Like almost everyone else I first became aware of Christine and the Queens after their appearance on “Later with Jools Holland…” in April, 2016. On that occasion they gave us a performance of “Tilted” that combined a beautiful voice, stunning choreography, the spirit of Michael Jackson, a homage to the wonders of disco and eighties electro-pop and a sense of style and flair that is sadly missing from so much else in the modern pop world.
I remember going into work the next day and forcing one colleague after another to watch their appearance. Everybody sat in silence as the song, the movement and the spirit of the song touched them. It was a rare moment of universal appreciation.
We all knew we had witnessed something…special.
The album that followed, “Chaleur Humaine”, lived up to its best English translation…human warmth. Each song was a delight, a treat, effortlessly seeming to be new and familiar at the same time.
This year leader of the Queens, Heloise Letissier, gave us “Chris” another set of immaculate pop songs but this time with a focus on identity and dealing with the wounds inflicted on us by the modern world.
Gathered together in the impressive Usher Hall are a band of people with nothing in common…gay, trans, straight, young (stood just in front of me is a girl who cannot be older than 10), old (some even older than me), beer drinking boys, immaculately dressed girls. And yet, as Letissier herself reminds us, we all have things that bind us…pain, heartache, confusion, depression, worry, anxiety.
Where other pop performers use new names, different looks and new sounds to reinvent themselves in order that they can stay…relevant, Letissier is, it seems to me, completely disinterested in relevance and is, instead, focussed on refining themself. A process, not of reinvention, but of personal exploration and discovery…pop as therapeutic approach.
What do I know though.
The show itself is impressive with the expected brilliance in both vocal and choreography…in truth one would happily pay the ticket fee for the dance element alone with a gang of dancers moving, shifting, gliding and melting across the stage as non-musical percussion or accompaniment for Chris.
The set design is equally impressive with backdrops that change to suit the mood of each section of the show and with the musicians appearing and disappearing from the stage on their own platforms. Sometimes this leaves Chris alone in the spotlight to bare her soul and, in so doing, she reaches out and touches ours.
Whenever I see a band, a film, a speaker or a performer of any description the one thing I really want is to leave thinking or feeling something. With Christine and the Queens I left doing both.
Thinking about who they are, who I am and how we came to be those people.
Feeling better than I did when I entered the venue.
Thinking that more artists should be like this…daring, open, honest, bold.
Feeling that I needed to spend some time on…me.
Vive le Queens…or something.