Poppy, like everyone else in the world, thought her 2020 would go a little differently than it did. Right before the US went into coronavirus-induced shutdown, she was hitting the road across the States, taking her latest album ‘I Disagree’ to the masses. Then, she wasn’t.
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The ‘I Disagree’ era was meant to be so much more than what it was, but instead of waiting for things to reopen in order to continue it, Poppy’s already moving on. Her first livestream show, ‘The Last Disagreement’ not only gives fans a glimpse of what would have been had she been able to continue touring, but also brings that particular chapter of the star’s story to a close.
The set-up tonight (April 24) is a scaled-down, pandemic version of her last IRL shows. There’s a central platform that leads up to a rectangular frame, which serves as a mirror and also another flashing strobe. On either side is Poppy’s band, bathed in light that changes from pink to blue to red and back again, luminescent bars separating each musician from the next.
The size of the stage and production might be smaller than originally planned, but there’s no dialling things back when it comes to Poppy’s performance. She begins staring at her reflection in the mirror, singing the opening lines of ‘Concrete’ in an eerie whisper: “Bury me six feet deep/Cover me in concrete/Turn me into a street.” Later, on the Fever 333 collaboration ‘Scary Mask’, she doubles over at the end of her runway and screams: “I said don’t look at me!”
Poppy might have unexpectedly gone metal on ‘I Disagree’, but this show feels like a playful representation of a post-genre world where anyone can be anything. There’s still plenty of pop hooks here among the eardrum-battering riffs and guttural wails – not least on her sublime cover of t.A.T.u’s ‘All The Things She Said’ – and there are moments where it feels like the singer is baiting internet trolls angry at her foray into a new world. “Ooh, heavy!” she teases at the start of ‘X’ – as she also does on the recorded version – as if she’s just trying on its riotous instrumental for size.
Regardless of whether this sound sticks for her – and it seems it will for a little longer, judging by the new songs she premiered at the Grammys and a WWE event – ‘The Last Disagreement’ is a portrait of an artist able to mould herself into new incarnations in front of our eyes. On ‘Sick Of The Sun’, she’s a poised ballad singer, sitting on the edge of the stage to deliver a heartfelt performance, but on ‘Bite Your Teeth’, her voice is raised as she half-sings, half-shouts an impossible command over chugging guitars: “Don’t cry, just bite your own/Bite your own teeth.”
The ‘I Disagree’ era might not have gone to plan, but ‘The Last Disagreement’ is a worthy salvaging of Poppy’s plans. When touring resumes, expect her to bring all this energy and style in bucketloads.
‘Fill The Crown’
‘Am I A Girl?’
‘Anything Like Me’
‘Nothing I Need’
‘All The Things She Said’
‘Sit / Stay’
‘Sick Of The Sun’
‘Don’t Go Outside’
‘Bite Your Teeth’