charli xcx played her biggest gig to date last night and i-D was there

Charli and her angels storm the Shepherd's Bush Empire.

by Nick Levine
26 March 2015, 10:00am

The inexorable rise of Charli XCX continued last night with the singer's biggest London gig to date, a sold out show at the 2,000 capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire. A curtain embroidered with a giant middle finger flipping the bird drops to reveal Charli, wearing a zebra-print two-piece, backed by an all-female band wearing angel wings - they're called Charli's Angels, obviously.

Charli then underlines her girl power credentials by opening with Sucker, her latest album's punky title track, which delivers a swift riposte to lecherous male music execs: "You said you wanna bang / Well fuck you, sucker!" Next song Breaking Up is just as merciless in telling a useless boyfriend to sod off. "You have an ugly tattoo and fucking cheap perfume," Charli snarls while 'playing' a comically oversized inflatable guitar. "You have a friend in the band but they're not that cool."

This is no one-note performance, though. Charli gets frisky during Body of My Own, patting her crotch while extolling the virtues of self-love, and shows her vulnerable side on the 80s-flavoured Stay Away, an older song about a suffocating romantic relationship. The main set draws to a close with a surprise appearance from Rita Ora, who joins Charli for a raucous rendition of their recent hit Doing It.

Whether she's writhing on the floor to rebel anthem Break the Rules, bouncing up and down to I Love It, the dance banger she wrote for Icona Pop, or telling the crowd to scream if they're "drunk and under age", Charli's attitude throughout is fun, fierce and infectiously scrappy. She saves her biggest hit for last, obviously, and the audience hollers along to Boom Clap with her. At the start Charli tells us she's nervous to be playing such a big gig in the capital - London crowds can be pretty tricky. By the end, it's clear she really didn't need to be.

Charli XCX
Shepherds Bush Empire
Nick Levine