LIVE: Dua Lipa, Studio 2054
It was never meant to be this way. For Dua Lipa, the rollout of sophomore album Future Nostalgia has been unimpeachable; scoring top 10 hits, critical acclaim, Grammy nominations and a US breakout, Future Nostalgia has been the most flawlessly-promoted album in recent memory.
Now, in an alternate 2020, we have Studio 2054, the closest thing we’ll get to a world tour until next year. Less a concert and more an evening of live music videos, 2054 takes the audience on a continuous 70-minute journey through multiple warehouse sets constructed within Printworks London. Featuring sequins, neon lights, fog machines, and cropped aspect ratios, this is the 80s as seen in 2020 - future nostalgia.
Emerging from a dancing crowd, Lipa takes centre stage to open with the title track. Alternating between crowd interaction and mic play, there’s a clear sense of camaraderie between the performers. The band - entirely live - is scattered across sets. Snippets of the 2000s are heard across the set, showcasing Dua’s love of collaboration and references. Missy Elliot, Daft Punk and Gwen Stefani are just some of the many samples dropped by The Blessed Madonna, the brains behind remix album Club Future Nostalgia. Many of the sampled artists feature on the album, so the synergy here is off-the-charts.
With each act bookended by new instrumental intros, much of this feels like material for the world tour. Act two, the show’s highlight, features a pole-dancing performance by the mesmerising FKA twigs as they premiere ‘Why Don’t You Love Me.’ Twigs, sporting a Batman-symbol bra - likely referencing ex Robert Pattinson - clearly got the memo about meta-narrative.
The warehouse setting embraces its full potential as we head into a makeshift roller-rink for standout performances of ‘Physical’ and ‘Cool.’ Singing amidst roller skates and a balance beam, Lipa’s voice - husky and notched - never sounds better here. The strengths and imperfections of her vocal performance are crucial to selling the live aspect of Studio 2054. As the show unfolds, the intimate nature of the setting reveals itself. Backing vocalists by a fully-tended bar lend the production its beating heart. This is a night out in London and we, the audience, are watching from afar.
Act three unleashes its arsenal of celebrity cameos - Miley Cyrus, J Balvin, and Bad Bunny all perform via pre-recorded video. And then who else should show up in person than Kylie Minogue? Premiering ‘Real Groove’, Lipa assists her with gusto, but it’s Kylie’s show. She drapes herself over the DJ decks and for a brief moment, Minogue is the headliner.
Introduced by Elton John performing ‘Rocket Man’ via screen, the final act is a jubilant celebration. Closing with ‘Don’t Start Now’, Lipa marches through the sets, every performer caught dancing in one of them. “You want a timeless song, I wanna change the game,” she chants, and with artistic output like this in the midst of a pandemic, it’s hard to argue she hasn’t.
To hear more from Dua Lipa, click here.