Photographs by Neil Van.
France’s Christine and the Queens finally made her return to Toronto for their sophomore appearance in the city before a packed Phoenix last night. She was to appear here last December opening for Marina & the Diamonds but was sick making her appearance at the Mod Club in August of 2015 her last time here.
She released her eponymous North American debut album in 2015 and has been going over the world since. In that time her infectious gender politicking dance pop has blown up worldwide, particularly the UK where the album is becoming a chart mainstay. And for good reason as the album is stacked full of intelligent pop creating a fun safe space.
A fun safe space is what Christine sought to create on an unseasonably warm evening. Opening with “Starshipper” Heloise Latissier, aka Christine, and her Queens had the audience in the palm of their hands. This was quickly followed up with “Half Ladies” and “iT” which featured a cover of Tame Impala’s “Cause I’m a Man” for an outro.
For all the dance-pop tags and the travelling troupe of dancers, the album aimed more for the living room stereo rather than the dancefloor but for the live experience, beats are beefed up making resistance to being seduced to dance futile. Tut this posed the only problem I had with the evening; the sold out show made for little dancing room, at least from my vantage point. I did my best for I felt I had little choice as her catchy pop really gave my hips a mind of their own.
While the crowd was limited in its space to dance, it was not limited to unleashing a rapturous roar, especially after “Tilted” which came out surprisingly early mid-set. Christine mentioned feeling like Bruce Springsteen and she wouldn’t have been wrong.
She played almost all of Christine and the Queens over the course of the evening plus some great covers including Beyonce’s “Sorry”, a blistering run through Inner City’s “Good Life” and closed the night out along with the crowd as the entire room belted out Drake’s “Hotline Bling”.
I don’t know why tracks like “Tilted” are not on North American radio playlists – her message is very positive and her pop sugary sweet without becoming sickly. But her willingness to tour constantly with a spellbinding night of dance and pop will see her audiences grow the old fashioned rock and roll way. She’s a dramatically improved performer from when I saw her at the Osheaga Festival in 2015 and even then she was one of that weekend’s highlights.
There was no language barrier last night – the smitten crowd roared out the French songs louder than the English ones, they did their best to dance and they were great at showing some love, so it’s only a matter of time before you become one of her Queens too.