There’s a lot of pressure for musicians to put on a big show nowadays. We’ve become used to flashy pop gigs with sparkly lights, slick dance routines and elaborate staging; but more often than not these shows fall a little flat with the crowd, relying on cheap tricks and overdone staging. But occasionally an artist gets it right, combining just enough theatre with their own music and glittering production. And this is what Christine and the Queens did in her jubilant headline slot on Glastonbury’s Other Stage.
While The Cure were playing through their extensive back catalogue on the Pyramid, and The Streets were causing a riot over at John Peel, Chris was bringing her creative, dramatic and inclusive show to Worthy Farm, in a well-deserved top billing slot.
Opening with ‘Comme Si’, she sets a precedent of the high level of artistry she’ll continue to show throughout. Flanked by dancers, Chris moves fluidly around the stage, never stopping to take a breath and never falling a step out of time. Despite her energetic dancing her vocals remain on point, belting out the huge choruses of a mix of songs from last years ‘Chris’ and her debut ‘Chaleur Humaine’.
At times, the set breaks with captivating dance routines, first to Travis Scott’s ‘Sicko Mode’, and later to ‘I got 5 on it’ and Janet Jackson’s ‘Nasty’. “I just had to do it!” she says joyfully, charming the crowd. Reminiscing about her first Glastonbury performance she tells the audience how much she loved it, before adding: “And I’m not even being nice to you! Since then I’ve been bragging about you, actually back in France I was like “Glastonbury!” and they were like “…okay”, I was like I want to call him back but I don’t have his number, and there you are again!”
It’s humbling to see an artist who’s so excited to be playing the festival, and throughout she clearly relishes every second of her time on stage. “Glastonbury! I’m going to say it until you get sick of it…” she tells the crowd.
The staging is more theatrical than that of a typical festival set, with elegant pyro raining down on Chris, dazzling lights strobing throughout and a rig that elevates her above the stage during an emotional version of ‘Saint Claude’. Further performance highlights come in an emotional cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, a welcome respite amongst the rest of the high-octane setlist, and an euphoric version of ‘The Stranger’ that ends with an apocalyptic light show.
Unfortunately, at times there are a few sound issues, with the throbbing bass of The Glade bleeding into quieter moments, but the audience of avid Chris fans don’t seem to care. Instead, the crowd enjoy the inclusive, safe space Chris has created in the centre of the Worthy Farm (“we are sharing a safe space, free of all judgement, there is only love now!” she preaches to the audience).
“I didn’t grow up used to winning, I feel like I’m winning something and it scares me a bit,” Chris tells the crowd at one point. Well she better get used to being scared, as with a show like this won she’s definitely only just begun her winning streak.
Christine and the Queens played:
Damn (What Must a Woman Do)
Heroes (David Bowie cover)