PERFUME Genius is the fragrant moniker of Seattle-based solo musician Mike Hadreas, a singer with a flawless falsetto, an appreciation of dynamics and drama but, as yet anyway, a very unassuming stage presence.
His choirboy vocals, androgyny (well, he was wearing nail varnish if that counts), lyrical intimacy and vulnerability and chamber pop style and set-up with primarily piano backing are reminiscent of Antony & the Johnsons minus the mannered vibrato, and with ambient guitar distortion in place of a string section.
A drummer and keyboard player completed his backing band line-up, their contributions subtly and judiciously employed across a range of material. Hadreas mustered moments of angst and greater intensity during this set but also varied the tone with breathy ballads and carefree romantic throwback pop.
However, apart from a twinkling duet at the piano with his keyboard player and a brief shoulder shimmy during the main set’s melodramatic climax, enhanced with fuzz bass and pounding keyboard chords and drums, Hadreas proved to be a rather apologetic performer, not one for eating up the limelight and lacking the charisma you might expect from such a talented musician.
Once the novelty of this audacious voice emanating from an ordinary chap subsided, the show was a little underwhelming, although his spare, sincere, tremulous cover of Bright Eyes in the encore was a real treat – wonderfully unexpected, despite his vocal similarity to Art Garfunkel.
Seen on 01.09.14