Can we just get this out of the way at the beginning: Save the Tivoli! This wonderful venue is currently the subject of a planning application to turn it into apartments. While acknowledging that the country is in the middle of a housing crisis, cultural facilities such as the Tivoli Theatre should not be the sacrificial lamb.
It was also the perfect setting for Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, to demonstrate his baroque indie stylings. Touring on the back of his fourth critically acclaimed album (no comma missing there – all four albums have been critically acclaimed), ‘No Shape’, Hadreas bewitches his rapt audience with slinky dance moves punctuated by stark moments of vulnerability. Otherside demonstrates both of these qualities, with its verse of a simple descending piano motif met with full aural assault in each chorus and delivering a gut punch each time.
Wearing gold trousers and a white vest, Hadreas breaks out moves last seen in a Christina Aguilera video from 2002 and the crowd love every wiggle and strut. Wreath, also from the new album, gets a big response and its a cappella ending is impressive. This is followed by Just Like Love, after which Hadreas announces there will be a slow set of sorts. This sees him dive back to second album ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ and pick up the guitar for Normal Song and sit astride the piano for Dark Parts. The silence that meets these quieter songs is nothing short of remarkable: you can actually hear the click of the smoke machine.
It’s a feature of the music of Perfume Genius that most of his songs are very short – his back catalogue contains only four songs which breach the four-minute mark. While this is generally a good thing – Hadreas doesn’t beat around the bush or delay the payoff unnecessarily – there are certain songs that you wish went on a bit longer, particularly live. Songs like All Waters and Hood get away with being two minutes long because of their simplicity but others, such as Grid, with Hadreas’ guttural shrieks nearly shattering nearby glass, are so good you wish they could go on for longer.
He channels Prince on the seductive falsetto of Die 4 You before the pounding Slip Away gives way to a short interval and the encore. If there’s one criticism to be levied it’s that when the plinky-plonky piano-driven songs from the first two albums are played one after the other they can be a little tiresome, as is the case for the encore. All is forgiven when they end with the brilliant Queen. “No family is safe when I sashay” goes the line. You can sashay all you want pal. This was superb.