There is little that could have obstructed Dua Lipa’s rush to the top, now comfortably sat amongst the upper echelons of pop royalty.
2017’s self-titled debut propelled the British polymath into the spotlight with hit singles ‘IDGAF,’ ‘New Rules’ and summer sweetener ‘One Kiss’ featuring Calvin Harris. There is a timelessness brewing amongst Lipa’s discography, embracing the familiar topes of disco-pop which have served as a high-reward catalyst. ‘Future Nostalgia’ pursues this retro-reminiscence further, a project that is definitive in its objective and walks the thin line between the old and the new, leaving little space for the present that ticks away into the sound of yesterday. The sophomore album climbed its way to No. 1 in the UK, crowning Lipa as British Female Solo Artist and British Album Of The Year at The Brit Awards 2021. This year’s Future Nostalgia Tour takes the star all across the globe from Miami to Argentina, yet the evening marks Due Lipa’s return to her hometown, now embarking the world’s most popular music and entertainment venue: London’s O2 Arena.
The crowd’s temptation to rock up 20 minutes before the main act takes a backseat for one night only, as Belgian sensation Angèle is welcomed by bustling fans. There is no understatement in the dress code - fans have struggled through the cold in sequinned bralets and larger-than-life face make-up to gather in glitzy euphoria. Repping all things y2k, the 26-year old takes the stage with her band in glittering cargo-pants and a sleek high-pony tail, filling the room with her crystalline vocals. There is a charm that comes with the French language, one that resonates most during the performance of ‘Oui ou non’ as Angèle invites both fans and first-time listeners to join her along the hook. Weaving through material off of debut album 'Brol La Suite’, it’s stand-out single ‘Balace ton quoi’ that naturally gravitates towards the crowd in its familiarity. There is a shift in atmosphere as following support act Griff takes over, sharing more introspective work that has worked itself through 2021’s lockdown, finding its feet on the main stage.
As the lights dim down, the flashing words “Dua Lipa presents Future Nostalgia” gleam in anticipation, showcasing the dance crew with throwback visuals. The appreciation for performers, whether as back-up dancers or singers, is a key element of the show throughout, hinting that not all value should be placed on a sole name. The big, 80s drums of power-anthem ‘Physical’ strike, Dua Lipa enters the aerobic extravaganza wearing a hot-pink custom Balenciaga catsuit - leaving all our weekly ragged gym outfits hanging their head in shame. There is no doubt that this is a strong opening, even for the all-rounder with vocals that remain unhindered by the rigorous work-out unravelling under the spotlight. In its determination to maintain the energy, the tracklist heads for a one-two with ‘New Rules’, seeing Dua Lipa and her posse strutting down the runway with holographic umbrellas at the ready.
"I’m fucking nervous and I’m terrified… and this is the most fun I’m having!” There is a warmth and to some extent disbelief in the performer’s voice as she thanks her fans’ loyalty, holding onto their tickets rescheduled date after rescheduled date. The moment calls for the seminal ‘Be The One’ to twinkle across the bare stage, joined by the rhythmic claps that make for a truly angelic high-point, bringing the sold out arena together as one. It’s time for an outfit change - a glittering silver bodysuit signals the arrival of ‘We’re Good.’
Although not necessarily one of Dua Lipa’s career-defining tracks, there is a quirky and playful feel to ‘Good In Bed’ that marks another highlight of the show as dancers whizz around the it-girl in roller-skates. Now reaching the pinnacle of the evening, the lights go out and fans all-round are left questioning from where Dua Lipa will appear from next - will she emerge from the inflatable stars overhead or swing from the elastic banners along the side-stage - these are all valid suggestions. Instead, she rises to the hovering platform in the iconic mesh Mugler catsuit for the upbeat celebration of ‘Levitate,’ which follows through its astrological theme as she navigates over the crowds, showering them in sparkling confetti.
The evening draws to a close with ‘Don’t Start Now’, a bright note in which to leave starry-eyed supporters, who echo Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ as they exit the arena. As Dua Lipa closes the chapter of her sophomore album, it is hard to know where the multi-disciplinary will steer pop music into next, yet, one can be sure that it’ll be highly stylised, engaging, and exciting.
- - -
Words: Ana Lamond
- - -