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Doja Cat at The OVO Hydro, Glasgow review: a masterclass in charisma

On the first night of her UK tour, Doja Cat proves why she's one of pop's most unique performers.

4.0 rating

By Jamie Tabberer

Doja Cat (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation)

“If you call yourself a ‘kitten’ or f*cking ‘kittenz that means you need to get off your phone and get a job and help your parents with the house,” Doja Cat controversially told fans on social last September. Asked if she loved her fanbase, the 28-year-old replied: “I don’t though, because I don’t know y’all.”

On the first night of the singer’s Scarlet Tour at The OVO Hydro in Glasgow, we were primed for similar outbursts. Things looked promising when, days earlier, she joke-raged at a crowd in Manchester for failing to recognise her impromptu take on Hilary Duff’s Coming Clean, a little-heard pop gem outside of 00s music channels this genre nerd happens to love. (“Don’t y’all know that s**t, what the f**k!”) 

Put simply, RSUK expected messiness. Well, get this: it is now beyond reasonable doubt that Doja is a consummate professional who respects her fans. She started bang on time, crammed 25 songs into 90 minutes, gracefully catapulted herself around the stage like the trained dancer that she is, energy never faltering, and most importantly, appeared in an infectiously silly and happy mood throughout. Indeed, any messiness on display – any oh-so-in-vogue brattishness, which she exudes on the ridiculous ‘Get Into It (Yuh)’ – was purely for the business of show.

And to think, all this was staged in a venue arguably beneath her. Glossy though it may be, the 14,300-seater OVO is uncomfortably intimate, better suited to the cosiness of The Corrs (playing 17 November) than the uncontainable talent of Janet Jackson (playing 30 September.) A lesser star’s confidence might’ve been dented, but not Doja, who stalked the stage in a bra and thong as if performing to a crowd 10 times the size. It was a masterclass in charisma and body confidence, her every bodily bounce, her every ridiculous, Broadway-esque facial expression visible as clear as day. (Which was fortunate, as the video feed either side of the stage kept freezing – incomprehensible in 2024.)

Her barely-there ensemble was giving both Pamela Anderson and Lil Kim the 1999 MTV VMAs, and Britney at the 2000 and 2003 VMAs. I was reminded of these pop culture queens again upon realising the bales of hay on stage were in fact bales of hair; locks of it plaited around Doja’s microphone, like a symbol of sacrifice. Nods to the occult aesthetic of the wider Scarlet campaign were otherwise few and far between – she even came on stage in wings, her backing singers conjuring less the devil, more a euphoric gospel mood – but the general vibe was less performative and more relaxed for it. And if the size of the venue spelled technical limitations for production, you wouldn’t have known it: most impressive was a levitating, UFO-like platform straight out Planet Her.

That lullaby sweet voice could have been utilised more. Tellingly, she barely sang on a shortened version of ‘Say So’, and omits key singles like ‘Woman’ and ‘Kiss Me More’ from the setlist. It’s of course an absent Dionne Warwick who laces together ‘Paint the Town Red’ with angelic snippets of Walk On By, and you Doja to cover the song outright, as she could clearly nail it. ‘Paint The Town Read’ nevertheless features some of her boldest raps, and it’s as compelling to hear then live as it is her other sonic trademarks: the personality switching on songs, such as from assertive to vulnerable on the astonishing Streets, and the bizarre, animal-like vocal inflections on ‘Get Into It (Yuh)’ and more. 

Who needs headline-generating, between-songs banter when the music is this charismatic? After this performance, we’re delving into Doja’s catalogue one more time.