Indie-pop juggernaut Girl in Red – real name, Marie Ulven – is hard to miss. Initially breaking out as a lo-fi star-in-waiting, the artist’s debut record ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’ launched her career to new heights, and even won a nod of approval from Taylor Swift.
In a matter of years, the singer has gone from from professing her love to a best friend online on debut single ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ to being something of a queer staple – “do you listen to Girl in Red” has become a code word traded between LGBTQ+ fans and listeners to find community. She’s also upgraded her ambitious, self-starting music project for a bolder, cleaner vision — World In Red.
Now, two months after the release of her debut, the singer kickstarts a live rendition of her catalogue for a global World in Red live stream – beamed in from a self-described “weird-ass place somewhere in Oslo”.
Centred at one end of the bunker-like room, Ulven appears under a glare of red neon, her bare feet (the singer later announces she is “quitting shoes”) planted on either side of a mic stand as a pop-rock recreation of ‘Serotonin’ unfurls. The Blink-182-style reimagining is a purposeful opener for the hour-long set, and with the singer decked out in an oversized tee and worn-out red cap, it’s a fitting DIY image. Amping up the angst further, Ulven draws on hints of screamo for ‘Bad Idea’ and churlish bop ‘Stupid Bitch’ – honing in on the show’s brilliant blown-up maximalist rock sound, and working wonders to bring audiences closer to the frenzied feel of an intimate gig from a spookily deserted bunker.
The guitar-led “household favourite” ‘We Fell In Love in October’ becomes a reworked soft pop-turned-punk titan, while ‘Girls’ shakes through the venue full of pride and ‘i’ll die anyway.’ lands as a flurry of revved-up guitar strokes and impromptu dance moves. And tyining things up, closeout smash ‘I wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ is a show-stealer with a toned-down, grungy finish.
And teetering between punk chaos and slowed down jams, World in Red does its best to bridge the gap between on-screen glory and the euphoria of a live show. Between songs, Ulven continually tries to connect: whether she’s providing updates on the bright Norwegian weather, filling a distanced crowd in on the meanings of songs, and issuing playful one-liners for non-existent crowd. Though it all feels somewhat eerie amongst the gigantic low-lit space, the reimagined songs still capture the mania of a quick-shifting Girl In Red show, and are further bolstered by a full, six-piece band. Debuting plenty of raw talent and high energy, World In Red cuts close in capturing the longing feeling of live music and pulls it off almost seamlessly.
Girl In Red played:
‘Did You Come?’
‘We Fell In Love in October
‘Body and Mind’
‘I’ll Die Anyway.’
‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’