The 26-year-old’s highly-anticipated arena tour is a tour-de-force sensory feast.
After an arduous two-year wait, the main pop girl of the 2020s, Dua Lipa, finally kicked off her highly anticipated Future Nostalgia Tour earlier this month. It was a momentous occasion for Lipa, whose sophomore record was nearly derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic: the album’s release on March 27th, 2020, came just days after global lockdowns were implemented, with the global tour being postponed three times in two years. During that time, Lipa saw her star rocket – adding an extra Grammy to her mantle, scoring the biggest hit of 2021 with “Levitating,” and releasing Future Nostalgia’s deluxe “Moonlight” edition and club remix versions. With this solar-sized momentum behind her, it should come as no surprise that her first arena tour is a unique success.
Taking the stage first was Lolo Zouaï, the French-born American singer-songwriter whose blend of trap pop seems tailor-made for Top 40 radio. While the audience seemed ignorant of her music, it was an enjoyable performance that surely garnered her new fans. The second opener, Indie-Pop sensation Caroline Polachek, seemed to lose the crowd with her oceanic art-pop despite her best efforts, only finding them again with her closer, the irresistible “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings.” While Zouaï was a logical opener as she occupies an adjacent Pop lane to Lipa, Polachek’s addition appeared to be an intentional but perhaps trite bid to boost Lipa’s indie credentials. Polachek will certainly benefit from the arena exposure, but the audience demographic seemed to be a minor mismatch.
By 9:20, the spectacle was on, and from the moment Lipa took the stage with the dancefloor thriller “Physical,” the crowd was hers. The trained model looked stunning from start to finish, with her choreography consistently providing opportunities for her to strike a pose. It was a rigorous show for the performer and her crew, but Lipa never sounded fatigued, plowing through her 90-minute set like a true Pop olympian.
While the show was visually stunning, it was also somewhat incohesive. There was no narrative to the concert – no major conceptual framework and unrelated, distinctly different sections. The Lichtenstein pop-art-inspired intro for Act II where Lipa escapes the grasp of a crustacean went untethered aesthetically and thematically to the rest of the set, and the tour seemed focused more on its individual songs rather than the links between them. Concerts certainly don’t need plotlines to be successful, but a half commitment to them is a puzzling one. One shouldn’t conflate this with a condemnation of the show, however – it was an exceedingly enjoyable performance, just one that may lack the theatrical depth that many pop tours of recent have taken.
The tour’s greatest strength may be Lipa’s dedication to the Future Nostalgia era overall. Clocking in now at over two years, it’s the most multi-faceted pop album cycle in recent memory with its multiple expansions and performances. The setlist included the entire standard edition and some “Moonlight” tracks and nods to her acclaimed Studio 2054 live stream and club cuts album. Lipa pulled all of these threads together to create an experience that stays true to her artistic vision and rewards the fans who have paid attention.
Whether you’re a casual or hardcore listener of Dua Lipa, the Future Nostalgia tour is a stirring experience for all.