The restless innovator, who always treats authority with deserved disdain, it’s been fun to watch Charli XCX rewrite the pop star’s rules of the past decade. So when she finally landed at number one album in March with her fifth LP Crash, it felt like a real red-letter day for so-called “hardcore artists” all over the world. everywhere, proving that if you can keep faith in your vision, the rest of the world will eventually catch up.
The huge achievement is clearly not lost on the 29-year-old singer-songwriter, who last night performed her biggest title show to date at Alexandra Palace. “This is incredibly overwhelming,” she told the 10,000 audience midway through the episode, choking on tears as she wrapped the transgender pride flag given to her by a fan. “I never thought I could do this, so thank you.”
However, last night emphasized how ready Charli is to take on the big body. Bringing arena-grade production value to a venue at half capacity, ambitious staging featuring Grecian columns, video interludes, spectacular light shows, some costume changes, neat choreography by Charli and her two male dancers, and a cameo by Caroline Polachek in New Shape.
The lion’s share of the series is dedicated to songs from Crash, and its playful hybrid hits like house, Eurodance, and jagged electro-pop have proven to be fuel for perfect party. Along with surreal footage of a desert engulfed in flames, Robin S Used To Know Me’s sampling is a highlight, as is the shimmering strut of future single Yuck. She introduced the latter by telling the audience how much she wished Uncut Gems star Julia Fox would appear in the video, a choice that certainly Charli has yet to interrupt.
A selection of beloved singles were strewn across the set, including the hit 1999 release delivered via a blue-laser network, an industrial remake of the top 10 hits Boom Clap, and the boom. blast through proto-hyperpop developer Vroom Vroom. “I have a lot of hits, you know,” Charli boasted at the end of Boom Clap, safe in the knowledge that she could have picked a completely different set list and still deliver a strong show, for example. like the quality of her back catalog.
For her fervent celebrity fans, it was a simple performance that proves what they’ve always known: that Charli deserves to be the UK’s main pop girl. That dream is now one step closer, and we have no doubt that a brilliant mind is capable of making it a reality.