After she finishes a euphoric version of ‘Break My Heart’ midway through the opening night of the UK leg of her ‘Future Nostalgia’ tour, Dua Lipa addresses the 21,000-strong Manchester crowd with palpable feeling. “It feels so fucking surreal to be here with you guys,” she says, staring out to a forest of twinkling camera phones and deafening screams. “We’ve been waiting so long – so long – to put on this show and we’ve moved it and postponed it and finally we’re here.”
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Considering her imperious second album ‘Future Nostalgia’ took Dua Lipa to the next level, it now seems bizarre to think back to April 2020 when, during the early days of pandemic-lockdown, she sobbed on Instagram expressing hesitation over whether it was the right time to release a dancefloor-centric record – especially when it turned out her disco-alchemy was precisely the escapism we all needed.
Despite its obvious success – including topping the charts, multiple award nominations and an attendant ‘Club Future Nostalgia’ remix album featuring collabs with Madonna and Kylie – the songs still deserved to be coronated with a full pop-arena spectacle victory lap (and not just a star-stacked Studio 2054 livestream) and, after rescheduling three times due to COVID-19 restrictions, tonight she more than makes up for lost time.
The night is divided into four acts. Resplendent in a pink catsuit, she opens all-guns-blazing with the 1980s-hued ‘Future Nostalgia’ standout ‘Physical’, replete with a retinue of dancers performing on a barre bar. The dopamine levels barely let up throughout an all-killer set that sees Singin’ In The Rain-inspired umbrella-wielding routines accompany ‘New Rules’, while roller-skaters back ‘Cool’. After a costume change, the underwater-themed second segment sees her perform ‘We’re Good’ with a giant kitsch inflatable crab (a nod to the video) looming over her and vamp up and down the catwalk during a playful ‘Good In Bed’.
The album ‘Future Nostalgia’ saw Dua Lipa applauded for distilling decades of disco music into her own transcendent cocktail: tonight there are party-fuelling sonic hat-tips throughout. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is mixed with Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’, ‘Break My Heart’ is spliced with Justice’s ‘Dance’, and best of all, ‘Hallucinate’ incorporates elements of Daft Punk’s ‘Technologic’. Set in a futuristic nightclub cage, the third act blitzes through the glitterball bangers – her Calvin Harris team-up ‘One Kiss’, Silk City collab ‘Electricity’ and the Giorgio Moroder-recalling ‘Hallucinate’ (with chair choreography paying homage to Bob Fosse), which segues into her Elton John-collab ‘Cold Heart’, with Reg appearing on the big screen.
Earlier in the set, Dua Lipa commented: “I was looking at pictures from my previous tours in Manchester and I just got so emotional. I feel like so much has changed in it feels like so little time.” She’s right: as she floats over the crowd on a hovering stage, among planets and stars, singing the majestic Chic-style ‘Levitating’ before confetti-canons explode to ‘Don’t Start Now’, you’re struck that there’s no more potent thrilling sound than a pop star whose time is now.
‘Future Nostalgia’ cemented the fact that she had the most enviable arsenal of club-pop around; tonight’s tour proved she also has the sheer star power to take things to an even greater stratosphere.
Dua Lipa played:
‘Break My Heart’
‘Be The One’
‘Good In Bed’
‘Boys Will Be Boys’
‘Club Future Nostalgia’
‘Don’t Start Now’