“I’ve got new rules, I count ‘em,” Dua Lipa sang on this evening’s encore – her first number one single, New Rules. It’s a song about how to behave around your ex, but could also be about the London performer’s approach to being the biggest homegrown pop star of the year.
No costume changes or confetti explosions for this 22-year-old of Kosovar-Albanian parentage. She tossed hair and strutted in a sparkling unzipped tracksuit in front of a drummer, a guitarist and a keyboard player, more like the frontwoman of a band than a formation dancer. The impressive stage design, a giant trapezium screen that lit up around its edges, recalled The 1975’s pink box rather than anything used by the female pop giants of the US.
This mature approach was reflected in the make-up of the crowd, which was free of banners and bunny ears and eager to sing along with the F-words of IDGAF. Lipa’s low voice and persistent pout has given her what passes for an edge in the charts. Calling the first song on your debut album Genesis certainly suggests bold ambition. Here, Blow Your Mind (Mwah) had an enjoyable cockiness and Begging rolled along over dramatic piano chords.
However, without the glittery tropes of the conventional pop show, she had to be more reliant on personal charisma, which was sometimes a struggle. Yes, she’s beautiful, as the screen showing her face in various close-up permutations confirmed, but between songs she had nothing to say beyond the usual expressions of fan love and gratitude.
A quieter interlude of Thinking ‘Bout You and New Love, accompanied just by a guitarist, showed the undeniable strength of her vocals, but pop’s rulebook says it will take something more to transform her from the voice of the moment to a genuine idol.
April 20, Alexandra Palace, N22 (0870 444 5556, alexandrapalace.com)