Charli XCX: Live Review

Charli XCX’s new album “Charli” released last Friday, and if her recent interviews and Twitter posts have revealed anything it’s that she thinks this album is flawless perfection and is ready to move on to the next one already.

I’ve loved her music ever since I first heard the song “What I Like” on some random Spotify playlist what seems like ten years ago (actually closer to seven years). My first time seeing her live was at Vinyl and she performed True Romance, her first album, almost in it’s entirety (setlist here). Tonight would be my fourth time seeing Charli, but it’s been four years since the last show. Charli has been around the music industry far longer at this point and she has changed. Grown would be a strong word, but she has grown up in some ways. She is definitely far more interested in the Gen Z style rap music where you repeat the same thing over and over. She has twisted this interest with her perfect pop sensibilities into some type of pad synth heavy future pop which translates live as her singing to backing tracks. Her new album is a feature heavy trip, and for the most part that just means Charli singing along to the featured artists on the backing track in the live show.

The first three times I saw Charli live she had an all female backing band. To me, having a band adds an extra element to the live show. There is danger that something could go wrong, someone could break a string, someone could miss a chord. A solo performer simply dancing and singing on her own is entertaining, but it’s not what I love to see in a live performance. Charli herself questioned the audience at one point “Am I hype enough? Like, am I keeping you hype?”

The floor area was crushingly packed. We stayed for half of the first song and ended up in the back of the room where Charli appeared more as a silhouette than anythin else in front of a huge cube made of some white sheet like material. Her lights, the lights in and arount the cube and her dancing in front of it was actually really entertaining. I wish we were closer but then we would’ve had zero room to dance. Her set was filled with new songs. It feels like she wants to forget everything she has done in the past. She even stated at one point “I’m not playing Boom Clap anymore” which must be a pretty new sentiment as it has been her closer all Summer long at the festivals.

She played fifteen songs from her new album. This tour is going to be all about Next Level Charli. Nothing from True Romance, nothing from Sucker, nothing from Pop 2, I could go on… I wonder if the whole tour will be like this or if it was something special as the Atlanta show was the tour kick off show. I’m sure I’ll grow to like the album more but I obviously wish she had played a few old songs. At one point Charli said she has such a connection with her fans and how she has really felt it especially after Vroom Vroom (which she did play). I felt pretty alienated in that moment having supported her far before that record, which I actually really disliked.

She came out for an encore and started with I Love It and 1999, closing with a quicker tempoed remix of 1999. I have a feeling I won’t be really enjoying another Charli show like I have in the past for another ten years at least. Oh well, she was fun, we had a good time, her new songs are OK, but I’ve only been listening to it for a week, so who knows. A full setlist for the show can be found here. The photos here are not mine, I found them on Twitter.

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