KOKO – March 30th | Photo by Abi Dainton, head here for more.
Tove Lo’s headline show at London’s KOKO has been a long time coming. Originally set for the end of last year, it’s an event that has been plagued by illness and operations on vocal cords, but finally, the time has come. As the lights dim, and the cheesy playlist of guilty pleasures from the 90s fades out, a strange voice descends upon the crowd as Tove Lo’s sultry voice beckons “babes, are you here with me?… I want to take all my clothes off.”
She continues to tell a steamy love story about passionately hooking up with someone on the dance floor in a sweaty club and sets the mood for the evening. It’s all a bit strange and slightly uncomfortable, but it also isn’t the last time that the sassy Swedish songstress speaks of her desire to get down and dirty or take off her clothes as she strides onstage and launches into the electrifying energy of ‘My Gun’.
The whole show is centred around sex, with Lo carelessly bouncing around the stage, pronouncing that she isn’t wearing a bra and confessing that “all my songs are about sex, drugs and heartbreak.” And she isn’t wrong. Whether it’s the cheeky ‘Like Em Young’ or ‘Talking Body’ – where she momentarily teases up her top to prove that she really isn’t wearing a bra – Lo is endlessly pushing and teasing the audience with sultry lines and a wry smile.
But there’s also something confessional about the performance, and there is a point where Lo opens up, letting the super-sex animal facade all but drop to one side. With the opening bars to ‘Over’ and ‘Love Ballad’ there is something different in her tone as she carelessly lays her soul bare for all to see and reveals that she isn’t just a raunchy one trick pony.
However, the night belongs to her big club anthems, with ‘Heroes’ momentarily transforming an otherwise slightly unenthused Monday night crowd into a heaving mass of phones and dancing. When she returns onstage to play her breakthrough hit ‘Habits (Stay High)’ for the encore, the mood is only heightened again with the crowd becoming a thick sea of hands and waves of movement. Lo holds the crowd in the palm of her hand as she runs between her two drummers and repeatedly thanks the crowd, seemingly loving every moment of one her biggest shows.
The thing that is most striking about Tove Lo is the sheer strength of her stealthy pop vocals. On record, they are immediately identifiable and gleaned over with a pop sheen, but in the live arena they verge on being near flawless. And that is why despite tonight’s sex-fuelled theatrics and sleazy undertones, it is Lo’s endlessly catchy songs that shine brightest and seem to promise a summer of exciting festival performances. Tonight’s show is essentially really good fun, the only problem is that you leave wishing it was a Friday and that you didn’t have work the next day so you could have really lost yourself and enjoyed it as much as Lo herself did.