Charli XCX 1 © Melanie Smith

Charli XCX © Melanie SmithCharli XCX
Albert Hall, Manchester
30 October 2019

Martin Mathews witnessed the future of pop, as the feisty Charli XCX entered the dimly lit, smoky stage of the Albert Hall.

Every generation has its icons and Charli XCX proved on Wednesday night that she is truly worthy of that title for the young, colourful and predominantly queer, sold-out audience that attended the show in support of her latest album Charli, released earlier this year.

The list of guest artists and collaborators on this latest release reads like a who’s who of modern pop and includes Christine and the Queens and Lizzo. While none of these artists were present, they all received a mention during the pre-recorded spoken word introduction that heralded the start of the show shortly after 9pm.

Charli XCX 1 © Melanie SmithThere was no band and no dancers: just a supremely confident Charli XCX on stage, proving that she has matured as a performer and displaying a fierce confidence and stage presence worthy of a pop icon.

The 20-song set list was heavy with songs from the latest release as well as her previous three albums, as well as the monster smash hit I Love It, which she penned for Iconapop. The songs ranged from pop through to club/dance tracks as well as slowing the tempo with ballads and mid-tempo songs.

She is a skilled singer/songwriter and her vocals were faultless throughout as she danced and posed her way through the set list in front of a large colour-changing cube, surrounded by dazzling lights, only leaving the stage briefly for a couple of costume changes.

Charli XCX 3 © Melanie Smith Charli XCX 2 © Melanie Smith The audience were responsive and appreciative and clearly having a great time, singing along, roaring their approval and jumping collectively throughout. Charli had them completely and utterly under her spell, asking them to all crouch down before jumping up telling them that “It’ll look great on Instagram”.

During the song Shake it Charli welcomed to the stage a number of Manchester’s renowned drag artists and vogue performers and further showed her support of the LGBTQ community by parading around the stage draped in a rainbow flag.

The atmosphere in the intimate setting of Manchester’s Albert Hall was electric and it is unlikely that she will perform in venues this small as she moves forward.

It has been said that Charli XCX is the future of pop music, a statement that she acknowledged during one of her interactions with the audience, and if this is the future of pop music then I’m more than happy with that: this was a brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable show.


Next Level Charli
I Don’t Wanna Know
Vroom Vroom
Cross You Out
February 2017
White Mercedes
Shake It
I Got It
Track 10 / Blame It on Your Love
Silver Cross

Unlock It
I Love It

Please note: Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal. If you wish to contact the photographer please email:

Charli XCX can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

Words by Martin Mathews, you can find more at his Author profile and you can follow his tweets here

Photos by Melanie Smith. More work by Mel on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Photography portfolio can be found here </strong

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Bearded artist, model, lover of Kylie, pop music, leather & dogs. Random, quirky and not to be taken seriously, call me anything but normal!


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