Chappelle Roan performing liveJason Martin / Flickr /

Early December saw the second night of Chappell Roan’s back-to-back sold-out stint at London’s iconic gay club Heaven: the 43rd and final show of the Midwest Princess Tour’s first leg.

Every show, Roan asks a strict dress code of her audiences, with themes pertaining to her respective singles – see Berlin’s ‘My Kink is Karma’ and Sydney’s ‘Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl’. London’s chosen theme was ‘Slumber Party Kissin’’, a lyric from Roan’s popular single ‘Naked in Manhattan’, which saw concertgoers bracing the weather to come out in all their finery (pyjamas). Since my own sleepwear much resembles a cross between a Wee Willie Winkie and Ebenezer Scrooge cosplay, I had to dress with another one of Roan’s decidedly more conservative lyrics in mind from Red Wine Supernova (“mini skirt and my go-go boots”).

“She particularly strives to make her concerts into safe, celebratory spaces for all queer people”

The show opened with performances from UK based drag queens Crayola and Inga Rock. Discovering new and local drag queens to open each of her shows has become as much of a Roan concert staple as dressing up, with Roan scouting local drag talent to support her in their respective cities via a weekly Google Form shared on her Instagram. Following a conservative and restrictively religious upbringing in Willard, Missouri, much of Roan’s music and image relates to the celebration of her own queerness. She particularly strives to make her concerts into safe, celebratory spaces for all queer people.

Such support and allyship to minority members within the LGBTQIA+ community goes beyond a campy dress code or drag queen opening act, with a portion of Roan’s ticket proceeds going towards For the Gworls: a Black trans-led collective that helps Black transgender people pay for gender-affirming surgeries, doctor’s appointments, travel assistance, and even rent. Crayola, who – blessed with an incredible set of pipes and seemingly Broadway-bound – opened for Chappell’s last London show in June, commented on the venue upgrade and how things have skyrocketed for Roan in the past few months, since the release of her debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess in September.

“Her enthralled audience sang along faithfully to every single lyric”

Roan’s debut album has been both a commercial and critical success, placing 12th on Rolling Stone’s top albums of the year list and 4th on Time Magazine’s. Alongside the Midwest Princess Tour enjoying its fair share of sold-out shows, Roan will open for Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour, having previously opened for the SOUR tour. Roan’s performance at Heaven very much displayed the expertise of someone comfortable on stage, one who understands her crowd, but naturally with more to come. She twirls, she twerks, she riffs, she yodels (?). Her enthralled audience sang along faithfully to every single lyric – made more apparent during ballads like ‘Coffee’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’ where Roan’s isolated vocals truly soared. Roan often called on the crowd to dance along with her, like in the campy ‘HOT TO GO!’ where she and her band led a YMCA-esque series of arm positions to spell out the song’s chorus. 

Moments of imperfection (missed cues and skipped verses) were surely the product of a long few weeks of travelling across time zones and battling jet lag (just a week prior Roan had played three shows in Australia). To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: while the concert was a sure-fire hit, at times the stage mother inside of me did want to scream “Face! Eyes! Smize Chappell!” when Roan looked somewhat despondent behind her heavily-lined-glitter-covered eyes, even while bounding energetically round the stage.


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Speaking as if I were one of Roan’s confidants (I wish), I can’t wait to see her steady, surefooted rise to the top continue. She’s an enormous talent with a powerful roster of music to her name already and a committed fan base which clearly feels represented and uplifted by her music. The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is a near-perfect album that proves even better when played in its entirety live. Given it was three years in the making, with Roan releasing its first official single ‘California’ back in 2020 before being dropped by her label over the pandemic, newcomers to her music might enjoy listening to her work chronologically so that they can truly appreciate the rise and fall of this Midwest Princess.