With all the noise surrounding Charlotte Church’s career, the fact that she is actually a singer is often lost under the weight of coverage about her personal life, tweets and political views. Some portions of the media are seemingly still aghast that the soprano child star had the temerity to grow up and decide that she didn’t want to do opera anymore, choosing instead to go pop and grow her own opinions like a crazy chick – she wants rich people, including herself, to pay more tax. How dare she! She also recently refused Donald Trump’s invitation to perform at his inauguration via Twitter in her typically frank fashion – Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye
And it is this ‘frankly my dear I don’t give a fuck I just want to have a good time’ version of Charlotte Church that we find in the bowels of The Academy as she presents her Late Night Pop Dungeon in the Green Room. It’s a collection of covers and mashups from an eclectic range of artists from Beyonce to Black Sabbath – it’s a curious and unexpected move that prompts you to wonder if this is really happening at several points throughout the set. After all ,Charlotte Church performing Radiohead’s Paranoid Android is the kind of thing you’d expect to find in the alternative reality of a Terry Gilliam film, not on a Saturday night in Dublin.
But Church more than pulls it off – her band are tight, as are the harmonies between herself and her backing singers who take lead vocals on several tracks including Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name and M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. The band and Church are all wearing fancy-dress costumes, even spinning streamers during their version of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere, adding to the gleeful nature of the performance.
Vocally, Church is imperious, wowing the crowd with powerful performances of Prince’s Get Off and Diamonds and Pearls, and it’s not long before the crowd is singing “Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte fucking Church” repeatedly. She also slays several girl power ballads such as Destiny’s Child’s Survivor and En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go with ease; so much so that you wonder how successful Church could be given the right original material.
However this is not a plain and simple joyride around other artist’s glory. There’s clearly been a huge amount of work put into not only nailing the songs but putting together unusual mashups such as Timberlake’s Cry Me A River being mind-melded with Radiohead’s Paranoid Android…it shouldn’t work, but it’s glorious.
Church puts her finger in the air and her classically trained vocal cords to great use during an impressive rendition of the theme from E.T. By now proceedings have become so unusual that this beautifully bizarre moment seems completely normal and everybody just goes with it, lifting their fingers in the air in a unifying moment of pleasure.
Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon is an unrelenting and unpredictable joyride of pop pleasure that pays no head to genres – a mashup of Bump N’ Grind/Ignition/I Believe I Can Fly has equal-footing to Black Sabbath’s War Pigs or Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House. When Charlotte Church is calling the shots with such aplomb it’s hard to disagree
Check your snobbery at the door, a visit to the Pop Dungeon is a life affirming experience, and one that should be repeated.