Wednesday, 26 April 2017

number 1 angel: charli xcx at the jazz cafe

camden's jazz cafe might seem like an odd venue for pop princess charli xcx to debut her latest mix-tape, number 1 angel, but she soon made herself at home when i went to see her last thursday. after spending yet another day in the library putting the final touches to my magazine, i left uni feeling disappointed that i hadn't sent my magazine off to print, so this gig was exactly what i needed to lift my spirits. (i managed to get it sent the day after, however, meaning i'm pretty much done with uni forever (!!))

arriving to the venue just before seven, i was surprised to see how small it was. for an artist who has written for rihanna, sky ferreira and gwen stefani, i'd expected a much bigger location for her show, which sold out in just a few hours. however, there was only a small crowd gathered around the stage, which didn't even have any barriers, meaning the audience could literally get up close and personal with whoever was performing. 

the first act to take to the stage was RIVRS, an electronic duo who i've written about before, and who i was incredibly excited to see. the first few songs didn't thrill me, or the rest of the audience, but by the time they performed their latest single bad karma, the crowd were a bit more lively. i couldn't help being disappointed that they didn't play my favourite song, friend lover, but i didn't have much time to mull this over as PC music favourite hannah diamond came on shortly after. 

as much as i love the heavily produced sound of the collective, i was unsure as to how it would translate live, but she certainly lived up to my expectations. she opened her set with hi, and went on to play a mixture of old and new songs, apologising for the delay in releasing her latest EP. highlights included fade away, every night and her most recent single make believe, which i bought on itunes straight after the gig and have been playing obsessively ever since. i only wish i'd been slightly more intoxicated, as the atmosphere was better than the majority of clubs i've been to. 

once her set was over, it was an agonising wait for charli to take to the stage. i'd been looking over the shoulder of one of the photographers as he exchanged texts with someone, and one of them said charli was due to come on at 9:45, though it was just after ten when she finally came out. by this point, i was very nearly on the front row, having been pushed forward throughout hannah's set, and throughout the show i was transported back to my days in various mosh pits as a teenager; an environment i never expected to find myself in at a charli xcx gig. it's a testament to the dedication of her fans, desperate to hold her hand for a few seconds every time she came to our side of the stage, or even just to make eye contact a few times (which i definitely did). the crowd were word perfect, even for the unreleased tracks such as bounce and closing number girls night out, which sounded just like 90s-era madonna, and i need a studio version ASAP. 

i'd hoped the gig would change my mind about some of the songs on number 1 angel, and it definitely did, as i've had the whole thing on repeat since last week, and i don't understand why i didn't love these songs when i first listened to them. she played the majority of the new album, as well as vroom vroom and trophy from her last EP, which prior to this gig, i preferred over the new album. also on stage was producer AG cook, who the crowd seemed to adore as much as charli, and it's easy to see why. his signature sound gives the new tracks that sickly sweet bubblegum pop sound, mixed with charli's r'n'b influence, which the album explores through its collaborations with rappers cupcakKe and ABRA. 

i was already familiar with tracks like roll with me, blame it on you and dreamer - which i took great pleasure in rapping perfectly after weeks of practise - but found new favourites in white roses, a slow-burning ode to a new lover, babygirl and 3am (pull up), which i've had on repeat more than any other track as it perfectly sums up how i feel about our culture of late night hook-ups and people who are only interested in one thing. 

my highlight of the night however, was when i heard the opening to no angel, an unreleased track produced with SOPHIE. i've had the low quality live version on repeat for months, but it was a complete surprise to hear it played live; i actually felt myself tearing up. in fact, i was fighting back tears throughout the show as it was so good to be in a space where pop music is celebrated rather than ridiculed, with people who love it just as much as i do. i'm going to go right ahead and say it now; charli xcx is the future of pop music, and her new album - whenever it's released - will most definitely be my favourite of the year. 

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