It's rare that an artist can redefine what a live show - or a pop star, in fact - can be. In the wake of a world shutting down borders and hiding behind safety nets, Christine And The Queens has become a beacon. From popping up on primetime telly to a fearless devotion to art and creativity, it’s something that many thought couldn’t be done. The very nature, however, of Christine And The Queens means that it simply had to happen, and the results are undeniable.
Second album ‘Chris’ has welcomed and galvanised the sort of character and figure that 2019 not only needed but naturally gave birth to in opposition to the world outside. It’s easy to say that an artist is 'vital' or 'important', or that a show stands beyond simple meanings and expectations - but in the case of Christine And The Queens, it’s in this space that everything combines into a flourishing reality. A modern renaissance trailblazer firmly in her element, tonight as London sits in awe is a captivating line in the sand as the game changes in the course of one evening.
For all the music and all the hits, it’s live where Christine And The Queens struts with vigour and stylistic charm. “I spent years and years trying to fit in,” she states midway during the set, “and then I stopped trying.” That freedom bubbles and pulsates throughout, with a crew of dancers on point and a stage show that meticulously picks and celebrates to form a night that isn’t just a gig, but a theatrical production emboldened by the vision she’s created.
The funky weaves of ‘Comme Si’ and ‘Girlfriend’ are a party-starting combo that kicks the sold-out room into her world, one full of hope, freedom, expression, unabashed experiences and level-playing immediacy while retaining that bullet to the core feel of an artist who’s been through those moments and has come out the other side. Each track tells its own tale, both in movement on stage and delivery, acts if you will of a night that packs standout moments and charismatic twists into each step.
There's incredible joy and fluid disco-grooves. ‘Doesn’t Matter’ finds Chris and a dancer swapping and flexing tilting moves and ‘Damn (What Must A Woman Do)’ lifts into life with the sort of punchy ease that’d make you wonder if Michael Jackson had passed on his crown of sizzling pop perfection. ‘Tilted’, ‘iT’ and ‘Science Fiction’ are greeted like devoted anthems of countless life-affecting personal experiences from a crowd that feels and connects to the inclusive bond played out in front of them.
This is a show primed for the West End yet born in sweaty clubs and 21st-century life, a production of modernity in all its highs and lows, and because of that not a moment slips by. Ripping things raw, ‘Nuit 17 à 52’ finds Chris alone in the spotlight, performing acapella and swarming a mass choir from a crowd devoted and jaw-dropped by every motion and in ‘Paradis Perdus’, the bolding motions of the Kanye West-samples build to an emotional crescendo. ‘5 Dollars’ sees dancers run around her as the stage shifts once again to form brand new spaces and backdrops to play off the themes and feelings of a set carefully orchestrated for devastating realness. It’s a full-on artistic journey and one that simply reconstructs what you could expect out of a gig and delivers something that only a handful could even come close to matching.
There are moments of isolation. There are moments of slow motion expression that pulls together physical movements and soaring pop perfection. There’s delicate falling white confetti that lands like snow on the ground for Chris and her show to roll through on ‘Goya Soda’. It’s a pop spectacle that picks from the best of those before her, yet breathes with vitality and freshness. As Chris reflects on characters being built on top of scars, it’s a game-changing celebration of ripping apart the rule book and offering up a safe space for all. To experiment, to fall, to fail, to celebrate, to change, to grow - it’s everything Christine And The Queens represents and more.
Taking to the balcony for ‘Saint Claude’, which sees tears flow down countless faces, and a pumping closer of ‘Intranquillité’, it’s the sort of closer for a night and a show that has it all. One that needs to be witnessed and captured in every person’s mind, this is showmanship of the highest order for an artist not content with simply ‘doing this music thing well’. With the confidence and platform to create and explore more, the possibilities are truly endless.
“Vive Le Français” one of the crowd shouts in the midst of the show.
“No”, Chris says, “Vive Everyone”.