Kyary Pamyu Pamyu live at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 29th April 2014

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (April 2014) (8-2)

Outside of the grandeur of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a small child no older than 10 poses expertly for cameras with a smile, dressed in an outfit identical to that worn by pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in the video to her single, PONPONPON.

0087890897789As the crowd passes through the doors of the venue, it is noticeable that the more generically colourful outfits of last year have given way to more streamlined variants of Kyary inspired costumes. For the most part, the Pikachu onesies and anime cosplay outfits have thinned from the crowd, replaced with a new and more sophisticated wardrobe of Lolita fashion and leopard print accessories.

This is the beginning of a changing shift perhaps; the evolution of a more discerning audience.

The venue is bigger, the audience is most certainly bigger, and everything about Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s second date in London is brighter and more colourful than the year before.

From the moment she appeared on stage to the final encore of Chan Chaka Chan Chan, Kyary was engaged with the audience, and whilst her spoken moments remained few and far between, there was a greater sense of confidence in the way she moved on stage.

Rolling from Crayon Shin Chan tie-in song, Family Party to Ninjari Bang Bang, there was the feeling that Kyary was reaching out for the audience in a manner that suggested that perhaps organisers and management had learnt from last year’s performance at the O2 Academy in Angel, but also from the promotion and execution of Perfume’s concert in July of last year. There was by far a greater degree of conciseness in the organisation of the event, and for Kyary’s part the majority of the seeming anxiousness she exhibited on stage last year was replaced by her more prominent placement at the centre of events, her colourful presence finally overshadowing her four backing dancers.

Rather than feeling the need to reintroduce her to an audience that had already embraced her, this event was very much the result of lessons learnt.

The actual set design, whilst almost being a sugar coated inverse mirror of the set design used by Emilie Autumn in her performance last September in the same venue, was a mix of oversized props; a collection of books with broad, universal titles upon their spines such as DIARY and COMIC, a giant inflatable teddy bear, a Jack-in-the-Box, and giant bag of popcorn, whilst behind was a large screen upon which comedy skits and promotional clips were played.

7897897890Yet despite the marked focus on cuteness, there was a lot more significance being placed on Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as an artist during the event; the familiar oversized mascots remained, coming out to dance on stage during a costume change interlude, and again during Super Scooter Happy and the encore, but with the confidence Kyary exhibited, there also came a sense of entitlement.

And whilst at times it was an experience akin to eating all the Jelly Tots and then proceeding to play Alex Kidd or Wonder Boy on the Sega Master System for several hours straight, it is impossible to fault Kyary and her staff for having learnt from last year’s concert.

Regardless of the cute trappings of the show however, the true value of the performance rested upon the instant recognisability of her music, and of the familiar and notable style of songwriter and producer Yasutaka Nakata, whose work formed the cornerstone of the performance.

Complimenting Kyary’s image and fashioned with knowing precision, it felt very much that it was Nakata’s ability acting as the foundation throughout not only her live performance, but also Kyary’s career; never overshadowing, but ever present.

Yet it was not until Tsukematsukeru, Cherry Bon Bon, and PONPONPON that the concert truly reached fever pitch, an excitable morass of waving arms before the stage, some mimicking Kyary’s dance moves, hard learnt from YouTube no doubt, others furiously reaching out to the air.

7890709779079798Crowd pleaser and personal favourite, Fashion Monster followed after and Kyary and her requisite dancers—two men, two women—exited the stage for a brief while before returning for a final encore of Candy Candy and Chan Chaka Chan Chan.

The crowd cheered throughout the night, a great sea of iPhones and Galaxies held up above heads to record the event for posterity and YouTube.

Before the night’s end, with a broad smile, Kyary asked the audience to, “Take a picture with me!” in what has become something of a tradition for J-pop acts playing in the UK.

With little to no encouragement, the audience began to wave their arms as she turned and faced the camerawoman standing on a small box looking down at her and the audience behind her. The camera clicked several times and she turned again to the crowd, more confident than last year and more focused on connecting with her broader fanbase.

As Kyary Pamyu Pamyu continues to build on her swiftly established reputation, there is little doubt that the audience she has influenced overseas will continue to grow with her.

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