There’s nothing quite like a big, bolshy arena show. Whether it’s got shed loads of dancers moving like clockwork, mad Muse-styled staging or a shit ton of pyro – or all three – it can elevate a gig from enjoyable to genuinely memorable. But sometimes the joy of live performance is in its understated brilliance; unfussy modesty can put full focus on the music and make a show just as special as it would be with fireworks shooting out of Matt Bellamy’s trousers.
Anna of the North is a case in point. The only UK date of Anna Lotterud’s European tour in support of her newly released second album ‘Dream Girl’ was a beautifully unassuming affair. With its simple staging and low-key two piece band, there was nothing to pull focus from her collection of dreamy pop songs,
Launching into ‘Lonely Life’, a skittering fusion of woozy electronics and the sort of jazzy riffs you’d expect at a Tom Misch show, Anna dances across the stage, seeming both totally at ease and absolutely thrilled by the keen reception she’s getting. She doesn’t speak to the crowd loads, but the set is punctuated with Anna breathlessly thanking her adoring audience (“I love you so much it hurts!” she exclaims at one point).
The focus is clearly on the latest album, but there are outings for old favourites from her debut ‘Lovers’. Whilst Anna of the North is now a solo endeavour, the first record was released and recorded with producer Brady Daniell-Smith, with who Lotterud has now parted ways. However there doesn’t seem to be any sadness here: the jubilant – if a little cheesy – key change in ‘Someone’ still absolutely slaps, and an acoustic version of ‘Baby’ is emotive without being melancholy.
“I have asthma so I find it hard to sing and dance and breathe at the same time,” Anna tells the audience before ‘Thank Me Later’, adding “Can you feel the love tonight?!” She’s an endearing presence and despite the lack of bells and whistles the Norwegian artist puts on an entirely captivating show, partly down to her no fucks given dancing, and partly down to the sheer excellence of her songs.
Coaxing the crowd into chanting for an encore after ‘The Dreamer’, Anna briefly disappears, before running on stage and cutely shouting “Surprise!”. It’s then time for the triple-punch of hip-hop beat boasting ‘Reasons’, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before soundtracking ‘Lovers’ and tropical banger ‘Fire’ before she disappears off stage for good. No tricks, no gimmicks, and no reliance on quick-fire banter, Anna put the music upfront and it was spectacular.
Anna of the North played:
‘Used To Be’
‘Time to Get Over It’
‘When R U Coming Home’
‘Leaning On Myself’
‘Thank Me Later’