Live Music + Gig Reviews

Grimes @ XOYO, London

9 May 2012

Arriving at XOYO just prior to Grimes’ advertised stage time and finding the support act not only playing, but getting louder and louder and louder and louder, we said: “uh-oh”.

We said: “here we go”. We said: “time for a diva fit of Axl Roseian proportions”. We said: “settle in, we might be here for a while”. We said: “that Claire ‘Grimes’ Boucher. A little bit of critical acclaim and she thinks she’s all that”. We don’t half talk a lot of shite.

Following a bit of (Grimes assisted) set-up we were good to go. “Are you like, ready to start?” she asked the PA, still blaring out someone else’s music, clearly expecting to play a *lot* more of the setlist they’d spent hours carefully assembling that afternoon.

And so, dressed like the product of unholy union between the Honey Monster and a ladybird, she cracked on. No ego. No hissyfits. A simple question on whether the lights could be moodier (they could), and we began. There was a real humbleness about proceedings. A real sense that this would be exactly the same show you’d see if she was in her bedroom without this room full of people staring. Perhaps minus the scrum of topless male dancers parading about behind her.

A sense enhanced by the occasional moment where things went a little haywire. The occasional moment where the wrong backing track was queued and blasted out. The occasional moment where she appeared to not quite know what was supposed to happen next. But they were infrequent enough to be charming.

Besides, when things soared, and they did more often than not, it was easy to get caught up in it. While her voice is the obvious distinguishing factor, there’s a real oddness to her music. Songs will start glitchy and fidgety. Then a section of car-alarming, old-skool rave will zing past, pausing briefly to throw a neon fingerless-glove clad shape. Then the beats will morph into something reminiscent of some modern R&B staple. Then it sounds like 1980s vintage Madonna.

All the while that melange of influences bubbles around, Boucher’s vocal, sometimes augmented by sampled and looped yelps and squeals, sometimes multitracked to infinite levels, flies. It’s like the bit in Raiders Of The Lost Ark when the Nazis prize open the top of the chest and the spirits shoot out and swoop and pirouette and playfully galavant amongst the onlookers. Except no one’s face melts.

In the end, it all seemed to make sense. There’s a flow to proceedings. Although at times it was hard to see exactly what was pre-prepared and what was live, it was never anything other than entrancing. She’s a beguiling presence and this was an atmospheric performance.

buy Grimes MP3s or CDs
Spotify Grimes on Spotify

More on Grimes
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
Grimes – Art Angels
Track Of The Day: Grimes – Go
Grimes @ Liquid Room, Edinburgh
Grimes @ XOYO, London