I thought this French pop star would be good to see live after catching her excellent performance on The Graham Norton Show a while ago, but holy guacamole I had no idea she would be that good. This funky, joyful, sensual show was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
The crowd absolutely made this gig. Apparently this was the first ever Australian tour for Héloïse Letissier a.k.a. Christine and the Queens, and the reception she got was overwhelming, I struggle to think of the last time I’ve heard so much deafening love and enthusiasm from a Melbourne audience. The adulation is well-deserved; while I like her music, it’s not until you see Letissier live that you realise what a complete package she is as an artist.
I got to the Forum about half an hour before the main act, so I couldn’t get as close to the stage as I’d have preferred, but at least there were no tall people blocking the view. I do wish I could have watched the concert from a slightly elevated position, where I wouldn’t miss out on some of the choreography. This was a full-on theatrical show; other than Letissier and four musicians, there was a troupe of six back-up dancers, dressed with a pop of primary colours, and some simple but clever stage lighting. Letissier herself cut an edgy, androgynous figure, with a short pixie cut and wearing a billowing red shirt over black pants and black bra. Having seen older pictures of her, it feels like with her second album, Chris, she has found her true look.
Most of the discussion about Letissier focuses on her pansexuality and exploration of gender and queerness, but above all she’s just a truly fabulous and talented performer. She can really dance and she can really sing (in English and French), never hitting a bum note even while keeping up with the energy of her dancers and doing some 80s-style popping. The best of her electro-pop songs are catchy as heck and she can deliver an affecting ballad too. In between the songs she’s animated and charming. One of the most memorable moments of the show was one of its simplest: Letissier, sans shirt, with her back to the audience, her muscles moving slowly under her pale skin in a display of sheer physicality.
The show ended with a truly amazing encore that, in my book, rivals only Amanda Palmer playing Creep on a ukulele from the Forum’s balcony in memorable stakes. After running offstage, Letissier reappeared at the back of the theatre to perform a couple more songs, now stripped to the bra and waving her red shirt around like some sort of revolutionary. She introduced her very last song as a “gentle French lullaby”, before laughing, just kidding, to the sounds of yet another pumping party song. Then she made her way through the crowd, passing a metre away from moi, which also made me realise that she’s in fact a tiny thing. I hope it’s not too long before she takes another long flight to Australia.