Music Reviews

”Yeule Just Wish You’d Have Been There” – Live Review: Charli XCX (and Yeule) @ Rock City

Tim Ovenden

Tim Ovenden returns for his third (and final?) Impact article reviewing Charli XCX. He swears he’s not obsessed. After less-than favourable opinions on her new album ‘CRASH’, would Tim be turned around by Charli’s CRASH tour? The wonderful Yeule is supporting, threatening to overshadow XCX at her own show. It all culminates at Rock City.

Charli fans must be eating good. The first thing I noticed, as the masses flocked towards the main stage, was just how tall everyone was. I’m well over six foot and I struggled to see the stage. My friend, built a whole foot shorter than I, had absolutely no chance.

Ambient and glitch pop icon ‘yeule’ opened for Charli. The multi-talented producer and singer-songwriter (Nat ?miel) will always have a special place in my heart after their 4-hour and 44-minute ambient piece The Things They Did for Me Out of Love became my de facto study anthem this past year. As beautiful a composition as it is, I was not surprised to see it left off the set list.

Nat began with the beautiful Pixel Affection; I only had to hear the first word ‘wasted’ before I was singing along. 

Nat was a pleasure to see live, unperturbed by the unreceptive and unappreciative crowd so often associated with supporting acts. After busting out a guitar for the acoustic detour Don’t Be So Hard on Your Own Beauty, yeule ended with Bites on My Neck, a personal favourite of mine. Its heavy production finally got the crowd moving and Nat left on a high, with the stage set and the fans raring for Charli. We waited with bated breath. I needed the toilet.

yeule ended with Bites on My Neck, a personal favourite of mine

Before I get into my thoughts, I have some apologies to make regarding my ‘CRASH’ review. I think I was wrong to be annoyed at Charli for not making the kind of music I want her to make. Having a mainstream moment, being a pop star… after seeing her live, I get it now.

Have I changed my mind on the album itself? God no, and I do think her self-awareness regarding ‘selling her soul’ to go mainstream on ‘CRASH’ could be better expressed in the music. However, seeing Charli taking a break from social media due to the negativity surrounding her change in sound, I regret adding to these voices when I could have easily kept my mouth shut.

There are several superlatives I could use to describe Charli XCX’s gig, but simply put, she was incredible and I loved it. Amazing lighting, fancy visuals and two fantastic accompanying (topless) male dancers, what more could a guy ask for? It was amid a crash of lightning that Charli appeared, during the opener Lightning. The song went inexcusably hard live and only the title track Crash matched its intensity, from the new album anyway.

Hearing these tracks performed live was a borderline religious experience for me

I do have one pet peeve about the set though, of course I do. Charli’s previous LP ‘how i’m feeling now’ (HIFN) was made and released during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning she never got the chance to tour the album. Honestly, HIFN (alongside A.G Cook’s ‘7G’) got me through much of the insanity and monotony of lockdown and I adore every track on it.

Unfortunately, Charli only played two songs from HIFN – party 4 u and visions – despite them being hands down the best of the night. Hearing these tracks performed live was a borderline religious experience for me and it seemed like the crowd favoured these more hyperpop-leaning cuts too (although obviously I’m biased)

Now, I know this was a ‘CRASH’ tour, so it must predominantly feature new music, but I don’t think we need to hear every song from ‘CRASH’. Would anyone mind if Charli left out Move Me or Twice or hell, even Every Rule which I like, but is inessential live (despite it functioning well as a cool-down interlude)? In place of these, we could have had any from pink diamond, forever, claws, 7 years, detonate, enemy and anthems. I would give anything to hear these live.

Tim Ovenden

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Tim Ovenden. No changes made to these images. Permission to use granted to Impact.

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