You probably didn’t know this, but when I first started gaining interest in idols, I also started listening to Perfume. The first single I remember them releasing (real time) was “Love the World” in 2008. I don’t mention this because I want you to think I’m some Perfume super fan or to make you feel inferior/superior to my fandom. It just helps to know that Perfume have been on my radar for a fair amount of time.
The group stayed in my view for most of this time. Naturally there were ups and downs in my mania. Perfume’s work during this period remained remarkably consistent. As much as I liked “Love the World”, I was and am equally enamored with “Spring of Life“, “Nee“, and “Fake It“. And, I promised myself that should I ever get the chance to see them live, my head would explode when they performed “Polyrhythm“. I don’t think it’s possible to actually will your head to explode, but between the orgy of lights, sound and the perceptible physical presence of live audio I imagined combustion was a distinct possibility.
So, when the group announced their world tour concerts including a date at the Hollywood Palladium, I was excited! I’ve been going to the Palladium for a long time, and thought it appealing that the same stage where I saw some particularly notable concerts was to play host to one of my favorite Japanese acts. On the appointed day, November 9, 2014, I drove around time to pick up my peeps and made my way to Hollywood. I don’t know what time the queue started forming, but by the time we arrived, the line wrapped around three sides of the block where the Palladium is situated. One of LA’s gourmet food trucks parked itself nearby, so we fed ourselves on Mexican food allegedly fused with Irish fare (mashed potatoes were on the menu).
Fast-forwarding a bit, when we finally entered the venue I didn’t want to make a mistake like with Morning Musume. I skipped the goods line (SHOCK). Instead, I tried to find a place where my friends could see the stage. The Palladium has a wide general admission/standing room floor that I guessed (correctly) would be packed in a way that my 5’1″ friends would not appreciate. This is where experience pays off. For my money, standing at the edge of the short stairs in front of the soundboard affords the best, unobstructed view of the stage. We parked ourselves at this precise location for the duration of the show.
The concert began with a scrim in front of the proscenium on which a short video/light presentation was projected. The show led up to a projected image silhouette of A-chan, Kashiyuka, and Nocchi which, once properly lit, gave way to the actual girls. I loved it. The opening paralleled the same journey most of us made to this concert: visions of the girls as images and electronic transmissions until finally arriving at the “real thing” in front of our eyes. “Enter the Sphere” gave way to “Spring of Life” (close to head explosion), “Cling Cling“, and “One Room Disco” (where my TGS friend’s cranium nearly combusted). As the concert progressed, the light show grew in intensity. About midway through the set, lasers began impressively lighting the Palladium regularly. The onstage cube set pieces became video backdrops, and the edges of the cubes even eventually lit up with colored lights. “Game” nearly sent me into fits, and when Perfume played “Party Maker” my Russian friend’s head damn near exploded. The set closed with “Polyrhythm”, which as predicted melted all of our brains. The seizures continued into the encore set where the intro for “Fake It” was our end. RIP to the Perfume 4.
I didn’t expect Perfume’s lively onstage personality. The language barrier presented a problem, but I think they spoke enough English to get their points across. During one of the MC corners, A-chan took a microphone to an audience member to have her translate. “Arisa” (our audience member/translator) definitely got a story to tell. Of course, Perfume reminded us that since they were visited Los Angeles for the Cars 2 movie premiere, they’ve wanted to perform in Hollywood. Since they almost literally performing under the shadow of the Capitol Records building, I’d say “Mission Accomplished” to that wish. There was also puzzlement about American showers. The girls reacted negatively to the absence of a nozzle hose- how do we get clean without a sprayer? Nocchi (I think- my memory is fuzzy from all the cranial explosions) wondered why our tubs barely fit even a Japanese girl and also encouraged us to use our tubs more often. Finally, A-chan, Kashiyuka, and Nocchi expressed their desire to eat an American cheeseburger. Like good Angelenos, we directed Perfume to the nearest In-N-Out Hamburgers restaurant. In perhaps the most memorable MC, A-chan split the Palladium audience into two sides with the left side chanting “CHEESE” and the right side responding with “BURGER”.
The light/projection show was particularly gorgeous for “SEVENTH HEAVEN”
This is just gorgeous (and remember- for real)
“Dream Fighter” was also memorable as the translation for the song’s meaningful lyrics played on the screens.
Seeing the girls of Perfume from only their PVs, one tends gets an impression of coolness and robotics. If anything, the performance in Hollywood proves that these girls are real, beautiful, and ready to take over the world. Regardless of whether you think the group is simply Japanese girls that sound like vocaloids (I hear that a lot), I find it hard to dismiss their talent. No, they’re not the Western ideal of a talented artist. Perfume’s personality, likeability, synchronization, and genre-splicing music provide the kind of entertainment that isn’t found in Western outlets. I cannot wait until the next time my head explodes!
Set List- Perfume at the Hollywood Palladium 2014-11-09
1. Enter the Sphere
2. Spring Of Life
3. Cling Cling
4. One Room Disco
5. Ijiwaru na Hello
6. SEVENTH HEAVEN
7. Hold Your Hand
8. Spending All My Time
10. Dream Fighter
11. Party Maker
13. Chocolate Disco
15. Fake It
16. MY COLOR