Sunday 2 September 2012

Perfume Genius | Live: The Globe Cardiff August 31, 2012

Summing up a Perfume Genius show in to a few small paragraphs is never going to be an easy feat. Trying to find words alone to describe how painstakingly beautiful Mike Hadreas's music is becomes a mammoth task in itself. Having played Put Your Back N 2 It & previous album Learning religiously since they were both released Hadreas's music has formed a pretty big part in my musical life so finally getting the chance to witness him in a live setting was always going to be that little bit special.

Support came in the form of serafina steer. Whilst folk music (if you can categorise it to that) remains a very hit and miss genre with me I was quite taken back by how hauntingly charming Serafina's harp playing abilities were. Creating layers and layers of intrinsic harmonies it was easy to get lost in the moment. Having attended a lot of gigs over the years in Wales I know how intimidating sometimes a Welsh crowd can be, putting up their stern barriers whilst awaiting the headline performance, yet serafina steer seemed to cope adequately well enticing the rather apprehensive crowd forward in anticipation for Perfume Genius to take to the stage.

Now with music as quietly powerful as Mike's I'm often left wary of how it will transpose from the studio to a live setting. Will it be as emotive and powerful? Will people talk throughout the performance? Will the music still retain its captive nature? All of these questions were soon answered in such a positive manner. And most surprisingly the crowd. The atmosphere was pleasant and from the opening note not a word was uttered. To say you could cut the air with a knife would be an understatement. You could seriously hear a pin drop during some of the more quiet renditions with the tense atmosphere only broken up by nervous laughter between performances where Mike would reach out to the crowd briefly. His vulnerabilities laid out in front for all to see forever wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Changing between synth, piano and guitar Mike remains anguishly distraught, the pain and emotion visible across his face as he echoes his woeful affliction throughout the small Cardiff venue. Whilst his music remains strong Mike seems a reserved sole upon the stage. Shuffling feet and an anxious squirm sat upon the piano stool under the spotlights. It somehow makes Perfume Genius a lot more relatable to. Just like everyone he has problems and is human like us all. 
Playing the bulk of both albums including unreleased tracks such as Katie & Rusty Chains the show was an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs. We got the emotive and deeply cold, yet exquisitely played, Mr. Peterson along with some of the more heavy tracks such as my favourites Dark Parts and Hood. It's hard to call them more upbeat songs with their strong lyricism detailing torment and suffering but their powerful nature overwhelms and makes us all reflect. Rising and falling, their composure offers hope in a metaphorical silver lining to our often underlying pessimistic outlook on life.

It's hard after this performance to not only love Perfume Genius as a musician but to realise how likable as a person Mike Hadreas is. A beautiful yet fragile, heart wrenching display of some of the most powerful songs I have heard to date. My only complaint (because I sure as hell wouldn't be British if I didn't have one complaint) was the songs short lengths. But I guess with all good things it's best not to over spoil yourself.

Perfume Genius continues his tour across Europe. Be sure to catch him at the following:

4 – SWG3, Glasgow
5 – Glee Club, Birmingham
6 – Union Chapel, London
8 – Groningen, Holland Vera Euser
10 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg Rockhal Hussong
11 – Brussels, Belgium Ancienne Belgique De Clippeleir
13 – Paris, Cafe De La Danse


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