WHEN the haunting melody of her first song, Jar of Hearts, hit the airwaves, Christina Perri knew her song written about her own personal heartbreak had resonated with people all over the world.
Since then, the former waitress — who moved from a small town to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of music — has continued to sing about love, be it songs of yearning and sadness, or dark, melancholic romance from her debut album, Lovestrong.
On Tuesday, Perri performed her second showcase at the KL Live at Life Centre, performing songs from her 2014 sophomore album, Head or Heart.
Once again, the collection of songs was about love — a “cathartic” overview of the newest chapter in her love life, mostly occurring when the singer spent a whopping 27 months touring for her first album.
“Because I continue to fall in and out of love, I find myself often at those massive highs and lows ... ” Perri said in an interview, expressing that her writing came naturally, “Those were songs that were getting me through tours.”
It was the song Trust that gave her an epiphany, where she recounted coming to the realisation that half of the time she was trusting her heart, and the other half her head. The concept for an album of equal halves of “head” and “heart” songs was then born.
As she stepped onto the simply decorated stage featuring only a white backdrop, Perri had no doubt she wanted to present the entirety of that journey to her Malaysian fans. From the staging and the four-piece band that also doubled as backup singers, to the cosy venue space, it was an intimate gig.
Opening with the narrative first song that posed the question, the mostly-standing crowd were roused in anticipation. A glance around saw more groups than couples, though the lovers who were there were already cuddled up and ready to be immersed.
Looking relaxed and comfortable with the audience, Perri set the tone with some cute poses and tambourine playing as the crowd went wild.
In person, the 29-year-old complete with glittery tights and pleated black skirt was surprisingly bubbly and chirpy, with an air of innocence in her persona that seemed more Taylor Swift — than the grungy, raspy-voiced singer who first sang Jar of Hearts.
She was also generously emotive with the audience, clearly happy and excited at the presence of a full crowd two years since she’s been here, so much that the petite singer stopped every so often to giggle with joy. The fans only reciprocated with louder cheers.
Her songs, however, presented the other facets of Perri, as the second album displayed a more mature and technically diverse effort. The message also seemed more hopeful, as the singer confessed: “I’m in love.”
Songs like the catchy Burning Gold — clearly a crowd favourite — was a hopeful reflection inspired by Perri’s journey of having her dreams coming true.
In The Wait and Be My Forever, the songstress clearly confessed budding romance. The first song, as she described, was written in the sweet but “sheer terror” moment of falling in love that was yet to blossom, while the second song was the happiest and most romantic song she’s done.
“It’s possible for me to be happy, guys,” she said with a big smile.
Her vocals rang sharp and effortlessly filled the space, juggling a set list that alternated catchier tunes with quieter but intense moments.
It was the latter in which Perri excelled. While the crowd interaction and impromptu dances had no doubt thrilled her fans, it was in songs like The Words and Butterfly that the songstress somehow shone.
However, those moments did not last as Perri once again felt the need to pander to the crowd.
Arguably the biggest hit since Head or Heart, Human brought out the melodramatic and melancholic familiarity that Perri became famous for. The song was performed as it should have been, but as with the overall showcase, it didn’t entirely connect.
It should have all the ingredients for a beautiful story-telling of Perri’s journey of love, as she said that the song was written in a moment of personal struggle and was almost left out.
“But what I do is sharing myself through my music,” said Perri.
It’s unfortunate that the shared experience, while enjoyable, didn’t quite linger on.
Perri’s Head or Heart Tour — Live in Malaysia 2015 was presented by IMC Live Group.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 5, 2015.