Live review: Christine & The Queens (O2 Academy Glasgow)
- Henry Northmore
- 8 November 2016
Unique, beautiful, mesmerising mix of music and movement
Not many French artists break into the UK charts. It's easier for dance music producers who don't come up against the language barrier – Daft Punk, Justice and David Guetta have found huge success on our shores in recent years – but Christine & The Queens plough a very different Gaelic furrow as the brainchild of Héloïse Letissier after finding solace and a new identity on the London drag / cabaret scene after a bad break up.
Her music has a lilting, yearning quality that drips with French class. Debut Chaleur Humaine was reworked and rerecorded with added English lyrics and made fans of Madonna, Elton John and Lorde; the quirky charm of 'Tilted' ear-worming its way onto Radio One, Radio Two and 6Music's playlists.
However the record is only half the story. Christine & The Queens are about more than just music. Live, Letissier fronts a three-piece band accompanied by four male dancers. Each song becomes a mini-vignette of sound and vision, Christine and her 'Queens' slipping through a series of effortless routines. It must be tightly choreographed, but appears loose and free of constraints. Lifting songs from the album and transforming them into tiny art productions, beautifully timed shuffles and jerks perfectly complimenting the music.
Her music is a soulful blend of synth pop, hip hop and R&B. The show itself a fluid mix of ballet, modern and interpretive dance, reminiscent of Michael Clark or Kate Bush's theatrical run in 2014. Letissier is captivating, celebrating diversity and imagination, imparting emotional weight through movement. 'iT' challenges gender stereotypes and definitions; her giant shadow strikes macho poses through 'Science Fiction', 'No Harm Done' features a duet with Tunji Ige (appearing on screen) and even though they play their biggest hit, 'Tilted', halfway through tonight's performance the audience remain transfixed. Even the lighting is ingenious, as a series of undulating florescent tubes descend from the ceiling. A truly unique talent, Letissier's mix of mime, dance, lighting and song is brilliantly devised and utterly mesmerising.
Seen at O2 Academy, Glasgow, Mon 7 Nov.