After ridiculously excessive deliberation I bought last-minute tickets to see Lykke Li in Vicar Street last Sunday. Unlike many of my impulsive decisions this was a good one! Lykke Li AKA Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson has been bobbing around the indie pop music scene for years yet it has taken some time for her to reach wide acclaim. For some reason Scandinavian artists don’t seem to get as much publicity as their American and UK counterparts. Robyn is another excellent example of a female Swedish singer/songwriter who is hugely underrated despite being on the music scene for years. For a long time I merely knew her as “that girl with the funny name.”
Li released her first album in 2008 but it wasn’t 2012 when The Magician remix of Li’s “I Follow Rivers” made created a frenzy in clubs worldwide and introduced her music to a wider audience. It was pretty much impossible to go to Lost Society and not hear this song at least twice at the time!
She compounded this success with a third album released earlier this year “I Never Learn.” On hearing “No rest for the Wicked” the lead single during a very difficult time when there was a bereavement in my family, it really struck a chord. I began listening to the album nightly and the nights when I couldn’t sleep (which were frequent), the songs became lullabies. Li’s songs are compelling tales of love, heartbreak, loss and pain. The nearest she comes to upbeat is crooning “Dance cos you can, dance cos you must” on “Love out of Lust.”
Needless to say, I emotionally invested in Li’s music and when I saw she was playing Vicar Street, I knew I had to go.
The show was opened by Eliot Sumner, daughter of Sting and her band. Such is Li’s enigma that a few people (maybe me too :P) mistook her for Lykke Li..and its not hard to do! Li spends much of her videos hiding under dark cloaks (I Follow Rivers) and veils (I Never Learn album cover) and her album covers are often bereft of her image.
Eliot Sumner looked ridiculously good despite no make-up, greasy hair and wearing boys football shorts and socks. I wish I could pull off this look! She was very energetic and her voice sounded great. Sumner formerly sang under the band name I Blame Coco but is now going by her own name. I wasnt familiar with her music but found myself enjoying it, especially “Information.”
Li finally emerged later at 9.45, preceded by her band all dressed in black to match. Li is rarely seen wearing anything other than black or without eyeliner. She herself wore flares (yes real flares, they are back and Lykke Li wore them first ) and a massive glittery baggy jumper.
She launched the show with “I Never Learn.” She belted out an impressive total of 14 songs, see setlist here.
Among my favourite songs were “Sadness is a Blessing”, “No rest for the Wicked”, “Get Some” performed in a duet with Eliot Sumner and a cover of Drake’s “Hold on We’re Going Home.” It may seem hard to fathom an alternative female artist covering this song, however Li’s version is profound and shows off her voice. It seems that whatever Li sings, she manages to make it sound heart-rending.
She is a consummate performer, concentrating on singing, playing the guitar, tambourine and at one point using the mic stand for percussion effects. She uses a lot witch-like hand gestures similar to her mysterious videos. Her haunting vocal sounds amazing live but anyone hoping for a lot of interaction or smiles would be left disappointed. Li mentioned on the night and on social media that she was finding touring difficult but added ” a crowd like you makes it worthwhile.” Personally I felt the crowd was quite subdued…Li quit her tour due to exhaustion shortly after this gig so I’m happy got to see her when I did!
“I Follow Rivers” seemed an obvious choice for an encore but Li instead performed this towards the end. She followed with a self-proclaimed “power ballad” for the “broken-hearted” “Never Gonna Love Again” and “Rich Kids Blues.”
The “Get Some” duet with Eliot Sumner was unexpected and definitely would’ve ended the show with a bang. (If you check out the video from her Manchester gig, both of them are wearing the same outfits as they wore in Dublin, definitely a diva free zone) 🙂
Li chose “Heart of Steel” for an encore which I have to say was a little lacklustre. I would’ve preferred to hear “Jerome”, “Youth Knows No Pain” or even “Love out of Lust.” But I was more than thrilled to see her live, she’s just amazing.
With U2 choosing her to feature on their new album and join their tour, Li’s future looks extremely bright. If you have a chance to see her live go! You won’t regret it!
Thanks for visiting my blog and take a listen to her U2 duet below.