LIVE: Tove Lo (o2 Ritz, Manchester, 15/3/17)

17356941_10210289730332050_248183893_o (2)Swedish pop artist Tove Lo brought her show to Manchester as part of her UK tour, kicking off her set with two of the strongest tracks from her recent album Ladywood. True Disaster is a brilliant start as its fiery beat is just as powerful as the lyrics in which she exclaims “pretty boys, they didn’t teach me things I didn’t know“, her first of many social commentaries over infectious pop hooks, this time a statement on today’s over-emphasis on physical appearance.

Then she goes straight into the album’s title track, with lyrics about a couple who are being judged but pretty much not giving a f**k, a point the crowd here are getting behind.

The popstar struts up and down the stage rocking her high waisted 70s-style silver pants with Ladywood embellished on the back as she blasts through more from the latest album, and later changes into a disco ball-style jacket, a party outfit which is a great tie in with her dance-ready anthems.

She harks back to earlier tracks with Not on Drugs and one of the highlights of the night Talking Body which shows off her ability to write a banging pop tune. But as well as her knack for pop, the lady is known for her outspoken attitude on female sexuality and that’s no more apparent than when she cooly and uninhibitedly lifts her top up to huge cheers from the crowd – it’s something she regularly does at her live shows, making the point that if male rock stars can perform topless then why can’t women?

17357162_10210289731332075_1096702056_o (2)There is slight lull mid set where she disappears for a quick change – but her enthusiastic band keep up the momentum. She returns for Imaginary Friend, during which she takes charge on the keyboard on a song about loneliness in the public eye and music industry.

It seems her thrust into the media has been a rough one – she started out writing with pop royalty Xenomania for other artists before finding herself front of stage – and with that comes criticism, particularly for a strong-willed female.

She amps up the energy again on another teary dance anthem WTF Love Is before Cool Girl – the earworm electropop banger which suffered an injustice for not topping the charts around the globe – finishes up the set ahead of an encore.

She apologises to the Manchester crowd for a number of gig cancellations over the past couple of years in the city, something that was mostly out her hands. But they seem more than pleased that she’s finally here as the energy in the room replicates the leading lady on the stage.

She finishes up on her breakthrough track Habits (Stay High) for a much more chilled out version as she winds down her dance moves and lets the crowd take over.

17310575_10210289731372076_1621220608_o (2)Tove Lo is clearly leading the new wave pop pack with her fellow unashamedly honest and fearless contemporaries who, although perhaps not topping the charts, are certainly connecting with the right crowds.

Words and photos: Jonny Yates

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