Review: Grimes @ Leeds 02 Academy, 07/03/2016

By March 11, 2016

Music. Leeds.


On the way to the Leeds O2 on Monday night, my friends and I were being critical of music reviews that were too hyperbolic. After seeing Grimes however, I left wondering how I was possibly going to review this particular gig without being a complete hypocrite and raving like a crazed fangirl. I realise that I was wrong, and for that, I am sorry. Here comes the hyperbole.

“This is where I normally ask people to dance, but y’all already dancing,” Grimes, aka Claire Boucher, beamed after the first portion of her set. Electric and erratic, her live performances combine the energy of a 90s pop band with the musical genius of PJ Harvey. Boucher herself appears to be a hybrid of a young Britney Spears, Kate Bush and Bjork; an ethereal being with immense eccentricity.

Boucher’s energy and passion is incredible. While other artists remain stuck to their keyboard or microphone, she leapt around the entire stage like an excitable gazelle and swapped instruments with enviable ease. Modest and gracious between songs, Boucher introduced parts of her set like a shy sixth former presenting an A-level power point presentation. This would melt away as the music began again and the infectious energy would return, every song another demonstration of her powerful vocal gymnastics.

The highlight was perhaps the performance of ‘SCREAM’, the product of a collaboration with rapper Aristophanes. The banshee wailing and strobe lighting combination was exhilarating, despite being reminiscent of an abstract production of The Woman in Black. This is a testament to Grimes’ showmanship: what should have been a disturbing spectacle was energising and compelling. When introducing ‘Go’, we were given an explanation as to why Boucher had to let her hair down for this particular song. The dancers then produced sai knives, creating a scene that wouldn’t go amiss in a Victorian carnival.

Despite Grimes being a one-woman project, she created a collaborative unit with her dancers and musicians for the live show. Each was introduced as if Boucher was completely in awe of them, followed by an apology that two were offstage having a drink. There was no room for ego, just pure creativity.

We left the gig on a strange high, wondering how we would manage to sleep after being sent into such a heightened fervour. It’s a shame that Grimes may not reach the dizzying chart heights of Florence Welch or Lady Gaga, but the adoring crowds following her on tour have shown just how widely she is appreciated. The Grimes hype shows no sign of stopping, and long may this continue. Claire Boucher deserves every bit of it.

Ella Healing

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