Live Report: Sky Ferreira – KOKO, London

The mythic pop figure delivers a raw, emotionally-charged set...

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Sky Ferreira says as she asks her guitarist to stop playing in the middle of a song during her London show. “I suddenly got really upset. This is really embarrassing,” she says to her fans as they scream their adoration back at her, eventually resuming parts of ‘Sad Dream.

In this moment, it’s palpably clear that Ferreira put herself through a lot to be on stage, that her intense performance eclipsed any concerns over her being late. Following reports of fans calling Ferreira’s recent show in Manchester the “Willy Wonka Experience” of concerts, referring to the now viral event in Glasgow, emotions are high as we line up in front of the legendary venue in North London.

Between the well-founded fear that the concert would be cancelled last minute and the excitement many felt for this rare gem of a performance, the atmosphere was tense. While concert-goers waited for Ferreira to arrive – which became a full three-hour wait from the time doors opened – music reverberated around the magnificent Victorian-era hall. The playlist was on brand: Lana Del Rey, the xx, Grimes – a true Tumblr throwback to the era in which most got to know Ferreira.

For her sole London date on her UK tour promoting her upcoming album ‘Masochism’, the room only started to get full an hour and a half after the allotted start time. Fans had gotten the memo: Ferreira would be late. Ella, who works in the music industry said after waiting for two and a half hours: “I feel like this isn’t going to happen anymore. It seems very unlikely.”

But all is forgiven when minutes later the lights dim to a moody blue, with Ferreira appearing on stage playing her grungy hit ‘Boys’, from breakout album ‘Night Time, My Time’. In an almost literal statement, it seems Ferreira does not want to be in the spotlight: throughout the set she’s backlit, allowing the audience only the glimmer of a solitary silhouette.

Followed quickly by ‘24 Hours’, Ferreira’s pristine vocals are drowned out at times by the loud, sometimes dissonant sounds from the band backing her. A few songs later, Ferreira teased her new era playing a few unreleased tracks, alongside her most recent single ‘Don’t Forget’. Whilst the atmosphere and mood are the most important parts of her recorded repertoire, it’s Ferreira’s voice that really shines here. Never missing a note, her vocal competes with a distorted guitar but always prevails.

In an infamous display of perfectionism, Ferreira starts three songs over. Worry besets the audience as we approach the venue’s closing time: ‘Everything is Embarrassing, her biggest hit co-written with Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), hasn’t been sung. But before that, she launches into a raw, tear-stained performance of ‘Sad Dream’. The entire hall joins in the chorus, many crying in a moment of communal energy exchange. Sky Ferreira closes the two-hour concert with the synth-pop stunner, showing once more her intense dedication to her craft, and the fans who’ve made her a Delphic cult figure.

Words: Christophe Domec

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