Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Top 15 Perfume Lives

As you all know, I'm kind of a huge fan of Perfume.

Okay, that's an understatement. I'm a really huge fan of Perfume! They're my favorite J-pop group and overall one of my favorite artists too. I love their songs, the girls' personalities, their dances, their PVs, their history, and you guessed it, their lives. Perfume holds some of the most captivating and interesting live concerts that I've ever seen from an artist. "But Nia!" the hypothetical you cries out "You haven't even seen Perfume perform live! How could you possibly do an entire post on your favorite Perfume lives!?" Well... yes, it's true that I've never seen Perfume live and I probably never will, considering I live in the Southern United States. For a long time, I was extremely sad that I would never be able to see Perfume live but over time, I've accepted it. Besides, Perfume's such an awesome group that even seeing their lives from a computer screen is fun. Not a lot of artists can hold my attention like that but Perfume does! Perfume's lives are always top-notch and they seem to get better year by year. A lot of my favorite lives have been from the Tokyo Dome concert, the ⊿ Tour, and even the JPN Tour had some breakout moments. Every year, it seems like Perfume's lives get more intricate and more complex and they show you just how far they've come as a group. I think even someone who's not a fan of Perfume can appreciate the sheer time and effort put into making their concerts memorable. They're stocked with stunning visuals, loads of audience participation, amazing dances, emotional MCs, brilliant medleys, engaging specials, everything I love about Perfume only live! So to show that yet again Perfume is awesome and will enhance your life, I've compiled a little list of my personal favorite live performances by the techno trio!

15. Macaroni - Budokan 2008

Macaroni's one of the slowest songs by Perfume; don't get me wrong, it's good but I always wondered just how Perfume would perform it. Would there even be a dance? Because the PV just consisted of the girls wandering around a city filtered by Instagram. Well, it turned out that Macaroni did get a dance at the 2008 Budokan concert and the girls used the classic microphone stand and incorporated them into the dance! I actually really like this dance a lot even if it's one of the less complicated dances Perfume's handled before. It's just very cute, almost idol-y, with simple hand motions and slow pacing to match the steady tempo of the song. There's just something very genuine about this live of Macaroni and I can't really put my finger on what. The girls just seemed really relaxed and really happy when they were performing this song. It's definitely one of the slower-paced lives but honestly, I like its slow pace a lot. A majority of Perfume's lives are usually very high energy so it's always nice to calm things down with a slower paced song like Macaroni, Negai, 575, or even Toki no Hari. The tone and pacing of the live perfectly matches the tone and pacing of the song, and I get that same nostalgic and lounge-y feeling when watching the live that I do when listening to the song! My favorite part of the live is when just before the chorus, after Perfume's finished singing the third set of verses, the stage the girls are standing on starts rotating. I absolutely love this effect; it's simple but effective and really mesmerizing to look at. The 575 live at the Tokyo Dome also incorporated the use of a revolving stage so you can just give that live the imaginary #16 spot on the list!

14. JPN Special - JPN Tour 2012

This is kind of like the Perfume no Okite of the JPN Tour. I say that because this is one of Perfume's non vocal lives and is more dance and visual oriented. I will say, I feel like there are more visuals and less of the actual girls which is one of the reasons why I put it lower on the list. I'm serious, the first four minutes of this live, you don't even see the girls. Well... you see them projected on a screen but you don't actually see them until their entrance. Then again, it's a pretty kickass entrance. The screen is shaped like a giant triangle made up of a bunch of smaller shapes and the visuals incorporate even more geometrical shapes and other visual effects. It's very cool to look at and the music provided by Capsule matches the performance perfectly! Perfume doesn't actually show up in the video until about two and half minutes in and then the ultimate Perfume showdown begins! No really, the girls start fighting each other Matrix-style. And if there's something I find entertaining, it's idols beating the crap out of each other! Okay, it's not graphic but it's cool to watch and the visuals only add to the futuristic surreal look of the fight scene. After this there are some more interesting visuals and the finally the real Perfume shows up! Something I always love to watch in Perfume lives is when the girls interact with the visuals and stage and in the JPN Special, you get a lot of interaction between the girls and the visuals. It's very cool to watch, even if it's only made up of special effects. Is it more visuals than actual Perfume? Yes, but the visuals used in this live are pretty intricate and anyone who appreciates special effects can enjoy the JPN Special!

13. GLITTER (Album-mix) - JPN Tour 2012

After seeing the JPN live for Glitter (Album-mix), I think I like it even better than the live of the original Glitter! I mean it, I really wasn't expecting much for the live of Glitter; the dance was fun and the song is amazing but the visual effects for this live were really top-notch. The live consists of lights, lots and lots of lights. From the get-go, you've got streams of light flooding the stadium as the opening notes of Glitter (Album-mix) start playing and then Perfume rises out from below the stage, making for a very epic entrance! The lights are a darker shade of blue, illuminating their shiny new costumes and then the lights focus more on them. I think what I love most about this live is that Perfume gets to interact with the visual effects; I always love it whenever a singer interacts with the stage because it feels so surreal and magical. Yeah, I know it's just special effects but I'd like to pretend that for a few minutes, all the glowing lights are magic. Just let me dream! But yeah, the live has each girl in Perfume standing in their own little section on the stage and it has them interacting with the lights streaming around them; it's a simple effect but when done well, it can look really cool and here it looks completely awesome. The dance is also really cool to watch but then again, Glitter already had a cool dance. I think it was enhanced by the stage though, along with all the visual effects. There wasn't much glitter in the Glitter live, but the stage looked very luminescent! I just overall like the atmosphere of the Glitter live; it's a combination of fantastical and cool, with stellar visual effects combined with an equally stellar song.

12. Polyrhythm - every concert they've done it at

I have yet to meet a Perfume fan who doesn't know this song (and a good majority of fans know the dance too). The only reason I put Polyrhythm so low on the list is because Perfume has done it a lot. If they have a concert tour? Polyrhythm? TV medley? Polyrhythm? TV appearance not promoting a single? Polyrhythm. I always wonder... does Perfume ever get tired of performing Polyrhythm? I've said before how Polyrhythm to Perfume is what Love Machine is to Morning Musume and they pretty much have to perform it at their concerts. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not! Polyrhythm's a good song and was the turning point in Perfume's music career. That being said, it can get old after awhile which is again why it's not as high on the list. But it's still a good song and the dance is one of the most iconic dances from Perfume's discography! The best part of every live is the opening notes of the song when the girls start singing and the crowd just goes wild. And then the chorus kicks in and the girls start that famous Polyrhythm dance and the enthusiasm of the crowd gets even higher. My favorite part of the Polyrhythm live is always when the girls dance to the polyrhythmic bridge; this part of the dance was cut out in the PV, so I always love seeing it performed live because it's awesome. The bridge dance is the best part of the live because Perfume does all these motions in a rapid-fire sequence and it's absolutely awesome to watch. So even though Polyrhythm can get a bit overused, it's a really fun live to watch and the dance is both iconic and awesome!

11. Spending all my time - Summer Sonic 2012

Something that's always impressed me about Perfume's dancing is that most of the time the girls move in a way that makes their dances seem really effortless and easy when really they're complicated as hell. You can best see a demonstration of that complexity in their lives performances of Spending all my time. Now I know that on more than one occasion I've said I'm not a fan of the song but I always try to include that the song is much better to me because of the PV and also the really great dance with it. I really love the dance and I feel like you don't get to see a lot of it in the PV; you get parts of the hand motions and even a few foot moves in the PV but the live is where the dance really springs to life. Get it? Spring to life? Eh heh... anyways! Perfume's always had pretty intricate dances when it comes to their post-major debut songs and Spending all my time is one of the most complex and elaborate dances I've seen from Perfume. I think that's mainly because the moves that A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka do are all separate and different; sometimes the same motions happen at different times or right after one another but they're all pretty much doing three different dances. But those three different dances are like three puzzle pieces and when you put them together, everything fits. Each hand motion blends together and the dance flows so beautifully and the girls make it look effortless when in reality the SAMT dance is complicated. I like the Summer Sonic live especially because it shows the best parts of the dance, with great camera work that really brings this song to life!

10. GAME - Tokyo Dome 2010

Let me just go ahead and say that the Tokyo Dome concert was fucking awesome. Well... I don't know from personal experience, but I can tell that it was fucking awesome, that's how awesome it was! Tokyo Dome is probably my favorite Perfume concert (well... either that or ⊿ Tour) because of all the effort put into making this a memorable live. Every song selection is perfect, the effects are perfect, the girls are perfect (but they always are at lives), this is just a perfect concert with everything fans love about Perfume. It's got light songs, old songs, dark songs, new songs, the setlist is perfect. And one of my favorite performances from Tokyo Dome has got to be GAME. Now GAME had been performed before at both the Budokan in 2008 and also the GAME Tour but I always felt like those lives could have been better if the group had access to a more expansive stage. There was potential for a really awesome live and I felt that with the right atmosphere, GAME could be a really kickass song to perform live. Well, with Tokyo Dome, I got that awesome atmosphere that I was yearning for. What I love about this live of GAME is that Perfume makes great use of the expansive Tokyo Dome Stage. The girls are everywhere starting at different corners, coming to the center and then going back out to their respective corners. The live is completely badass; they have freaking lightsabers! I knew it! The girls are Jedis! So Nakata must be Yoda... But anyways, I love the use of lightsabers for this song and I also love the dance those moving platforms look awesome. It's a kickass live that was really brought to life thanks to the stage the girls performed in!

9. Spring of Life - Kouhaku Uta Gassuen 2012

Light. Up. Dresses. That alone could make for an awesome live! I've said before on numerous occasions how I think Perfume's light-up dresses used for Spring of Life are completely and totally awesome and probably the best costumes they've ever had. And live, they look even better; I love seeing Spring of Life performed live just so I can see these light-up dresses in action! But I think the best live of Spring of Life was at Kouhaku Uta Gassuen. Perfume had hinted that their Spring of Life performance was going to be pretty kickass, and luckily they did not disappoint! I think of all the times Perfume has been to Kouhaku now, Spring of Life has got to be my favorite Kouhaku performance of theirs. What makes this live stand out from the other SoL performances is the sheer amount of visuals gone into this one; not only do the girls look great in their light-up outfits (I really love the outfits used for this live) but the other visual effects are top-notch. The stage at Kouhaku is really expansive and has this kind of arc-shape and that allows a lot of possibilities for visual effects! From three sides you have a myriad of different visuals, from geometric lighting effects to giant images of Perfume dancing (think Perfume on Okite with light-up dresses) to even the stairs getting their own visuals. The stage looks almost futuristic with all the stuff going on in it and Perfume fits perfectly with the background. Every time I watch this live, I never really know where to look; I want to look at everything but I try to focus on Perfume. The Spring of Life Kouhaku is absolutely breathtaking thanks to all the different visuals and of course, those flipping awesome light-up dresses!

8. Perfect Star Perfect Style - Tokyo Dome 2010

Let me just go ahead and say that Perfect Star Perfect Style is a great live at any of the concerts but for me, the Tokyo Dome performance has always been my personal favorite. I think the nostalgia factor is what plays into why I like this particular live of Perfect Star Perfect Style. The song itself was recorded for their best-of album in a very uncertain time for Perfume during which the group didn't know if they were going to be dropped by their label or not. They had yet to have a breakthrough hit and the girls themselves were so unsure if their future as a group that they enrolled in universities in case Perfume didn't work out. The lyrics also carry a theme of saying goodbye, almost as if Perfume was singing goodbye to their then-small fanbase. The girls had always dreamed of performing at the Tokyo Dome so to be standing on that stage, ten years later singing a song that they thought would possibly be the last Perfume song ever is a very heartwarming moment. What I really love about this performance is how genuinely happy A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka look; my only criticism of the Tokyo Dome concert was that there were a lot of parts in the concert where the girls looked really nervous. But then again, if you were performing in the venue of your dreams, I think you'd be a little nervous too. When they get around to performing Perfect Star Perfect Style, they all look really relaxed and really happy; you can really tell how much it means to them to be performing in such a prestigious revenue and for that reason, this live always puts a smile on my face.

7. Take me Take me - GAME Tour 2008

One of the selling points of Perfume is that they're not really what you'd call "sexy" and don't rely on fanservice (at least the conventional kind) to gain fans. At the most, Perfume is sensual, and it's only every so often the fans see the sensual side of Perfume. But when they're sensual, boy are they sensual. If I were to make a list of the Top 15 Most Sensual Perfume Dances, Take me Take me would without a doubt be number one. If you're a fan, you should already know that the vague English lyrics have enough undertones to be a sensual song and the dance successfully conveys the lyrics in a tasteful manner. There's no chest-thrusting or hip shaking in this song (not much anyways...) but instead there are slow and deliberate moves. I think it was a genius idea to do a chair dance to Take me Take me and the use of the chairs and the dance convey that "take me tonight" feeling the song has. It's a very intimate and sensual song and the dance and the setting of this live really add to those feelings. With the smaller stage and the closer audience, the GAME Tour live feels just as intimate as the song does; I didn't get that same intimacy with Budokan's live of Take me Take me, although it was still very good. With dim lighting, the up-close and intimate shots, and the most sensual choreography Perfume has ever danced to, the Take me Take me live is a compelling live and not just because of Kashiyuka's legs.

6. Secret Secret - Tokyo Dome 2010

I have two favorite parts in this song: the opening and the bridge. For starters, Secret Secret opens the Tokyo Dome concert; the very first Perfume song all 50,000 of those fans packed in that venue hear is Secret Secret. And I couldn't have picked a better song.  Secret Secret has always been one of my favorite Perfume songs, so much that I think it could have held up as a single on its own. It's one of the Perfume songs that's really suited for lives with a stellar opening and even more stellar dance. I think that's always what I love about Secret Secret live; the opening really comes to life! At the start of the Tokyo Dome concert, there's this huge tent-shaped drop-cloth obscuring Perfume and only projecting giant shadows of each girl. The opening notes start and you can hear how psyched the crowd is; even I got psyched sitting in my desk chair in front of a computer screen. Then the drop-cloth falls and the girls spring into that awesome dance and the music gets even louder as the song goes on. The feeling when the girls start performing at Tokyo Dome is totally exhilarating and I can only imagine how it exciting it must have been for someone at the concert. My other favorite part of this live is the bridge of the song, thanks to the outfits the girls have on. When the bridge starts, the lights get dim and their outfits glow and it looks absolutely cool. Okay, the outfits aren't quite as cool as Spring of Life (but then again, I don't think any other outfits are) but it's still a really cool part of the song! Overall, I love it when Perfume performs Secret Secret and Tokyo Dome was when I felt like they were at the top of their game.

5. What is Disco? - Disco!Disco!Disco! 2009

The first half of What is Disco? is actually a video played at the concert in which there are two Perfumes: the Dark Perfume and the Light Perfume. Dark Perfume summons/kidnaps/creates Light Perfume to discover "What is disco?" and then Light Perfume wanders around trying to figure out just what is disco and much hilarity ensues. I love the little video sketch before the actual live and I think it shows off Perfume's performing skills and the onscreen chemistry they have as both individuals and as a group. The sketch is absolutely fun to watch and a great build-up to the actual live with playful visuals and a lot of great visual humor! The sketch then ends and that's when the live starts and it's a pretty awesome buildup. What is Disco? is actually a medley of Perfume's past songs at the time with a slightly disco remix to the entire medley, hence the title What is Disco? I actually really love the build-up to the medley because I get all excited that Perfume's about to come out and start performing. Baby Cruising Love comes in and from then on the medley is absolutely fun. The songs in the medley range from harder and edgier to cuter and lighter and the transitions are nice and fun, very disco-y! Perfume actually sings a lot of songs that they don't perform live a lot anymore including Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow, Oishii Recipe, Linear Motor Girl and even Sweet Donuts! I always think it's fun whenever Perfume goes back to some of their older songs, and you can really tell how much fun the girls are having interacting with the audience. The older songs, adorable video intro, and the audience are what make What is Disco? my favorite Perfume medley!

4. Summer Night Medley - 2012

I almost forgot to add this live to the list! Can you believe that? I think it's because it's so recent and I was trying to look more for lives from past concerts. But after some speculation, I realized I had to include this live, simply because of the groundbreaking technology used in it. The live is pretty much your standard Perfume medley, with the songs Laser Beam, Spring of Life, Hurly Burly and Glitter all being mixed together but I think any Perfume fan knows what the most breathtaking aspect of this live was: the holograms. This live used holographic images of Perfume and had them perform the dances alongside the real Perfume. You know the only other J-pop artist that's used holographic technology in a concert? Hatsune Miku. And she's not even a real person! Oh yeah, and Tupac Shakur's had a lot of holographic lives but that's off topic. Anyways, I was completely blown away this live. The most amazing thing about the holographic Perfume girls is that they look incredibly lifelike, and it wasn't until the real Perfume came on stage that I was able to really pick out the differences. At first it felt really surreal but the more I watched holographic Perfume, the more entranced I was. Can you imagine just how much time and effort was put into making these holograms look like they were actually there? Holographic effects are more than just projecting an image onto a screen; it's creating something that looks three-dimensional and projecting that into a live setting. I would really love to see this effect used in Perfume concerts in the future, even though I know animating and creating holographic Perfume must be hard. Still, the end result paid off and I absolutely love this live!

3. Perfume no Okite - Tokyo Dome 2010

Sometimes I forget that this entire little sequence is basically the build-up to a costume change. Don't get me wrong, it is a freaking awesome live but I just find it hilarious that the last thing you see before the live ends is the girls shedding their gold coverings to their costumes and re-emerging wearing luminescent green costumes! But enough of the outfits! I mean, the songs starts with giant dancing images of Perfume dancing in synchronization with the much smaller Perfume to this insanely catchy melody. Then each girl punches her real name and birth date on a giant calculator projected onto that same screen. And that's only the first half of the live. After that, each member does their own little segment in the song. First, Kashiyuka dances surrounded by multiple Kashiyukas and who doesn't love multiple dancing Kashiyukas? Then the camera focuses on A-chan who takes out a giant machine gun and proceeds to shoot lasers at balloons, popping them and it's extremely badass. My favorite member bit is when Nocchi dances down the stage; the Tokyo Dome was set up to include the numbers 1-11 to show how the group had released 11 singles at the time of their landmark concert. At each number, Nocchi would do part of one of the dances to each single from Linear Motor Girl all the way to Voice! It was fun figuring out what part of the song she was dancing to and a nice throwback to all the group's past singles! Then the group gather back together, and finishes the rest of the amazing dance. Perfume no Okite really shows off Perfume's movement and dancing and it's one of the coolest non-vocal lives they've done.

2. edge (⊿-mix) - ⊿ Tour 2009

There are several reasons why edge (⊿-mix) is my favorite Perfume song and this live's one of them! Here's a little fun fact about edge (⊿-mix): it runs for 8 minutes. That's almost 10 minutes of a procession of choreographed moves that have to be carried out with absolute precision otherwise the whole dance will collapse in on itself. Luckily, Perfume pulls it off astoundingly well, executing each move with military-like precision then smoothly advancing into the next portion of the dance. It probably helps that edge (⊿-mix) is my number one Perfume song ever made but among the reasons it earned that title is because the live is so mind-blowingly awesome. Everything is at the top of its game: the lighting, the effects, the videos, the dance, the girls, and all that combined. Even if you're not a fan of Perfume, I still think you can appreciate the effort put in from Nakata, Mikiko, the girls, and everyone else behind this. It's so good that it made me feel like I was at an actual concert despite the fact that I was watching it on a computer screen. It just takes me into this surreal world of Perfume and then by the time those 8 minutes are done my mind is blown. There is so much going on in this live from the compelling dance that ranges from frantic and fast-paced to slower and melancholic to the visual effects, like the boxes the girls stand on at the beginning and the use of the screens to show a hologram version of Perfume. I think the choreography and the visuals in this live match the feelings of the song perfectly and the live of edge (⊿-mix) is something I can watch over and over again.

1. Any time they sing live

For the record, Perfume is perfectly capable of singing live. A lot of their songs just happen to be Vocoded and Autotuned to hell so if Perfume were to sing some of these songs live, they wouldn't sound anywhere near as good as the originals. Even so, what Perfume lacks in live singing they make up for in their intricate choreography, awesome visual effects, audience participation, and the girls' own vibrant personalities. But just because Perfume lip-syncs most of their songs when it comes to their live performances doesn't mean that there aren't some songs that they perform. Jenny wa Gokigen Naname is one of the group's oldest songs that's sung live and it's pretty much a staple at concerts now. Other audience participation songs like Perfume are also sung live and even a few songs off JPN were sung live during their JPN Tour. At first, putting Perfume's live singing as my favorite Perfume live might seem like a weird choice. It doesn't really have any of the qualities I value in Perfume concerts: the dances are usually much simpler, the visual effects (if any at all) are pretty toned down, and as much as I hate to admit it, Perfume aren't the best live singers in the world. Don't get me wrong, they're still really good, but I've heard better live singers. I think what I love most about Perfume's live singing is that we don't get to hear them sing live often, so when they do, it's a happy surprise! The girls' raw vocals just carry more earnestness than their Autotuned and recorded vocals and you can tell how much fun the girls have when they get to sing live. I love it when they sing live and the happy surprise that comes with it!

If you're new to Perfume, I highly recommend checking out any of these live performances. Actually... just check out Perfume's live concerts in general. They're quite the spectacle to see and one of the many amazing aspects of Perfume (and proof that Perfume really will enhance your life!).



    Excuse the fanboy moment, but I do agree that their vocals aren't exactly stellar compared to most artists (maybe except A~chan, 'cause her voice is one thing that makes her my favourite <3 ) but their raw voices are a breather compared to most of Nakata's work. Like they say, and for this case quite true, less (visuals, autotune) is more (vocals).

    1. I know, right!? They're living singing is awesome! Even if they're not the best in the world it's still so nice to hear them singe live! And I LOVE A-chan's voice; she's such a strong singer! Sometimes I wish Perfume would hold a concert where they only sang live and it wouldn't have to be their songs that they sang! They could just cover songs but the whole thing would be live!