O2 Academy Brixton, Thursday 7 November
Welcome to the Church of Lizzo: a holy, immense sanctuary dedicated to loving yourself. The screams that erupt throughout Brixton Academy as soon as she appears, majestic in a metallic cape like some kind of futuristic preacher, are those usually reserved for boy bands. This is deafening, devoted adoration and every last drop is deserved.
The rapper, singer and flautist’s brand of empowered indulgence and body positivity has been alive and kicking for most of the 2010s, but it’s only recently that droves of fans have joined the faithful. “The world called on it because the world needs it now,” she says of her mission. “I need it now and you need it now.”
Tonight we get gnarly electric guitar riffs toying around her usual arrangements while smoke billows at Lizzo’s feet and wind blows through her hair that she never fails to toss for our pleasure. She’s magnetic and knows it, barrelling through defiant opener ‘Heaven Help Me’ and bringing theatrical humour to ‘Exactly How I Feel’.
But Lizzo isn’t up there on her own. Her live show is as inclusive as her community and she shares the stage with DJ Sophia – who leads both the amped-up tunes to dance to and the ones to cry to – as well as a gang of characterful, colourful dancers who Lizzo introduces as ‘The Big Girls’.
On ‘Jerome’, Lizzo asks for us to hold up our phones and the room turns into a red-raw lullaby bathed in light. She says she’d like to take the London audience, who chant her name on four separate occasions like a prayer, everywhere she goes.
A shaky sound system occasionally lets down the nuance of every sharp thought Lizzo has to share, but when she dips into politics she’s loud and clear, speaking fearlessly about fighting persecution in all its forms. “We live in a world governed and ruled by misogyny, racism, hatred and money,” she says, her sharpness aimed at US President Donald Trump. What feels so salient is that Lizzo is fully aware of how her words can be dismissed and underestimated, but that only makes her more fervent in bolstering those vital opinions.
“Manifest all of that love, the smile on your face into your new decade,” she says, never letting go of hope. In both tonight’s highly-awaited flute solo – which comes during the encore and encourages an a capella rendition of ‘Juice’ from the crowd – and celebration of a part of British culture she cares for dearly, namely beany, cheesy jacket potatoes, Lizzo is always generous in how much she shares with fans. She makes everyone feel invited to what she calls “one of the greatest nights of all time” a mere 10 minutes into the show. Another triumphant hour later, it’s hard to disagree.
‘Heaven Help Me’
‘Cuz I Love You’
‘Exactly How I Feel’
‘Gigolo Game’/’Like A Girl’
‘Good As Hell’