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The last time I saw Hannah Diamond perform was in November 2015, when PC Music hosted a label showcase of sorts at XOYO in Shoreditch. A lot has changed since that unforgettable party: most notably that the London collective’s maximalist reimagining of what pop music is and could be has infiltrated the mainstream.
Back then, Diamond – a photographer, visual artist, singer and songwriter – seemed shy and nervous on stage. But at Vauxhall club Fire last week, she was playing the first of two sold-out headline shows. Six years on from uploading first tracks ‘Attachment’ and ‘Pink & Blue’ to Soundcloud, Diamond has transformed into a 21st century pop star, complete with her own range of glossy self-shot HD posters and T-shirts priced at £35 (both on the merch stand at the show).
Before she arrives onstage to perform the entirety of her brilliant debut album, released earlier this month, there’s time for an unannounced DJ set from Bala Club’s Kamixlo and a performance from PC Music’s newest signing, Swedish artist Namasenda. First up is the Aphex Twin-cosigned Kamixlo, who makes sure everyone’s awake and energised by dropping hardcore, dubstep, K-pop plus Cardi B and Korn, thrashing his hair around behind the decks and later on donning a furry gimp mask. The intimate, tunnel-like space is the perfect environment for this 8.30pm rave, making the crowd feel as though they’ve teleported to Berghain and it’s now 4am.
After a closing blast of 100 gecs, Sweden’s Namasenda, who signed to PC Music earlier this week and is tipped to be their next big star, casually walks on stage, launching into her own hi-NRG bops in front of fluorescent visuals of fast-driving anime cars. Bouncing around to the sugar-powered hyperactive beats, she has everyone jumping around to ‘Here’.
“I love London, maybe I should move here!” she teases, winning over the crowd before asking: “anyone want to get down?” and launching into her day-old cry-in-the-club anthem ‘24/7’. “It’s about this one special person that you can’t forget and you probably never will,” she reveals as girls sway their arms in the air to the crushing heartbreak song with bass-heavy production from label boss A.G. Cook before ‘Donuts’ gets everyone bopping and singing along. In an alternative utopia somewhere in the *hopefully* near future, these would all be chart smashes playing on every radio station, much like the entire discography of tonight’s headliner Hannah Diamond.
Sporting knee high boots and a flowing white ensemble with furry sleeves, she looks every inch the popstar. “Hi everyone, I can’t believe you’re all here. Thank you for wanting to come and see me. I’m just really overwhelmed by everything,” the Norwich-born artist says humbly. What follows is a blast of stadium-sized future pop anthems and vulnerable break-up bangers. On ‘Invisible’ she reaches for the really high notes and, with a chorus of superfans supporting her every step of the way, she’s quickly made to feel comfortable doing so.
As Diamond sings ‘Love Goes On’, she loosens up and dances the nerves away, punching the air and getting everyone to chant during the pumping chorus of ‘Fade Away’ while the visuals behind her build a narrative of heartbreak. Disappearing for a quick costume change, she leaves friend and tour DJ cd_romz in charge – who also acts as Diamond’s cheerleader throughout, encouraging hundreds to clap or sway along.
Returning for the second part of the show, the applause Diamond receives is deafening and continues for a good few minutes. “One sec, I’m really thirsty,” she says cutely and childlike before ‘Hi’. Even popstars need a drink. Minutes later she’s taken on the role of fitness instructor, telling everyone to jump for ‘Part Of Me’, and even more so for the album’s Gareth Emery/Christina Novelli cover ‘Concrete Angel’, which has everyone bouncing to the gradually building hardcore thumps.
“I’ve had the best night and I hope you have too!” Diamond signs off, looking genuinely moved by the reaction. It’s understandable, given that sceptics questioned if she was even a real person when she first emerged half a decade ago. By the end of ‘Every Night’ the entire room is bouncing in unison. Hannah Diamond’s vision of pop is the future.