Grimes at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 15 March, 2016
Grimes, the moniker of Claire Boucher, has steadily evolved from the obscure electronic stylings of her first two albums, to the breakthrough that was ‘Visions’, and most recently she delivered a true masterpiece in the form of ‘Art Angels’. Universally acclaimed, ‘Art Angels’ combines electro with indie and pop to create a glorious record stuffed with amazing tunes. Tonight, as the last night of her current tour, is set to be a victory lap for a job well done over the last few months.
Hana is the opener this evening and she impresses with her confident stage presence and powerful vocals. The instrumentation behind that is somewhat lacking though, and the best moments come when she unleashes her soaring falsetto. As an artist who has only released a few singles, there is plenty of time and potential to develop into a decent act, but for now Hana comes across as the younger, less interesting and less talented sister of Grimes herself.
The shimmering laughing and not being normal introduces the headline act as the vague shape of a lone dancer punctures the darkness. The mystical opening bars of Genesis see the stage bloom into the light revealing the podium of keyboards and synths where Grimes conducts the onstage madness. Stage dancers are kept minimal, just two dancers to the front of the stage, and Hana helping out with extra vocals and instrumentation in the background. The setup works great; enough to liven up proceedings but not enough to detract from the main attraction. Grimes herself is a pure dynamo of energy, throwing herself about the stage when not frantically dial-twiddling in her nest of equipment.
Realiti is a real belter but the bass seems a tad overdriven, and it obscures some of the intricacies in the higher parts. Flesh without Blood features no such problems and SCREAM is an exercise in how much Grimes can roar her head off. It’s unhinged, chaotic and utterly brilliant.
Grimes’ earpiece appears to be giving her difficulty, but it’s not a noticeable concern until there’s a series of loud pops and Grimes winces painfully. The problems force a restart on Butterfly, but this fails to take away from the soaring vocals on the exquisite chorus. Go takes things in a heavier direction with some crazed headbanging from Grimes to accompany the thumps and thuds of this bustling tune.
There comes a point where technical problems start to affect the quality of the show, and when Grimes has to abandon songs half-way through and reshuffle the setlist then it’s fair to say that we’re not quite getting the full show as intended. All credit to Grimes though, she was very apologetic and patient with all the issues and kept her frustration for the increased amount of growling in the songs. Big hits Oblivion and Kill V. Maim should have been the glorious finale to an outstanding show, but instead they turned out to be a desperate salvage mission. Grimes promised to do her best ever rendition of Kill V. Maim to make up for the ongoing technical faults and her energy was fantastic, but when an artist has to throw out their setlist and try to make do, there is a definite loss of momentum and that was felt here.
Grimes proved herself to be an excellent performer, and she did her very best to overcome the unfortunate circumstances. When she was in her stride she was unstoppable, and had the malfunctioning equipment not taken over as much as it did, we would be talking about a gig of the year contender for sure.