As rises to stardom go, Grimes has shown us how it’s done with a weird grace, honest poise and absolutely zero compromises.
It’s been four years since Grimes first landed in London to play a tiny gig at a strip club in Soho, shortly after signing to 4AD. Then she was a charming, but alarmingly shy performer. While the style icon, electro pop princess and visual artist has flourished to global success since, tonight in Brixton we are confronted with the fact that she’s not quite conquered the stage fright. She is still anxious. She is still humble. Claire Boucher has not changed at all.
Tonight, Boucher bounces on stage, flagged by dancers and backed up by her very own Tank Girl-esque bandmate Hana. After launching the night’s festivities with a mirthful delivery of Genesis, proceedings bound on with Realiti, followed by a synth heavy-version of the Flesh Without Blood. Wild and out of breath, Boucher steps forward to say hello, and is met by a prolonged roar of approval. “I appreciate you clapping, but I’m shy,” she says, gesturing for the applause to stop.
When addressing the crowd, Boucher is often hard to understand – at times, the nerves have hold and she speaks so very quickly. Yet the love in the air is palpable. If you’re not here dressed as Grimes tonight, you respect those who are. Boucher proceeds with Art Angel bangers Scream and Venus Fly. A new bassier reworking of Be a Body is followed by the now-classic Oblivion. If she hadn’t already won us over, her pleas to the overexcited pit feel endearingly-good natured: “please remember to drink some water and do not crush your peers.”
Boucher explains that she’ll not be leaving the stage before playing an encore – “I have terrible nerves. To leave and come back is too much” – before ending the night with Kill vs Maim– an Art Angels highlight that Boucher has claimed was “written from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather Pt II. Except he’s a vampire who can switch gender and travel through space”. The crowd chant the anthemic “B-E-H-A-V-E, arrest us!” chorus in unison, subscribing to Grimes’ eccentric vision and, hopefully, proving her self-doubt wrong.