Dua Lipa’s concert demystifies the dark-pop genre

With one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the industry, it’s hard to miss English-born, Albanian singer, Dua Lipa. Her thick, warm husky voice is a mesmerizing sound to many. So it was no surprise when she arrived to perform in Vancouver for the first time to a sold-out audience.

However, it wasn’t just her voice that mesmerized audiences this time around. Moments before the start of her first song, Lipa strutted on stage with the confidence of a runway model and provided the first glimpse of what was expected for the remainder of the night: unfiltered and unapologetic fun.

Atypical of most pop stars, there was no staged choreography and no army of background dancers to distract the audience. It was just Lipa’s band, her background visuals and her natural stage presence. Undoubtedly, this was more than enough to feed the crowd as neither she nor her fans showed any signs of slowing down throughout the night.

The first song on her setlist was crowd-pumping “Hotter than Hell”. It’s a fitting start to the show considering it’s the reason Lipa got signed in the first place. It made crowd interaction easier as this high-octane, tropical house track hypnotized the audience into jumping in time with Lipa.

From here, Lipa transitioned effortlessly into a full performance of “Dreams” and a singular chorus from Sean Paul’s “No Lie.”  Songs such as “Thinking ‘Bout You” and “Genesis” provided a more intimate atmosphere where the crowd could fully and personally engage with the singer, and demonstrated a feeling of support and camaraderie between Lipa and her fan base.

Often during performances, artists will occasionally pause to provide background information on a song. Lipa, on the other hand, allowed each song’s popularity to speak for itself, leaving less space for breaks and more space for smoother transitions.

However, after a few songs, came the playful crowd-favourite, “Blow Your Mind (Mwah).” Known as one of the album’s many kiss-off tracks, this song needed no introduction. Although this did not stop Lipa from giving a short speech prior to start – a speech that rallied the crowd into a screaming frenzy.

“This song is about not giving a fuck,” she said. “It’s about being unapologetically yourself. Whether you’re in here, out there or anywhere.”

The crowd cheered in sweet anticipation of the electro-pop, dance track and seemed delighted by the bold, curse-laden declaration of self-assurance. This seemed to be an overarching theme of the night as not more than twenty minutes later, a similar message appeared on screen:

“You are about to experience some explicit language and behaviour. This is a song for all the fuckboys that have done you wrong. If you would like to participate in the next activity please put your middle fingers up.”

Naturally, the crowd complied. Then came the crisp, cutting lyrics of her newest single, “IDGAF.” A song that no one hesitated in signing in perfect unison at the top of their lungs. And when Lipa asked each audience member to sing the final chorus with her, their voices joyfully overpowered hers.

Arguably her most popular song, “New Rules”, ended Lipa’s encore. With the Canadian flag in her hand, Lipa gave the audience the last electric charge it needed to round out the night. Despite being a dark, breakup anthem, “New Rules” channels female-empowerment and gives new meaning to the dark pop genre that Lipa is known for.

Although live performances very rarely sound like their studio counterparts, Lipa is a noticeable exception. What was even more impressive was that despite this being her 44th stop on her world tour, her voice showed no signs of exhaustion and was as robust and aggressive as it is on the album.

Considering this is Lipa’s fourth tour in two years in support of a debut album that’s less than nine months old, the world sees no signs of her slowing down. And thankfully, her fans wouldn’t have it any other way.