Live. Charli XCX

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Live. Charli XCX
London’s Heaven. 30th October 2014

Some seventeen months ago, Charli XCX played London’s Old Blue Last as the first date in a brief headline run on these shores. It’s a feat she’s yet to repeat. Dark, brooding and soaked in love for a craft she’d yet to figure out, it was a flawless declaration of her vision in that moment. A snapshot of who she thought wanted to be. One-off dates followed sporadically that saw her artistic confusion mount in tandem with industry hype. Two summers of runaway hits and numerous writing credits later, as well as arena tours with Paramore and Katy Perry, the expectation has grown but her live presence, at least in the UK, has remained stagnant. All to often the challenge of performing in her adopted hometown has left the expectation dwarfing the show. Looking into the sun, she had to turn away.
Tonight though, Charli ascends in Heaven.

A preshow collision of Britney Spear’s Toxic into Beverly Hills by Weezer provides the perfect sonic metaphor for what’s ahead. Kicking things off with Sucker, the title track to her anticipated/delayed/make or break second album and backed by her all-girl band (though in 2014 is that really relevant?) Charli XCX is a woman transformed.
Dressed in a cheerleader outfit, a hangover from her collaborations with Iggy Azalea that bore ‘Fancy’, ‘Beg For It’ and global acclaim, with her wild mane held back by a glittering tiara, the physical counterpart to the earlier sonic metaphor, Charli XCX might not look the star set to turn the pop game upside down but we’ve all heard tales of deceitful appearances.
The costumes might match Miss Azaleas and the setting is a magnet for sexualisation but Charli never flaunts. The awkward girl who spent half her performance at the Billboard Music Awards making sure her skirt didn’t ride up, is before us tonight doing exactly the same with her Sucker embellished crop top. Seasons in the spotlight and growing industry interest haven’t bleached her values of music above body. She’s from the generation of Girl Power and spice and those messages of equality and fairness are engrained in her being.
That said, Charli XCX is a born performer. Prom dress under the leather jacket, she demands attention as she cuts, swaggers and skips a sultry swathe on stage, holding herself like a rock star.

Charli XCX has always been more than pop and tonight her range shines true. The bounce, the swagger and the hop dictate the pace of the gig, and her influences are proudly help aloft, then twisted to meet her own desires. The Britpop confrontation of ‘Breaking Up’, the reckless Pop-Punk abandon of ‘Black Roses’ and the funk groove of ‘Caught In The Middle’ are all tied together with empowering self-belief. That punk album may have been scrapped in favour of big choruses and glitzy production but that spirit can’t be shaken off just yet. The city that gave Punk its snarl looks set to do the same again with Pop. By writing for other people, Charli XCX has found her voice, her muse and her animus.
This ‘London Queen’ played a future greatest hit set that not only underlined another incredible year for the 22 year old but allowed a coy peek at just how good it can be in the next. Balloons, bratty excitement and “pussy power.”
Fuck you, sucker. This is Homecoming.

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~ by justdip on 31/10/2014.

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