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Tove Lo live in London: modern pop’s dark horse brings technicolour fun

Watching Tove Lo’s return to the capital, it was hard to leave without a Cheshire cat grin on your face

4.0 rating

By Emma Wilkes

Tove Lo live at London Roundhouse, 5 November 2022 (Picture: Kenny Laubbacher)

The occasional bang and crackle can be heard outside tonight in Camden — it is, of course, Bonfire Night — but inside the Roundhouse, something is happening that’s just as bright and colourful (and fairly loud) as the fireworks being set off around the country. Tove Lo is back in the capital, touring in support of new album Dirt Femme, for the first time since before the pandemic — in fact, as she mentions early in the show, it was the last place she played live before a certain virus shut the world down. Indeed, even though live music has been back in business in the UK for nearly a year and a half now, tonight’s show somehow still has the same unbridled joy of those first shiny-new post-lockdown nights out, where, frankly, it’s impossible to have a bad time.

The Swedish singer-songwriter’s 19-song set is cleverly structured. Its first half is a technicolour parade of slick, sparkly synth-pop anthems, in which every song is note perfect and the sound is so tight that those struggling to see the stage could easily mistake the sounds of a live band for a backing track. Opener ‘Pineapple Slice’ doesn’t quite hit with the audience as much as it aspires to, but a pulsing one-two of ‘Attention Whore’ and ‘Cool Girl’ remedies that in an instant before the genuinely gigantic ‘2 Die 4’ sends the energy in this converted engine house to frenzied heights with its body-shaking bass and twinkling synths (and arguably, might have made for a stronger opener). Nonetheless, rolling out as many consecutive bangers as Lo does is a power move in and of itself, and it’s testament to just how strong her songwriting is.

Tove Lo live at London Roundhouse, 5 November 2022 (Picture: Kenny Laubbacher)

On the flipside, tonight is equally as demonstrative of her versatility — and her vulnerability. “This one’s about not being perfect… I still feel like that sometimes,” she admits to introduce an intimate, stripped back rendition of ‘Moments’ to commence the night’s moodier second half, a structure that means she just about gets away with doing two ballads in a row (the second being ‘True Romance’), even if some of the audience members’ arms seem visibly tired from waving their phone lights in the air. ‘Grapefruit’ is the perfect segue back into a faster tempo, its rawness matched by a humble sense of humour-flecked candour from Lo: “It feels pretty cool, having hated my body for most of my life, to now be standing here half naked,” she quips, acknowledging the shiny leotard she’s wearing, before “highly recommending” therapy. “I can be a slut and give good advice!”

From there, she rifles through the darker cuts in her back catalogue, telling tales through music of the fuckboys her friends date (‘Glad He’s Gone’) to eating dinner in the bathtub post-breakup (viral smash ‘Habits’) sounding just as immaculate as she did before, with a show-stopping rendition of ‘I’m to Blame’ to hammer home just how fantastic a vocalist she is. Things come full circle to finish as euphoric closer ‘No One Dies from Love’ signs off by bringing back the dazzling joy (and glitzy light show) of the show’s opening act that even has the punters hanging at the back bouncing. Try not to watch her without wearing a Cheshire cat smile.

Tove Lo live at London Roundhouse, 5 November 2022 (Picture: Kenny Laubbacher)