Clarity of vision is not an uncommon quality, yet it’s grossly underrated: a prosaic, everyday constituent of genius.
In the deliberately disorientating, hyper-kinetic context of PC Music, this clarity is a rare and valuable commodity. This is a genre which deifies artifice and irony, while knowingly betraying a certain sympathy for the conventions it comments upon in a manner that only serves to warp the listener’s perspective even further. Funny, then, that the label/genre’s most distinguished alumnus, SOPHIE, increasingly appears to be pursuing clarity rather than resisting it.
At Heaven tonight, her show manages to combine sensory overload with unambiguous emotion to a dizzying extent. As much as every physical and sonic move (from she and her ensemble of dancers/singers alike) is exactingly calculated and choreographed, there’s a naked, human sincerity here that is utterly captivating in its purity. Yes, recent tunes like “Ponyboy” and “Faceshopping” are industrial, pounding beasts that shake this rapt crowd to its very core, yet in no way do they jar with the devastating climax of “It’s Okay To Cry”, upon which SOPHIE closes tonight’s set.
SOPHIE’s live show is an overwhelming experience, by turns joyous, cathartic, ostensibly wild, and minutely, expertly detailed. As notions of gender, genre, performance and sexuality are twisted, shredded and collapsed into one another before us - and this show makes no bones about dealing with such weighty themes with remarkable grace and candour - what gradually occurs to me is how little those big ideas are playing on my mind. Stop and think, and SOPHIE's intentions become clear, just as she desires. Yet as this show unfolds, we've no time to focus on such lofty concepts. Instead, we're simply battered into glorious, welcome submission by the visceral power of an artist who, by pushing the boundaries of a uniquely abstract (yet increasingly influential) subgenre, has found an irresistibly direct, physical means of self-expression. Astonishing.