Perfume Genius At The Roxy, Sunday October 19th 2014
I was front row at Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius’ concert at the Roxy on Sunday night, and I was totally captivated by his performance… It’s true that Hadreas is a fascinating character whom you can’t detach your eyes from,… his intense blue eyes, when they lay on you, pierce you like lasers and with the help of emotional piano ballads or songs he performs with swagger and a dancing-undulating body, he sucks you in his world of gutsy queens, devastating pain, and fierce sexual affirmation.
When I left the club, I realized I was wearing a Queens of the Stone Age shirt, and I asked myself, how could I possibly love two opposite sides of the male spectrum such as Mike Hadreas and Josh Homme? Sure, there’s queen in QOTSA but you have to admit you don’t feel it too much in the music! As I was surrounded by a lot of young gay guys and girls, I also wondered how could I possibly relate to the world of this fragile and frail guy holding his boyish figure with pride, oddly wearing red lipstick, red nail polish and varnished high-heel shoes… But at the end, honest music is about authenticity, and Hadreas’ music is only concerned with genuineness and sincerity. He was alternatively tragic and melancholic, sad and thoughtful, confident and aggressive, but mostly devastating… Several times during the show, I discretely looked at the young guy who was standing next to me and I saw that he was crying, crying real tears, and it broke my heart a few times… But this is the incredible power of sincere music…
Wearing a black see-through loose sweater and large black pants, Mike Hadreas opened the show with ‘My Body’ and gave the tone right away when he sang ‘I wear my body like a rotted peach/You can have it if you handle the stink/I’m as open as a gutted pig’… He got me ready and also a bit scared. He played his saddest songs sitting behind his piano facing the crowd with a quiet whisper, but he stood up with the mic in one hand, transforming himself into a raging and unstoppable queen during the most electrifying songs of his last album ‘Too Bright’… He certainly showed he could carry the high notes during the cathartic ascension of ‘Fool’, bringing an impressive range of emotions running from anger to pain… it was a totally bipolar performance, but in a very balance way, exploring darkness with a delicate intimacy on piano, then raising hell, putting his body in a tense position, kneeling down during ‘My body’ or bending and making waves with his whole body during the menacing beats of the fantastic, rage-releasing ‘Grid’. Looking at their visible emotions, the guys next to me were probably preferring the quiet and withdrawn moments on piano –although they did cheer uncontrollably during ‘Queen’ – but I was myself greatly enjoying Hadreas’ restless back and forth dance on stage, acting as if he was able to express all his internal anger, at last….
An incredible silence was reigning inside the club, to the point that I was embarrassed when my camera was making this small noise while taking a picture. I was hearing people breathing and I was feeling sorry to disturb this religious silence. Even his three musicians had an amazing restrain while playing, and the drums stayed very quiet most of the time. I was so close that I was almost stepping back at each one of his assaults to the edge of the stage, but I was able to observe his complex facial expressions going from delicate smiles to mouth contortions and painful frowns, a lot was going on deep inside. During these stormy numbers, he was transpiring a mix of strength and fragility, almost grimacing the lyrics out.
He did talk a bit, being funny between songs, but people could hardly hear him (as he noticed), he said at one point it was the biggest show he had ever played in Los Angeles and it was the rare moments when I saw him with a big smile. He covered Mary Margaret O’Hara’s ‘Body’s in Trouble’, and Sade’s ‘By Your Side’ before one of his soulful piano ballad, ‘Dreeem, but he quit the stage with ‘Queen’, the single of his last album, and never sentence like ‘No family is safe when I sashay’ had sounded bolder and more empowering.
He came back for an encore and did a few quieter songs, but it was during the ferocious ones that Mike Hadreas was commanding the place, making his sensitive and dreamy world alive, throwing it at our faces, and triumphing like a gleaming-wrapped-in-golden-leaf queen.
Take me Home
Body’s in trouble
By Your Side