Christine and the Queens turned The Forum into a sexually-driven French-neo-pop dance party

Heloise Letissier provided a lesson in human anatomy, soundtracked by the best Euro-pop this generation has to offer.

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Joshua Braybrook

Clad in sneakers, tracksuit pants, a black bra and her signature red button down, Heloise Letissier – aka Chris (“you can call me that now”) – and her posse of dancers organised themselves in the dark, then suddenly broke into ‘Comme Si’ with a raw physical energy that did not dissipate throughout the 1.5-hour set.

Despite her critically acclaimed 2018 album Chris having its own bilingual set list of certified bangers, Christine and the Queens managed to dip in and out of her previous album’s biggest hits with an ease that lent itself to the awe-struck crowd. This nod to her past self – both musically and aesthetically – gave the performance an extra dose of sincerity. Letissier, now performing as her androgynous and sexually liberated alter-ego Chris, performed her older tracks, such as ‘Tilted’ and ‘Science Fiction’, exactly as they were released five years previous. While she and her brand have changed immensely, she still gives upmost respect to her previous pursuits.

Though the floor was a bonafide boog-fest throughout, we all left the hard moves to the professionals. Anyone who’s ever watched a Christine and the Queens music video or live performance online knows that she can dance. And when I say she can dance, I mean she can dance. Alongside her six-piece crew, the group had specialised choreography for each song and interim, often flexing muscles I personally didn’t even know existed. Occasionally hoisting each other in the air (the smallest of them lifted their largest counterpart onto their shoulder like it was absolutely nothing), or otherwise silently concocting narratives by segregating the stage into various ‘us vs. them’ scenarios, they provided a master class in contemporary performance. Jerking, writhing and playfully taunting each other before the crowd, each flirtation was met with a chorus of screams from the pit that made Letissier and her gang collectively smirk. They knew exactly what they were doing.

This wasn’t just a concert; it was an interpretive presentation exploring the art and limitations of movement. At one-point Letissier stood alone under a spotlight, vulnerable, having stripped herself of her shirt and now dwarfed by the empty stage. Turning her back to the momentarily silent audience, she writhed, shuddered, rolled in the light while the band backed her with an indiscriminate and dark electro-beat. 

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Speaking of the physical prowess displayed, Letissier didn't miss a beat or a bar. Her voice was clear and unwavering, even while jogging in circles during ‘5 Dollars’ or standing amid the crowd during the encore, performing an oddly morose yet hopeful French rendition of ‘Saint Claude’. Slower tunes, like ‘Goya Soda’, still had the crowd bumping and dipping in time. ‘Doesn’t matter’ was a definite highlight; in a moment of peak vibe, everyone immediately started jumping around while the same went down onstage.

Overall, Christine and the Queens successfully created the safe space she asked for. Everyone was dancing, the crowd provided feedback with stomps that shook the stage, and we could feel the bass and Letissier’s vocal power shudder through our chests. The opening hook of the night was stuck in my head all the way home; “c’est comme si on s’aimait / when you play me loud, baby”.    

Highlight: When she introduced her band and dancers, so I could stop having to refer to the love of my life as “the one in the green jumper”.

Lowlight: The people in front of me who decided the slowest and most intimate ballad of the night was the perfect time to crack on about the fiscal prioritisation that comes with enjoying a sneaky MD. Pop one and shut the fuck up.

Crowd fave: ‘Tilted’, prologued by Letissier explaining her late-in-life epiphany that everyone’s a bit weird and we should all stop giving a fuck as soon as possible.

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