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LIVE: Grimes - Manchester Academy


Walking into the venue, I saw an array of fans made up with glitter across their faces and their hair in perfectly held plaits. Some were younger, some were older than me, but one thing for sure was that these were not tame fans, and around 150 minutes later, I knew why.

From the outset there was an edgy, futuristic feel to the music hall. Support act HANA came on stage to the simplistic décor of two Chinese parasols either side of her decks.

After humbly introducing herself as Claire Boucher’s (a.k.a. Grimes) best friend and avid supporter, she began to play her opening track Paradise. Her vocals were crisp and serene, as she progressed into her higher vocal range the crowd were going wild for each advancing note.

During the interval, a 30-minute clamber occurred where each devoted fan ran to the bar or bathroom in preparation for Grimes to arrive on stage. I overheard numerous groups of friends chatting, “We are going to push to the front”, “I’m not usually aggressive, but we need to get a good view”.

Grimes was due any moment, the crowd number had doubled; I positioned myself on the front right where my five-foot frame had ample visibility between the mass as the lights blacked out and she appeared.

The sub-bass could be felt all over as the lights re-illuminated, shadows were over her face as she stood in front of a pinned up sheet of chainmail. The crowd were ecstatic, my view rapidly decreased as more and more hands flew in the air, greeting their prized ferine synth pop-queen.

Accompanied by two dancers, she performed several songs from Art Angels, each track perfectly choreographed with rampant head jerks and erratic arm movements in time to the beat. A particular crowd-pleaser was ‘Scream’, an unexpected combination of screaming, Russian lyrics and seemingly martial art-like dance moves.

The set continued after she reminded the audience to share around some water and be gentle with each other at the front. At this point, HANA joined her on stage and they performed ‘Kill V Maim’.

Encouraging the crowd, Grimes started to continuously pump her hands in the air, jumping from one end of the stage to the other in fast sumo-style waddles. The dancers were carrying ribbons and systematically waving them in time to the marching rhythm.

An enthralling gig, full of ominous drops and wicked vibrations. Grimes is evidently adored by many, yet still only well known by a few. However, with the turn out and the level of affection from the crowd, she is ascending from synth-pop heaven to greet her pals with the kaleidoscopic rave of the year.

Charlotte Saunders