As part of Laneway, Canadian superstar Grimes, real name Claire Boucher, graced our shores this week fresh off the back of her latest album, Art Angel. It’s been a while since she’s been to Australia, the last being in 2012 for Meredith Music Festival, just as she’d released her breakthrough record Visions. Though it may have been over 3 years, Grimes’ Sydney sideshow at the Enmore Theatre gave her a reception like they hadn’t seen her in a lifetime.
From the get go, it was impossible not to feel the growing anticipation among the crowd as the time crawled closer and closer to the main event. Supports Lupa J and HANA had warmed the Enmore well, but most punters had obviously waited till just before 9:30 to come in, with lines stretching right down the block. From the dance floor to the balcony, the crowd would erupt into cheers when anyone entered the stage, in the hope that it might have been Grimes herself. Then all of a sudden, the house lights cut, the deep rumble of bass filled the theatre and drowned out all cheering, and a single person took the stage. Everyone watched in complete silence as a lone dancer moved in perfect time with every beat of the music, and Grimes took the stage.
With her opener HANA, signed to Grimes’ label/not label, helping with instrumentation and two backup dancers, the stage was more full than anyone would have imagined, but it worked perfectly. The dancers were doing exactly what everyone in the crowd wishes they had the room to do, and HANA was perfect on her instrumentation, backup vocals and dancing as well. The set itself was over relatively quickly, going for a little over an hour – which may seem short compared to others, but that’s only because it was so jam packed. Boucher was constantly running from behind the keyboard, pads and playing guitar, back to the front of the stage, singing and dancing all in between.
Tracks from Art Angels were amazing to see constructed from scratch live on stage, and crowd favourites ‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’ from Visions sent the Enmore into near frenzy. At the close of each of her tracks, she’d run back to the mic stand, practically gasping for air after delivering back to back insane performances, and address her adoring audience. Grimes wore her performance on her sleeve constantly throughout the evening – claiming that she’d been shitting her pants all week with the flu, and discussing her opinions of each of her songs, and the reworks that she’d given to a number of them. Though each of these moments was super shortlived, with her racing to get stuck into the next number, it created a relationship with her as a performer that other artists are unable to.
At the close of the show, she even announced that she was going to play her Encore straight away because she “hates the whole getting clapped off and coming back thing” and always worries that she might not get clapped in for an encore. It gave us a real insight into her as a person, and made her performances all the more encapsulating. She busted out her version of Franz Schuber’s ‘Ave Maria’ as well, which was absolutely phenomenal – you could’ve heard a pin drop the whole way through. Alongside her stellar performance, lights, lazers and projections made what was already a great show just that little bit more impressive, and was something that those seated in the balcony could hold onto in absence of proper dancing room.
Grimes is a jack of all trades performer. She’s able to rile an audience up with a combination of live instrumentation, singing, dancing and her general presence on stage, which you don’t come by often enough. Her return to Australia can’t come too quickly, and we can only hope that it times out yet again with another album release.
Image by Amy Heycock for Howl & Echoes. See the full gallery here.