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Charli XCX, O2 Institute, Birmingham - review

By Harriet Evans | Music | Published:

“Make some noise for your favourite popstar, it’s me Charli XCX.”

Charlie XCX brought her new tour to Birmingham's O2 Academy last night

The Cambridge pop princess has come a long way since her early days and she oozed uber cool confidence as she brought her tour to Birmingham's O2 Institute last night.

She introduced herself using a hypnotic, hyperbolic voice over before strutting out onto the stage at the sold-out gig as if nothing could phase her.

Her adoring Angels screaming her name with tears in their eyes, clamouring to get a glimpse of her in action.

This tour is the first time that has shown off her latest album, Charli, since being released in September.

It features a mash-up of A-list collaborations featuring Lizzo, Haim and Christine and the Queens, just to name a few.

Combined with the arena-sized drums, electronic synths and Charli’s playful pop twist, the new tracks definitely pack a punch and don’t disappoint live.

Living up to these star-studded collaborations while performing solo can be challenging for any artist, but Charli doesn’t skim over their absence.

“Stand up and make some noise for Lizzo” she cheers during Blame It On Your Love as she dances smoothly giving the same amount of time and care over Lizzo’s verse as her own.

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Although Charli brilliantly filled the gaps left by her guest’s through her own energetic grooves, sometimes we were left hoping that she would bring out one of her co-artists for a duet.

It was as if Charli’s stage presence and live performance was so powerful and polished, that the recorded vocals couldn’t match her own intensity.

Powerful, bass filled tracks Vroom Vroom and Click went hard.

The venue was transformed as the audience danced in a frenzy to the trance-like beat, screaming every word back at their idol.

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When she moves into another high-energy track Shake It Charli acknowledges the song's collaborator Cupcakke before welcoming five queens from the Birmingham scene to the stage.

Jenna Davinci, Lacey McFaden, Akeen Adams, Jay Andre and Cocoa Kink were given their own time to shine, as Charli stepped aside and let them work the crowd.

The fans shrieked as the queens showed off their moves, death dropping, twerking and provoking the crowd.

It’s no question that there was a theme of acceptance and LGBTQ+ visibility throughout the whole performance, even reinforced by the rainbow coloured strobes, and this is something that many fans have come to love from Charli and her shows.

Charli XCX first rose to fame in 2008

Each element of the night was meticulously co-ordinated.

From the musical interludes during the costume changes, the ever-changing lightshow and the energy-packed dance moves.

Charli’s costumes even played a part as a prop.

She twisted and twirled the sheer fabric train on her first costume, which moved almost as effortlessly as Charli herself.

It was clear that the whole performance had been planned down to a tee and Charli’s experience in performing shone through.

She strayed away from the typical hits from her arsenal of tracks that you would see during her festival performances.

Slowing down the pace with ballads Warm and Official, we saw a more stripped back side to the popstar.

On these slower tracks the audience was treated to the true range of Charli’s voice.

She effortlessly reached the high notes before quickly switching to the low, deep tones all with unwavering strength.

Proving that even without her auto-tuned, kitchy trademark sound she an incredibly talented singer.

During the show Charli momentarily revealed a vulnerable side to herself and said “Thank you for being here and supporting me, for listening to this album and believing in me.

"Now I have the confidence to be myself, I found myself through you and I hope my music makes you feel as good as it makes me feel.”

It’s clear that her love for her fans is reciprocated as they reply with a chorus of “We love you Charli”, grinning with delight she replied “I love you too.”

Fans were eagerly awaiting to hear one of her classic tracks, but she made them wait until the encore which was stuffed with hits.

“Ready for a smash hit?” Charli teased as the opening beats for Icona Pop’s massive pop track I Love It played.

The room exploded in another burst of energy and everyone was on their feet singing along.

This British pop sensation has more sides to her than she is sometimes given credit for.

Charli is a fierce and immensely talented performer.

Not once during her show did her energy falter, despite her energetic dance moves and the demanding vocals in her tracks.

She is a role model for many young people seeking reassurance as she strives towards equality and female empowerment and is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Harriet Evans

By Harriet Evans
Community Reporter - @HarrietEvans_ES

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, covering the issues affecting young people across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Contact me at harriet.evans@expressandstar.co.uk

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