling a red frill. Considering his name and the color of the frill, the Devil came to mind, and often in Wise’s convoluted lyrics, the idea of redemption is keen, he seems to seek a way out of eternal trouble.
Gay and raised in the church, Wise’s dichotomies are there for everyone to see, and during the set he seemed agitated, as if the act of expressing his feelings through music was blasphemous.
But he was totally relaxed with the audience, playing a form of lounge piano while he told the crowd what a privilege it is to play in Japan. At another point, he said it was “time to get messy,” but the tone and tempos remained subdued throughout. The audience didn’t, however.
Because Wise’s introspective music is so intense, the crowd picked up on his desperation and reacted with uncommon empathy. Several of the quieter numbers even elicited ovations. Wouldn’t have expected that in church.