Friday, 14 April 2017

Dua Lipa @ O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Dua Lipa

It was over a year ago that Dua Lipa was longlisted for the BBC Sound of award, and even longer since the release of debut single New Love back in 2015. A handful of songs later and here she is headlining the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire before her debut album is even out. Welcome to the music industry 2017 - thanks streaming.

It's a feat even the star herself is surprised by, noting "I can't believe I'm doing a show like this before my album is released". It's as impressive a career move as it is frustrating for fans, who have been eagerly awaiting a full album while her label and management continue to push individual tracks up the streaming charts.

It also made this something of a strange gig, full of cheering fans familiar with only 60% of the setlist. It was essentially album promo before its release in June, giving these fans a taster of what's to come.

And what's that? More of the same: big pop hooks, dance beats, and a rich vocal that shows even more hints of her Albanian heritage in the sinuous melodies. "Let's keep this party going," she ordered enthusiastically, the fans expertly singing along to new music. That's as much down to the familiarity of her sound as it is well-written and catchy hooks. The self-titled album is certainly set to be a key pop release this year.

Still, you can't shake the fact we've heard the best already. But bangers like Hotter Than Hell and Blow Your Mind (Mwah) sound as good live as they do recorded, bold and loud pop tracks that deserved higher chart performance. And stripped back guitar versions of Thinkin' Bout You and New Love allowed for some sentimentality amongst the synths.

Surprisingly, though, it was Scared To Be Lonely, her duet with Dutch DJ Martin Garrix, that had the biggest reaction from the crowd, whilst a snippet of No Lies (on which she features with Sean Paul) had a similar response. These might be two of her biggest hits chart-wise, but a rousing finale of Be The One proved she can certainly command the stage alone.

It'll be interesting to see how the debut album performs in the chart considering it's predominantly a collection of singles we've already heard. Yet this gig was a resoundingly positive moment in Dua's career that demonstrated beyond doubt that she's proper pop star material.

4/5

Listen: 'Dua Lipa' is released on June 2nd.


Dua Lipa @ O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Dua Lipa @ O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Dua Lipa @ O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire