Review & Photos: G. Rossington.
After witnessing a stunning debut for his forth album in Manchester back in March, the expectations for tonight’s show in the setting of the glorious Symphony Hall in Birmingham were high indeed. Following the release of ‘Paranoia, Angels, Truelove’, it is clear that tonight’s’ show will focus solely on this record whilst mixing the best of live music, art and theatre.
Tonight is a test, it is the first show of a UK/European and North American tour, so anything that can go wrong probably will. But, the audience are prepared and the tension in the auditorium as the lights fade out is high. There is a nervous air on anticipation amongst deathly silence followed by the traditional applause as the shadowy figures of the band arrive.
The stage is set up with the band around the edges and the main performance area adorned with statues, a chair and stepladders that will later be used to sit on, hang from and climb to mimic final ascension. As the stage becomes backlit to accentuate the band, we realise that Chris himself is atop of the steps as the opening of ‘Overture: Paranoia’ plays out. As per the record itself, this leads way to ‘Tears Can Be So Soft’ which sees Chris fully in stage light now and eventually prowling the stage, spinning, posing and dancing like an artist at play.
What follows is another 90-minutes split in to three acts and the whole of the new album played out in tracklist order. For an album that is about loss, connection and finding ones self, the show is very one sided. Chris performs on stage in the light, the band and the audience are in the dark. As a voyeur, you feel that you are watching someone going through a journey.
The moments where the audience are spoken to between tracks act like a narrative more than being direct. There is none of the usual stage bravado; “how are you all doing tonight?” as an example. Instead, we get poetry and haikus along the lines of “when I was young, I saw an angel who guided me towards the water…” to some this may seem like a cold approach, but once you have submitted yourself to the art form in play, and submerged yourself in to the music and general narrative, you will find that this is a carefully planned out part of the show.
During the whole performance, there are many standouts whilst equally being some that could have been discarded for something from the back catalogue –
however this would have taken away from the overall set. Seeing an album played from start to finish this far in to someone’s career is wonderful, it shows passion and commitment to the project.
New single ‘Marvin Descending’ and ‘A Day In The Water’ sound phenomenal in the majestic surroundings of Symphony Hall. The 11-minute opus of ‘Track 10’ takes you through a whirlwind of emotions. ‘Flowery Days’, ‘True Love’ and ‘Aimer, Puis Vivre’ bulk out the ‘Angels1 section of the show. ‘Lick The Light Out’, ‘To Be Honest’ and the finale of ‘Big Eye’ round off the final act and prove once again what a talent Christine and the Queens have become.
If you fancy a night of pure art mixed with theatrics, passion and confidence in their work, any chance you get to see Christine and the Queens then take the opportunity by the horns as this current live show is simply wonderful. If you want the C&TQ of old, you may have to wait a while. Whilst that old life was full of pop delights, the more mature and artistic version is the show that is breathtaking.