After a whirlwind end to 2015 which culminated in the fantastic Art Angels, included in many publications’ top albums of the year lists, it’s fair to say that expectations were high for Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) in Leeds.
Support act HANA tantalises with an accomplished set – her ghostly synths develop into bass pulses as she went on, taking charge of the stage with each track, with ‘Clay’ being a real standout. She even manages to slip in a neat cover of Eurythmics’s ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’. Her EP is out on the 25th March and, if this performance is anything to go on, it’ll be well worth a listen.
Art Angels opener ‘Laughing and Not Being Normal’ eerily drifts into the space as the lights drop, prompting loud cheers of anticipation before Boucher races on stage and segues into Visions favourite ‘Genesis’. It’s heavier than the studio version – a recurring theme throughout the show – and beat, crowd and artist bounce in tandem. HANA is back as a backing vocalist and instrumentalist for the duration of the set, and dancers Alison and Linda were as captivating to watch as the light show.
Boucher makes this a full-blown performance. She leaps around the space, constantly rushing between the front of the stage and back again to one of her four synthesisers to layer in the next segment. There’s no doubting that she’s committed to putting on the perfect performance, and the O2 crowd recognise this. She apologises at one point for “hitting a couple of wrong buttons”, and at another for “having really bad stage fright”, but all she gets in return are deafening cheers of support. Whatever Boucher’s doing, she’s doing it right.
You’d be hard-pressed to choose a show-stealing moment. Mid-set tracks ‘Venus Fly’ and ‘Go’ (which Boucher introduces as her “most controversial song”) are the most outright dance moments, but the pop grooves of ‘Butterfly’ and the unmistakable synths of ‘Oblivion’ are just as memorable. But it’s show-closer ‘Kill V Maim’, one of The Gryphon’s tracks of 2015, that takes the prize. It’s an exhilarating ending: with synth and guitar racing, dancers and crowd going hell for leather and Boucher’s tongue-in-cheek “Cos I’m only a man / Do what I can” scything through it all. She plays for well over an hour, but even a set twice as long wouldn’t be enough to quench the crowd’s appetite. Grimes is an artist of the highest calibre – and she completely deserves it.