TVD Live: Lykke Li at The Ogden, 11/11

Robed figures emerge from white light, her backing band like golems at her bidding fill the several levels of the stage. One figure in the center seems to move differently from the rest until, as she begins dancing forward, the crowd realizes it is Lykke Li and erupts into applause.

Aesthetically, everyone’s saying her new aesthetic was black magic at least a year before we decided dressing like a witch would be the next big thing. The best way to describe Friday night at The Ogden is that Lykke Li conjured her crowd into a frenzy. Even in the balconies there were crowds ten deep dancing wildly out of control.

She takes her place under a single strip of black scrim draped from the ceiling, reminiscent of the billowing fabric obscuring her on the cover of her album released earlier this year. Her breakout Youth Novels showed the world a twenty-two-year-old Lykke Li, nubile and nascent, who in 2008 “had a sound like afterglow.” Now the demimondaine’s dark second act, Wounded Rhymes, is “la petit mort itself,” spasmodic and powerful, but across the board interpreted as a more mature production from a more mature musician.

Tonight, opening with “Jerome,” Lykke Li cocoons and reemerges from within the black scrim. She uses it throughout the course of the show to seduce her audience, at times hiding pieces of herself like a burlesque fan dancer, both boisterous and shy. For “Dance Dance Dance” the mood onstage is completely tribal, and she’s a storm of hair and black clothing, banging on a floor tom.

“Rich Kid Blues” and “Youth Knows Know Pain” ushered the audience through heaven and hell as the stage is at first cast in thick red light, then at the queue, of a church organ is released into a bath of golden white, and everyone both onstage and in the crowd is redeemed.

At the penultimate point of her performance, spotlights whip around to face the audience as Lykke Li raises her mic to the crowd and has everyone shouting in unison, “I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some.”

Drumsticks drop, lights go black, and she disappears. But it’s minutes later, and the Denver crowd hasn’t let up yet. Lykke Li emerges once again and whispers into her microphone that she thinks we need a love song. Thus begins a cover of “Unchained Melody” into her own “Unrequited Love,” with which she gracefully and graciously bids The Ogden goodnight.

Photos by Dan Mancini, SneakyBoy Studios

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