Photo from Read: Tidal online
Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, knows she can take Glasgow’s 02 ABC by storm. The 27 year old from Vancouver is upbeat and confident from the get-go, as she plunges the audience into her unique and addictive brand of powerful and ethereal electropop.
One thing that characterises Grimes is that her gigs aren’t just about her – the show is a team effort, and it abounds with personality as a result. She is joined onstage by support act Hana, whose own distinctive voice and style allow her to slot seamlessly into that badass “Girl Gang” vibe that Grimes likes to project. The two backing dancers are every bit as central to the performance as Grimes herself, and they skilfully work the spotlight for much of the show. The sheer uncontained force and energy of their movement is captivating and infectious. Grimes herself really knows how to command the stage, purely by virtue of being so impossibly energetic. Her onstage chat is also delightful – too hyperactive to beat about the bush when it comes to introducing songs, she cheerfully propels the set from one song to the next without letting the energy drop for an instant.
The newer material gels well with the old; defying claims that Grimes’ newest release, the distinctly pop-ier ‘Art Angels’, was too far a departure from the more experimental, electronic sound of ‘Visions. In fact, Grimes is a musical master at the height of her powers, and the seamless, carefully considered composition of the live experience is proof of her artistic, ahem, vision. She gives the impression of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going as an artist.
Crowd-pleasers such as the hugely popular ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘Genesis’ are complimented by some pleasant surprises. ‘Go’, originally a collaboration with Blood Diamonds, has an almost euphoric resonance in the packed venue, while less celebrated tracks off the new album like ‘World Princess Part II’ really come into their own. Grimes’ remarkable versatility as a performer is also striking – in the absence of Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, she declares that she, Grimes, will be performing the verses of ‘SCREAM’ in Russian. And she absolutely kills it.
As the set draws to a close, Grimes has a confession to make. She doesn’t actually like encores, because the etiquette is awkward and stressful. So she’s just going to launch straight into what would ordinarily be the encore song, ‘Kill V. Maim.’ And who could blame this adorable human? Everyone has been won over, everyone has already had the time of their lives, and everyone wishes they could be up onstage dancing with Grimes and her friends. For such a huge and hectic gig, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly warm, light-hearted and welcoming, and this is undoubtedly what sets it apart as one of those gigs that you remember for months, perhaps even years, to come.
By Cat Acheson