Dua Lipa @ RBC Echo Beach – July 30, 2018

Not being the target audience for this pop star (meaning not a teenager) I was not too familiar with her music before attending the concert. I mean, I did know (and like) the hits, but don’t know all of her material nor any of her backstory. It was to be a night of discoveries for me.

I am going to start off by saying I have been to a good number of shows in Toronto (Air Canada Centre, Danforth Music Hall, Roy Thompson Hall, etc.), but had never been to RBC Echo Beach. Great place to see live music! It is an outdoor venue right near the water and with the CN Tower in the background making it quite picturesque. There are plenty of drink and food stands so lines weren’t an issue despite the fact that this was a sold out show. In a stroke of brilliance and what all outdoor/festivals should do, they also had a stand which was giving out free water. Definitely the way to do it. The area facing the stage is filled with soft sand (though if you are wearing shoes it will get in there) with grassy areas further back. It is not as big as Parc Jean Drapeau, so there was more of an “intimate” feeling about it, if you can even say that about an outdoor venue.

If you don’t know Dua Lipa the name then you most probably know her music as it has been everywhere on the radio for the last year or so. She has had monster hits with the singles “New Rules” and more recently “One Kiss” with Calvin Harris. The 22-year-old London born (of Albanian background that is why she has such a cool name) singer really burst onto the music scene in 2017 though she had been around for a bit before. Since the release of her self-titled debut album she has pretty much been touring constantly whether on her own or supporting other acts like Coldplay and Bruno Mars. Presently she is on the North American leg of her Self-Titled tour, which will be making a stop in Montreal shortly at Osheaga.

As for the discoveries first of all, I did not know that for as many dancey songs she has there are an almost equal number of slower numbers. Several of them have an almost bluesy sound as well. It is in the slower moments within the almost torch ballads that her smokey voice is best used. Not many young singers today have the confidence or ability to hold the attention of thousands of fans just with their voice accompanied by a guitar. Dua Lipa does. And though her voice, which tends towards deep and dark, does not have a large range, she never missed a note all night. Even while twirling and dancing around.

The passion she feels for music was evident. Her father was a singer, so I guess she comes about it naturally or instinctively. Artistry involved in the seemingly mindless variety of pop song she produces was another surprise for me. Her songs actually involved plenty of female empowerment mantras which are masked in clever, appealing to youth lyrics. She writes in a style they will listen to and absorb without even really realizing. There is also an investigation of the human condition. Mostly in regards to love and its ups and downs, that is.

Her mantra seems to be being yourself. Dua saying “Be your most unapologetic you” was piped in before the singer even took the stage. The song “Hotter Than Hell” talks about self love. Positive messages and plenty of advice to young women to kick out of their lives men who don’t deserve them are aplenty.

Though in many television performances and still photos I have seen of her she seems to give off that composed or cooler than cool vibe on stage she is in constant motion dancing her butt off. Dressed in all white except for her black trainers, she kept up the energy for most of her almost 90 minute set.

The stage was rather minimal with two raised areas in the back which she went on a couple of times. In the back there was a large screen where cool, colourful visuals were projected for most of the show. Helping her out there were a three piece band, two female back up singers and two female dancers. None of the large (and generally overkill) accoutrements that usually come along with pop stars today. The focus was definitely on the young woman and she did not disappoint or shy away from it.

Setlist:

  1. Blow Your Mind (Mwah)
  2. Dreams
  3. No Lie (abridged version)
  4. My Love
  5. Lost in Your Light
  6. High
  7. Garden
  8. Last Dance
  9. Be The One
  10. Thinking ‘Bout You
  11. New Love
  12. Genesis
  13. One Kiss
  14. Scared to be Lonely
  15. Homesick
  16. No Goodbyes
  17. Hotter Than Hell
  18. Begging

Encore:

19. IDGAF

20. New Rules

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