Swedish songstress LÉON enchants Vancouver audience

LÉON at the Imperial, 10/13/17

Photo courtesy of Into the Gloss
Photo courtesy of Into the Gloss

Swedish songstress LÉON wowed the crowd with her stunning vocals and a combination of heartfelt and dancey songs at the Imperial on Friday night (Oct. 13). And things got candid.

A small crowd lined up in the darkness outside the venue’s nondescript exterior before doors opened, and the anticipation for the performance grew as denim-clad concert goers trickled into the intimate, fog-filled space.

The simple stage setup complimented opening act Wrable, who sat centre-stage at an electric piano and delivered a beautiful one-man show with powerful vocals and plenty of audience engagement.

“I like this,” the American singer-songwriter said while pointing to a shimmering front-row fan. “Is it glitter? It’s dope!” The obliging fan handed over her glitter and Wrable glitzed up. The 30-minute set was filled with pop ballads including “10 Feet Tall,” “Ritual,” “The Village”, “Bloodstain” and of course, his biggest hit “11 blocks,” which he said is about being dumped by a boyfriend over Skype who lived – you guessed it – a mere 11 blocks away. And yes, Wrable has a map of those blocks tattooed on his body. And yes, he joked about being totally over it.

LÉON captured everyone’s attention when she bounded onto the stage for an energetic intro performance of the catchy track “Treasure.” The show was high energy right from the get-go, and relied on LÉON’s vivacious presence rather than flashy lighting effects or stage props to keep the audience engaged. The second number, “Body,” showed off the songstress’s sultry vocals reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and Adele. Her voice was flawless throughout the whole show, and the venues’ acoustics were also great.

The indie-pop singer rose to Spotify stardom in 2015 with the release of “Tired of Talking,” which racked up over 54 million plays to date. Since then, she has released three EPs: Treasure (October 2015), For You (March 2017) and Surround Me (October 2017). 

For upbeat numbers like “Nobody Cares,” “Sleep Deprived” and “For You,” LÉON danced across the stage in a black leather skirt, hoop earrings, a white ruffle top and high heels – which she promptly kicked off after a the first few songs.

“I feel free!” exclaimed the young Stockholm native.

Initially, the songstress seemed nervous while talking between songs, but quickly got comfortable and charmed the crowd with her candour and jokes. A highlight of the set was “Think About You,” whose first notes drew an excited holler from the crowd and had everyone singing and swaying along contently. Emotions ran high later in the show when LÉON shared that she cried in a cab after recording “I Believe In Us.”

“I don’t always write about love that treats you kind,” she said. “Maybe you guys can help me out if I don’t make it through this song.”

She bounced back from the somber tone with the more upbeat “Surround Me,” which she co-wrote with Wrabel earlier this year. But Wrabel did not accompany her on stage, which resulted in some boos from the disappointed audience.  

LÉON closed the dynamic show with her biggest hit, “Tired of Talking,” before being called back for an encore where she performed a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” a song she thinks is one of the best of all time.  The one-hour set left the audience feeling connected to LÉON and wanting more of the songstress’s sultry vocals and candour. LÉON, Vancouver will “Think About You” until you make it back to the West Coast.