It is refreshing, these days, to be able to catch a bona fide star in a show so resolutely unchoreographed and stripped back. Yet, for Dua Lipa’s debut at the O2 Academy in Leeds, the songwriter’s self-proclaimed brand of “dark pop” is only accentuated by the strikingly minimal staging, lit with red beams of light akin to eighties-inspired title sequences such as Stranger Things.
Anything but chart-shy, her show is at times violently assertive in its sonic palate – and for an artist so young into their career, provides an interesting perspective on the identity of female empowerment.
Very much a show of two-halves, Lipa crams most of her singular, self-titled record into her headline performance; the trashy confidence with which she manoeuvres across pulsing, tribal drum interludes and grinding cuts leaning on a sound less distinguishable in prominent hits; IDGAF, preluded by a confrontational warning promising explicit language, is husky and repurposed from guitar to a thumping bass jam, whilst Last Dance pulses with synthesizer-led tension, and is thunderously atmospheric. They elicit electrical responses from the soldd-out audience; powerfully delivered if somewhat limited in scope.
The second half of the night progresses with a more club-friendly barrage of tracks, such as Blow Your Mind (Mwah), peppered with the odd stripped-back acoustic number, including a nicely balanced New Love.
Such arrangements tame any concerns regarding a lack of musical diversity – but with just the one album to pull from, Lipa has to rely on her relatable and honest charisma to carry her through.
Her feminist-positive message is overt; but any serious speechifying is undercut by a genuine confidence to her delivery and a playful attitude.
By the time number-one single New Rules is unloaded, Lipa aggressively dancing her way across stage, her presence is palpable in its energetic infectiousness.
This is one rising star who won’t be fading back down to earth any time soon.