WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
WHEN?: Tuesday 16 November 2021, touring until 9 May 2022
SETLIST: Dynasty; STFU!; Comme des garçons (Like the Boys); Akasaka Sad; Snakeskin; Cyber Stockholm Syndrome; Paradisin’; Love Me 4 Me; Bad Friend; Who’s Gonna Save U Now?; Tokyo Love Hotel; Chosen Family; Cherry; XS; LUCID; Free Woman
We’re 1 song into the show, the adoring crowd are chanting: ‘Rina! Rina!’ spurring the object of their affection to say: ‘This is how I know this is my home town.’
- Read on for reasons including why everything’s in place for album 2 to go stratospheric
Immediately before Sawayama takes to the stage the predominantly teenage audience is singing along loudly to some choice pre-show tracks from artists including Lady Gaga, Robyn and especially Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson.
This gig at this 1,700-capacity venue was originally due to have taken place in September 2020 and we’re here because Sawayama’s self-titled debut album (SAWAYAMA) won our 2020 Best Album monsta and since then she has gone on to much greater acclaim including an Elton John duet.
We 1st saw Sawayama supporting Charli XCX at 02 Brixton Academy on Halloween 2019 and its amazing to hear the album which includes a clash of many different styles including metal guitar live tonight and receiving such a rapturous response.
Opener Dynasty reminds of Prince and is followed by a shout out to the ‘LGBTQ community’ which has clearly clutched Sawayama to their collective hearts because the audience roars back its approval.
SAWAYAMA was a stylistically bold album that wasn’t afraid to tackle difficult themes and depression is mentioned early as an introduction to track Akasaka Sad.
On the flipside Sawayama has 2 dancers and their formation dancing particularly as driver and passengers in a car – enhanced later by our heroine pretending to play a toy saxophone in the instrumental break – is a real joy.
Her best known song is probably the 1 that was latterly an Elton John duet and Chosen Family becomes a moving singalong with the crowd joining in at the top of their lungs about the LGBTQ community and discovering bonds with the unrelated who you can relate to.
In many ways XS, the song that broke her, is the perfect encore with its ‘Give me just a little bit more’ refrain. Her explanation of recent single LUCID and its ‘girls with margaritas in Mykonos’ vibe shows she’s capable of having fun too.
And the final Lady Gaga cover dedicated to Britney Spears perhaps shows just how stellar her ambitions her. On this showing, everything’s in place for album number 2 to go stratospheric.