Perfume Genius


Perfume Genius, or Mike Hadreas as his friends probably call him, has the audience of a sweltering Band On The Wall in the palm of his hand. Every person in the room is silent, in absolute awe of the beautiful, frequently devastatingly show he’s putting on tonight, and no one wants to break the spell. No one except the dude who somehow crashes into a table full of beer bottles and plastic cups, sending them tumbling noisily to the floor, breaking the magic of a (I kid you not) wonderful version of the Garfunkel rabbit classic ‘Bright Eyes’ in the encore. And that’s what’s special about tonight; despite the heavy lyrical content of most of Hadreas’ songs, they never overwhelm the joyous atmosphere in the venue tonight amongst a crowd who hang on his every word and action.

Another example of this is during a mini break for a technical fault, one of the crowd asks a slightly awkward looking Hardreas to tell us a joke, to which he replies with a knowing smile, ‘no thanks, I’d rather do the opposite’ before launching into another delicate tale of heartbreak. It’s a lovely moment, as are the frequent cries of ‘we love you man’ from one guy in the crowd, to which Hadreas replies, to each and every one, (there must have been 5 or 6) ‘I love you too’ with a bashful smile.

I completely believe him too. He looks like he’s slightly over awed with the reception he’s getting at times, as the end of each song is greeted with a huge round of applause and whooping; indeed two members of the audience approach him with gifts at one point between songs – everyone here has nothing but love for him. Be it sat centre stage behind his keyboard passionately singing the delicate coda to ‘Dark Parts’, or the glorious ‘Hood’ which begins with the all too personal line ‘you would never call me baby/If you knew the truth’, or stood up, stalking the left of the stage singing some new songs from his as yet unreleased third album, no one can take their eyes off him. Dressed in a black jumpsuit with his nails painted bright red, he might be a mere slip of a man but he has a magnetic stage presence that can hold rooms much bigger than this I’m sure. He’s even more adorable when he goes to sit behind a baby grand piano to deliver one of the many show stopping moments, singing ‘Sister Song’ completely solo, a song so sweet and enchanting that I’m sure I hear more than a few sniffles throughout.

The new songs are equally as impressive as the older material. They all sound huge compare to delicate oldies like ‘Mr Peterson’ and ‘Learning’, employing more instruments and drums than he has done before. The stunning ‘Queen’, the only official song he’s released from his new album, is a clear highlight. The keyboards and bass buzz through the hall, cutting through everything as his shimmies and sings ‘no family is safe as I sashay’, the synths sounding like sirens through the dark; it’s quite the moment. As he settles downs for an encore of covers starting with a startling version of Madonna’s ‘Oh Father’ which takes on a whole new meaning in his delicate delivery, through to the afore mentioned beer bottle interrupted ‘Bright Eyes’, there’s no one in the room who isn’t completely rapt. It’s a wonderful, wonderful set that the people present won’t be forgetting in a while.

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