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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu February 24, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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ありがとう@pamyurin。とっても楽し方! ロンドンはキャリーに大好きだ ^^ #kyary #kpp

Two weeks ago Harajuku superstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu played in London. As I often say on this blog, it’s rare that any Japanese music comes to the UK so when a pop culture phenomenon who’s riding high in the Japanese charts comes to town, we’re in for an extra special treat.

In all honesty, I hadn’t heard of Kyary up until a few months ago, when a friend asked on the morning of the ticket sales if I was going. I bought one on a whim, figuring a) it’d be fun at least and b) I’m liable to like anything produced by the inimitable Yasutaka Nakata, the man behind my favourite group Perfume.

Kyary burst onto the scene just a few years ago. A fashion blogger big in Harajuku, her sense of style got her a string of modelling gigs and her personality brought her to the attention of Nakata. The unforgettable PONPONPON followed in 2011 and a music star was born. Within a year she’d released her first album, had a string of hit singles and played a sell-out gig at Nippon Budokan. And in 2013, way ahead of most Jpop artists, she’s on a world tour.

Kyary’s music is pure electropop – a mix of the best electrobeats of Perfume with a hint (but not too much) of wholesome idol goodness. It very much reminds me of Tomoko Kawase’s Tommy February6 in her heyday, the kind of tunes that sweep you up in sugar-rush joy and brainwash you with catchy, repetitive beats and lyrics.

I can only describe it as pure fun, and the 800 people at the O2 Academy in Islington, London agreed. They braved the snow to queue outside in advance and pose in their vibrant Harajuku fashions, wave their banners and shout “KYARY, WE LOVE YOU!!!!” for the Japanese TV and newspaper crews and slightly alarmed Islington residents. They all had to be mostly running on adrenaline and sugar, as, somewhat unusually for a British gig there was a strict alcohol ban for under-25s. Between that and most of the gig-goer’s curfews (from what I could gather from eavesdropping), the Academy wasn’t exactly going to make its money from drinks sales.

The gig itself was great fun. No support but a full 1h 45mins, so reaching the length of a proper Japanese live (I had worried it might be cut to suit more ‘British’ length gigs). Following an hour standing around listening to nothing more than the tin tune background music, Kyary arrived on stage to the overture from the Pamyu Pamyu Revolution album accompanied by four dancers – two male and two female – in brightly coloured leotards and Kato masks. Like four puppets on acid they accompanied all of Kyary’s mad and enthusiastic moves and made for an entertaining spectacle. Here’s a few clips my friend not-so seruptitiously filmed (they asked for no photography, as they do in Asia, but THIS IS ENGLAND).

Given that she’s been around less than 2 years, Kyary exhausted almost her entire repertoire, bar maybe her cover of Capsule’s Jelly. The organisers wisely interspersed the live singing with a few rest interludes of chat (with the help of an interpreter), mad Japanese videos – one Kyary history for anyone (like me) who somehow ended up at the gig without knowing her whole story and a compilation of her mad web TV show – and, for my second Nakata-produced gig in a row, a crazy interlude with a man in a giant animal suit.

うさぎうさぎ大きなうさぎ#pamyrin #kpp #kyary

Before the gig, I’d worried I wouldn’t know enough of the songs, but as my friend pointed out to me, it’s not as if the lyrics are that complicated. Besides, the energy is more than enough to carry you through.

Of the tunes, I’m a huge fan of Furisodeshon, which captures the pure joy of turning 20 (an ‘adult’ in Japanese terms) and the unbelievably catchy Candy Candy. But really, all of her tunes are ace, as are their crazy PVs.

I left a confirmed Kyary fan with a CD copy of Pamyu Pamyu Revolution fresh from the merchandise stand. Thankfully, her music is also fully available in the UK iTunes store, so do give it a try. If it’s pure Jpop joy you’re after, you can’t go far wrong with Kyary.

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