“This show contains haze and smoke,” warned a notice outside the theatre at the first major London show for FKA twigs. It could have been referring to her music, a bewitching electronic fug that sounds like sexually charged R&B in the time of Bladerunner.
Despite her daring, awkward songs the singer, born Tahliah Barnett in Cheltenham, is racing towards mainstream fame. Her debut album, LP1, is the current favourite to nab the Mercury Prize later this month. Less enjoyably, a new relationship with the Twilight actor Robert Pattinson has made her a target for gossip magazines and lovesick internet trolls.
“I am genuinely shocked and disgusted at the amount of racism that has been infecting my account the past week,” she tweeted at the end of September. Here she was back in firm control of her situation, dominating a stark stage setup featuring three men triggering samples with sticks.
A former dancer for Kylie and Jessie J, she moved like a charmed snake in heels which most would struggle to stand up in.
She kept up her beguiling motion even when the beats, particularly on Water Me and Numbers, lurched and rolled in ever-shifting patterns.
She sang in a cloudbursting falsetto that sounded angelic even when the lyrics were more earthy. The extraordinary synth build-up of Two Weeks was almost embarrassingly intimate. Kicks was about masturbation.
No encore, and a brief communication with the crowd only towards the end, suited the otherworldly image she has been cultivating in her surreal videos. It was a surprise to find she talks a bit posh instead of burbling like an alien. She is operating in a field full of breathy women doing digital soul, but manages to take it to another planet altogether.