As the trio took to the stage and the crowd went wild, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind as to why Perfume
is one of Japan’s reigning girl groups. Theirs was a slick, polished performance; unnatural-looking dance moves executed with seemingly-mechanical precision, backed by scintillating lightscapes and infectious, well-crafted techno-pop tunes that will live on in your brain as earworms for days. This was sheer entertainment, an aural and visual spectacle that is truly in a class of its own.
The venue chosen for Perfume’s Singapore live on 2 November
—the second stop on their third world tour after Taiwan—was the Resorts World Theatre
on Sentosa island, a much larger hall than the cosy *SCAPE Ground Theatre
(previously known as the *SCAPE Warehouse) where Perfume held their first Singapore live two years ago. Then, some fans had spent hours queuing outside the theatre for tickets only to leave empty-handed, myself among them. Finally watching Perfume live was a dream come true for me.
Ten years has passed in Perfume’s major debut, and the set list reflected this. The band took the 1500-strong sellout crowd through old favourites like Chocolate Disco
to more recent hits like Spring of Life
. Offstage, the fans were good sports, clapping and calling the names of the members—Nishiwaki Ayaka (A-Chan), Omoto Ayano (Nocchi) and Kashino Yuka (Kashiyuka)
—even before they made their appearance.
Photo Credit: Clarence Aw
The girls proved to be experts in crowd engagement, doing their utmost to reach out to the audience despite the language barrier. After doing the usual member introductions in Japanese—‘I’m Kashiyuka!’ ‘I’m A-chan!’ ‘I’m Nocchi’, with the entire hall roaring ‘Together, we’re Perfume!’
in tandem—they repeated it surprisingly well-enunciated English.
‘Thank you for coming tonight!’
greeted A-chan. ‘Hello Singapore! We want to make this show more exciting than the one two years ago!’
Nocchi agreed. ‘I’m happy to come back to Singapore for the second time in this bigger venue!’
Kashiyuka then asked if the audience could understand them better in Japanese (the crowd tried to assure her that Japanese would be alright), but Nocchi decided to attempt MC-ing in English for a while longer.
‘This is Kashiyuka!’
she grinned, gesturing at her band-mate. ‘She has beautiful hair!’
Kashiyuka obligingly turned around swished her shiny waist-length mane as the audience gasped admiringly.
‘Actually I have beautiful hair too, so far as it goes,’
‘Beautiful short hair,’
Two years ago a helpful member of the audience had done a splendid job translating their MCs, so A-chan asked if there was anyone in the audience willing to do the same this time (Singlish would be ok too!). As it turned out, the translator from that very first Singapore live was present at the venue! The crowd encouraged her by cheering loudly as she stepped up to the plate once more.
‘Are you Singaporean?’
A-chan asked, to which the she replied, ‘Yes, I’m Singaporean!’
in fluent Japanese.
A-chan turned to her band-mates, awestruck. ‘She’s Singaporean,’
she repeated in wonderment as the hall erupted in laughter.
A-chan commented that this was the first time in a long while that the fans in the first row were so close to the stage. Earlier, the trio had visited the large Merlion on Sentosa and stood in its mouth, taking many pictures while surrounded by giant fangs! However, A-chan noticed that unlike other carnivores, the Merlion somehow had round fangs. She concluded that they had been worn down by being stroked by so many visitors.
‘The teeth might eventually turn concave someday,’
Nocchi supplied helpfully.
‘In Japan there’s a statue called Billiken, and it is believed that you would get lucky if you rub his foot. So I guess in Singapore, rubbing the Merlion’s teeth will bring you luck,’
A-chan mused. ‘There are three Merlions in Singapore, right?’
(‘There are five!’
shouted a knowledgeable fan near me.)
‘We saw the medium-sized one facing Marina Bay Sands the last time and we didn't see the tiny one, but we got to see the super huge one today! If you have time, go see it! But maybe you already see it all the time.’
(After the concert, the staff revealed that Perfume had originally wanted to travel on the cable car that links Singapore’s main island to Sentosa but could not make it. They spent the hot day enjoying popsicles in the shadow of the towering Merlion instead!)
‘Where’s everyone from?’
A-chan inquired. ‘Singapore? Indonesia? Australia?’
Different sections of the crowd cheered correspondingly. She then spotted an older fan in the audience and said he could sit down and rest if he wanted, but he replied that he was still young and could continue standing with the rest of the crowd.
A-chan explained that they had landed in Singapore just the day before and were recommended to use room service for meals, but the room service menu turned out to be a veritable tome written entirely in English. Fortunately, the Singapore staffs were wonderful and rewrote the entire menu out for them in Japanese, detailing items available for breakfast, lunch and snacks. They were truly touched by this gesture, and hoped to pass on this spirit of joy and gratitude to the audience.
‘We only have a limited time together, but we hope to make people to the very back and the very sides of the theatre enjoy this show!’
shouted A-chan. She then split us into three groups—‘Room’, ‘Ser’ and ‘Vice’
—and together we cheered for Room Service!
And with that, the theatre once again transformed into what felt like a surreal rave party. Perfume made their complex synchronised dance moves look effortless, but it gets even more impressive when you realise anew that they are executing them in high heels under dazzling lights.
Photo Credit: Esther Tay
It was soon time for the PTA (‘Perfume to Anata’, or ‘Perfume and You’) Corner
, where it was our turn to shine. In A-chan’s words, ‘Let’s go go go go!’
This segment of the concert called for more audience participation, so the members of Perfume taught us dance moves, including one they named ‘Merlion’
! And my view quickly became partially obscured by a thicket of waving arms.
‘Ganbare! (Keep it up!)’
A-chan shouted. ‘You guys are better than Taiwan! Are your arms tired?’
We nodded, but she made us continue as they began singing a song about brushing teeth (‘This is J-Pop,’
she told us in all seriousness. ‘Brush your teeth, okay?
). She also asked to try shouting ‘Inaho’
—which we apparently couldn't pronounce properly—along with them (‘”Inaho” equals “Rice”!’). However, the highlight of this segment was undoubtedly the girls’ rendition of Let It Go
(from the Disney movie Frozen
), and they remained in character even after the music ended.
‘Elsa, please don’t shut me out again!’
Kashiyuka exclaimed. ‘Please don’t slam the door!’
They turned to look at Nocchi, who answered with a bright ‘Hi!’
‘Are you Olaf? Is that a carrot?’
asked A-chan, pointing at her nose.
Before we knew it, the last song was over and the girls thanked us yet again, but they had barely left the stage when the crowd began a coordinated chant for the encore.
As arranged by team prfm Singapore, the fans welcomed Perfume back for the encore set by waving circular blue fans (perhaps the pun was intended) which depicted—most appropriately—the members with a large Merlion wearing a Perfume t-shirt. In turn, the band thanked the fans for passing them t-shirts at the airport, and for the large pink message boards they had filled with well wishes before the live began.
‘Encore ok? Let’s go! Room service! SINGAPORE!’
The crowd responded with a rousing cheer.
‘Thank you so much!’
said A-chan. ‘This song is the last song. When I say “Se, no!” put your hands up like this. Are you ready? We have one chance! One heart! Se, no!’
We danced together for the final song of the night. As the strobe lights dimmed and the music faded to deafening applause, the three members of Perfume lined up to take the final bow.
‘Thank you for understanding our Japanese,’
said A-chan in English. ‘I don't know if you understand everything. But we feel the music. And passion. And we will never forget. Thank you for your love! Please keep loving Perfume!’
‘Soredewa, Perfume deshita! (And so, this has been Perfume!)’
the three girls chorused, bowing amidst raucous cheers. ‘Thank you very much!’
Perfume World Tour 3rd will continue in Los Angeles (9 November), London (12 November) and New York (15 November)
. This tour marks Perfume’s debut performance in the USA.