From insecurity to defiance – Perfume Genius encapsulated what it means to be bold

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From insecurity to defiance – Perfume Genius encapsulated what it means to be bold


Touring in support of his latest album No Shape, Hadreas has achieved the unlikely in bridging a musical space that is somewhere between Sufjan Stevens and Arca. With No Shape, which many considered to be one of the strongest albums of 2017, Hadreas’ live show has become one that is much more uplifting while in search of bliss, and Perfume Genius achieved it in droves.

Opening with ‘Otherside’, where the familiar delicate keys of a piano guide Hadreas’ weightless vocals, brought the audience to silence before the song exploded in shimmering shards of deafening noise. Even if you’re familiar with the album and know that this blistering wall of euphoria is coming, it in no way inhibits the rush that it brings. The lyrical themes of the insular, coupled with the mood of ecstasy continued with wonderful renditions of ‘Longpig’ from 2014’s Too Bright and No Shape highlights ‘Wreath’ and ‘Just Like Love’.

The Melbourne Recital Centre initially feels like an unusual space for Perfume Genius to perform in, however the drama of his show and the seemingly effortless nature of his and his band’s performance demonstrate otherwise. This is a venue where the sound is so crisp and visceral that performers cannot hide. In the case of Perfume Genius, they stand proudly and boldly and perform with such emotional resonance that they turn this theatre into a queer space wholly their own.

Perfume Genius’ earlier work is well represented here as well, where the powerful ‘Grid’ and ‘My Body’ both built drone-like melodies reaching almost terrifying climaxes, particularly with the former, where Hadreas’ shrill screams left members of the crowd slightly disorientated. These moments of intensity where juxtaposed with glassy piano ballads – revealing that fragility exists in multitudes. Hadreas’ delicate demeanour makes you contemplate him while silence fills the venue in between songs, however when he is performing, Hadreas postures and gyrates like a rock star.

Closing with queer anthem ‘Queen’, Hadreas ripped out his earpiece and lost himself in his performance, sauntering and twirling around the stage. The crowd got to their feet and sang the ever iconic line “No family is safe when I sashay” alongside him as he revealed to us who he really is, an incredibly talented, boldly queer man who has journeyed his way to get to this point – a moment of freedom.