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Review: Perfume Genius @ The Haunt, 26/11

You know how we’re all supposed to have one word (or three) at the ready to describe ourselves with in job interviews and the like? Well, if Perfume Genius were to ask for help with his, I’ve got his back. Mike Hadreas’ show is ‘dainty’ at it’s utmost. A dainty man sashaying through dainty melodies in front of a dainty crowd.

Lights beam lilac and blue on The Haunt’s stage after Love Inks’ supporting set. Then, quietly at first, the sunken beats of ‘My Body’ start to thud, and after a few tempos Perfume Genius walks up before us. Nails glistening red, hair gelled back, his stance is slightly timid – he smacks his lips and rocks from one leg to another as the bass hums before swinging both arms up to the standing mic. His trembling hands have me wary before every high note, but he hits them with smooth precision. The sound is just as clear as it was on the record.

By the third track, he’s behind his nordpiano2, tapping away the delicate chimes of ‘Dark Parts’ and ‘Look Out, Look Out’ with patent clarity. But as the song ends, the noise of yatter in the back seems to be building. Someone yells forward ‘we can’t see you!’ to which he half-smiles but keeps his eyes on the keys and says: ‘Oh, that’s because I’m sitting down.’ The crowd giggles. ‘Gonna start here at front then move on to everyone else. It’s cool when I stand up too! You’ll like it.’ – he adds. There you go: a dash of dainty humour.
Apart from a few more of these intermezzos though (like when after rocking back-and-forth all through ‘Grid’, he explains how he gets told off for ‘Mom-dancing’ all the time but doesn’t care because ‘Mom’s are cool’), he stays perfectly composed, only glancing up from under his lashes when someone lets rip a real scream d’adoration. Of course, there’s plenty of love on stage as well; his partner and collaborator Alan Wyffels (on supporting synth) can barely take his eyes off Mike throughout the show.

Genius’ performance isn’t as heart wrenching as it used to be; there are no no teary eyes to be seen in the crowd. Despite his signature modesty, the new album’s teasing ‘Queen’ is present on stage – which broadens the spectrum of his relatability, while still leaving it possible for me to carry out my one-word complex on him successfully. A rarity! Got me right out of deadline-season flux.

 

Gabriella Gal

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