Perfume Genius,Corner Hotel, Melbourne_15th February 2015

perfume genius

jameslondon1_blue_blurIts been a few years since Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius “graced” our watery shores and tonight Genius once again delivers his avante-garde cum melodic heart-felt songwriting back to the Corner Hotel with the rather self-depricating but uniquely talented Aldous Harding as support.

Having learnt from Hadreas that tonight’s crowd numbers are twice the size (but not sold out – what is that about?) from his last visit to Corner Hotel, it is always encouraging to see such a good turn out to see the support act, who tonight is Aldous Harding.

Harding, quietly enters stage right and quickly strums into her opening track “Stop You Tears”, a soft, compelling folk tale that instantly brings reminder of Joni Mitchell and Martha Wainwright.  A voice that quivers with uncertainty, lyrics almost indecipherable but nevertheless touching in their delivery.  We soon learn that beyond this gentile child-like voice, lays a woman almost scorned by life, despite her youthful age.  Harding banters to the audience mumbling truths in between a few songs, with talk of sugary drinks, crushing her boyfriend’s skull, losing teeth and reminding us that we probably won’t by her album that is sold in the corner of the night.

Each song plays out like a story, a tale to be told. It is just a shame we can’t really work out what the story is, although post gig, listening to her recordings, these are actually quite beautiful tales of relationships and loneliness of yester year.  Many songs follow a similar formula however on closing her set, downing her acoustic guitar Harding breaks her mould and powerfully pours her heart and soul into a cover of Edtih Piad’s Non je ne regrette rien a poignant end to her set, to enthusiastic applause.

In true Corner Hotel fashion (probably not the best choice of word), the stage tonight doesn’t give too much as to who we are about to experience, it’s the usual local pub stage set up, some tatty draped curtains, crap lighting and nothing much else. Thankfully this is not what the crowd is here to see, after all everyone knows the gentle and extreme talent of Perfume Genius that doesn’t require any frills.  Hadreas politely steps on stage to an excited and mixed crowd in a black dress, fishnet stocking, what appeared to be sparkling shoes. There are few word exchanged early in the set as Hadreas strolls around the stage passively singing tracks from his first two albums, including opening song My Body, Take Me Home and 17.

Perfume Genius latest album was his tipping point for a little more commercial exposure and although tonight there were many die-hard fans, dressed to show allegiance to their idol and for many of us, including me, Perfume Genius really hit home with the release of Too Bright. The songs played from his latest album were a real stand out in terms of their live sound, full and compelling. Grid, wipes the stage clean of all its sadness and reflection, with its pulsating synth sounds, Hadreas stalking the stage while a sample banshee screams in the background.  Brilliant stuff, the audience changes its sway to a pulse. The soulful sounds of single Fool, is beautiful and smooth, it shows a direction in style that Id love to see Perfume Genius take, slightly more commercial friendly but so addictive in melody.

Focussing much of the set on older material to the delight of the crowd, closing song and most popular single Queen powers out through the speakers with such ferocity and attitude, it confirms Perfume Genius as an artist like no other.  He is striking, unique and intriguing to watch.

The crowds cheer and applause invites the band back on stage for four final tracks one being All About, that again has Hadreas back on his keyboard where he seems most comfortable, its touching, sad and just beautiful to listen to and after closing track Katie comes to end, a respectful bow and gratifying wave from Hadreas and band ends the night in a perfect way.