Music review: Christine & the Queens, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

H�l�ise Letissier, who records as Christine and the Queens PIC: Ryan Pfluger/NYT
H�l�ise Letissier, who records as Christine and the Queens PIC: Ryan Pfluger/NYT
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Near the top of this most palate-cleansingly refreshing of shows, queer pop queen Héloïse Letissier, aka Christine – or Chris as she now prefers to be known – declared the Usher Hall “a safe space… a place to experiment and dissolve, where you’re free to change your mind, even change your name”.

Christine & the Queens, Usher Hall, Edinburgh *****

Visually reflecting the French ensemble’s new album, Chris’s themes of freedom, fluidity and shifting identities, nothing on the stage remained fixed. Not the risers from which her four-piece band eased out popping electro-funk, sometimes while being wheeled into different positions mid-song, nor the vast backdrop which at one point changed dramatically from an oil painting of wind-swept rural vista to another of a looming storm cloud.

And certainly not Letissier and her badass gaggle of dancers’ feet, which whipped up their own storm throughout.

Uniting music that’s equal parts Jacksons Michael and Janet with fierce contemporary dance and theatrical staging, all in a way that never sacrifices fun at the altar of high ideas, what a gift Letissier has proven since breaking out with her million-selling 2016 debut Chaleur Humaine.

She could get away with dropping still her biggest and best song Tilted into the set midway without losing any sense of anticipation.

Flashes of gorgeously playful choreography and staging were many, from a pretty shower of fake snow at the start of Goya Soda to the bit when one of her dancers literally started smouldering during a particularly hot duet.

An encore which started with Letissier singing Saint Claude from up on the balcony ended with her being carried aloft through the crowd across the theatre floor by her dancers, as phone cameras glowed all around, looking every bit the superstar she is. - Malcolm Jack