Words: Victoria Hicks
It’s the second show in Manchester for French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens. Following the incredible success of her critically acclaimed second album, ‘Chris’, which shows Christine (real name Héloïse Letissier) reinvent herself once again and taking her highly praised live show to UK shores.
Supported by London-born Lava La Rue, who- apart from a back-up DJ- is completely alone onstage. Yet, with the spotlight solely on her, her presence is magnified to reach everyone in the audience at Manchester’s O2 Apollo. Lava La Rue glides between hip-hop with ambient influences and high vocal melodies, to old-school 90’s hip-hop and fast-paced rap. The music produced to support her lyrics- most of which are about self-love, confidence and love itself- is simple, but effective, staying true to the hip-hop vibe by consistently churning out solid, catchy bass-lines and drum beats. ‘24’ is one of her heavier songs, with a bass-line that rumbles around the room and lyrics about childhood memories and nods to women empowerment that tumble effortlessly out of her mouth. After posing for a photo opportunity with the crowd, Lava La Rue runs offstage, leaving the excitement to mount in the room for the main act.
Music swells and a scene unfolds before our eyes. Chris bursts onto the stage, beginning her set with ‘Comme si’ and surrounded by her backing dancers, they act out the song, performing flawless dance routines and throwing fierce, confident looks into the crowd. Tonight, the stage and the attention of everyone in the room belongs to Chris. You can’t ignore the amount of time and dedication that has been put into tonight’s show- and it’s just that, a full-on show. Chris could have easily come out and stood with a backing band and a microphone performing her songs, yet she has crafted a unique performance incorporating dancing and acting to let the meanings of her songs come alive. Only in moments of concentration does the huge smile on her face fade, other than that, you can literally feel the happiness radiate off her.
‘I was born a few years ago, from a decision’, says Chris, before leading into ‘Paradis Perdus’. A melancholic song where Chris sings about pain, longing. It’s done to signify how much she has developed as not just a character, but a true person.
‘It’s time to break down the walls Manchester’, declares Chris, as the backdrop falls to the ground, revealing a depiction of a stormy sea.
The song which flung her to fame, ‘Tilted’, introduced by a short monologue about the pressures of fitting in, is the absolute definition of perfection. Chris and her dancers swirl around the stage, her voice never faulting, the crowd chanting along throughout. She moves like it’s the music pulling her around, as though the music is in control.
‘Five Dollars’ follows, and the emotion I feel during that song is overwhelming. It’s pure happiness, gained through the power of that song. I can’t fully describe how amazing, moving and inspiring the performance given by Chris is- I’m in awe of her. To understand it, you need to immerse yourself in the show, in the music, the atmosphere. Put away your phone and channel all concentration to Chris.
A beautiful rendition of her recent single, ‘The Walker’, where floor-to-ceiling beams of red light pool onto the stage, signifying open wounds, closes her set. A standing ovation follows immediately after. But the show is not over yet…
The encore features Chris performing ‘Saint Claude’ in the circle of the O2, looking out in amazement to the sea of adoring faces, before running down to sing the disco infused ‘Intranquillité, right in the middle of the pit.
This has honestly been the best show I have seen in a long time, and if you haven’t listened to Christine and the Queens yet, I strongly recommend that you do.