Here in the UK we have a love/hate relationship with Canada (we haven’t yet forgiven them for Justin Bieber), but electropop queen LIGHTS is one of its many treasures. Hitting the Great British shores last week with K. Flay, she embarked on an almost sold-out tour – and she was mind-blowing.
American hip-hop artist K. Flay probably isn’t the support act people expected when they walked through the doors of the Brudenell Social Club, but they soon found themselves bobbing along to the chilled out tunes from Life As A Dog, her debut album that she released last year. Her set primarily consisted of soft rapping, live drums, a keyboard and pre-recorded synth, a combination that worked surprisingly well. However, a lot of songs sounded disappointingly similar and with little fans in the audience and even littler interaction with the crowd, K. Flay couldn’t evoke the reaction that was sorely needed to kick start the evening – but no one was expecting a standing ovation, no matter how talented she may be.
With a performance that contrasted sharply with the softer, more relaxed tones of K. Flay, LIGHTS graced the stage and immediately kicked off the set with the intimate Muscle Memory. Perhaps a sit-down song wasn’t the best choice of entry as the crowd were still floundering, but following track Toes certainly got the crowd on their – ahem – feet. A song from her second album Siberia, it’s clearly a track which fans had waited years to see live, and it’s great to see LIGHTS revelling in the reaction. Engaging in a little crowd interaction, she reminisces on the last time she was in Leeds five years ago at The Cockpit (may it rest in peace), before kicking into the next song. She seems to have a natural modest stage presence, humble yet somehow self-assured – maybe it’s the bright red military style-jacket that adds to her confident image.
Without the manipulation of recording, LIGHTS’s voice is astounding, carrying the resonance and vitality that simply cannot be captured on tape. It’s almost illusory the way she holds every note perfectly, shown especially in Running with the Boys, the video for which was premiered that day. Saying that this song makes her feel young again, she engages the band and the crowd in a discussion of Mario Kart before wielding a guitar (seriously – is there anything this woman can’t do?) and diving head first into the song.
Slowing down the loosely turning cog of the show, she sits down to serenade the audience with Portal, a mellow track from her new album Little Machines, which bewitches the audience into silence before continuing her energy and fervour with Where the Fence is Low and Banner. This is undoubtedly the highlight of the evening with supposedly the best reaction of the tour, and even the middle aged men get involved in the sudden wave of motion.
It’s a shame that the crowd were so sombre, as LIGHTS’ performance was absolutely breath taking – she came, she saw, but she didn’t quite conquer.