“I shit you not, I feel like I’m in The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” laughs Troye Sivan as he catches a first bit of respite after powering through the one-two punch of ‘Bloom’ and ‘Plum’. For the uninitiated, the narrative of said 2003 film follows its eponymous protagonist as she navigates all the tropes of a teenage flick – drama, drama, and, well, more drama – before it eventually culminates with McGuire having to perform onstage, without prior warning, in front of thousands. But that’s where the parallels end: while McGuire’s situation was a result of sheer happenstance, Sivan’s journey to the Apollo stage in Hammersmith last night (February 28) was most certainly not.
Born in South Africa and raised in western Australia, Sivan has documented his own lived experiences of suburban queerdom in an autobiographical voice across both of his solo efforts to date. It is this ingrained honesty that has always made his work so accessible, and it wouldn’t be presumptive to assume that his 2015 debut ‘Blue Neighbourhood’, which laid down the blueprint for visible queer pop, was a crucial way in for many an audience member here at the Apollo. That record is peppered with tender candid moments that shine in the midst of a pulsating melancholy which see Sivan lament the pitfalls of self-discovery and examine his own experiences of growing up in a small town where rightful representation of the LGBTQ+ community was seldom seen. His 2018 follow-up ‘Bloom’ was, in its simplest form, a thrillingly fearless pop feat that teared away all the filters. A surefire ecstasy hit of proud electro-pop, the record dances through its creator’s highs and lows but, most importantly, reveals a transparency and delicacy to Sivan’s work. It is only right, then, that the majority of tonight’s setlist comprises of highlights from the latter.
- Read more: NME meets Troye Sivan – “I don’t want people to be a fan of me from one song. I want them to be a fan of my sensibility”
Bathed in a singular white spotlight, Sivan’s presence alone is enough to elicit sheer hysteria as he emerges from behind the curtain to open with ‘Seventeen’, a quietly confident exploration into queer sexual experimentation that dissects the conflicting parallels of urgency and curiosity that those formative experiences grant. As the rainbow lights flash in tandem to form a colourful setting for the next section, the crowd hits fever pitch as the first chill wave of the mid-tempo ‘Bloom’ washes over the audience, and Sivan continues to charm with his fluid choreography in time to the pulsing beat of ‘Plum’. ‘Heaven’ sees those sat in the nosebleeds of the upper circle join together to create a makeshift Pride flag with rainbow lights: an unexpected but beautiful gesture that sends most of the crowd, and Sivan himself, into paroxysms.
Even in front of a sold out crowd of 5000 impassioned young fans, Sivan’s earnest sense of affability is so remarkably potent that when he sits on a pop-up sofa to share anecdotes about his failed relationships you cannot help but feel for the doe-eyed star. This palpable honesty certainly makes hearts swoon and eyes well up, but it’s ‘The Good Side’, Sivan’s compassionate apology of sorts, that tips the teary-eyed devotees over the edge.
At times, there is even an alluring drama to Sivan’s stage presence, particularly as the Gothic reverb of ‘Bite’ ramps energy levels back up to 11. This delirious intensity is best displayed throughout the encore as Sivan jumps from the soaring synth-pop choruses of ‘Youth’ to the unapologetically rapturous breakdown towards the end of ‘My, My, My!’, to which Sivan implores his fans to “go fucking crazy!”. His wish is their command, as bodies collide, voices are lost and inhibitions dissipate without care.
Sivan further cemented his position last night as one of the leading icons who are heralding in the next generation of the LGBTQ+ community. Tonight, every single fan (and their dad) left the venue with the comfort and knowledge that they had just been part of something special: a communal celebration of what it truly means to be young, queer and free.
Troye Sivan played:
i’m so tired…
The Good Side
What a Heavenly Way To Die
Dance To This
My My My!