How does a living legend and music icon return to her European fans?
By going BIG.
This first performance of the X Tour is genuinely epic. Aguilera has filled Paris’s AccorHotels Arena with her energy, continuing her 20 year message of inclusion and unity.
For any fan who has been watching Aguilera’s recent performances via YouTube, the X Tour is not only a recapitulation of her tremendous career, but it is an evolution of her whole aesthetic. The visuals are rich, polished, layered with meaning and used to heighten every song and moment. The support singers and musicians are tight. The dancers are acrobatic: each one a star in their own right!
And the music… The music isn’t just the songs you’ve come to hear, but melodies elegantly entwined so that songs written decades apart play contrapuntally, allowing Aguilera the mother to sing beside Aguilera the teen idol. It’s deep, beautiful, bittersweet and uplifting.
The inclusion of a full rendition of The Voice Within – a song Aguilera hasn’t performed live in its entirety in many years – was no mere fan service: this is a reminder of the girl who has made this remarkable woman.
And so much of Xtina’s cache is “The Voice“: soaring, aching and towering above and uniting every other element. It’s impossible to deny that Xtina’s instrument – her incredible singing voice – remains one of the Wonders of the Natural World. Not only is it not dimmed with age, it is – like all the best things – better. Aguilera’s range is bigger. Her timbre is richer. Her famous melismatic fireworks are employed with mature restraint: not to dominate, but to lift you up and leave you awed!
But the greatest revelation of the night is the timelessness of so much of Aguilera’s output. As songs play into and across each other, and glimpses of her innumerable videos an intercut with live footage and live performance, it’s remarkable how current every element feels. “Pop music” is generally thought of as being transient and disposable – and perhaps it is – but Aguilera’s work is as fresh now as it was then.
Or was it ahead of its time?
When Xtina was dismissed or albums “flopped”, her impact was felt nevertheless (opening this set with the much maligned album-opener Bionic throws down that gauntlet and kicks it aside). Aguilera’s videos were always imitated; her looks and fashion were watched, copied and developed; her music and inspirations inspired others. Maybe the world wasn’t giving her her due, but Xtina’s contemporaries saw what she was doing and applauded! From Gaga to Jesse J: Christina Aguilera has been a guiding light for an entire generation. Fearlessly following her heart and passion, which in turn, has given joy and inspiration to the rest of us.
And through it all, runs Aguilera’s constant message of inclusion, empowerment, love and acceptance. She has been a spokesperson for the voiceless and a champion for every person who thinks they have none. The X Tour is a reminder of this; it’s a powerful celebration of the past and a message of hope and love for the future.
No mere concert, this is an X Tour de Force that encourages enjoyment on multiple levels, feeding all your senses and rewarding every viewer – from casual attendee to superfan – with a perfect stage to marvel in the artistry of the Voice.
Thank you, Christina Aguilera; from 20 year-old me and the millions who have been touched, comforted, inspired and saved by your music.
Long live the Queen.
And a special shout-out to the opening act – Drax Project – and their surprising efforts to bring the tenor sax back to the main stage! Well played!
And don’t forget to check out our tips and links for how to travel in style without breaking your budget.