Dua Lipa live review: The subtle duality of Dua Lipa ★★★★

Dua Lipa performs onstage during Billboard and Mastercard present a night with Dua Lipa at Mastercard House on January 27, 2018 in New York City. (Christopher Polk/Getty)

If you needed more evidence that Dua Lipa is Brit music’s next superstar, look no further than her headline gig at London’s Alexandra Palace on April 21.

Already this year Lipa has ascended to the upper echelons of pop by bagging two BRIT Awards—including best female solo artist—in February and, just this month, scoring a second No. 1 hit with the Calvin Harris track “One Kiss.”

But as Beyoncé’s world-stopping Coachella performances have shown, what really matters to one’s pop staying power is how well you perform. And Lipa is already proving to be a confident performer—though she still has a ways to go.

Friday’s Ally Pally performance was a marked improvement over my first experience seeing Lipa live, back in February 2017 at the NME Awards.

The singer’s self-assured stage presence in the year since that performance has skyrocketed, perhaps buoyed by the successes of “New Rules” and “IDGAF” (and those shiny BRITs statues).

What’s clear in this two-hour set is that, belying Lipa’s general pop infancy, she has already accrued a catalogue of hits that readily rouse the crowd: As well as the aforementioned “Rules” and “IDGAF,” Lipa opens the show with a hearty and energetic rendition of “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” and by the time we reach “Hotter Than Hell,” the sultry, dark torch song that gave Lipa her first chart hit, the party is in full swing.

Also throughout the set are her hits with Sean Paul (“No Lie”), Miguel (“Lost In Your Light”) and Martin Garrix (“Scared to Be Lonely”) and the slow-burn banger “Be the One.”

Onstage Lipa oozes a somatic sensuality that underpins her performance. Whether it’s the big, brash tropic stylings of “New Rules” or a stripped-back rendition of “Thinking ‘Bout You,” Lipa is utterly watchable.

Though the set does lull at the midway point as Lipa works her way through the ballads in her repertoire—a pruning of two to three songs would help the dip in energy—even here, the pop star has a quality to her that is captivating. Lipa  can go from sexy to bawdy without appearing unnatural.

What is most exciting about Lipa, though, is the way she subtly plays with the concepts of femininity and masculinity in her dance routines and mannerisms, much as she does in the music video for “IDGAF.”

But Lipa doesn’t do it in an affectatious way to garner controversy or Twitter cred—it feels innate. For generation woke, who are more readily shedding gender conformity for fluidity, Lipa heralds the pop role model they’ve been waiting for.