If you hadn’t gotten the idea from listening to Lykke Li’s excellent second album, Wounded Rhymes, the stage set-up should have given you a strong indicator of what she’s all about these days. Before the Swedish star and her slick band emerge all suited in black, the stage is filled with smoke and long, black hanging fabric blustering in the path of several powerful fans. This is a show designed for songs of loss and aching regret that exist in a bleak, cinematic landscape. Lykke Li herself furthers this notion with powerful, widescreen vocals throughout the night. While retaining a distinctively frosty charm, she has brought new depth to her voice and her songs. Her confidence on stage has also moved way beyond the awkward movements of the contemporary-dance-meets-sexy-pop-star schizophrenia of her early shows.
One would imagine that this kind of top drawer performance would have the audience in raptures and, to an extent, she did. Each spurt of dry ice before the show began was met with squeals of excitement and opening track ‘Jerome’ ended in huge applause. The reception was never in doubt, as each and every song came and went through loud cheers, but during many of the songs, the attention span of the crowd was left seriously wanting. Slower ballads were drowned out by chatter to the point where many were wondering if Lykke Li would pause to shush the crowd herself. Early in the set, the announcement of a cover of The Big Pink’s ‘Velvet’ is again greeted by a chorus of wooing, but for the duration of the performance, Tripod resembled a secondary school on ‘little break’.
Li’s storming performance – at the mic and beating the drum – was appreciated by many, but these dark and brooding songs never sat quite right with the Saturday night cocktails crowd. It took the eventual outing of the pop hits like ‘Little Bit’ and ‘Dance Dance Dance’ to explain why so many had paid the admission fee to bellow in each other’s ears and take pouting photos. The fact that another big hit in the form of ‘Breaking It Up’ was omitted might indicate which direction Lykke Li wants to take the live show in. She closes the show with a determined version of ‘Unrequited Love’. Though it never turns into the heartfelt sing-along she seemed to attempt, it’s another perfectly executed performance from a star that is most definitely still on the rise. It seems she’s likely to lose a few fans along the way, but Lykke Li knows where she wants to be and plenty of us will be happy to meet her there.