The Code of Perfume puts fans on Love Cloud 9 | A review

Perfume [from left to right: a-chan, Kashiyuka, Nocchi] performing “Flash” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.

When Perfume announced out of the blue that they were doing a gig in London, my whole world froze at a record scratch.

‘Perfume. Doing a show in London!?’.

I was confused. I was excited. I was absolutely livid that Ticketmaster were going to get yet more of my money, mere days after they got money outta me for Beyoncé tickets.

Perfume behind a projection curtain performing “Spinning World” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

Code of Perfume (which they shoulda just called ‘Perfume no Oikte’, fuck the English) was a pleasant surprise after London got ignored for the Cosmic Explorer dates outside of Japan and World Tour 4th. The US dates for Cosmic Explorer really shoulda just been World Tour 4th, with Future Pop being World Tour 5th. But, whatever. And none of these World Tours are even legit ‘world’ tours anyway.

I digress.

Code of Perfume has felt like a long time coming, but also something I feel Perfume kinda owed their UK based fans. But we probably weren’t at the forefront of this decision.

Kashiyuka probably saw there was some ceramist in London who she wanted to eerily stand behind whilst he made ashtrays for Wetherspoons. a-chan probably saw a pretty West London tea shop with a cute floral facade on Instagram that she wanted to go to. And Nocchi just didn’t care. So they thought ‘Well, if we’re gonna be performing for Primavera Sound in Spain and the UK is only a short plane ride away, then we might as well kill a couple of birds with one Game lightsaber’.

It all seemed very last minute. We got no cool performance specific logo. We got an old group visual promoting the whole thing. The merch was an ugly T-shirt and a cap. None of the outfits they wore for the show were new. The venue was the crustiest venue in all of London. But it’s fine. Because Team Perfume actually bothered to make SOMETHING happen. They were performing in London, and I knew they would turn it out. And turn it out they did.

Perfume [from left to right: Nocchi, Kashiyuka, a-chan] performing “Electro World” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

You generally know what you are going to get with Perfume performances, for better or worse. But even so, you still wonder about some things. Seeing the live broadcast for the Primavera Sound show days before gave an insight into what the Code of Perfume performance would probably be. But even so, it was only a glimpse, as their Primavera Sound set was not a full blown headliner style set. Just a small one. Also, the stage was MUCH bigger and it was outdoors.

Because Code of Perfume wasn’t tied to an album, I knew at the very least that the setlist would be good. It would have been easy for Perfume to just give us a scaled down Plasma show, but thankfully they didn’t, because I did not like that setlist for shit. Perfume’s album tours always have wonky setlists, and it’s a mystery to me as to why. But their non album tours and festival setlists always deliver. The ordering of the songs may not always make sense, but the selection of songs is always good and extremely considered; so I knew Perfume wouldn’t steer themselves wrong when it came to the setlist for Code of Perfume.

Perfume [from left to right: Kashiyuka, a-chan, Nocchi] performing “Edge” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

But what I was not prepared for, was for Perfume to put on a show in some crusty ass venue with no creative expense spared. I really should have known better. Because when Perfume performed at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire 10 years ago, they delivered the projection mapped performance of “Spending All My Time” that they debuted at Cannes, and I never thought for a second that they would do it, or that they even could do it there. Trust me when I say that this venue is a shit hole. School theatres and gymnasiums have better space, setups and acoustics.

A long shot of Perfume [from left to right: Kashiyuka, a-chan, Nocchi] performing “My color” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by Jessie Morgan (📷 @jssiemorgan)

It was a shame that Perfume didn’t book a bigger and better venue. I don’t know whether it was due to other venues not being available on the date Perfume wanted, or whether Perfume’s team went small and modest due to not knowing if they could sell tickets. But, Perfume really should have gone with a bigger venue. World Tour 2nd was at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 10 years ago. And then World Tour 3rd was at the Hammersmith Apollo, which was a major upgrade. So to revert back to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire was a real shame. It’s old, quaint and has its charms for sure. And it’s probably moderately priced to book. But it was too small and raggedy of a venue for Perfume at this point in their careers. I have no qualms that they could have sold out twice the seats that they did, because the place was packed out. They had a whole JAL flight full of Japanese fans in the place, and Twitter also revealed to me that Perfume’s older fans have MONEY. (Not me). Because I was seeing some of them flying first class to Barcelona for Primavera, then first class to London and being chauffeured around, then first class BACK to Barcelona for Primavera again, wearing all two pieces of the merch, steaming their Plasma merch in their first class cabin and rolling up in the first class lounges with a LEVEL3 luggage set.

If only Perfume’s team had either tried to secure venues earlier or had more faith in Perfume. They need to really press on the latter, because Perfume and their whole team completely underestimated how many fans they have not just in the UK, but across Europe. They could have done a whole-ass European Code of Perfume tour.

Kashiyuka performing “Flash” at Perfume’s London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by Jessie Morgan (📷 @jssiemorgan)

One thing about Perfume, which I admire now more than ever, is that whilst they continue to be popular, sell out tours, have the budgets and an unparalleled creative team - Perfume always perform as though they are still yet to make it. It doesn’t matter if Perfume are at the Tokyo Dome on hydraulic lifts, a crusty venue in West London, or a stage which is just a scaffold with a board running across it. Perfume will perform their asses off like they are still those girls from the Bee-Hive days trying to get their big break. Perfume could let all of the tech wizardry do the work if they really wanted to, and I don’t think fans would mind if they did, but they never do. And Code of Perfume was a nice balance of showing the showpersonship of Perfume front and centre, whilst also delivering a slick, mind boggling creative package - which was probably one of the most creative shows that the Shepherd’s Bush Empire had seen.

Perfume [from left to right: Nocchi, Kashiyuka, a-chan] performing “Android&” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by Jessie Morgan (📷 @jssiemorgan)

As a fan, one of the cool things about Code of Perfume was the element of not knowing, mixed in with knowing. As soon as I entered the venue and saw the screens on stage, I knew we were going to get some performances from Reframe. When the curtain fell, “∞Loop” started and I saw the projections; I knew we were getting “Spinning World” next. When Perfume came out in the “Polygon Wave” dresses for “Perfume no Okite”, I knew we were getting “Polygon Wave”. When a-chan said ‘Bitch, we are performing a new song’, I choked.

After saying ‘Fuck it’ and surprising audiences with a new song at Perfume Live [Polygon Wave], Perfume may have developed a thing for just debuting new songs at shows, and I hope it’s something they keep doing. Even if they have no idea what the song might be used for or if they’ll ever release it. This makes the song and the moment of them performing it all the more special.

However. And this is a completely separate thing from the show. I do wish Perfume’s team would capitalise more on these songs. “Love Cloud”, much like “Polygon Wave” has cool choreo which is still typical Perfume, but with a funkier, sassier edge, with moves during the chorus which are easy enough to follow. So launching a lil’ TikTok challenge would have been a great way to keep the song in the conversation without releasing the full thing, because “Love Cloud” is so good of a song that it deserves more than just a one-off performance and then nothing. Launching it as some form of TikTok challenge would have also allowed Perfume to somewhat gauge the reaction to the song and decide if it’s something worth releasing. It’s truly the type of song I think Perfume needs at this point in their career, and it’s the perfect song to kick off a new album phase. But even with all of this swirling in my mind, my final thought was ‘They are just gonna make this a B-side’ and nothing else. And that’s exactly what they did. So I guess that’s that.

a-chan performing “Love Cloud”at Perfume’s London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by Jessie Morgan (📷 @jssiemorgan)

The setlist for Code of Perfume was solid. Perfume played all of the songs that you would expect them to at a show like this. We got the hits. We got the ye olde faithfuls. We got a couple of Plasma joints. And of course, the all new song.

Electro World
Laser Beam
Mugen Loop
Spinning World
Perfume no Okite (Atmospheric Entry)
Polygon Wave
Mugen Mirai
Love Cloud
Fake It
Chocolate Disco
My Color

There are a couple of changes I would have made (“Mugen Mirai” in-between “Polygon Wave” and “Love Cloud”!? Ceramic gurl). But on the whole, Code of Perfume had a good setlist with zero duds. And despite not being the biggest fan of “Mugen Mirai”, it is a song that works better live. And we also got the amazing Perfume Live [Polygon Wave] version of the performance with the ghosting visuals.

The only song in the setlist I would have gotten rid of, is “My Color”. Even if Code of Perfume took place during Pride month, I’d still want it gone. I cannot stand this song anymore. And I can’t believe that this used to be one of my favourite songs on JPN. I am beyond sick of it now. But I knew Perfume would perform it as their encore song, because it’s become their overseas encore song since World Tour 2nd. I would have much preferred “Dream Fighter”. Not only does it work as an encore, but it is just a much better song. And it also would’ve shown the Triangle album some love outside of “Edge”. Perfume really stay acting like nothing from Triangle exists other than “Edge”, even though it’s the album of theirs which shares so much in common sonically with Plasma andis reflective of where I feel their sound should be right now. Same with LEVEL3, of which we got NOTHING of, other than a repurposing of the visuals from “Daijobanai” for “Love Cloud”.

“Love Cloud” was so good y’all. Jeez.

One of the best things about the setlist was the energy of it. The Code of Perfume setlist was relentless. And despite the setlist being 16 songs, the whole show FLEW by. “Mugen Mirai” was a bit of a dip. But the problem wasn’t the dip itself, but where it was placed. It should not have been sandwiched between two high energy songs. But you could argue that it made “Love Cloud” pop that much more.


Something I have long been wanting from Perfume is for them to change up some of their songs. They have been running their songs off of the retail versions of their CDs for 15 years and it’s tired. The excitement of witnessing a Perfume show will always override this, for sure. But I do wish Perfume started to switch up some of their songs to give them a sense of newness; not just for us as fans, but also for them too. Because Perfume have gotta be getting bored of performing the same versions of their songs. And not that Perfume’s team seem to care about the flow of setlists. But IF they did, flipping songs would allow those which otherwise wouldn’t work to fit better. And the annoying thing about all of this is that there are instances where Perfume do include reworked songs, but these moments are rarities, when they should be regular occurrences across more songs. At Code of Perfume we got an intermission which featured this slow, dramatic version of “Polyrhythm” which led into the song. And I was like ‘OH, OKAY’. The refusal to just give us a “Polyrhythm Wave” mashup still baffles me, but at least something was done with that old-ass song. And this is actually the kind of lead-in that “Mugen Murai” could have done with, so there was some form of transition from “Polygon Wave”.

Perfume [from left to right: Nocchi, Kashiyuka, a-chan] performing “Chocolate Disco” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

One thing about Perfume is that they are CONSISTENT as performers. No matter the setting, the venue or the country; Perfume will deliver as Perfume always do and always has done. And you’re not always able to get a read on how they feel during performances until they bring the lights up, a-chan comes out with the towel around her neck and then starts crying. But there were pockets in the show where Perfume seemed overwhelmed by the response of the crowd. One thing about crowds in London, we make NOISE. We clap loud. We stamp our feet. Crowds in Japan are known for being pretty stoic, so it was probably a huge shift for them to perform for a crowd who were being loud, animated and channelling so much energy at the stage. It was electric. You could feel it in the air even before the show started. And a part of Perfume feeling overwhelmed was probably due to them not really knowing what to expect. Whether they would walk out to a venue full of people, 12 fans with their Plasma towels or just the venue staff in high viz. Perfume seemed shocked, surprised and in awe of how packed the venue was and that so many non Japanese folk knew their songs. Perfume really have no idea how much they are adored outside of Japan, but I hope they left that stage a bit more aware. And I really hope Code of Perfume cements for Perfume and their team and there is so much more they could and should do for their overseas fans. Perfume is one of the few Japanese acts who considers their intentional fans more than most, and have adjusted to the age of streaming, digital and social media the best. But there’s still other things they could do, such as making physical copies of their albums available worldwide - something their move to Universal was supposed to help facilitate, only for it to serve a purpose for LEVEL3. And I will never let it go of how much of a mistake it was to not bring Cosmic Explorer and World Tour 4th to the UK and Europe. But watch Perfume never come back to the UK again.

Nocchi performing “Laser Beam” at Perfume’s London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by Jessie Morgan (📷 @jssiemorgan)

World tours are A LOT. And people often forget that Japan is the second largest music market in the world. So if you are an act in Japan who is able to sell albums and sell out tours, there is very little incentive to tour outside of Japan. It truly is a ‘out of the goodness of their hearts’ type of thing if an act decides to bother with it. I genuinely wonder if Code of Perfume even made Perfume any money once you take out the costs for the venue, the team they had to fly over, the cost of transporting over equipment, the photographers and videographers they hired and other miscellaneous costs we wouldn’t even consider. Perfume would probably have to cut a Japanese tour to accommodate a world tour, which financially wouldn’t make sense for them. Even I, as unreasonable as I may have seemed about Perfume ignoring the UK and Europe for Cosmic Explorer and World Tour 4th, completely get why Perfume would have chosen not to do world tours any more. But I really hope it’s something that they consider for 2024. I’m not even asking for them to pull a Taylor Swift and travel the entire world like a street fighter and do 623 dates in each country. Even if Perfume just did London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Los Angeles and New York, it would be something. Because not only do Perfume (well, a-chan and Kashiyuka at least) like to travel, but I feel they would take something away from each performance, which they could then feed back into their Japanese tours. And as performers who don’t just want the same ol’ same ol’ energy each time they perform, I think it would shake things up in a good way for them to experience different crowds and different energies in different countries, in addition to being able to witness just how far beyond Japan that their fan base reaches. Hopefully Primavera is the start of something, because I think Perfume would also go down really well at festivals in the UK and across Europe; between their style of shows, and audiences being more open and receptive to music not in their local languages.

Perfume [from left to right: Kashiyuka, a-chan, Nocchi] performing “Fusion” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

Perfume’s shows are such productions, that you don’t even have to be a fan to appreciate them. I’ve shown countless people videos of Perfume performances, and their reaction is always one of marvel and ‘I’d so go to a concert of theirs’. So doing a Reframe style show where they promote the creativity and technology aspect could also go down really well outside of Japan.

Perfume [from left to right: Kashiyuka, a-chan, Nocchi] performing “Polygon Wave” at their London show ‘Code of Perfume’.
Perfume - Code of Perfume | Photo taken by me

It was pretty surreal to see Perfume right there on the stage after years of watching them perform through a screen. When they stepped out and opened the show with “Flash” it simultaneously felt like the first time I had ever seen them and that it hadn’t been that long since I saw them last. It was a weird feeling. But I just felt so glad to be there and to witness the moment of them performing. And once it sunk in, it hit me how much of a presence that Perfume has had in my life for over the past decade.

But it is also nice to experience Perfume with other fans. Being a fan online in 2023 is already wildly different to being a fan online in 2014 when I last saw Perfume for World Tour 3rd. It’s not as much of an isolating experience as it once was. But everybody within fandoms nowadays seems to want to weigh in on how much or how little of a fan somebody is based on what they did or did not say. And if, God forbid, you say you don’t like something, then you’re the martyr. I do not engage with the Perfume standom for this exact reason. It’s an absolute shithole. But it was still nice to be in a space with fellow fans who just wanted to be there to support Perfume. And despite all of the differences of opinions many fans in the venue may have had about the outfit choices, Future Pop and Perfume maybe one day working with other producers, or just everything that I say; the one thing I think everybody would agree is that they were happy to be there in the presence of Perfume and enjoying the show. A show which was an amazing experience to witness and be a part of. An experience that I hope Perfume don’t make their UK based fans wait another decade for.