We’ve seen more rock bands than you’ve had hot dinners this weekend. Time for a pop palette cleanser.
Charli XCX has a knack for a melody. This is the Cambridge-bred, globe-straddling phenomenon who gave ‘Fancy’ its irresistible hook and helped Icona Pop climb to the top of the charts with ‘I Love It’, oft likened to the great Gwen Stefani and growing in status by the day. Ably supported by a super-tight, all-female backing band, she’s making a good fist of establishing her live credentials tonight on the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage at Leeds Festival 2015.
Pop stars who sound great on record can sometimes struggle to translate their appeal into a live setting. No such trouble for Charli XCX (pictured above, singing at a different show), who has been performing live on a regular basis since the age of 14 – tonight’s show is every inch as slick and assured as you’d expect from a seasoned pro. Predictably, the set’s most emphatic highs come with the singer’s biggest hits – the irrepressible ‘I Don’t Care’, bratty solo effort ‘Break the Rules’ and, of course, ‘Fancy’.
But there are interesting moments to be found elsewhere in the set too – ‘Famous’ is a real highlight, ‘Doing It’ is a sound straight out of the Haim songbook, and the one new track played tonight hints at the possibility of a darker new direction, underpinned by guttural guitar and bass.
Plenty of Leeds Festival attendees aren’t particularly likely to enjoy Charli XCX’s music – relatively speaking, there’s not a great deal of soul or virtuosity to be found in her songs. What you will find in Charli XCX’s music, however, is great pop moments, and plenty of them. Charli is an explosive performer, and we can say with hand on heart that her backing musicians are up there with some of the best acts we’ve seen all weekend. Strongly recommended for those of you who enjoy a spot of mildly edgy, infuriatingly catchy pop.