The introductory music swelled, the stage lights rose and revealed… six people having an argument. Heloise Letissier, or Christine, now known by the mononym Chris, soon arrived to sort them out through the power of dance, West Side Story style. So began a thrilling evening powered by restless movement, Gallic electrofunk and a visual surprise at every turn.
The 30-year-old from Nantes has now released two albums of fluid, dramatic, bilingual pop. It was her presentation of her songs on stage that prompted her UK breakthrough, with her sharp dance routines televised at Glastonbury and on The Graham Norton show in the same month in 2016. Here she led six dancers of miscellaneous genders up to the balcony, into the stalls and even through a snowstorm. During The Walker, thin streams of sand fell from the ceiling to make piles on the floor – a simple, beautiful idea that took this formation dance-led show away from the predictable realm of arena pop.
In black jeans and a loose red shirt which she untucked, opened and occasionally took off altogether, she sang as powerfully as the pre-recorded backing vocals and was energetically witty between songs. “Don’t underestimate the power of a sad French song,” she said, introducing Nuit 17 a[GRAVE] 52, which she sang a cappella before adding the chorus from Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.
A snatch of Janet Jackson’s Nasty paid homage to her other key influence, though sparkling tunes such as Doesn’t Matter and 5 Dollars were all her own. Before the steady pulse of Tilted, her biggest hit, she spoke of trying to fit in as a child and giving up. That decision has led to the birth of a unique performer, capable of appealing to people of all stripes.
“Vive la France!” yelled a punter. “Vive everyone!” she replied.