Christine and the Queens @ o2 Academy, 26 November 2018

I first came across Christine and the Queens at Glastonbury in 2016. A few of us were standing by the Other Stage bar in 6 inches of mud in the pouring rain, as you do. It was early afternoon and James had not long left the stage after opening the Friday. We didn’t know who was playing next but within a few minutes of them coming onto the stage our conversation gradually stopped as all four of us realised something special was taking place. It became one of the most talked about performances of that years festival. It was an “I was there” moment. A couple of appearances on Jools Holland that year catapulted Nantes born Heloise Letissier further into the limelight and a potential superstar was born.

Two years on and a 2nd album in the bag, Christine and the Queens are packing out medium size venues around the country as her star continues to rise. Although I should say she is now calling herself just Chris. The pansexual singer reinventing herself just as the original pop pansexual, Bowie, did in the 70’s. I doubt it will be her last reinvention.

The 02 Academy is heaving tonight. Normally that’s not a problem for me but it is for this gig. Christine and the Queens are not just about the music. I have a confession to make, there are some fantastic tracks on both albums but much of it washes over me when just listening to the album. She needs to be seen live to get the full benefit of her special talents. The brilliant choreography, superb lighting and pure theatre she creates turns even the average songs into something you can’t take your eyes off. You need to be able to see the full stage and being stuck under the wings was a frustrating experience until I managed to squeeze into a better spot 15 minutes in.

Two tracks from the new album kicked off proceedings, Comme Si and the excellent Girlfriend. The latter could be lifted off any Michael Jackson album of the 80’s, infectious pop done beautifully. Chris clearly likes to channel her inner Jacksons, be it Michael or Janet with samples of Man in Mirror and Nasty also finding their way into tracks during the evening. Later on, Feels So Good provide further evidence of her heavy 80’s Jackson influence.

For someone who confesses herself to being “a little bit awkward”, she has the crowd in the palm of her hands with her charm. She interacts throughout, sharing her inner thoughts and past struggles, embracing the tenderness that she feels from the crowd. She talked about never really fitting in as she grew up and how she decided to stop trying and embracing the fact that she was a little tilted which led to singing her biggest hit yet and for me one of the best slices of pop of recent times.

The gigs funky pop combined with the brilliant choreography make for a thrilling ride but its the quieter ballads, with or without her equally gender fluid looking dance troupe, that bring home what an incredible voice that she has. An acapella Nuit 17 a 52 showcased this to the full. A pretty magical moment as the more linguistic sections of the crowd sang the French lullabies chorus back to her.

As you would expect from such a theatrical performer, the encore wasn’t a bog standard affair as she appeared amongst the crowd in the balcony in her bra, dangling her jacket over the side. Another French ballad St Claude theatrically sung down to the crowd like a scene from Romeo and Juliet. She teased the crowd by telling everyone the last song would also be a sad French song but the thumping beat of Intranquillitie kicked in as she disappeared from view from the balcony to magically appear in the mosh pit 30 seconds later upon the shoulders of one of her dancers, before retaking the stage for a thrilling finale.

This was no ordinary gig. It was pure Broadway. You are left feeling like you have not only heard but seen something very special. Her star started to shine brightly at Glastonbury. I can see the star rising all the way to the pinnacle of live music and the Pyramid stage in a couple of years time. She would bring the house down. Highly recommended.

Reveiwer: Rich Jefferson

 

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One Response to “Christine and the Queens @ o2 Academy, 26 November 2018” Subscribe

  1. Kevan Faulkner December 8, 2018 at 9:42 am #

    An excellent review. I was there and could not agree more. I don’t like Five Dollars, from the new album, but it worked live. I can’t put my finger on it.

    A superstar in the making. Hopefully the music industry will continue to support her.

    Kevan

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