By now you will have read numerous reports of Grimes receiving several bouts of unwanted shock treatment as she bounced about the Olympia Theatre stage. Given the nature of this supercharged performance, it’s actually a somewhat fitting, if highly unpleasant, scenario.
Debate has been raging as to whether or not it was indeed a bolt of electricity from a rogue pedal or a gunfire-like burst dialled directly into in-ear monitors that did the damage but one thing is certain; it looked like it fucking sucked. What’s more, it essentially put paid to what was shaping up to be one of the great gigs of the year. The good news is that Claire Boucher is alive, well, and has a sense of humour about the whole thing.
So… where exactly to start? How about the sense of occasion, downright palpable as you amble into a packed-to-the-rafters Olympia. The final night of the Ac!d Reign tour comes hot on the heels of five-star, superlative-laden reviews from seemingly every stop along the way. No question, this is the hottest ticket in town. The strains of ‘laughing and not being normal’ set the tone before ‘Genesis’ announces its progenitor and the place duly loses its collective mind amidst flashing lights, playful rhythm and a true individual talent front and centre.
Flanked by a crew cooler than you or I will ever be, Grimes quickly takes point, the glorious ‘REALiTi’ sounding absolutely monstrous as it cuts a booming Euro-trance swathe through the room. ‘SCREAM’, emerging after a spirited ‘Flesh without Blood’, is bruising and brilliant as Boucher outdoes every hardcore act you’ve ever seen, closing things out by hitting the floor and, er, screaming with determined frenzy. When she’s not hunched over wielding her microphone as a weapon, she’s sauntering back and forth to her rig, an efficient set-up of keyboards, synths, pedals and pads. Boucher is in a state of constant flux here; always moving forward, barely letting anything breathe, the effect as relentless as it is intoxicating.
Chaos reigns, and so when ‘Butterfly’ is restarted due to the dreaded technical difficulties, you roll with it. Alas, wings are eventually irreparably clipped and the set begins to spiral beyond control. ‘Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)’ and ‘World Princess Part II’ are abandoned either side of pulsating runs of ‘Go’ (excellent) and ‘Oblivion’ (even better) and tonight’s leading light is forced to wrap things up early, remaining affable as profuse apologies are offered. She’s perhaps a bit shaken and almost certainly upset, but still insists on delivering a knockout blow in the form of the truly stunning ‘Kill v. Maim’, which, mercifully, soars high above any further potential sonic hurdles.
It’s a euphoric catharsis in a weird and wonderful hour, the peaks utterly immense, the flaws entirely human and completely forgivable. Commenting shortly afterwards, Boucher expresses her desire to return and play a “proper” set. Brace yourself when that day arrives.