Village Underground – May 9th
Swedish star Lykke Li has been hot on the radar of music aficionados everywhere, ever since the release of her debut album Youth Novels. But now, the queen of Scandi-cool is unleashing her charms onto the masses, as she plays two sold out shows at the Village Underground in Shoreditch, aka the breeding ground for Instagram impressionists who are sure to spread her talents even further (via a smartphone or hashtag of course), or so they thought…
The grungy venue proved an intimate space for Lykke to showcase new material from her third studio album I Never Learn, invoking beautiful visual representations through expressive stage lighting and responsive smoke machines. Accompanied by a tightknit band all dressed in black, they treated the crowd to favourites from her back catalogue, including ‘I Know Places’ and ‘Little Bit’.
Filming and photographing her every move, Lykke was quick to sense the disconnection with her fans. “Can we chill a bit with all these phones? Let’s have a heart-to-heart. We’re here together, so let’s forget about Instagram,” said the singer midway through her set. There was an awkward shuffle and sniffle from a few of her more eager devotees, but the show must go on, as she launched straight back into an energetic and emotively driven performance, clearly more comfortable without the clamour of suspecting iPhones.
It’s hard not to become mesmerised during ‘I Follow Rivers’, as the clanging of percussion, theatrical flashes of red light and haunting river of smoke, sets tempos and temperaments buzzing. Lykke is a show-woman, in every sense, as she whirls across the stage feeding into the crowd’s emotions; pouring into an overpowering throb of vocal reverb that pulsates through the room. The crowd have even managed to shake off their technology withdrawal symptoms, dancing to the hit single ‘Get Some’ and becoming more engaged every extra minute that they’re not mercilessly clicking away at their phones. It’s like some kind of Shoreditch miracle.
Testament to her ability, the Swedish singer conveys such beauty and composed emotion, which she demonstrates with her haunting song ‘Du Är Den Ende’. The whole demonstration is just pure spine-tingling splendour that most artists lack when performing live.
Lykke takes what could be pure pop refuse for others and manages to turn it into a euphoric twist of passionate beauty. She’s also succeeded in (somehow) persuading the souls of Shoreditch’s most notorious techno-fads into switching off their phones for more than five minutes, and for that, we salute her.