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Lykke Li At Manchester Academy

Nadia Jaynes falls under the spell of the Swedish songstress

Written by . Published on November 2nd 2011.

Lykke Li At Manchester Academy

IT seems fitting that Swedish songstress Lykke Li graced Manchester Academy on Halloween. The dark and smoky stage scattered with black drapes that cast a web of shadows creating the perfect backdrop for Lykke Li’s ethereal performance.  

As the xylophone chimed like the beat of a tender heart and her delicate vocal echoed ‘Come lay and wait’ I was entranced.

The gig opened with a rumble of drums and cymbals and a flurry of flashing lights that built the anticipation to an almost unbearable degree before Lykke Li emerged from the shadows in a long black flowing dress with her hair cascading almost down to her waist. 

She was bewitching and captivating and she held us all in the palm of her hand as she danced at the front of the stage like a nymph beating a drum and tossing her hair.

There was an almost childlike innocence about her voice but Li, who admits to being ‘intense’ and sometimes ‘psychopathic’, is anything but. 

She’s a staunch feminist, outspoken and controversial and that side of her is starting to spill into her music with tracks such as ‘Unrequited Love’ citing her desire to “Live again, and get back what I gave my men, get back what I lost to them”.  

Wounded RhymesWounded Rhymes

The album Wounded Rhymes is a calculated step away from the poppy chimes of tracks like ‘Little Bit’ from her debut Youth Novels.  It’s a darker, more mature nod to love affairs and life which is exquisitely melancholic. 

It was a subdued and polite crowd that gathered at the Academy (I was shushed for laughing as the opening chimes of ‘I Follow Rivers’ rang out – although to be fair my laugh ‘goes up to eleven’ as Spinal Tap might say). 

Despite her deliberate move towards the dark side, crowd pleaser ‘Little Bit’ was still very much on the set list – although it stuck out like a sore thumb against the hauntingly sublime ‘I Know Places’, a track that feels like a pair of open arms embracing love-struck shoulders. 

As the xylophone chimed like the beat of a tender heart and her delicate vocal echoed ‘Come lay and wait’ I was entranced. It was almost meditational and impossible not to drift off into Li’s strange and beautiful world where the 'high won’t fade' and love conquers all.   

It was an emotional rollercoaster of a set - even the up-tempo beat of ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ was charmingly at odds with the heartrending missive of the lyrics. 

Lykke Li is the perfect soundtrack for a broken heart. Her music has just the right blend of moroseness, anger and optimism for the future. 

Tissues are highly recommended.       

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