Christine and the Queens brought a heady close to his Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre with two sold out performances in the Royal Festival Hall. Performing his new album, PARANOÏA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE, in full, the French pop sensation gave a stunning send-off to his ten day curation. Earning rave reviews and described as ‘phantasmagoric drama and musical transcendence’ by The Guardian, his performances were pure power and revelation. With over 30,000 visitors during the festival, including thousands who danced away as part of two weekends of free programming on the Riverside Terrace, Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown was an unflinching celebration of music, culture and selfhood.
Commenting on Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown, Southbank Centre Head of Contemporary Music Adem Holness, said: “Working with Christine and the Queens has been so much fun. Putting the festival together has been a rewarding, invigorating and inspirational experience. An unmatched work ethic combined with a profound understanding of his own artistry, and that of others, has meant we have been able to put together a truly unique Meltdown. Celebrating the full spectrum of music, culture and creativity, Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown will be hard to surpass, full of joy, freedom and fearlessness.”
Southbank Centre Artistic Director Mark Ball, added: “Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown has encapsulated what the Southbank Centre does best – deliver world class entertainment in a way that everyone can engage with. From the thousands who joined us for the free events on the Riverside Terrace to the crowds who had our halls brimming with excitement, Christine and the Queens’ vision, and the incredible efforts of the Southbank Centre staff, has produced something truly special in the heart of London.”
In addition to the two critically acclaimed shows by Christine and the Queens, the Royal Festival Hall played host to a staggering array of artists and genre from afrobeat and jazz to ethereal Icelandic folk. Opening the festival on Friday 10 June, indie rock stalwarts Django Django took to the stage in front of an eager crowd before Nigerian superstar Yemi Alade transformed the space with movement and music the following night. Continuing the compelling contrasts, Warpaint delivered a spell-binding show of hits while south London jazz powerhouse KOKOROKO lifted the roof off the Royal Festival Hall. In a true highlight of the festival, Sigur Rós, joined by the 40-strong London Contemporary Orchestra, hypnotised a sold-out audience with a spellbinding two-hour concert featuring songs from their surprise new album, ÁTTA.
In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bat For Lashes teased tracks from her forthcoming album, The Dream Of Delphi, for an enraptured sold-out crowd. Exploring the power of cinema and music, cult director Jim Jaramusch and producer Carter Logan performed as SQÜRL, providing an atmospheric soundtrack to the surrealist films of Man Ray, while composer Johnny Jewel gave his first ever solo concert featuring music and scenes from Drive, Twin Peaks and Lost River. Drag race star Katya Zamolodchikova had crowds in stitches while Lynks, with support from Girli, closed the weekend in the QEH with a bang.
Not one to shy away from a party, Christine and the Queens ensured the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer thrived with energy and excitement. From the club nights hosted by The Chateau and Pxssy Palace’s London x Paris bash to electric gigs by trailblazing artists like serpentwithfeet, Let’s Eat Grandma and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, crowds always had a reason to dance the night away. Out on the sun-drenched Riverside Terrace, a stacked line-up of DJs, dancers and collectives provided the soundtrack to the festival across two weekends of free events while, in the Clore Ballroom, BitterSuite showcased their sensory masterpiece, Bodies Tilted, across 24 sold-out shows.
The Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival will return next summer with details of the next curator to be announced later this year. Previous curators have included Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers, Robert Smith, M.I.A., David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Massive Attack, Jarvis Cocker, David Bowie and Patti Smith.
Photo credit: Victor Frankowski