Morrissey Live: A Preview

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Morrissey. Photo by Xavi Torrent

Despite heavy hints that his short run of September 2015 gigs would be his last UK shows ever (or at least until he secures a recording deal), Morrissey has announced a huge homecoming show at Manchester Arena on August 20th. In honour of this occasion, The Black Wax evaluates the best of his (solo) live releases to date.

Live in Dallas (1992)

Recorded during Morrissey’s first solo tour in 1991, one which broke box-office records across America, Live in Dallas is a rough and ready document which perfectly conveys the atmosphere of these rowdy early gigs. Morrissey was reportedly charmed by the footage, which was taken from the venue’s security cameras and not originally intended for release. The setlist is made up of songs from his first two studio albums (Viva Hate and Kill Uncle), the compilation Bona Drag and carefully chosen covers, including The Jam’s That’s Entertainment. The band, Morrissey’s first touring group since leaving The Smiths, infuse the material with a rockabilly flavour, meaning the renditions here are often superior to the original songs (especially the Kill Uncle material). That being said, Morrissey’s voice is often wildly out of tune, or absent completely due to stage invasions, which culminate in the band having to flee the stage part-way during an encore performance of Everyday is Like Sunday, due to fears for their safety.

Beethoven Was Deaf (1993)

Morrissey and his band put in a much stronger performance two years after Dallas on this superbly titled live album, culled from shows in Paris and London. The rockabilly stylings of Dallas are toned down in favour of a glam rock assault, in line with Your Arsenal, the Mick Ronson-produced studio album which Beethoven Was Deaf is associated with. The former album makes up the bulk of the songs performed here, although earlier tracks such as Suedehead are also given a run out. Morrissey’s voice here is dynamic and versatile, ranging from yelps and growls to heartfelt crooning. Although now out of print, Beethoven Was Deaf is worth hunting down, if only for the fantastic rendition of the fan-favourite B-side, Jack the Ripper, generally considered to be the definitive version.

Who put the ‘M’ in Manchester / Live at Earls Court (2004)

2004 was Morrissey’s annus mirabilis. After returning from the wilderness with the superb You Are the Quarry, Moz capitalised on his renewed popularity with a live DVD and CD from his tours that year. Who Put the ‘M’… is the souvenir of Morrissey’s 45th birthday homecoming concert, an emotional performance in front of a rabid Manchester crowd. Songs from both Moz’s solo career and Smiths days are aired here, with highlights including a gorgeous encore performance of There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. Live at Earls Court is less of a retrospective, wheeling out Quarry tracks and B-sides, as well as a cover of Patti Smith’s Redondo Beach, a sweet tribute to one of Morrissey’s heroes. Both of these releases benefit from the fact that by 2004, Moz’s live vocals had improved dramatically compared to a decade earlier and the fact that his band now included a keyboard player, allowing faithful renditions of songs such as A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours to be performed.

 Live at the Hollywood Bowl (unreleased)

The scheduled release of the recording of this 2007 show was cancelled, but Live at the Hollywood Bowl is arguably more comprehensive than any of Morrissey’s official live releases and deserves to be mentioned alongside them. Opening with the ferocious one-two punch of The Queen is Dead and The Last of the Famous International Playboys, Morrissey and his band thoroughly explore his vast catalogue, tearing through singles, B-sides, then-unreleased material and Smiths numbers. Moz himself is in fine voice and fettle, prowling the stage in a white suit and whipping his microphone cord with abandon. His band tastefully complement his performance with their best arrangements to date – see the crashing crescendo of Life is a Pigsty for the best evidence of this.

Morrissey: 25 Live (2013)

Much more intimate than either Who Put the ‘M’… or Live at the Hollywood Bowl, 25 Live gained mixed reviews upon release, mostly because of the fact that despite Morrissey’s performance is almost flawless, this is a release which is geared towards hardcore Moz devotees. 25 Live can at times be cringe-inducing, such as when front-row fans are handed the microphone in order to heap praise upon their idol. It can also be touching – a very young fan is crowdsurfed to the stage during the encore, then picked up and held by Moz himself. The cinematography is somewhat standard for a concert film, but catches Moz at his designer shirted, matinee-idol best, his every gesture and facial expression recorded for posterity. Although 25 Live would benefit from giving more of an insight into the man himself, it succeeds in its aim of showing Morrissey as one of the best live performers of his generation. As he states during the show: ‘the microphone is [his] tombstone’.

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool – Album Review

 

As surreal as it may seem, the day has finally arrived in which I can review a brand new full length album from the one and only Radiohead. This LP comes in the form of the elusively entitled ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. The album title is said to be a reference to Climate Change which serves as a continuos theme throughout the record. A Moon Shaped Pool is what the earth will become once water levels rise to the dramatic point in which it dominates our entire planet. Additionally, a book entitled ‘The Moon Pool’ may have served as a prime concept catalyst. It explores the sense that humans have created something that is destroying them but are unable stop it out of pride. Both of these suggestions hint at the incredibly reflective and melancholic nature of the album.

It’s an album that intertwines older ideas with much fresher ones in a pool of orchestral goodness that is so blissfully tormented that you’re soaked by a wave of bittersweet emotion right from the offset. This is Radiohead however, what else were you expecting? It’s the band’s most mature effort to date in my opinion and it yearns to be dealt with total sincerity. It’s immersive and delicate in a way that makes you want to block everything else out so that you can be alone with it. Where TKOL seemed experimental and playful, this feels direct and organic. It’s euphoric but in the most fragile way possible. A subtly morbid album that quite happily pushes the audience into areas of total solace. Although it lacks an innovative nature, Radiohead present some gorgeous instrumentation throughout this record. It combines guitars, strings, percussion and soothing electronic sounds to it’s utmost advantage, showcasing the total chameleon nature of Radiohead as a band. It’s not an album that’s revolutionary as such, and it’s not an album that stems too far from much of Radiohead’s previous work. It’s an album with nostalgia at it’s core which is undoubtedly an attempted return to form. This is perhaps a response to much of the negative feedback directed towards the album prior to this which took a more sample-heavy route. This album however hints much more towards classic Radiohead throughout as well as Thom’s personal work. It’s less rhythmically preoccupied and a whole lot more ethereal. When approaching this album, you won’t find Radiohead venturing into unknown territory too often. What you get instead is a series of songs that have been polished to the point of perfection in terms of production. Inspired by Jonny Greenwood’s solo work producing various scores such as There Will Be Blood for Paul Thomas Anderson, the group have taken a much more notably orchestral route here. It pays off incredibly, the production is absolutely flawless and the string arrangements on the majority of these songs are nothing short of spectacular. Nigel Godrich has done a sensational job of bringing George Martin-esque string arrangements to the table which eb & flow continuously throughout this record. To anyone who suggested more strings, they heard you, take a bow. For me this isn’t one of Radiohead’s finest albums and it doesn’t do much in the way of competing with ‘In Rainbows’ or ‘Ok Computer’ for example. When a band of this calibre release a new album its always going to be hard to treasure it as dearly as the albums you already know and love. However, the fact that I’m not disappointed is a blessing alone, Radiohead are a band that have been known to take serious risks throughout their career with albums such as ‘Kid A’ and with this record they play everything relatively safe. Several songs on this record have existed years prior to the album and have been reworked to find a home amongst the tracklist. This shouldn’t detract from the album what so ever, these songs as a body of work are cohesive and move as one. It maintains a sense of fluidity that oozes into every corner of it’s fictional reverberated world. I had high hopes for this record and i’m incredibly happy to say that they exceeded my expectations with ease. The song writing is impeccable, the piano is introduced more prominently than it has been on any previous record. The strings are utterly mesmerising throughout and the grand orchestral arrangements provide the majority of the highlights here.

The album kicks off with lead single ‘Burn The Witch’. It begins the LP with powerful orchestration and a driving hard sub bass that lets the album ascend immediately. Thom’s falsetto prominently soars over the gritty instrumentation with his politically heavy lyrical content. The strings unfurl and develop into something quite menacing to the point where it’s actually an incredibly intimidating album opener. With the accompanying video it does make a solid impact and prides itself on a simple repetitious nature. It’s a very traditional song structure and doesn’t do anything too mind blowing as much as it serves as the powerhouse opener that the album needed. It’s both haunting and infectious, one of the smartest choices for the album. The next track to follow doesn’t really make sense in terms of why it’s been situated here on the album. As much as ‘Daydreaming’ is incredibly blissful, it doesn’t really work well sonically letting it follow on from such a ferocious opener. I feel like it’s the only real mistake in terms of the track listing. It’s the calmest section of the album and it progresses beautifully with it’s glistening chimes and timid nature. It’s something Sigur Ros would be proud of with an added sprinkle of Four Tet. It’s an incredibly touching listen and a long with the Paul Thomas Anderson video that accompanied it, there’s an overwhelming sense of confusion and disorientation. This track deals with a lot of upset and trauma to the point where just listening to it is painful. The lyrical content is incredibly dark and exclaims that “We are, just happy to serve”. As the track draws to a close with a stunning chord crecesndo, reverse vocals feature heavily with an array of other alienating sounds which makes for an incredibly intriguing listen. The first new track the audience are introduced to and one that physically made my jaw drop is track 3, ‘Decks Dark’. Opening up with its delightfully vulnerable piano melody and hypnotic backing vocals, this was one of the real highlights of the album for me. It channels some kind of James Blake infused chord progression with a hugely reverberated aesthetic that plays host to a whole clan of sounds working in unison in the background. There’s a choir here, bells, xylophone, a drowned out guitar riff that stills seems to serve quite a punch. It has an incredibly simplistic structure but it’s just as ethereal as it needs to be because of how it’s layered with so many rich varying sounds. The lyrics on this track are also some of my favourites and it stimulates some incredible imagery with the subject matter of a UFO blacking out the sky. Next up is ‘Desert Island Disk’ a track that I didn’t have a lot of love for at all. As much as I appreciate it’s blissful aesthetic and Nick Drake-esque nature, it just felt a little too dull to do anything at all for me. It’s a track that I think takes up an unnecessary slot and shouldn’t really of been included. ‘Ful Stop’ is a vicious track with an incredibly ominous build up. It’s an intense listen that builds and builds towards its climax with swirling guitars and chopped vocals. It would be the perfect soundtrack if you were ever planning on running through a forrest after hours whilst being chased by wolves, because you know, people do strange things anyway. I can also see an image of Ian Curtis irriticaly dancing to this song in the back of my head whenever I lend my ears to it. Which makes it all the more surreal. The next track is the totally serene ‘Glass Eyes’. This is the most string heavy track on the album and the one that feels most George Martin-esque in terms of the orchestration. It’s not a particularly long track but it’s one of the most beautiful on the album and really does demand your full attention to be appreciated fully. It’s intimate and intricate and despite it’s minimal nature, it’s criminal to overlook. It has an incredibly hushed nature and is stripped back of any guitars and drums to let the string arrangements take full centre stage (thankyou Jonny). Next up is the whirlwind of a song ‘Identikt’. This developed from an earlier live version of the song and has been fleshed out fully to create this absolute monster of a track. It has a much more jangled sound that was all so familiar on TKOL and has a strange but incredibly enticing appeal. It’s layered with effects and vocals to create an incredibly rich sounding piece of music that fills every space it can sonically.  It’s a very Beach Boys meets Animal Collective kind of surreal listen and it works so impressively. It then ends spectacularly with some stunning guitar work from Jonny Greenwood with what many are describing as the closest thing to a Radiohead guitar solo in years. It really is quite something and almost delves into Math Rock depths with it’s incredibly intricate finger-work. Track 8 is the track that was beautifully premiered as an acoustic only rendition under the name ‘Silent Spring’. If i’m honest, I personally preferred the live version much more and it’s one of the tracks I was most hopeful for on this album. Nonethless, ‘The Numbers’ as it’s now known is a real highlight on the album. It’s an incredibly powerful track which deals with the issues of Climate Change yet again and Thom urges that uniting together should be our absolute priority in humanity to put things right. The simplistic guitar melody and piano heavy driving force to this track has incredibly intimidating qualities yet again. This album isn’t heavy in terms of instrumentation but it’s heavy conceptually and is incredibly emotive and thought provoking. This is essentially a protest song which has been watered down to fit with the continuous dreamscape of the album. It’s one of my favourites on the album in terms of lyrical content with claims such as “We are of the earth. To her we do return. The Future is inside us. It’s not somewhere else.”. The string arrangements on this track are notably some of the strongest on the record too. ‘The Present Tense’ is the next track to follow and this happens to be the one I have decided is my absolute favourite from the album. It started out as an acoustic track of Thom’s that he presented at various live shows and it has now been reimagined finally to form this studio version. It’s the only song on the album that I actually find danceable as it shimmy’s itself along on a samba-esque instrumental. It almost feels spanish with it’s flamenco influenced guitar melody and eerily exotic nature. It’s the one that feels most like it would fit perfectly on In Rainbows which is perhaps why I adore it so much considering it’s my favourite Radiohead album. It’s just an incredibly vivid song that stirs so much in my mind lyrically and paints such a beautiful picture. It bursts with flavour and has some of the nicest production on this album and everything in the mix just sits perfectly and has this cool evening glow feel to it. It’s not dramatic or attention seeking, it’s just as it is and to me how it is is perfect. No strings were used on this track which makes me feel even more like they wanted to let simplicity show its beauty. It has a world music feel with an infectious nature without feeling at all cringey or cliche. It’s a song lyrically about feeling free of any chains and just soaking up the benefits of total isolation. Thom sings “As my world, Comes crashing down, I’m dancing, Freaking out.” For me I interpret this as him giving up on the state of things, it’s his way of saying, “We need to do this thing together, i’ve been telling you to boycott the system for years, but fuck it, if you won’t listen i’m just going to be as ignorant as you and watch everything fall around me”. This entire album has an incredibly pessimistic attitude but it’s covered up so metaphorically and with such an array of pleasant sounds that it’s not so easy to decipher. It’s tragic that a lot of people won’t comprehend how pissed off I feel Thom genuinely is with everything on this record. The next track which i’m simply going to refer to as ‘Tinker Tailor’ due to it’s ridiculous full length title is one of my least favourites. I’m not entirely sure why this song made it onto the album either especially when songs like ‘Lift’ still exist in Radiohead’s arsenal. It’s probably the least impressive to me at this stage so I won’t dwell on it too much because there isn’t anything I really want to discuss. It doesn’t offer much of anything and is a little too dull for my liking but I am willing to let it grow on me. The final track on the album is the hugely anticipated ’True Love Waits’. I’ll begin by saying that I have only fell in love with Radiohead properly over the last year or so *a sea of glass bottle’s are launched from the crowd*. So given the fact i’m not someone that has been a dedicated fan from the start, I wasn’t really bothered about this song being on the album at all if i’m honest. It’s not a song that ever struck me as being incredible when hearing the 2001 live recorded version as much as I do understand why it’s so popular and I can appreciate a good song when I hear one. The thing that baffles me here, I’ve heard that Radiohead have tired many times to get a studio version of this song perfect. What’s so perfect about this version? It doesn’t sound like it’s had hours of work put into it, to me it just sounds like the same song but played on a piano and polished up in a studio. As much as I do think it’s an incredibly appropriate album closer and I do think it’s a powerful song, i’m really struggling to understand why is there so much hype around this track alone when you look back at Radiohead’s mind blowing discography. A lot of discussion boards online have questioned why the song actually made it on to the album but Thom did separate from his partner of 23 years in 2015. A lot of the songs on this album have surely somewhat been influenced by this major event in his life even if it was done subconsciously. The decision to finally put ‘True Love Waits’ on this album must have an incredible amount of relevance for Thom in his current state and perhaps he now finally means the words he is singing whole heartedly. It’s potentially his way of trying to be optimistic that the one for him is still out there, at the same time he is so sad to see someone he’s invested so much time in depart from his life. It’s a feeling of familiarity that we all known well, it’s a very beautiful song. The fact it feels so weightless and lets the album just float out gradually works so so well. It’s the perfect closer to this record in particular, the same as ‘Burn The Witch’ opened it up so well. Personally I just don’t think it’s one of the strongest songs on the album.

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Undeniably, Radiohead have produced another masterpiece, it’s certainly not their best record in my opinion but it most certainly cements the fact that they are still very much alive and kicking. This album however could also very easily be seen as a close to Radiohead’s career. It incorporates little to no new elements and doesn’t thrive itself on being ambitious. It’s the kind of album that’s happy to be left in a dark corner of a room but also serves as a delightful gem to immerse yourself in. There isn’t a lot of kick to this album so if you are hunting for tracks such as ‘Just’ and ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ you’ve come to the wrong place. This isn’t a hinderance to the album however because it just isn’t where Radiohead are at anymore, that boat has well and truly sailed. A Moon Shaped Pool will likely be swept under a rug and forgotten about universally for reasons such as this, which is unfortunate because it truly is a masterpiece that I am certain will win over the hearts of many.

FAVOURITE TRACKS – THE PRESENT TENSE, DECKS DARK, THE NUMBERS.
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACKS – DESERT ISLAND DISK, TINKER TAILOR.
ALBUM RATING – 8/10.

Song Of The Week – James Blake – Timeless

Brand new from the mercury prize winning post-dubstep  poster boy in the build up to his highly anticipated third record. ‘Timeless’ is a slow moving soulful creature that seduces the listener with its blissful chord progressions and gorgeously subtle reverberated chopped vocals. In comparison to ‘Modern Soul’ the first track to be lifted from new LP ‘Radio Silence’ this track has much more of a swagger. The hard hitting percussion gives more of a trap feel to the aesthetic and it almost feels like a song that’s already been remixed. This is simply James anticipating what would eventually become of the track once out in the real world, so instead he has developed it into this as original material. This certainly isn’t the first time he’s dwelled in these areas sonically as the immensely talented producer he is. He specialise’s in creating uniquely atmospheric instrumentals and uses his beautiful voice as the icing on the cake. Rumours have surfaced that the new album will feature a 20 minute track as well as features from both Kanye West and Bon Iver to name a few. ‘Radio Silence’ is still without a release date but is surely just an announcement away at this stage. Get excited for this one.

Ice Cube vs Cypress Hill, What Was That About?

Above: Ice Cube and B-Real chillin with an AK, it must not of been a good day.

 

 

If you’re a fan of gangsta rap, you could probably already reel off what this was about. But for all those who don’t know prepare to be told a tale of betrayal and treachery…just kidding. Ice Cube literally just stole a chorus concept. That’s it you don’t even have to read on now, finito, fin, finished!

In all seriousness though, lets get into this shit.

The first question we ask when faced with the horrifying truth that Ice Cube could ever do such a thing, is did he really though? Is B-Real just being a little bitch? Is he lying? Did he make it up? Well that was more than one question, but there are so many questions!!?? There probably isn’t that many and you’re just probably sat there like c’mon man you said you was going to be serious now, quit it with your jokes. So now I shall.

So this is how it all started (what follows is from the point of view of B-Real), Ice Cube was making the film ‘Friday’, which B-Real was originally going to star in but he couldn’t due to Cypress Hill touring and preparing for their next album release. So instead he asked Cube if it would be cool if they made a song for the movie and naturally Cube agreed. Wait, let’s take a step back a second. I feel like you should know that Ice Cube and B-Real were good friends at this point and B-Real was even at Cube’s wedding etc, they were tight, so to speak. So anyway, Cypress Hill made the song ‘Roll it Up, Light it Up, Smoke it Up’ and invited Cube down to the studio to listen to it to see if he liked it, whilst Cube was at the studio B-Real asked if he wanted to hear a couple of tunes off their new album. So they played him 3 or 4 songs with the last one being ‘Throw Your Set In The Air’, apparently Cube really liked the song and asked if he could use that song in the movie, they told him that they really wanted to but they couldn’t due to Sony marking it as their lead single.

Not long after, Cypress Hill were on tour when B-Real got a phone call asking if they had given the ‘Throw Your Set In The Air’ song to Ice Cube, which they responded to confused as they hadn’t even released the song yet. Apparently it wasn’t the exact same song it was just the chorus concept that was exactly the same as theirs, but naturally it would appear that he stole it. Sen Dog and DJ Muggs were instantly on the radio throwing hate at Ice Cube, whereas B-Real being such a close friend to Ice Cube took a more neutral approach, assuming that Cube would of had a good explanation.

Not long after Ice Cube got wind of what Sen Dog and DJ Muggs had said about him he called up B-Real, to which B-Real explained that the guys think he stole their song, Cube denied stealing their song and said he would never do that and said that sometimes rappers just come up with similar hooks that’s all. B-Real wanted to believe him so took his word for it and that was that.

Then a few months later B-Real received another call from Cube, asking if he wanted to come and lay down some vocals on one of his tracks, which he agreed. Real got to the studio and realised some of the lyrics were the same as the ones from the song Cube had previously been accused of stealing . So he went outside to make a phone call to his manager and then came back in and asked if he could lay down the vocals again, telling them he thought he could do it better, but this time the lyrics were gone. Real has said that there must of been some sort of expression on his face when he realised that those were his lyrics, that Cube picked up on, so when he left to make the phone call Cube took them out. Real didn’t confront Cube in the studio, but instead decided that Cypress Hill would have to call Ice Cube out. So they layed down the dis track ‘No Rest For The Wicked’.

This then started a chain of dis tracks, with Ice Cube releasing a track with his group Westside Connection named ‘King Of The Hill’.

Next Cypress Hill hit back with a song named ‘Ice Cube Killa’, taking the beat straight from ‘King Of The Hill’.

Ice Cube’s input on the beef has just been that ‘Cypress Hill think I stole one of their hooks’. He hasn’t really elaborated too much, but to be fair B-Real and Ice Cube have since squashed their beef and are friends again.

Who won?

I’d like to say it was a Tie.

Single review: Prince – Little Red Corvette/Dirty Mind (live)

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The image of Prince Rogers Nelson most fixed in our collective imagination is that of a purple-coated rocker, shredding the Purple Rain solo on various unusually shaped guitars. Less commonly known is that the piano was in fact his first instrument. Aged seven, the pop polymath taught himself how to play the Batman theme tune on his father’s piano, shortly thereafter writing his first composition, a song called Funk Machine. Half a century later, his Royal Badness has returned to his roots at the ivories for a solo piano and microphone tour, garnering some of the best reviews of his illustrious career.

The tour was supposed to start in Glasgow in November, but all European dates were cancelled due to a combination of pre-sale touting and the atrocities in Paris (something which Prince must have felt all the more keenly, as he had previously recorded a live single at the Bataclan). Uploaded at the same time as a new live version of the underrated Joy in Repetition, this recording of Little Red Corvette/Dirty Mind is the artist’s first solo piano release since 2002’s One Night Alone album, which mostly went unnoticed by those outside the hardcore Prince fanbase.

After a false start, probably purposefully included by the master showman to rile the Sydney crowd (the man himself refers to the city as Sidney-apolis, in reference to his Minnesota hometown), Prince launches into a heartfelt version of the 1999 album’s standout among standouts. His piano playing is tasteful, subtly complemented by synth string arrangements (disclaimer: Prince plays a keyboard on stage, as opposed to an actual piano). Dipping in and out of the salacious title track from 1980’s Dirty Mind, it’s clear that at 57 his falsetto remains as youthful as his appearance. He returns to Little Red Corvette for an ad-libbed coda, imploring an unnamed lover to ‘slow down’ and reminding her that even though he doesn’t mind if she goes to another, ‘nobody can do it like Prince do’. Coming from Prince, this isn’t arrogance, it’s simply true. This single is currently a Tidal exclusive, along with most of his oeuevre, but as with all things Prince, it isn’t guaranteed to be online forever, so it’s worth checking out this latest expression of his genius musicianship while one can.

 

Gig review: Grimes at Manchester Academy, 12/03/16

Are you going to the party? Are you going to the show?

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Canadian pop eccentric Claire Boucher, alias Grimes, brought her Ac!d Reign tour to the U.K. last week, playing to a full house at the Manchester Academy. This marked her first gig in the city since having her equipment stolen following a show at the Ritz in 2012.

Last November’s release Art Angels proved Grimes to have impressive pop chops, marrying massive hooks with 80s synths, all the while infusing the whole thing with a healthy dose of K-pop. Grimes’ star has risen exponentially since the release of 2012 breakthrough Visions and the combination of this and her almost four year absence from these shores has caused this to be one of the most hotly anticipated tours of the year. A mostly youthful crowd of Grimes acolytes, many with multi-coloured hair and glittery faces, turned out to finally see their woman in the flesh, some of whom will possibly have chosen this gig over the allure of Cosmosis festival, happening across the city at Victoria Warehouse.

Following an opening set by HANA, dry ice clouded the stage and the opening strains of Laughing and Not Being Normal gave way to Genesis. Through the fog, Grimes appeared at her work station to a hero’s welcome, simultaneously intoning the song’s Cocteau Twins-esque lyrics and playing its oriental synth lines. Brilliantly, a large chunk of the crowd sang the dreamy vocals back at her. During the verses, she would climb down from her podium, working the full length of the stage in a way that belied her oft-proclaimed stage fright. Unlike many laptop/synth based solo artists, the visuals were as considered as the music, her two dancers alternating between jerky dance routines, twirling ballet ribbons and performing sword dances with what appeared to be parrying daggers. REALiTi (replete with Princely drum machines) and Flesh without Blood followed, with support artist/sidewoman HANA and Grimes both providing heavy guitar and bass work, giving these renditions an edge which is not present on Art Angels. Grimes seemed almost apologetic about replacing Aristophanes’ Mandarin rap on Scream with her own Russian translation, but the crowd lapped it up.

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image taken from instagram: @lukeliddle94

The tension building throughout the opening gambit of songs finally bursts during Venus Fly, featuring Janelle Monae’s sampled vocal. The combination of the song’s thunderous bassline and the dancers shining hand held lasers into the crowd generates a rave atmosphere, something which Grimes is well aware of when she advises everyone to take care of each other and to keep hydrated. From here on out, the pace doesn’t let up, with Butterfly and a reworked Be a Body dispatched one after the other. 2014’s standalone single Go, originally written for Rihanna, is introduced as her ‘most controversial song’, but any controversy wasn’t apparent inside the walls of the Academy as the dubstep infused breakdowns sent the crowd into a frenzy.

After World Princess Part II, performed here for only the third time, the much-discussed dichotomy between Boucher herself and the Grimes persona was shown at its most clear. She announced that she was going to play an encore, but would not leave the stage before doing so as she would not be able to reinhabit the ‘headspace’ of Grimes if she did so. This provoked a rapturous response; her humble demeanour is one of many reasons why Grimes is so idolised by her fans. Earlier in the show, she had endearingly stated that she did not know how to respond when faced with a sea of cheering fans. This pseudo-encore, a refreshing departure from the perfunctory minute or so spent offstage by most artists turned out to be her ‘favourite’ song, Kill v Maim. The deranged bubblegum chant can be heard echoing down Oxford Road as the crowd trickle out, synapses still firing and presumably praying that Boucher’s next absence from the city will be much shorter than four years.