A spectacular feat of pop perfection from Belgium’s hottest new superstar.
From Britney Spears to Dua Lipa, Katy Perry to Arianna Grande, our affection for pop icons over the years are proof enough of their enduring appeal in all our hearts.
A catchy tune, glitzy live show and charismatic star at the centre of it all are an irreplaceable antidote to the humdrum of the everyday.
Give the people what they want. And if that’s a millennial pop star in sequinned silver hot pants shouting “fuck the patriarchy!” then so be it.
Angèle Van Laeken is the biggest star to come out of Belgium since Stromae.
Her debut album Brol (2018) went straight to number one in her home country alongside her breakout single Tout oublier featuring her brother, the rapper Roméo Elvis. Since then, she’s supported Dua Lipa on tour, performed at Coachella and sold out European arenas at her own headline shows.
Fresh off the back of her US tour, the production tonight, featuring dancers and a live band, is a polished performance. The star of the show, dressed in a preppy purple blazer and mini skirt, exudes an effortless confidence: “We gonna do la grosse fête ce soir!” She grins, skipping across the stage, her blonde ponytail bouncing behind her.
For the next two hours, she dances, sings, plays piano, talks to us in franglais and never seems out of breath.
The show’s creative direction is impressive and each song is an encapsulated performance in itself, a mood board’s worth of imaginative choreography and colour. (The lights going down after nearly every song only underline this.) For example, Je Veux Tes Yeux becomes a dark dance number, the dancers illuminated in a crimson glow, while in the lighter Amour, Haine y Danger, Angèle casts a live stream from her mobile phone onto the big screen.
The tracks are drawn together by the rollercoaster motif in the visuals, a nod to the artwork for her latest album, Nonante-Cinq (the name a homage to Belgian French that say nonante instead of quatre-vingt-dix like their French neighbours.)
Nonante-Cinq is her only second album and over the course of a two hour show, the hits are thinly spread. Visual aesthetics aside, Plus de sens and Tu me regardes are ultimately quite forgettable songs, although she pads out the set with a piano cover of ...Baby One More Time, which goes down well.
Slower numbers, such as Ta Reine, about lesbian love, and Taxi, about heartbreak, show a softer side to the singer and space for her voice to shine through.
As for songs featuring collaborations with other artists, she takes a creative approach to the conundrum many touring artists face in the same position. During Tout oublier glittering karaoke-style lyrics appear on screen to sing along to Roméo Elvis’ part, a smart nod to an audience who won’t have French as their first language. Meanwhile for Fever, a giant animated Dua Lipa appears singing on the screen. The all-seeing Dua Lipa is a bit ominous, but certainly not boring.
Having now changed into aforementioned silver sequinned hot pants, Balance ton quoi about misogyny is a crowd-pleaser hit and the encore Bruxelles je t’aime keep the energy on a high until the end.