Gig review: Perfume Genius

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.
Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genuis. Picture: Creative CommonsMike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genuis. Picture: Creative Commons
Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genuis. Picture: Creative Commons

Perfume Genius

CCA, Glasgow


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.

Hide Ad

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