Credit: Shirlaine Forrest & BBC
christine and the queens presents redcar: a sheer force of illustrious artistry for all.
BBC Radio 6 Music Festival celebrates the “cutting edge music of today“, featuring artists that share the “alternative spirit” of the network. A seemingly perfect partnership then with the best in-house, Christine and the Queens.
If you think that going to a concert is listening to the music for an hour before sauntering on home thinking nothing more, then you’ve seriously misunderstood the assignment. Christine and the Queens’ illustriously passionate electronic pop has no other end-goal than to make you listen, feel and move long well into the night – and even into the next working week.
What took place at O2 Victoria Warehouse for BBC Radio 6’s Music Festival on the 25th of March was nothing short of special. Christine and the Queens performed the global premiere of his new live show for his new album, as his new fantastical expression of identity Redcar les adorables etoiles (prologue) was cast not only to the full venue of 3,500 before him but to the avid BBC Radio6 Music listeners across UK and Europe.
Simply put, Chris (now known as his new professional stage name Redcar) was an androgynous ethereal powerhouse. Influenced by consummate performers like Laurie Anderson and Michael Jackson, Redcar brought in a choreography of erratic and captive dance movements, almost like a call-and-response to his ‘Lords of Music’ – a stalwart trio of bass, drums and guitar/synth, all honed in with an equally enigmatic performance with their 80’s synth throbs and melodic triumphs.
The next chapter to his story has brought about Redcar, with the new album’s ambitious exploration of sensuality takes a somewhat operatic scope – a feeling we’re all not too familiar compared to his past work. But it’s a feeling we’ll come to love as he waded through poetic monologues of captive sailors, incarnations and a knight without a sword, a feeling of want and desire all this time, for the life of a man. The operatic scope didn’t just stop there, either. The donning of a Phantom of an Opera mask from the drummer led to more links with a disfigured identity brought together by love – a story we’ve all come to love and adore from the famous dramatic.
“When they asked me I who I was , I said well I’m a knight. I just lost my sword is all. I’m a knight without a sword and they laughed because I guess they were just looking with their eyes. But nobody was looking with their heart. If they were, they would’ve seen underneath the thin layer of skin: my soul. And they all asked, to incarnate and to go through the motions. And what I just asked, was the life of a man and it, is just fantastic. Good Lords of music, may you take me there?” An operatic monologue was spoken to a crowd very much eating out his hand as he asks his band counterparts to dive into iT; taken from the French singers’ Chaleur Humaine in 2014.
A highly captivating performance, troves of staggered MJ-esque suspension filtered out at the start of Les Etoiles, while Combien De Temps saw Redcar sink to the floor, bellowing high-octave notes directly into the bass drum, the stage lit in brazen-yellow.
People I’ve Been Sad was another escape, as wispy backing vocals plunged a whole new depth into the archaic angel motif. There’s something extra mystifying when music is sung in another language you don’t understand. Call it ignorance but it enters a whole new captivating territory to the performance.
His most beloved track, Tilted received rapturous applause when the first KORG synth notes were played, as Redcar twisted and contorted the way through with immersive hand signals – each getting their own meaning depending on the song being played – all the while interspersing lines from Peppers’ Under The Bridge: is the city I live in, the city of angels..
Redcar didn’t leave us with familiarity via songs we know either. Both 80’s-synth heavy Track 10 and hard-hitting Lick The Lights Out were debut performances of songs set to be released from his forthcoming album, coming in the summer (June 9th). Ticking off a new introduction to the new Madonna-inflected opera-musical album seemed complete.
However, a tact to leave everything on the stage wasn’t complete just yet. The venue was swamped in complete darkness … before we were met with redcar on stage before adorning a large set of angel wings on his back – a direct reference to both him, as a messenger from God, and to his forthcoming album titled Paranoia, Angels, True Love; the second instalment of his rock opera concept record project based on the 1991 play of Angels in America. Redcar rounded off a resolute performance with his latest To Be Honest, a marking of candid vulnerability, “I am trying to love / But I’m afraid to kill / And I never know when / When to search or stay still / So I fly / To be honest with you,” as he stalked the stage, an image powerful all on its own. A highly immersive cinematic unrivalled to anything seen before.
Not judging gender by its definition or it posing as an obstacle in itself, Christine and the Queens Presents Redcar was an incomparable show of magnitude that neither Manchester – nor the rest of music – will be able to forget.
Frankly, I don’t think the rest of the world is ready for it.
Credit: BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC iPlayer
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