FKA Twigs – Magdalene Tour Live @ O2 Brixton Academy

A bastion of left of centre popular music, FKA Twigs AKA Tahliah Debrett Barnett adorned the boards of Brixton’s O2, as part of the Magdalene tour. Armed with an extensive back catalogue, intense choreography and a blade at one point, Twigs cast a diverse, interdisciplinary and conceptual live show. Delivering a timeless performance of seismic proportions and assuming her rightful position at the helm of her musical sphere.

Whilst forging her new album, Twigs encountered both personal setbacks and serious illness, courageously overcoming the removal of 6 fibroid tumours and the end of a high-profile engagement. Twigs conveyed the toil of finding strength in crisis, the universal tragedy of loss and music as a vehicle for nourishment. Magdalene exhibits how great pain can guide great invention but only great performers can move audiences on mass and Twig’s captured hers from the onset.

Stood centre stage, dressed in what to my untrained eye looked like a medieval jester from the Matrix wearing tap shoes, Twigs wasted no time in unveiling the experimental. The application of Tap alongside electronic music was inordinate but illuminating. Audiences mouths gaped as Barnett unveiled a proficient Tap ability and exposed the range of Tap dancing’s rhythmic interest.

If you read that last sentence and felt I may have confused FKA Twig’s performance with my trip to a nomadic culture in Peru; famed for their holistic approach to Ayahuasca, you would be forgiven. Unfortunately for me and my spiritual well-being, this was not the case. Opening the concert in such a way had Barnett’s audience of audiophile hipsters engaged and chomping at the bit for more. Thus signalling the extent of the show’s diverse palette of disciplines and Barnett’s expansive vision.

The setlist was an amalgamation of old and new material. Ardent fans would have appreciated the inclusion of tracks like, Figure 8, Papi Pacify and hidden gem, Hide from her debut EP1. A noteworthy reminder of the timeless quality of her past output and how deserving of acclaim it is.

Twigs and her sword, Lilith. Yes her sword has a name, obviously.

Not resting on her creative laurels, Twigs wowed her audience with her raw and unfettered performance of Video Girl and Pendulum not to mention, balletic pole dancing and aforementioned swordplay. The whirlwind of creativity, empowerment and musical coalescence reached a critical mass when visibly emotional, Twigs performed Cellophane. Wraithlike and wispy vocals, elongated phrasing and the confiding nature of Cellophane powerfully moved the masses, inspiring a deeply affecting experience.

Forever pushing her music toward uncharted territory, Twigs made no concessions for her live set. Too often within music that leans so heavily on technology, it can seem detached from the human aspect of performance. On this occasion, those fears were well and truly cast aside. FKA Twigs produced a performance of style and substance but importantly one that was deeply human and plucked every heartstring in the house.

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