Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Grimes At Nottingham Rock City REVIEW
Following a year in which St Vincent and Julia Holter have pushed the boundaries of possibility for female songwriters and on International Women’s Day with its theme of “Step it Up”, it was an auspicious moment for Grimes’s karmic thermal to drift into Nottingham.
The takeaway? A night of contradictions from an artist of contradictions.
A champion of DIY bedroom synth pop who commands £250 a ticket for a performance from fundraisers at the Guggenheim and who works through revered indie label 4AD but is managed by Jay Z’s global megabrand; such contradictions carried through into her Rock City show last night.
The presence of talented-in-her-own-right backing singer HANA and dancers didn’t prevent Grimes from so much owning the stage as establishing a totalitarian regime simultaneously playing guitar, programming keyboards, singing, and ricocheting to all corners like a technicolour Rorschach test.
Apparently spontaneous yet ruthlessly choreographed, the multi-lingual former Neuroscience undergraduate (“This one’s in Russian!") went, however, from strident confidence in performance to engaging nervousness in her asides to the audience, succeeding in shifting the impression she projected from sleazy to demure in the process.
The set list was dominated by her last two albums with the throbbing bass line intro to Genesis bookended by - her own favourite from Art Angels - Kill vs Maim, but with the audience ready to carry on all night a final contradiction; promptly after 60 minutes the shutters came down and no encore.
”Too stressful” they were advised.
It added up to an experience that was simultaneously brilliant and unsatisfactory, but ultimately it would take the hardest of hearts not to succumb to the quality and sheer audacity of Grimes’s work which are the product of an intelligent and original talent.
A review of YouTube demonstrates the evolution of her live performance; quite how she will transition to the next step of festivals and stadia remains to be seen but will be fascinating to watch.