The room is eerie-still as Mike Hadreas, AKA Perfume Genius takes his place behind his keyboard at a very full King’s Arms in Salford.
We have already watched the wonderfully understated, never over-rated Jo Rose flow through another beautiful set of his tender, poetic, country tinged songs, with numbers like ‘Mary’s Dress‘ and ‘Balcony Doors’ continuing to surprise with they’re beauty and poise, even if the maniacal visuals man has decided to drink a pint of gin and go out with a bang by wildly zooming and panning his camera in and out of the young man’s face, projecting a disturbingly large version of himself onto the screen at the back of the stage. Despite this, we are feeling suitably morose/excited for the momentous event ahead, the man, the perfume. the genius!
Jo Rose – Mary’s Dress
Hadreas’ keyboard is at a slight angle to face that of his accompanist and backing singer for the evening, I believe his name is Alan, possibly not but we’ll go with it.
Having only heard PG’s stunning debut, ‘Learning‘, and not recognising the first two songs of tonight’s set, I can only presume they are new material. Both beautiful, the second seeing an acoustic guitar make an appearance. Perfume is clearly nervous this evening, as the latter number is abandoned early on due to a (unnoticeable) mistake, the audience don’t care, it only makes Hadreas’ fragile, kind face more loveable and we are happy to laugh it off with him, even if Alan looks slightly annoyed, possibly as we had to finish before his one handed synth solo? Sorry Alan.
Perfume Genius – Look Out Look Out Directed by Patrick Sher
The next hour sees us spellbound and muted by short waves of ghostly hits, full of honest and challenging lyrics floating on blissful undercurrents of synthesised strings and haunting harmony. ‘Mr Peterson’ is shockingly beautiful, with the pair’s voices bringing a shiver to the world. Album title track, ‘Learning’, sees Alan join Perfume at his keyboard where they tentatively and lovingly duet, hands crossing over each other as their vocals collide and embrace each other like the saddest of lovers.
The ludicrous visuals man makes an appalling return, getting up in Perfume’s grill with his grainy zoom, at one point catching the attention of the shy performer, who flinches painfully upon catching site of his own face, blown up 1000% behind him.
Other favourites, ‘Perry‘ and ‘You Won’t Be Hear‘ float by like haunted hot air balloons as the audience gently sways and rapturously applaud upon the strike of the final key.
The performance is note perfect to the record, although the experience is totally different. Watching Perfume Genius live is like cruelly spying on his most intimate moments, it is uncomfortable, sad but exciting.
We leave feeling genuinely touched by the beauty of the performance. It is a shame to think that as the popularity of Perfume Genius grows, sightings of this tender soul in such intimate surrounds may become a rarity.
WORDS & PHOTO by Sam Alder
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