Lykke Li, New Trinity Centre, Bristol
Wednesday 13 April 2011
The dry ice, ominous synth and reverberating bass that is the prelude to Lykke Li’s stage entrance suggests that she has been taking notes from fellow Swede Fever Ray on ‘How to Spook An Audience’. However, she stops short of the stuffed bear's head approach of her contemporary and instead opts for a less disturbing and more flattering black kimono that gives the impression of Lykke Li as a trainee ninja.
Given the theatrics of the opening, it’s a shame that the first few songs fall flat. Even an early outing of "I’m Good I’m Gone" fails to rise above an initially muddy sound that threatens to distract from her undeniable stage presence. However, these problems begin to dissipate with "I Follow Rivers" from new album Wounded Rhymes, which takes us into the beating rhythmic heart that is the best of her show. And when she follows with ‘Dance Dance Dance’ the crowd respond in kind and the band and audience seem in a much happier place. The two tracks remind you that despite being only two albums into her career she already has a cupboard full of delights guaranteed to bring joy to her adoring fan base.
Lykke clearly knows her fanbase – a cover of The Knife’s "Silent Shout" (the spirit of Karin Dreijer Andersson is with us again) brings squeals of excitement which she builds on with a pumped-up run through of "A Little Bit". However, she is not afraid to shy away from the dark heart of ‘Wounded Rhymes’ and bookends these upbeat moments with subtle flashes of poignancy and sadness.
At times though, the role of heartbroken chanteuse works against her. Torch song numbers in between the pounding, exciting tracks such as ‘Rich Kid Blues’, don’t work and the audience give the impression of politely awaiting the next track that they can dance to. An encore of the Shangri-La-esque "Sadness is a Blessing" and "Unrequited Love" feels like a disappointment. However, my criticism is only one of timing, as these are strong songs that point to a new and rewarding direction for her fans to follow.
By the end, the impression of Lykke Li as an assured and vibrant performer remains - and she even manages to make leather hot pants look classy, which is no easy thing.
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