Heloise Letissier, aka French queer pop artist Christine is a right little gamine pocket rocket. As she struts out tonight with her dancers, presenting a “West Side Story” intro for the 21st Century, adoration bordering onto fanaticism drips from the assembled, some of whom are dressed like her. She has them on her side from the get-go, and the catcalls are affectionate; occasionally sexual.
Her voice is truly gorgeous, husky on the lower register, and sweet and just trilly enough to resonate, but something of her performance feels too well honed to get a hook into. It’s not quite theatrical enough, yet too big to feel spontaneous: ironic for someone who sees herself as a contemporary of uncompromising artists like Anohni and Perfume Genius. Similarly, her music lacks a little passion. All her niceties, too, feel rehearsed. “I’m gonna twist the solemnity of this venue”, she declares.
It’s a “strict machine” as Alison Goldfrapp once purred, and the choreography vacillates between musical theatre (Letissier got expelled from her theatre school before finding her pop chops) and late 80s music video. She and her team of dancers have superb interplay together. Her songs too tread retro nostalgia paths, which is fine when they have a bit of Janet Jackson sass about them (Goya Soda, Girlfriend, Doesn’t Matter) not so good when descending into mawkish balladry, a la Celine Dion, as in Paradis Perdus or Make Some Sense.
Having only released two albums, Chaleur Humaine and Chris, there is a deep sense of a talented artist finding her way, and there’s a lot to enjoy here. She’s an articulate and likeable role model. Her show is an entertaining spectacle. If only her freak flag was… well… un peu freakier.