Live Report: Dua Lipa – Manchester Arena

A breathlessly exciting opening night...

The last time Dua Lipa toured the UK, so much was different. Some aspects are more obvious than others – the pandemic underlines that – but notably she was playing shows a mere fraction of the size of Manchester arena. But after releasing her second full-length record, she’s taken the last two years as a blessing in disguise to build a show that is indisputably exquisite. The stage is set and the hype has been built since tour that first went on sale over two years ago; anticipation is not a strong enough word to describe the energy in the arena.

With the amount of sheer, undeniable hits Lipa’s had, you’d be forgiven for not realising the London based pop trailblazer is only 26. But age is just a number as she embodies the essence of an ageless Greek muse hitting the stage in a soon-to-be iconic custom pink outfit practically painted onto the skin. The vibrant visuals couple a blistering opening that starts with ‘Physical’ and it then followed by ‘New Rules’; arguably two of Dua’s most definitive tracks – further proof of how many already classic songs she has to offer. The flashy production keep you appropriately hypnotised the whole way through, until ‘Be The One’ closes the first of five acts , not unlike some epic Shakespeare drama.

Like any good extravaganza, Dua Lipa’s show has something for everyone. Looking for a video cameo from a musical legend, strap in for her ‘Cold Heart’ duet with Elton John. Or maybe you’re waiting for a striped back solo moment that progresses into a latin flavour moment, ‘Boys Will Be Boy’ has you covered. You’ll get guitar solos and theatricality curtesy of Dua’s talented live musicians plus charismatic dancers with slick choreography, outfit changes and solid vocals from start to finish.

Sure, some of these are elements are expected for a show like this. But Dua does it in a fresh, youthful, vibrant fashion – while at the same time it’s clear she’s influenced by all the staple pop divas. Not to mention, what other show will you see this year that features a giant lobster?

Dua somehow manages to save the best for last, quite literally levitating in a showstopping bejewelled Mugler number, to perform mega-hit ‘Levitating’ in front of a transfixed crowd.

The encore opens with ‘Future Nostalgia’, a song that could have been a show by itself; whipping her hair and singing solo with a mic stand like she’d been possessed by an 80s hair metal rock star, then closing with ‘Don’t Start Now’, yet another smash. She sings “I know you’re dying trying to figure me out” – so fitting a lyric as she mystified the audience throughout this larger-than-life show everyone should see at least one. But in actuality, it's clearer now than ever before Dua has truly graduated from a rising star to a superstar.

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Words: Sarah Shodipe
Photo Credit: Shirlaine Forrest

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