Dua Lipa’s gig on Monday opened with the thrum of stonking synths, and Blade Runner-esque visuals pulsating ominously across the crumblingly ornate Brixton Academy. A huge neon red triangle ate itself as Dua walked confidently onto the stage dressed in a sequined tracksuit, launching straight into sizzling banger, Hotter Than Hell.
Without even pausing to greet the audience, or seemingly take a breath, she juggernauted straight through raggaetonish stomper No Lie, and THEN straight through Lost In Your Light, her smash hit collaboration with Miguel.
Just three songs (about ten minutes) into the performance, it already felt like she’d been an exhaustingly competent headliner. That ten minutes alone almost would have been enough. And she was just getting started. “I’M SO HAPPY TO BE HOME!” she yelled. And she clearly was. Her eyes were sparkling, and her excitement was apparent in the way she moved to the music, throwing herself around frenetically in a Maddie Ziegler-esque exhibit of unbridled joy.
And she deserves to be happy. Monday night must have been a big moment for her. She’s done gigs in her hometown of London before, but this was her first following the release of New Rules, the song (and perhaps more importantly, the video) that propelled her into global stardom.
And the crowd were happy for her too. Dua is quite a unique artist, in that her rise to fame has happened over a year or so. Most artists either skyrocket straight into the public eye, or build up over a few years. The nature of Dua’s quick, but not meteoric success, means that old fans have stuck with her, and new fans have had time to get to know her.
Her audience’s demographic is interesting, too – I was expecting a Little Mix-esque crowd of young gay men and tweeny girls, of which yes, there were some. But it was mostly discerning, trendy girls in their mid-twenties, a notoriously difficult audience for mainstream musicians to snag. Perhaps it partially accounts for Dua’s success. But there were all sorts – older women, young couples, even middle-aged men; including London Mayor Sadiq Khan!
After her unbelievably high-energy entry, she took things down a little with beautiful ballad Garden, that really let her unique, gorgeously raspy voice shine. Then a personal highlight, my favourite song by Dua, Last Dance. Its beautiful ethereal electro riffs worked perfectly in the cavernous, echoing Academy.
For her encore, she saved beautiful Disneyish ballad Homesick, followed by summery pop bop Be The One, and the ubiquitous New Rules, which very nearly literalised the expression “raising the roof” – I don’t remember ever seeing a crowd go so wild for a song.
If she hadn’t proven it already, on Monday night Dua Lipa proved that she’s more than prepared for the inevitable future that awaits her – becoming one of the biggest pop stars in the world.