Christine and the Queens are an emerging act who are flirting with international superstardom. When I saw that the French group was coming to WXPN’s Free At Noon, I jumped at the chance to catch them at the University of Pennsylvania’s intimate World Café.
Fronted by the unassuming Héloïse Letissier, Christine and the Queens have an accessible style of art pop. A distinct Michael Jackson/Quincy Jones sound often creeps into songs that exude emotion and intellect.
Letissier defines her music as “freak-pop.” She writes the ensemble’s emotive songs in French and English. The feat is impressive considering her sound alone is catchy in any language.
The group (six dancers and three musicians) dazzled Free at Noon with a half-hour set. Despite a pre-show announcement that Letissier was experiencing vocal issues, those problems were not evident during the concert. She turned in truly brilliant singing in addition to her admirable dance routines. Letisssier also charmed the crowd with a fascinating performance and unabashed Frenchness.
It was hard to watch Christine and the Queens dance and not recall the “Les Jeunes de Paris” SNL sketch. Energetic and fun. Theatrical and emotional. There were a couple of numbers where it was easy to become transfixed by the creative style of dance.
Christine and the Queens played six songs for the Free At Noon crowd. The show began with the first two tracks from their new record, Chris. After “Comme Si,” “Girlfriend,” and “5 Dollars,” the troupe threw back to the biggest hit from their debut: “Tilted.” Lettisier joked that the song’s name was like her personality.
After an inspiring rendition of the single, the concert finished with two more songs from Chris, “Doesn’t Matter” and “The Walker.”
The quick Christine and the Queens U.S. tour includes a gig at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on the same day as their Free at Noon set. Letissier’s crew are fresh off of television appearances on The Graham Norton Show and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. They are set to travel to Canada and the U.K. following a stop in Washington, D.C.
Aside from the uniqueness of a brief U.S. swing, the WXPN set was special beyond the limited engagement. The dance pop outfit is a little attention away from returning to North America on a bigger stage. Watching them perform up close was an incredible way to experience their effort and choreography that you can’t get from an arena’s cheap seats.
Photos from Christine and the Queens @ Free At Noon, 11/2/2018:
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