Grimes – O2 Academy, Bristol – 28.06.16

Grimes – O2 Academy, Bristol – 28.06.16

As part of her Acid Reign Tour, Grimes visited a somewhat grey Bristol on the 28th June, seeming intent on obliterating that atmosphere. Well, obliterating it for at least 90 minutes within the confines of the O2 Academy, at least – as there’s nothing grey in the slightest about Claire Boucher.

Before describing Grimes, it must first be said that the show wouldn’t have been the spectacle it was without her backing dancers, one of whom was support act HANA. Their choreography, costumes, and movement made the show. Even in the introduction, with ‘Laughing and Not Being Normal’ backing a lone, powerful dancer, you knew that this wasn’t just any live act.

The combination of the pop-electro beats with the surreal, athletic dancing was brilliant, and added a spellbinding dimension to the already catchy tunes. Case in point; listening to ‘Pin’ whilst watching the dancers elegantly appeared to slice themselves with sais (a type of traditional Okinawan weapon, which I assume were blunt) was like a live music video. Or the terrifying ‘Scream’, and watching everyone collapse in a fit of hysteria on stage. It added so much more to the show than just watching a musician play their songs – not just a gig, but a performance.

However, this was to be expected. Not only a singer-songwriter, Grimes is also a director, choreographer, and producer – and this plethora of talent shines through in her live show. You could see the planning at hand; the coming together of a vision that was surely in mind during the creative process and culmination of her latest album Art Angels. Like I said; it was a performance.

The lighting of the show was a spectacle in its own right as well, an eclectic rainbow of light that streamed across everyone in the room. The evening as a whole was a beautiful overload of colour, dancing and music.

I find Grimes as a performer incredibly likeable. At one point, she can be shy, almost awkward on stage; addressing the crowd in an excited and nervous tone, seeming relatable and human. Then all at once she transforms into a dancing, singing creature that confidently transports you out of this world and into her own – a world of catchy hits like 2012’s ‘Oblivion’ and oddly dreamy classical covers like ‘Ave Maria’.

At points, Boucher had to apologise, as she had come down with the flu. I don’t know about you, but if I get a peaky stomach, I tend to curl in a ball of self-pity; much less decimate a crowd of people with rave-inducing bangers like ‘Go’. She also apologised for the lack of encore due to stage fright, so closed with ‘Kill V. Maim’, ensuring there were no survivors for a potential encore to entertain.

It truly was a display of vibrancy that seemed almost out of place on a stage in Bristol – more suitable in the colourful imagination of someone on a cocktail of hallucinogens. I left truly impressed with the excess of visual and aural delight, somehow having managed to get glitter all over myself. And glitter’s a real pain to get out.

Dariush Bahri