A young artist already very popular, on the crest of much more fame to come: That is Charlotte Emma Aitchison, better known the world over as Charli XCX. But to the fortunate few witnessing her Tuesday night Yahoo On the Road performance, she was the mesmerizing 22-year-old bouncing around onstage and having what appeared to be a very good time indeed.
Appearing at the Cat's Cradle club in Carrboro, North Carolina — over Chapel Hill way — the young Brit singer and songwriter basically overachieved, offering up the songs for which she is best known — including recent smash "Boom Clap" and the hit collaborations she co-penned for Icona Pop ("I Love It") and Iggy Azalea ("Fancy") — and a number of others equally impressive.
Most notable were the new tunes, slated to arrive on her upcoming Sucker album, due in mid-December. She played quite a few of them, including the title track — the show's opener — "Breaking Up," "London Queen," "Break the Rules," "Gold Coins," "Famous," and "Caught in the Middle." They were delivered with enthusiasm, they were well sung and well played (by an all-female band, if one chose to ignore whatever DJ stuff might have been going on behind the two matching stage walls), they were all of them melodically diverse — they didn't sound like anything else — and best of all, they were catchy as hell.
Even more of interest was the fervent reception the singer was granted by the crowd: They knew (most of) the songs, they loved the energy, and they appeared to know they were watching someone who is already up there but about to get even uppier, and soon.
Unlike many of today's big famous-face pop stars, this is a woman who appears to be all her own work, and the complete package: She writes, she sings, she moves about the stage quite well, thank you, and when she covers Barrett Strong's famous 1959 hit "Money," the line connecting her tactfully ironic take versus past versions by the Flying Lizards and even the Beatles is present — and, in its way, appropriate. Not a small thing for a 22-year-old.
With shows like this being a preview of what's to come from Charli XCX — there will be lots more, and soon — that small batch of shiny, happy people watching the stage in Carrboro are likely to be talking about what was witnessed for a long time to come. Her career's just getting started— but more importantly, so is she.