Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in London 2014

IMG_4775With the threat of tube strikes impacting on KYARY PAMYU PAMYU’s return to the UK, any travel plan to the venue became something of a military exercise. Full points then to everyone who managed to endure the journey to enjoy a performance by Harajuku’s finest. Shepherd’s Bush Empire had, of course, been home to Perfume’s UK debut in 2013. Could Kyary manage to top that performance?

The KPP team had obviously learned a lot from her debut show at London’s O2 venue. For a start they’d cribbed ideas from the aforesaid Perfume and chose the large capacity of the Empire to stage Kyary’s return bout. Also, the stripped-down set that graced Kyary’s shows the previous year had been upgraded to the world’s largest toy box, complete with oversize books and a large yellow bear. It’s still a step down from the lavish stage sets that adorn her domestic gigs, but adding a sense of theatre makes a huge difference – and no one does theatre better than Miss Pamyu Pamyu.
There were plenty of entertaining moments pre-gig for the J-Pop Go team, notably your humble writer being asked “I guess this isn’t really your thing, is it?” or the Chibi Kyary who broke everyone’s kawaii meter – and also managed to score a deserved backstage meet with Kyary for her troubles.

Some suitably carnival–esque tunes wafted over the venue as intro music before we were treated to the arrival of Kyary and her 4-piece dance troupe to the strains of ‘Nanda Collection’. Appearances are everything at a Kyary gig and her first outfit of choice was a pink tie-dye dress adorned with a variety of fluffy accessories.

At this stage it’s worth pointing out that the audience had made it clear that they were the ‘Kyary Massive’ – imagine every outfit that KPP had donned throughout her videos and performances and it was on display here tonight. The roar that went up as the concert began delivered a solid message that the UK has some serious Kyary fans.

The percussive strains of ‘Invader Invader’ followed up Kyary’s arrival, its frenetic melodies and dubstep licks proving to be a good choice to get the audience on their feet. An enthusiastic “Hellooo!!!!” from Kyary delivered the crowd response you’d expect. Here, on the final gig of the European tour, Kyary had one simple instruction for everyone, which was “Have fun!”.
Tonight’s gig also provided a good showcase for the technopop tones of new tune ‘Family Party’, alongside the wonderful staccato melodies of ‘Ninjari Bang Bang’ – for which Kyary took the audience through the steps to clap along. Every song accompanied by tightly choreographed routines that suggested Kyary’s dancers were either double-jointed or were in fact robots (which would surprise nobody).

Time for a costume change – and while KPP is off changing we’re entertained by some video sketches followed by the stage antics of a giant blue bunny looking like a refugee from a 1980s Czechoslovakian cartoon. Nice.

Kyary and team return to the stage, this time Miss Pamyu Pamyu is going for a Lolita look topped off with a glittering silver bow. Or a space crab. Whatever. For the second segment, we’re treated to ‘Mottai Night Land’ as well as its bonus track; the whistly gem that is ‘Sungoi Aura’. For Capsule fans, Kyary also delivered up the bright and airy melodies of ‘Super Scooter Happy’ – accompanied on stage this time by a dancing bear.
‘Yume No Hajima Ring Ring’ is an unusual number in Kyary’s musical box with its reflective and wistful qualities, but also carries forward the theme of ‘Evolution’ that was part of Kyary’s plans for 2014.

Obviously Kyary has some serious pop tunes to deploy at every gig, one of which is the insanely popular ‘Tsukematsukeru’ which delivered up a roar of approval from the crowd – who took the opportunity to enthusiastically dance along.

For the third segment of the show, Kyary took to the stage in a frilly pink dress with fetching puffy shoulders. It was that this point that things got serious with a trio of surefire bangers consisting of ‘Cherry Bonbon’, ‘PonPonPon’ and ‘Fashion Monster’. Considering that ‘PonPonPon’ is pretty much Kyary’s signature song, the crowd response was as euphoric as you’d expect.

Returning for an encore, Kyary gave us the sugarcoated tunes of ‘Candy Candy’ before finishing up with the now obligatory ‘Chan Chaka Chan Chan’. See you next time indeed.