Dora Jar live in London: pop disruptor flexes her theatrical muscle

March 17, Lafayette: The US singer delivers a raw, energetic show with the charisma and confidence of an artist on the verge of their breakthrough moment

Dora Jar is a master at the element of surprise. When the New York-based artist bounds onto the stage of London’s Lafayette this evening, she falls supine into a death drop so quickly and theatrically, it’s as though she’s giving the cast of Ru Paul’s Drag Race a run for their money. Seconds later, she breaks into the splits with ease as a distorted bassline begins to rumble in the background. Awe seems like the only appropriate response.

It’s clear that this enigmatic 24-year-old is intent on disrupting your expectations and giving you something even better. When Jar performed her first-ever headline show in the capital last October, she was carried on stage in a body bag to The Sound Of Music’s title song, as Billie Eilish – kitted out in a sneaky disguise – watched from the back of the room. It marked a perfect introduction to the playfully absurd world of Jar, whose kinetic and disorienting alt-pop feels as if you’ve been shrunk and let loose in a pinball machine.

Undercutting this evening’s similarly theatrical spectacle is Jar’s freely anarchic spirit. She pulls from ‘Comfortably In Pain’ – which, in a five-star review, NME dubbed “the year’s best EP so far” – and its predecessor, 2021’s ‘Digital Meadow’, and songs such as ‘Opening’ and ‘Tiger Face’ feel like they might implode at any point, all gnarly riffs and zig-zagging beats. She headbangs so aggressively during the distorted breakdown of ‘It’s Random’ that her top bun hairstyle falls out completely; later on, a guttural, death metal-style scream wraps up ‘Multiply’.

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Dora Jar live
Credit: Onstage Photos

All of the intentionally wonky bravado is matched by an ease to bleed beautifully into soft and ruminative numbers. Jar’s hushed but powerful vocals reach MARINA-esque, operatic peaks on the breezily anthemic ‘Hill’, before the breezily anthemic ‘Lagoon’ encourages an outbreak of synchronised arm-waving. She offers emotive life advice to the young fans that have packed out this venue, too: “The pain we feel in our hearts is a tunnel to finding deeper love”, she says at one point.

Jar is a vociferous champion for the outsiders, with a proudly OTT energy: she can’t even take a quick water break without twirling around and waving her arms. But to watch her live is to understand the perfect storm of tenacity, talent and joyously unpredictable expressionism that is fuelling her to great heights. Pigeonhole this future pop hero at your own peril.

Dora Jar live
Credit: Onstage Photos

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