Perfume LIVE: a dream come true November 29, 2012Posted by ayasawada in Music.
Tags: Jpop, Music, Perfume
On Saturday night, something I never thought would happen happened: I saw my favourite jpop group live. And it was a miracle that I got to be there.
I’ve been a massive Perfume fan for 3 years. But living in London, I accepted long ago that I would probably never see any of my favourite jpop acts live. It’s rare enough that any of them play outside of Japan, let alone make it all the way to UK shores. And even if some do, all-female pop groups aren’t generally at the head of the queue.
I was therefore excited to hear the news of Perfume’s first “world tour”, but somewhat disappointed to discover that it was actually more of an Asian tour. I was due to be on holiday in Malaysia at roughly the same time period, but my hopes were dashed when I failed to secure tickets to any of the 4 gigs through the online ballots, which quickly sold out anyhow.
Shoganai, I thought. I was thankful to already be going to Anime Festival Asia (AFA12), with its 3 nights of jpop live goodness attached to the weekend (blog post to follow). Little did I know the best was yet to come.
To my surprise, Perfume had a booth at AFA12 (part of their PR agency, Amuse’s promotional presence at the show). Of course, I took the opportunity to buy some merch and was walking happily away from the stand when the cashier ran after me. Why? To hand me a prize draw ticket that came with each purchase. The prize: the last 5 tickets to the Perfume Singapore live.
Now, I’m not a big believer in luck in lotteries, and by this point my flight back home was already fixed for before the date. So I have to admit, I dismissed the whole idea. I even forgot about the draw, but I happened to pass the booth at the right time the next day following an autograph session. Hearing Spending All My Time blaring, I remembered my ticket and thought, what the hell. Maybe I’ll get a towel or something as a mini prize.
I was second in line to draw from the box. And wouldn’t you know it – I won. I was flabbergasted. One part of my head was already spinning, processing the logistics of begging the boss for extended holiday leave, flight changes, hotels and getting back to Singapore. But the other part had already floated to Cloud 9. Even if I had to do the crazy thing and go home to London then fly back to Singapore a few days later, I wouldn’t have missed this. Fate had intervened to present possibly my only chance to see my favourite group live and in a venue far more intimate than the stadiums they’re used to playing now.
Love the world
Luckily everything worked out and just 2 weeks later I was back at the SCAPE Mall, Singapore (also home to the Singapore AKB48 cafe!) with hundreds of other Perfume fans, and not just from Singapore. There were folks from Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, one girl came all the way from Perth, Australia, and I even met another guy from North London! We’d all thought the same thing: this might be our only chance, so grasp it with both hands.
It was crazy, but heartening to see so many peers. Up until then I’d met a total of 2 other Perfume fans in real life. But now I could talk A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka and other jpop trivia with likeminded souls, while queuing to get our hands on the usual overpriced gig merchandise (of course I bought some. I even got a tour T-shirt that was 2 sizes too small for me because it was the last one and I wanted to frame it :P).
One Room Disco
And so to the gig itself. Our kind host, Amuse’s Paul Tsu, met me and my fellow winners promptly at 5 to give us our tickets. And he had further good news: not only would we not have to pay anything (previously we’d been told we’d merely secured purchasing rights to the tickets) but he would also allow us into the general standing area ahead of the queues so we could secure a decent spot. パールさん本当にありがとうございました！
We nabbed a great spot, front-centre of the general area with a fence to lean on. I estimated we were less than 10 metres from the stage – an extraordinary proximity, which meant we saw everything and could easily make out their faces when they came on stage. The whole venue was so tiny, making for a really atmospheric gig populated by just a few hundred hardcore fans.
I was astounded at how efficient everything was – doors opened at 6.30pm, warm-up videos at 6.45 and the girls were on by 7. No hours of standing around while everyone around you gets drunk on overpriced lager (UK style). No pushing and shoving, just clean fun.
The warm up Perfume memories videos were great, a bunch of slightly random homage videos featuring CGI idols, sumo wrestlers and random animals dancing to the tune of Perfume.
And as the last one finished, the room went black and the girls exploded on stage. And everybody lost it.
To say this was the greatest live experience of maybe my entire life wouldn’t do it justice. Imagine the pure joy of seeing artists you admire performing right there in front of you, people you never imagined you’d ever get to see with your two eyes and in some ways seemed to only exist in the digital world. And for them to prove every bit as good as in their edited live DVDs. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief and thought, “this must be what it felt like when the Beatles visited Japan”.
The show itself was full of amazing laser lights, transforming screens and incredible choreography, pulled off thanks to the girls’ sweat and tears (literally – we were close enough to see!). They played practically all the fan favourites. The setlist:
1. NIGHT FLIGHT
5. Spending all my time
6. love the world
～ Butterfly ～
9. Dream Fighter
～ P.T.A.のコーナー ～
10. FAKE IT
1. Spring Of Life
3. My Colour
In-between there was plenty of the chatter we’re familiar with from the live DVDs. A-chan gave some fine words about their first tour experience outside of Japan, how changing record companies to Universal finally allowed them to reach out to their global fanbase, their joy at Polyrhythm getting used in Cars 2, and their “surprise” that so many people knew them outside of Japan (I’m sure they weren’t really so naive about imports and the internet….).
She also expressed their joy and surprise at how many fans had turned up to welcome them at the airport despite it being the ungodly hour of 5am. Especially pleasing was how she said they weren’t normaly supposed to accept gifts and shake hands with fans, but they were so overjoyed that they made an exception! Well done to the Perfume Singapore Group for organising that, the similar send off, the acapella Polyrhythm serenade encore encore and the mass post-gig fan trip out for hawker food. Also well done to fan group member Sakuya Ume for doing as sterling job as A-chan’s impromptu Japanese-English translator (yes, I was jealous!).
Elsewhere at the gig, PTA corner saw a special version of the crowd game with the teams of “Ma”, “Lai” and “On” (Merlion – ha!) and the usual “guru guru, ton ton, yoko” dance-along routine (so glad I learnt that from the last DVD and had a reasonable grasp of Japanese! ). It certainly brought me a lot of joy to take part in the “Danshi! Joshi!” call, and made me laugh when A-chan included “megane” “contact” and “natural” in keeping with their Singaporean observations. And yes, they, like all the Japanese celeb visitors I saw at AFA12, pronounced themselves big fans of chicken rice.
We went all rock (or rather “lock”) with a short rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You, but the real random moment came midway through the encore when they announced a special guest. Nakata for sure, I thought, only for it to be…. Doraemon. Yes, you read that right: Doraemon, the anime character. It seems their next single will be the theme tune to the new Doraemon movie. It was a cute skit though, and the man-in-suit was particularly amazing as the suit had moving eyes facilitating different facial expressions!
And all too soon it was over. We were honoured with one of A-chan’s famous tears of happiness speeches. And as a special treat for this, the last leg of their first world tour, they finished up with a bonus song, ‘My Colour’. It’s one of my favourites, all about wanting to share your exuberant self with the one you love. It couldn’t have been more appropriate. In my saddest state on the coldest and wettest of London nights, I’m always buoyed by the positive energy of Perfume’s songs. And now I have memories of a live to keep me smiling forever.