Gig Review: Lykke Li at Tivoli


Lykke Li introduces new record I Never Learn in Utrecht

This weekend was quite an important one for all the Dutch Lykke Li fans out there. On friday, the singer-songwriter launched her new album I Never Learn and on saturday she played the new songs of the record live during her gig in Utrecht. It has been a few years since the Swedish artist, who had a big hit with her song ‘I Follow Rivers’ in 2011, played a show in the Netherlands. She was supposed to be performing in TivoliOudegracht, the new venue in Utrecht, but the show was moved to the somewhat smaller Tivoli Oudegracht. In a dark and intense setting, Lykke Li introduced the new songs and of course played her biggest hit singles to date.

All dressed in black, with her dark hair before her eye on the right side of her face, Lykke Li opens her show with the title track of her new record, ‘I Never Learn’. The song, heavily based on acoustic guitar, immediately shows the direction she is going with this third record. Where her debut album Youth Novels, already released in 2008, had a dreamy electro pop sound, the second record Wounded Rhymes, experimented with wall of sound productions and huge choruses. On her third record I Never Learn, she sounds even more fragile and although this album is more similar to the second, she still reinvented herself once again with more acoustic sounding beautiful melodies and painfully honest stories.

Because her first album was quite different from the latter ones, she only plays ‘Little Bit’ and ‘Hanging High’ of this record, which still fit in very well in the setlist. Lykke tries to find a balance between introducing the new material to her audience and entertaining them with the Wounded Rhymes songs they already know. Her fans in Utrecht seem to enjoy both. Her new single ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, a captivating pop track with a infectious repeated piano sample, gets a lot of cheers from the audience and the memorable choruses of ‘Gunshot’ and ‘Just Like A Dream’ are popular as well.


Still, Lykke Li impresses the most when she lays her soul bare and sings completely from the heart, which she does on the bloody gorgeous ‘Never Gonna Love Again’, which probably is the strongest track on the new record. The best moment of the night however, is her heartfelt rendition of ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’, a pure and completely heartbreaking track on acoustic guitar. Before she starts, she warns the crowd that this is a very hard song for her to sing and asks them to bare with her if she screws up, but she actually delivers a stunning and moving vocal performance that has Lykke herself in tears after the song as well.

It is not only her strong voice and outstanding songwriting that impresses tonight. Lykke and her four man and one woman strong band took a great light show with them as well, that comes to a dazzling height during explosive performances of the swinging up tempo tracks ‘Youth Knows No Pain’, ‘Get Some’ and ‘Rich Kids Blues’. Her biggest hit to date, ‘I Follow Rivers’, is performed in a slightly rocky version, which works fine. She closes the show perfectly with a once again great vocal performance of ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’, one of the best things she has released to date. Although her fans did not yet know most of the new songs, Lykke managed to captivate them for almost 90 minutes with an intense show full of emotional highlights.



Concert Recensie: Lykke Li in Tivoli

Lykke Li stelt materiaal van nieuw album I Never Learn voor in Utrecht

Het was een belangrijk weekend voor de Nederlandse fans van Lykke Li. Op vrijdag werd haar nieuwe album I Never Learn gelanceerd in ons landje en vervolgens trakteerde ze ons zaterdagavond op een concert in Tivoli te Utrecht. Het was alweer een tijd geleden dat de Zweedse zangeres, die in 2011 een megahit scoorde met ‘I Follow Rivers’, een bezoek hier bracht. Het was eigenlijk de bedoeling dat ze in de gloednieuwe zaal TivoliOudegracht zou spelen, maar haar concert werd verplaatst naar de iets kleinere zaal aan de Oudegracht. In een donkere en intense setting stelde de singer-songwriter haar nieuwe liedjes aan het publiek voor, maar speelde natuurlijk ook haar grootste hits tot nu toe.

Compleet in het zwart gekleed, met haar donkere haar aan een kant van haar gezicht over haar oog, komt ze het podium op en zet ze de titeltrack ‘I Never Learn’ in. Met deze grotendeels akoestische song laat ze gelijk zien welke kant ze met deze plaat opgaat. Waar haar debuut Youth Novels, dat alweer uit 2008 stamt, vooral gericht was op dromerige electropop, bevatte de opvolger Wounded Rhymes juist stevige wall of sound producties met grootse refreinen. Dit laatste is op haar derde album ook nog enigszins aanwezig, maar toch klinkt Lykke hier juist ook weer puurder en emotioneler dan ooit met prachtige melodieën en pijnlijk eerlijke songteksten.

Gezien haar eerste album wat uit de toon valt bij de twee opvolgers, speelt ze slechts de liedjes ‘Little Bit’ en ‘Hanging High’ hiervan, die overigens zeker niet misstaan in de setlist. Verder zoekt ze een balans tussen het voorstellen van de nieuwe liedjes en het entertainen met de bekende songs van Wounded Rhymes, maar het publiek in Utrecht laat zich beide goed smaken. Zo wordt de nieuwe single ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, een meeslepende popplaat met een zeer pakkend pianoriedeltje, heel goed ontvangen en ook de pakkende refreinen van liedjes als ‘Gunshot’ en ‘Just Like A Dream’ lijken direct goed in de smaak te vallen.

Lykke Li komt live echter nog het beste uit de verf als ze zich compleet geeft met liedjes die volledig vanuit het hart zijn geschreven, zoals het bloedmooie ‘Never Gonna Love Again’, dat misschien wel het hoogtepunt van het nieuwe album is. Het mooiste moment van het concert is echter een zeer breekbare opvoering van de hartverscheurende ballade ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone’. Voordat ze dit liedje inzet dekt Lykke zich in door te waarschuwen dat het een moeilijk nummer is om live te zingen en ze hoopt dan ook dat het publiek haar blijft steunen als het misgaat. Dit is echter niet aan de orde, want haar ontroerende live versie van het liedje krijgt de zaal volledig stil en zorgt ervoor dat ze zelf na de laatste noot ook in tranen op het podium staat.

Het is overigens niet alleen haar krachtige en herkenbare stemgeluid en uitzonderlijke songwriting-talent dat vanavond indruk maakt. Naast een vijfkoppige band heeft ze ook een prachtige lichtshow meegenomen die tot een vrij heftig hoogtepunt komt tijdens de vertolking van uptempo liedjes als ‘Youth Knows No Pain’, ‘Get Some’ en ‘Rich Kids Blues’. Haar grootste hit tot nu toe, ‘I Follow Rivers’ wordt in een licht rock jasje gestoken wat het lied fris houdt. Ze sluit af met een wederom prachtige versie van ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’, absoluut één van haar beste tracks. Lykke Li stond voor een behoorlijke uitdaging met een optreden zo vlak na de album release waar de meeste fans de nieuwe liedjes nog niet kenden, maar ze wist haar fans bijna anderhalf uur lang te boeien met een intense show vol emotionele hoogtepunten.

Single Reviews: The best new pop singles from March 2014

In case you have not been paying that much attention to the new releases in the pop scene over the last few weeks, I’m here to help you out. I listed the five best new pop releases from the past month for you to enjoy! Yes, you’re welcome!

05. Cher Lloyd – Sirens
Cher Lloyd participated in X Factor UK in 2010. She wowed the judges with a rendition of ‘Turn My Swag On’ during her audition and managed to finish in fourth position in the competition. She released an album afterwards and even had a hit single in the USA with ‘Want U Back’. Last year she started promoting the release of her upcoming new album ‘Sorry I’m Late’ with the song ‘I Wish’ and now she is back with new single ‘Sirens’. Lloyd drops the hip hop influences for a moment as ‘Sirens’ is a full on pop belter. The chorus is immense and Cher shows the strength and power in her vocals we usually do not hear that much. It sounds like she has grown a lot since her participation in X Factor and it will be exciting to see what she will come up with over the next few months.

04. Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked
Lykke Li took quite some time to work on new music after she finished promotion for the album Wounded Rhymes and the single ‘I Follow Rivers’ grew out to be a worldwide hit. A few weeks ago she returned with the heartbreaking and pure new song ‘Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone‘. Somewhat later the new track ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, also taken from her new album I Never Learn that will be released in May, was released. Stylistically, this one is reminiscent of the sound of the Wounded Rhymes record. The production is big and the chorus is strong and captivating. Lykke’s quirky vocals come across very well and her lyrics are poetic and interesting as always. It is good to have her back!

03. Say Lou Lou – Everything We Touch
I already wrote about Say Lou Lou when I reviewed their amazing double single ‘Better In The Dark’ and ‘Beloved’ and named them as one of the most promising artists of this year. Now they are here to prove me right with a new track called ‘Everything We Touch’. The production of the song is lush and their dreamy vocals sound as great as ever. The floating chorus is beautiful, but the pre-chorus is without a doubt the best part of the song. Especially before the second chorus where the rolling drums kick in and they sing, ‘Days of ashes and nights of flames’ is one of the best pop moments so far this year. If they can keep up this high standards, their debut album will be out of this world.

02. Sia – Chandelier
This woman has been focusing on writing for other artists for quite some time now and I think we can all agree on the fact that it was time for Sia to come back swinging with some solo material. And a swinging comeback it is, from a chandelier actually. I can understand if her fans from the earlier albums had to get used to ‘Chandelier’, as it is more in the style of the tracks that she wrote for others, but to be fair, it is one epic anthem. The chorus is huge and the song is basically built up out of strong hooks. From the moment it starts, it is just hook after hook after hook. I particularly love the moment late in the chorus where her voice cracks a bit, showing a vulnerability which makes her delivery sound even more pure. Then you think it is over, but the post-chorus hook of ‘I’m just holding on for tonight’ kicks in. What a song people!

01. Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’
Those of you who have been following the Eurovision Song Contest and its preselections probably already know this one. Ace Wilder particpated in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish preselection for Eurovision and one of the biggest music events of the year in that country, with the track ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” finishing as the runner up, missing out on winning by only two points. In Swedish iTunes and other charts, this is the highest charting song however, so Ace managed to get a big hit out of her participation. ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” is an infectious and insanely catchy pop track with a pumping post-chorus. Ace’s delivery of the song about being lazy and not wanting to work is convincing and the song is just so much fun. When it just came out I could not stop playing it and I am still not tired of it. The accompanying EP with some more Ace tracks is also great. A new Swedish pop star is born!