Gig review: Perfume, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 5 July 2013

Well I’ve never been to anything quite like that… true, I am free to throw out hyperbole like it’s going out of fashion because I really haven’t been to a mid-sized gig before, but don’t let that fool you. Perfume – one of Japan’s biggest pop/dance acts – took the unusual step of taking their “World Tour 2nd” to Europe for the first time, something practically unheard of with acts of their standing.

BObkdEYCEAElvxF.jpg largeTrue, why would they bother? The British charts’ involvement with Asian-language music begins and ends with Psy, so why not just stick to their power base? Indeed their first ‘world tour’ was a little more local – Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan & Singapore. But still they managed to sell out the 2,000 capacity O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire with adoring fans. So much so that the Empire was an upgraded venue after the O2 Academy Islington sold out in a flash.

So what’s all the fuss about? I’ve been following Perfume for a little over a year now, having seen the video for “Spring of Life” on a flight back from Japan. They also appeared at the ABU TV Song Festival last Autumn, and are currently prepping the release of their fourth big-label studio album “Level 3” (thanks to Derek the comment troll for the semi-correction!).

The girls – A-Chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi – dazzled the crowd in their opening segment, using state-of-the-art LCD projectors and unfolding dresses to create a really superb effect. Perfume are quite heavy on visuals, with dizzyingly complex dance routines to match their giddy dance-pop onslaughts.

perfume gig 1The opening barrage of some of their biggest and newest hits – “Spending all my time”, “Magic of Love”, “Laser Beam” really took the roof off, and showed anyone that the smaller venue was not going to hold one of Japan’s biggest acts back from putting on a visually spectacular show. “Laser Beam” in particular was insane, I love the song anyway, but the visuals really set the whole thing off.

The opening segment was followed by a long – and at time, totally bewildering – chat session with the audience. The girls have limited English, and even roped in a Spanish guy from the audience to translate. For a short gig it did take a rather long portion of the runtime, but if anyone hadn’t been familiar with the girls themselves (as I wasn’t), it was an endearing little encounter and with hindsight it really made the intimate gig that little bit more special.

perfume gig 2After that came a barrage of big hits and fan favourites: “Spring of Life”, “Spice”,  “Dream Fighter”, “Chocolate Disco”, “My Color”, “Electro World” and “Fake It”. I didn’t recognise them all, so I’m excited there are plenty more gems to dig up. I couldn’t even gauge which songs were the big favourites, people seemed to be losing it to most of them.

“Dream Fighter” was a particularly nice moment, as an English translation of the lyrics flashed up behind them. It really underlined how their music has travelled outside Japanese shores and their message is still getting out there despite the language barrier.

An audience participation section to let the girls catch their breath went down well, as well as allowing them to interact with the thousands of viewers watching a live webcast of the gig. After trying with limited success to teach everyone an unexpectedly difficult dance routine, they went for a bit of arm-waving and clapping and a rendition of Queen’s “We will rock you”.

perfume gig 3After “My Color” closed the set, the girls returned for one more song, the audience had the choice of three: “Nee”, “Glitter” and “Love the world”. Fortunately for me, my favourite “Glitter” was picked and rounded off an amazing night. I hope one day the UK finally realises that J-Pop (or any non-English pop really) is as sophisticated as anything we’ve got over here, and being politely condescending to acts from Japan is our loss.

If they ever do this again, I really hope I can be there, otherwise I’m going to have to see them in Japan! Totally lovable girls, amazing songs, brilliant effects. I couldn’t have asked for more!

I’ve reviewed their three main studio albums – “Game“, “Triangle” and “JPN“, as well as “Level 3” single “Magic of Love” and last year’s ABU TV Song Festival. Hope you enjoy them!

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19 Comments

Filed under Music, Reviews

19 responses to “Gig review: Perfume, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 5 July 2013

  1. Jon-Paul

    Good review. One of the first on the web also I think ! iie ne !

  2. but the biggest question is, were you a fish or a chips (ii ne)

  3. Derek

    Hi. If you are going to review Perfume, at least get your facts right. It’s not THIRD LEVEL. The name of their new album is LEVEL THREE. Also, FAKE IT isn’t from their Pre-Tokuma days. It’s a recent single off their LOVE THE WORLD COMPILATION. AND MAGIC OF LOVE may or may not be on LEVEL THREE…they haven’t even announced a track listing yet for it, so for you to say MAGIC OF LOVE is from THIRD LEVEL (lol), it’s not a fact that can be proven.
    It sucks that you were able to go to the concert and enjoy them while so many real Perfume fans like myself couldn’t. Maybe next time they perform and you are thinking about going, you can send me in your place. I’ll write a thirty times better review that’s actually accurate for you. Sound good?

    • Hi there Derek, is this Fan Service (Bitter)?
      Many thanks for your correction on the album title, a simple mistake. Although I’ve since seen it called Level 3 rather than Level Three, but I suppose you wouldn’t be interested in nit-picking like that.
      Hope you get to see Perfume soon, maybe then you won’t have to resort to trolling blog reviews by people who have never claimed to be experts. I’m just enjoying the music, as I hope you can see. That at least sounds good to me!

      • Derek

        I wasn’t “TROLLING” your blog review. I am one of the moderators on the Nocchi facebook and the other moderator posted your review. I figured it was worth checking out. I didn’t mean to offend but can appreciate your sarcasm nonetheless. It’s just infuriating to me being that I’ve followed the girls since 2006 and am definitely and uber fan geek of theirs. An otaku if you will. However I just couldn’t afford going to their Europe concerts. It’s not really a bid deal though because I’ll have money saved to see them in Tokyo for their Christmas shows. I am simply beyond envious of you for getting to go see them before me. It doesn’t seem fair somehow. But whatever…on the brighter side, at least you said you are enjoying their music and if Perfume can reach new people, EVEN YOU Mr.-can’t-do-a simple-Google-search-to-get-his-facts-straight (LOL), then that’s great. In a few years, you’ll be me, I promise lol. Perfume has that kind of effect on their listeners. ps-listen to edge…if you haven’t already. It’s definitely the song that hits home the most I think.

        ps–DUH it’s Level 3, but you obviously didn’t catch my sarcasm by writing it out as LEVEL THREE when you wrote THIRD LEVEL. GET IT NOW?

      • That’s very gracious of you, apology accepted.

        BTW I have listened to “Edge”, and yes it is awesome, I think I blogged about it at some point or another, was really impressed seeing the live performance on Youtube. I’ve reviewed the last three albums so I’m not quite a noob, even if I haven’t clocked as many hours as you.

        Friday night was a late one, so the mistake crept in, I’ve been listening to Ayumi’s “Next Level” a lot this week too, that probably didn’t help.

        Anyway, enjoy the Christmas show, and please chill the fuck out before you poop on the one good thing that happened to me today again.

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  5. Derek

    ALL SMILES MY FRIEND>

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  9. Cait

    I think your facts are still a little confused, even after Derek’s correction (which was admittedly very rude; as another Perfume fan, I’m very sorry you had to deal with that comment!). You repeatedly mention a “messy” career over several labels, but I’m really not sure where you’re getting that from? The songs you call “pre-Tokuma” are all from their nine-year stint with that company before transferring to Universal in 2012. Maybe you got mixed up and thought Tokuma was their current label? Good review of the concert either way.

    • Whoops, thanks for that! Just tried to edit it, though I only really found one bit that said about different labels. Do you mean on any of my other Perfume posts?

      I guess I misunderstood their career a bit, I knew they swapped labels a few times, I got a bit tied up in the dates!

      Anyway, thanks for the correction (and doing it in a much nicer way!). Just going nuts waiting for Level 3 to appear on UK iTunes…

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